While it’s impossible to ever be too “anything” to transition from one gender to another, Too Fat to Transition pulled at heartstrings as it told the medical journeys of two inspiring transgender individuals who were both tasked with losing weight before their procedures.
Here are seven heartbreaking moments from the first part of TLC’s two-part special on Thursday, December 29, that had Us reaching for the tissue box.
Kayla Received Death Threats From Her Bullies
We first met Kayla, a transgender woman, during her appointment with Dr. Bowers to discuss her upcoming gender reassignment surgery. When opening up to the camera about her bullies, Kayla revealed, “They told me to commit suicide — ‘I’m gonna kill you.'”
She continued, “I want to be a woman and live the life I’ve always dreamed of … and really, the only way to do that is to have gender reassignment surgery.” After meeting Kayla and hearing her story, Dr. Bowers agreed to bump her to the top of her waiting list if she could go from 265 pounds to a more surgically manageable 210 in the next few months.
Shane’s Binder Caused Him Immense Physical Pain
Viewers were then introduced to Shane, a transgender man, and his fiancée, Evelyn, a transgender woman. Shane met with Dr. Weiss in New York City to discuss his “top surgery,” a procedure that would remove Shane’s breasts. Dr. Weiss said he could perform the surgery in four months if Shane could drop from 215 pounds to 180, emphasizing that performing the procedure on Shane while overweight could lead to potential complications.
Shane immediately seemed concerned about his ability to exercise while wearing a binder, a device used to flatten breasts. While in a Krav Maga class for weight loss, Shane was plagued by discomfort, saying, “My range of movement is restricted because of my binder, and I’m always in pain.”
After Showing Progress, Kayla Began to Slide Back
Kayla managed to get her weight down to 237 with the help of her incredibly supportive personal trainer, Mike. But sadly, she didn’t lose the weight as quickly as she expected, and her progress began to slide. After getting in a fight with her trainer that ended in him throwing her diet soda in the trash, Kayla dropped out of the exercise regimen altogether — even refusing to take his calls.
Mike, disillusioned, admitted, “If I want it more than she does, then there’s just no hope.” Kayla, who had previously admitted to being “addicted to fast food,” found herself ordering a cheeseburger at a drive-thru an hour after the fight, calling it “self-sabotage.”
Shane and Evelyn’s Homeless Shelter Romance
Frustrated with the high cost of eating healthy, Shane and Evelyn decided to take a low-cost healthy cooking class at a local LGBT youth center. After meeting the “Food Stamp Guru,” a.k.a. Karl Wilder, Shane and Evelyn learned how to put together a nutritious meal for their tight budget. Shane then revealed, heartbreakingly, that he and his fiancée met at a homeless shelter. Shane said, “The reason why we were both homeless came down to the simple fact that we were both trans.” Shane continued, “We were both really hungry. No job. Basically, no hope. … We got each other through that dark period.”
Shane’s Insurance Was on the Brink of Expiration
Shane’s surgery was in jeopardy when he got a call that his Medicaid insurance would be revoked at the end of November. He explained the injustice, saying, “I’m not gonna qualify for Medicaid because I’ve had a small wage increase of 50 cents. … This is basically the only opportunity I have to get my surgery. … They told me that if I lose my insurance, I will not qualify for surgery.”
Finally, before weighing in with his Krav Maga teacher, Shane nervously admitted, “This weigh-in is going to determine the rest of my life.” He ended up weighing in at 177 pounds, just under his goal weight of 180. Beaming, Shane said, “I did it. I lost the weight.” He was soon able to get his surgery without any difficulty.
Kayla’s Suicidal Thoughts and Inspiring Comeback
After an unfortunate meeting with her doctor that resulted in no further plans for surgery, Kayla sunk into a dark place. She admitted to her friend and hairdresser Kae, a fellow trans woman, that she wondered, “Do I want to kill myself?” After a brief hiatus from filming, Kayla returned to the show with a new wig and a new outlook on life.
She explained, “I felt like life wasn’t really worth living, and I de-transitioned for a short amount of time. … Things aren’t so black and white when it comes to gender. … I accept myself for where I am.” Kayla’s attitude seemed to disprove the seemingly negative title of the show, and she seemed happy and glowing as she shot an inspiring video blog from a sunny park bench. Guess she’s not too “fat” to transition after all! She continued, saying, “Everyone is at a different speed. … It’s about getting comfortable in a timeline that you’re comfortable. … I’ll never stop transitioning.”
Shane and Evelyn’s Tear-Filled Wedding Ceremony
The episode ended on a high note for Shane and Evelyn, as he was able to put on his tuxedo at his wedding without the burden of breasts or a painful binder. Shane admitted, “I’ve completed my transition, and I feel free. … I finally feel like I’m me.” They exchanged vows in front of their family and friends.
Tell Us: What did you think of the special?
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