Courtney Demone is a beautiful woman. She exudes confidence. She is proud of her body. And now she has started posting shirtless photos on social media as part of the #FreeTheNipple movement. What makes her photos different from so many other women who do the same, and what makes them acceptable to the social media censors, is that Courtney was born in a male body. She is transgender.
Courtney has just started undergoing hormone replacement therapy which is, in part, helping her to grow breasts. In an essay written for Mashable she explains how this process has allowed her to understand the benefits behind #FreeTheNipple and has lead to a curiosity of when the censors would consider her to have enough breast tissue to be indecent. Courtney recalls the moment she realized her nipples were no longer socially acceptable.
I was sunbathing topless in my yard when a roommate asked, “Since you’re a girl now, does that mean I’m not allowed to look at you shirtless anymore?” Though he said it jokingly, that thought stuck with me. The next day I went swimming and left a top on, because as a woman I feel ashamed when my nipples are showing, regardless whether the world sees them as a problem.
From there, Courtney watched as her male privilege slowly started disappearing, and her value as a human being became more and more about her looks. From friends telling her what length of armpit hair was acceptable and when she needs to shave, to strangers on the street catcalling and harassing her making her no longer feel safe in public spaces, to online dating becoming a whole new ballgame. In fact, since changing her dating profile photo she has received messages from numerous men asking to lick her feet and telling her whether or not they would “hit it” even though she clearly states she is not interested in men. In one instance a man sent a nice message but a few days later he called her a “fucking bitch” simply for not responding to his message.
Courtney may be one of feminism’s greatest allies at the moment because she can genuinely compare what life is like for a man versys what it is like for a woman and it hasn’t taken her long to see the things many of us have been trying to explain for years.
Prior to coming out as a woman, I probably felt legitimately threatened or disrespected a handful of times in my life. Now, it happens almost every time I leave the house…I haven’t changed much, but society’s perception of me has changed immensely.
As an experiment in social views, as well as to make a point about the ridiculous fact that male nipples are acceptable but female nipples are not, Courtney will post topless images of herself on all of her social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. She will continue to post them until they are removed, at which point she can determine that social media considers her breasts “developed enough to be sexualized and worthy of censorship”. Ideally, she’d just like to see the policies changed. Her hashtag #DoIHaveBoobsNow is already gaining traction.
Courtney is using the privileges she has, and the privileges slowly slipping away, to bring some awareness to some very serious women’s issues.