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Chest dysphoria as a cis female?

Discussion in 'Gender Identity and Expression' started by Dizzydreamer, Aug 31, 2018.

  1. Dizzydreamer

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    Hello all!
    Always, but more recently, I have a lot of negative feelings toward my boobs and my chest. I am a 20 year old, (as far as I know at this moment) cis female, and I do not feel like my body belongs to me. I look at my chest in the mirror and hate them and hate them on me. I don’t want them and partially feel like I’m not supposed to have them. They have never looked or felt right to me. Ever since I started growing boobs, I have always tried to hide them, wearing sports bras, even sometimes wrapping ace bandages around them when I was in middle school. As I got older, I just wore baggy shirts and multiple sports bras. I have considered binding, but I am hesitant. My chest has never been small, and I recently gained weight, causing them to grow even bigger, making me feel even worse about my body.
    I also despise my wide hips. I even have struggled with eating disorders a lot in the past, as “last resort” type of attempts to make my chest/hips smaller. I was almost hospitalized when I was 14. It has been a constant battle of trying to remain healthy but always struggling mentally bc I hate my body and hate looking in mirrors.
    I don’t know if this is what dysphoria is, or feels like. I also don’t want to take these terms and this language away from trans/nb folks. Being nb is something that has been on my mind lately, when I think of what I ideally want to look like and how I dress, it’s more androgynous and yet I still am on the fence.
    TLDR; I think I’m experiencing body dysphoria, have always thought I was a cis female? Thoughts? Opinions? Advice? Tips?
     
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  2. tystnad

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    Hey DizzyDreamer!

    Let me start by saying that just because you thought you were cis for the longest time does not change whether or not you can be a different gender. A lot of people don’t figure things out until much later, and while in hindsight people generally understand the signs, the journey can be complicated and super hard to figure out. So don’t let the fact that you always thought you were a cis woman get in the way of figuring things out.

    What you’re explaining most definitely sounds like a discomfort with parts of your body that are what people would generally consider to be ‘female looking’ or a ‘female body’. Whether or not to call that gender dysphoria depends on which definition of gender dysphoria you use (‘a disconnect between gender and sex’ vs ‘discomfort with your assigned gender’ – they sound like they come down to the same thing, but the first implies that your gender is different from your sex, while the second is less strict in that and just states you experience gender discomfort) but regardless, the word ‘dysphoria’ on itself just means ‘unease’ or ‘discomfort’ so don’t worry too much about taking away language – especially because you’re questioning and just trying to figure out if what you’re feeling is similar to that of other people who have had issues with their gender.

    That said – there is a realistic possibility that this is a form of dysphoria, particularly due to its targeted nature. You mention you have struggled with eating disorders, so it is important to consider their source because these can complicate it a little – on the one hand, a large number of trans people, men and non-binary alike, struggle with eating disorders because a lower weight might make them look more androgynous or male, while on the other hand it is also not uncommon for cis women with eating disorders to feel uncomfortable with their chest and hips because they feel like ‘fat’. I don’t bring that up to discredit you, just to make you reflect on where these feelings come from. If it is a gender thing more than a fat/weight thing, though, then it definitely sounds like dysphoria. Some things to consider are whether you also experience dysphoria in other ways, such as when people call you ‘she’ or gendered terms like ‘woman’, ‘girl’, ‘ms’? And what about the other way around, has anyone ever seen you as another gender, and if so how does that make you feel? If it makes you feel better (generally referred to as gender euphoria) when people think of you as non-binary, that can be a very clear indicator, perhaps even more reliable than dysphoria because it is less likely to be affected by other things, such as body insecurities.

    At the same time, it is not all that uncommon for lesbians to struggle with gender in some way of another. Definitely not all of us do, but a much larger number than people think does. The binary genders, as we know them, have traditionally very much been framed in a heterosexual manner – that is, to be male is to be attracted to women, and to be female is to be attracted (and more so, be attractive to) men – and by not being straight you’re completely throwing womanhood upside down and that can have a much greater impact on how we experience gender than people sometimes realize – and it does so even more when we don’t live up to other ideals of femininity. It’s for that reason that there are lesbians who use he/him pronouns, lesbians who bind, lesbian who do not feel comfortable with their genitals and therefore don’t like being touched. A lot of them find themselves struggling with ideas of womanhood; some of them eventually feel more comfortable identifying as non-binary or even a trans man, but many also continue to identify as women. I actually have struggled with my body (chest and hips mostly) myself and generally find myself in a bit of a grey area of not wanting to fit any box and just disconnecting myself from the concept of gender as a whole rather than figuring out if I’m female, or non-binary, or whatever. Gender is complicated as hell, and perhaps moreso when the very essence of what it has traditionally meant to be a woman is questioned through your sexuality.

