My Dysphoria List

From time to time, I remember things from my past that I didn’t realize at the time was gender dysphoria, or I experience things currently that fit in to dysphoria, and I want to collect them all in one place, so here it is. (Updated periodically)

  • Starting from when I was younger, maybe around puberty/ junior high, I felt sort of separate from other girls, and I had a hard time being friends with them, especially if they were girly to any significant degree. I felt like they all “got” something that I didn’t, that somehow they knew how to present themselves in an unintentional way that I had to try for. I very consciously tried to learn those things and do them, but it would take constant effort, and if my effort dropped, I would go back to a more comfortable androgyny.
  • I felt (and feel) incredibly uncomfortable in female-only social events, like makeovers, baby showers, or mom playdates.
  • When I was pregnant with kid #1, I never connected to the “you’re going to be a mother” thing, and I felt more parental than maternal. I was also sort of embarrassed to be seen pregnant, and I still have that feeling of embarrassment when I think about having kid #2. When thinking about the pregnancy changes, it often felt (and feels, as I consider kid #2) that my body was being hijacked and that it wouldn’t belong to me for at least 9 months. This feeling has gotten somewhat better with kid #2 considerations compared to when I had kid #1, but it’s certainly still there.
  • As a kid in junior high or high school, I would feel an odd sort of enjoyment when I got mistaken for a boy. There was also a negative feeling of “mannish women are ugly” that colored the experience as well.
  • Even though my features are feminine and I got confirmation from friends about this, I always felt like I looked like a boy. Like maybe I would try on a fancy dress for something and I felt like I couldn’t live up to the femininity that girls I saw would feel.
  • I was afraid, maybe terrified, that I would say something that would make people think I was not a girl or that I was saying I was not a girl. I remember a time going to a hot spring / pool with my junior high friend, and he and I were chatting in the back of the van on the way back and I said something like “girls are [something, I can’t remember]” and then I realized that I worded it as if I wasn’t also a girl, so I panicked and I think I corrected with “I mean, other girls”.
  • As a little kid, a babysitter of mine had a son who was a bit older than me. I remember liking the way his hair looked and trying to copy it when I was taking a bath but deciding I couldn’t do it because it was a boy’s hairstyle. The same thing happened other times with other boys or male characters (like Eric Matthews from Boy Meets World), where I wanted to look like that but told myself I couldn’t because it was a boy thing.
  • I disliked the words “girlfriend” or “wife”. I preferred the more gender neutral “partner” or “significant other”.
  • I blamed my lack of fitting in with girls and feminine things on my height, and I remember feeling jealous when I saw a feminine girl/woman who was tall. I didn’t know why it bothered me at the time.
  • Pretty much every partner I had, I was convinced without reason that they liked men. This was the case with straight men and lesbians, I irrationally felt they must be into men, regardless of their stated orientation. A contrasting example: A particular male partner I had preferred short women (I’m almost 6 feet tall), and I thought he was too straight to like me. But I never took these thoughts to the next step to think of myself as explicitly male.
  • In 2011 or 2012, I had been thinking about my gender (but I thought I couldn’t be trans because I didn’t explicitly identify myself as male from early childhood, it was more implicit), and I went out one night with a few friends. I ended up getting drunk (not a common occurrence for me) and I was talking to my friend and telling her that I should be a man and have a penis.
  • Since I’ve come out to myself late last year (November 2015), I keep having dreams about trying to get testosterone, with the whole point of the dream being to get access to HRT.
  • Sometime last year (2015), before I had come out to myself, I remember talking to a friend and telling her something to the effect of “I know I’m a woman, of course, but I don’t really think of myself in that category”, ie that I sort of had to remind myself that that was my category.
  • An external thing: I recently talked to my best friend in high school (we call each other maybe once every few months anymore), and was telling her about my decision to transition, and she said that when she and I had joked about being in a relationship, she had always thought of me as the man (of course this is filtered through growing up in a small religious town and figuring that our joking lesbian friendship had to have a “man” and a “woman”). Also from talking with her, she asked if I would be changing my name, and I said yes, to Jon, and she said “yeah, [oldname] never really fit you anyway.” This friend does not mince words or give social compliments to make people feel better.
  • Speaking of my birthname (deadname, I guess), I always hated being addressed by it, so the point that I asked Fergus (pseudonym) not to use it long before I realized explicitly that I was transgender. I thought maybe other people didn’t like being called by their names (which made being a teller and being told that I had to use people’s names a little uncomfortable). I also figured that maybe I didn’t like it because of feeling like I was in trouble when I heard it.
  • I never really knew what to do in certain social situations (especially very gendered ones like baby showers, weddings, and girls nights/makeover things) and would feel very anxious and out of place. Having learned that my friend was autistic, I thought maybe I was sort of on the spectrum as well. It didn’t fit that well, since I can read expressions fine, idioms don’t bother me, although there were a few minor things that did fit (abstract patterns, sensory stuff). It wasn’t a great explanation, but it was what I had to explain it. Now the social awkwardness of gendered events has an explanation that fits better (not to say that all my social awkwardness comes from me being transgender, some of it is just the way it is and comes from having spent more time reading as a kid than socializing).
  • Sometime when I was in maybe 6th or 7th grade, I was at the house of a couple that watched me when my dad was away on business trips (my dad and stepmom had a long distance marriage), and I remember a documentary that was on. I can’t remember the topic fully, something about adolescence or puberty or something. One notable part was talking girls that were overly masculine, maybe it was about an afab kid, but was framed in a this-is-deviant sort of way, describing how that category of kid was unusual in playing with boys, doing masculine things, and having too much testosterone. I saw that and had a click of “oh, that’s what I do, I’m too masculine and that’s not ok”. Not too long after that I put more work into presenting in more typical girly ways, as far as I could. I wish I knew what the documentary was called so I could find it and watch that bit again.
  • This is sort of a silly one, but I rather identify with Brienne of Tarth from Game of Thrones (specifically the show, I haven’t read the books yet, although I usually do books before movie/show). When she (she?) is mocked for being so mannish and therefore by social standards, ugly, it hurts to watch because it mirrors my own transphobia that I learned to direct at myself. There’s also that spark of recognition because she is ID’ed as female but at least from my ftm eyes, it really seems like she isn’t, like that she’s transmasculine but there isn’t any way to express it in that context/backstory/world.
  • For a while, I thought I might have PCOS because of some pre-T facial hair growth, along with adult acne and weight gain. This was after having come out to myself as trans, and I had very mixed feelings. I felt “what if I’m not really trans, it’s just some hormonal problem?” and this thought was often followed up by a weird mix of relief at “oh maybe I’m not trans and I can just make myself be a girl” and disappointment at “but I want to keep presenting in a masculine way, can I be at least that trans?” I later learned that 1) PCOS is more common in trans men but there isn’t currently evidence that it’s causal and 2) my testosterone levels were high-normal for an afab. Also, another mixed feeling about that thing was the facial hair. Sometimes I liked it, sometimes I felt like it made me socially unacceptable, and sometimes I worried it meant I had something wrong with me hormonally.
  • I’ve always had a dislike for the feeling of my breasts on my chest. They had to be as immobile as possible and not touching the area on my chest below them. I used to wear a bra constantly to attain this even at night. For a while when I was junior high or high school aged, I would go out of my way to shower with a swimming top on.
  • As I started to present as a guy part time after coming out to myself, I would feel disappointment or anxiety about the time when someone’s perception would change from me being male to me being female. For example, I went out with friends for some holiday or goodbye thing or something, and I went out to it duded up and binding (not out to anyone there except Fergus). When I went up to the bar, a woman behind me struck up conversation in a sort of “come here often?” way. Once I turned around and started talking, her tone and topic changed very abruptly to some woman-to-woman topic of her kid being with a babysitter, and then I could tell that I had appeared male but then she clocked me as female. It was unpleasant (including thinking back on it now), and I wish(ed) I could have continued being read as male.
  • There was a while when I was college-age where I felt distress at being looked at as a woman. I considered covering myself (for example with something like a niqab/chador, as I had seen a few classmates do for religious/cultural reasons), but I decided it would be too marked/appropriative to do so, so I decided to steel myself to the idea that people would be looking at my body like I was a woman. (I had little to no idea I was trans at the time, to clarify).
  • When I dated women (I’m some flavor of bi/queer), one of the parts that I especially enjoyed was that I could “be the man” in a social sense. I really enjoyed playing that role. I know the “who’s the man, and who’s the woman” idea is super heteronormative,and I didn’t feel that other woman/woman relationships had to conform to any standard like that, but I nevertheless liked taking a masculine role, and going on a date made me feel good and masculine.
  • Also on the orientation topic: one of my big problems with being in a relationship with a man was that I didn’t want to be the woman. It didn’t feel like dating a man was a “straight” thing for me to do, but that’s the label that I felt obligated to put on it. Since coming out to myself, I’m more comfortable with dating men, knowing that it’s queer, and I’ve also enjoyed seeking out other queer men to date.
  • More on an amusing note: I like the idea of being in a household where I overwork myself (I very much like to get in the flow of a project) and my partner stays home (assuming that they want to, because urging someone to be a stay at home parent is gross and not ok). I used to think it was kind of transgressive, like “oh, I’m a woman but I would be happy with my husband staying home with the kid(s).” Now that I’ve come out to myself as trans, I guess it’s not all that flipped of a gender role, ha. It works out well, though, because Fergus wants to stay home with the future second kid (he’s much more family-oriented than I am).
  • When I wore female clothes back before I came out to myself, I was very preoccupied with finding long shirts that came down to my hips because that would visually minimize them (ie, the ideal shirt would end at the widest point of my hips/thighs, rather longer than typical shirts). I knew that I was trying to apply that clothing trick but I didn’t think about it as dysphoria until just recently when I borrowed a sweater of Fergus’ while in guymode and lamented its length in the same way I used to with girl shirts.
  • Thinking about my and Fergus’ wedding next year, I kept feeling dread about planning it and even going to it. The thought of being seen in a wedding dress made me anxious, and I just wanted to skip the wedding and elope in some fashion rather than be seen presenting myself in a female way in that important social situation. I didn’t know that was dysphoria at the time. I just thought it was aversion to weddings, but more recently since deciding to move forward with social and medical transition, I’ve found myself looking forward to the wedding and imagining myself in a waistcoat or suit standing next to Fergus (who of course would be in a fancy 9 yard tartaned kilt, based on what he’s said he wants to do).
  • More recently, when I’ve been male presenting (bound, men’s clothes, etc) and my voice gives me away (this also applies when I’m sort of presenting in the middle ground), I feel sort of emasculated, like it was my voice that let me down.

More to come later.

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