    I definitely don’t want to push you into any direction or tell you what gender best suits you, I’d say these are some possibilities to consider and explore to get to the answer you might be looking for. And with explore I mean… experiment. You say you want to look more androgynous – why not play around with that a little? There are a lot of reversible things you can do to try out what works best of you, such as trying different outfits, getting a haircut, experimenting with pronouns and names (the easiest way to do that is online by just joining a new site under a different name and using different pronouns, and this forum also has a thread going around where you can try out different pronouns/names!), binding (with appropriate safety measures, so no ace bandages!), things like that. These may not necessarily give you a super clear answer regarding your gender (there are quite a number of people who have a hard time figuring out if they’re just super masculine butch lesbians, or straight trans men, for example, and kind of stay in that questioning phase for a long time or even forever) but what they can help you with is figuring out which things feel more you, and what makes you comfortable. It’s ok to not have a label to attach to all those feelings rightaway (or ever at all) because none of these things inherently mean something in themselves (short hair doesn't make anyone a man, appearing androgynous can be done within gender boundaries as well, it's much more about the accumulation and the feelings you generate through these actions) and there’s no rush to get these things done. Also, if you haven’t yet, look up other people’s stories! And with that I don’t just mean non-binary people, but try perspectives from anyone who was assigned female at birth but felt uncomfortable with that – trans men, non-binary people who transitioned, non-binary people who do notwant to transition, de-transitioned women and non-binary people, stone butches, lesbians who feel disconnected from womanhood, etc. Not to find a distinct category to place yourself in, but to figure out which things of your experience are actually quite common, and maybe to answer some questions you have. For me, for example, I learned a lot about what I did not want and feel by watching stories of trans men and, later, watching my friend, who is a trans man, transition. It can sometimes be hard to imagine what an experience would be like for ourselves, so other people’s stories can really offer insights.
     
    #2 tystnad, Sep 2, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2018
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  3. AnimalBLUE

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    Hi Dizzy Dreamer. I have to say, I completely agree with everything tystnad said above. Couldn’t have worded it any better. I too have been questioning my gender and having similar experiences to what you have mentioned above. I feel somehow that sexuality almost causes confusion in some cases when trying to figure things out about gender, mine certainly has. I grew up assuming that all gay women were butch or boyish (as a teenager 20 odd years ago) because this is the way that they were mainly portrayed. I always knew something was different about my gender but than discovered my attraction towards women. I then put all my gender issues down to being gay but in actual fact it’s taken another 18 years to realise that actually, my gender is separate and I’m somewhere between Male and female genders. I agree with Tystnad about experimenting with things such a clothes or names etc can help explore you’re gender further. Let us know how your getting on
     
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  4. Bagheera45

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    Hello, thanks so much for your posting this! It's great to feel you're not alone, as I also have similar questions and feelings that I haven't known how to ask barely anyone (except my finance). I think I will post those separately, not to detract from your own questions and expressions. But I agree with other people about creating "experiments" and seeing how things feel. Have a "hypothesis" and create a "experiment" that tests the hypothesis. I think I might try something similar myself. On another note, I study eating disorders in PhD school, and I currently do have a hypothesis that more people have gender dysphoria who have an eating disorder than were previously thought. It's a shame that current assessments of eating disorders or body image don't assess for gender dysphoria as part of body image. Anyways, the answer to why one wants to loose weight could have multiple reasons that may interact. In fact, a lot of your answers might be complicated, and that might be okay :slight_smile: Just my thoughts!
     
  5. shootingstar

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    Hi Dizzy Dreamer. I too am in my twenties and have always felt dysphoric about my chest, even though I am a cis female (and have never been in doubt about my gender). When I was a child I was terrified of the day I would start developing breasts. When I did, I did everything to hide them. I swapped tight shirts for baggy shirts, I refused to go swimming in a bikini, I refused to let people hug me because I couldn't stand the thought of them noticing my chest, and I started always wearing sweaters and jackets (even in summer). I always had great posture but, without realising it, I suddenly started hunching all the time – I did this for 8 yrs until my back got so unbearably painful I had to stop doing it (I still find myself hunching these days but I have to consciously stop myself doing so).

    The first time my mum forced me to go bra shopping I cried and cried. I thought I was just embarrassed, that this was how all girls felt when they were 12. I thought I had just not got used to having these things on my chest and that in a few years time I would love it. Well I was wrong. Fast-forward to today and my chest dysphoria has only got more unbearable.

    I obviously don't suffer from gender dysphoria (because I feel perfectly at ease in my cis female identity) and because of this I thought I couldn't possibly have dysphoria about my chest. Every story I came across on the internet was of trans and nb folk talking about their chest dysphoria as a part of their gender dysphoria. I thought, well I'm cis so these feelings I'm feeling about my chest can't possibly be dysphoria, right? But, then I read the ordinary definition of 'dysphoria' (not 'gender dysphoria) and this is when things changed for me. 'Dysphoria' just means a state of unease/ generalized dissatisfied with life....the opposite of euphoria. On that definition I do consider myself as having dysphoria about my chest – it makes me feel super distressed and dissatisfied to the point I often find myself crying. My dysphoria dictates what I wear, how I stand, the activities I do. My dysphoria is not something I feel in passing. I have experienced it every single day for years. Also, I should mention that what I experience is not body dysmorphia which is where a person obsessively fixates on a part of their body that they perceive to be flawed. I on the other hand do not look into the mirror and see my breasts as flawed.....I just can't stand having them on myself.

    I am fortunate to not have a large chest, but in saying that it's not tiny. I currently wear sports bras but am looking into buying a binder soon. The only reason I haven't bought I binder yet is because up until just recently I haven't felt like I was 'allowed' to because I'm not trans or nb. The same goes with top surgery (which I also hope to get in a few years). But now I honestly don't care what other people think. If wearing a binder makes you happier, then do that. Prioritise your happiness.

    So basically, what I'm trying to say is that if you do decide that you are cis, then it's perfectly valid to experience chest dysphoria. While it's not 'gender' dysphoria, it's still a type of dysphoria. Yes, it's not common but that does not make your feelings about your chest any less valid.

    Hope this can help you or someone out there :slight_smile: