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Is this actually dysphoria, or did I do this to myself?

Discussion in 'Gender Identity and Expression' started by Oddsocks, Jun 14, 2021.

  1. Oddsocks

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    So, weird question. I'll start out with some context.

    My gender is Big Shrug. I've never hated my body, and still don't. Puberty was just a, "Oh, okay, I guess this is happening, I'm very glad this was explained in advance." I came to questioning my gender in my mid-teens (I'm now 28) and even then, didn't have strong feelings about my body beyond frustrations about how it sabotaged my intentions to present in a neutral or ambiguous way.

    This isn't to say I've never ever had any kind of physical "dysphoria" - I had my moments. But mainly, my body is just the thing I live in, and for a very long time I barely even thought about it. My hair mattered more than my body did! Not that I didn't imagine more ideal bodies - according to old emails and blog posts, I contemplated top surgery, and envied the appearance of transmasc folks early in transition. But ultimately I always said that I "don't think I'd ever go through with it".

    But now, I am distinctly Weird about my chest. It's been on and off for the last few years. I don't hate it - it still just is, right? But I keep conceptualising it as "extra". They feel like they're in the way, I've stopped interacting with my chest for the most part except when I'm obsessing over trying to elicit an emotion about it. I find my obsessive gender questioning quiets when I bind. I like how I look when I bind. When I depict myself in art, I don't include my chest accurately (or feel weird if I do). If I catch the sight of myself shirtless in the mirror I am compelled to interrogate the sight: how do I feel about this? Am I okay with this? What would I even want, instead? By all accounts, this looks like dysphoria...but I don't feel like it can be.

    I can't tell whether I've just made my chest the scapegoat for my whole gender conflict - I know there's part of me that's hyper-aware that nothing about my body is indistinguishable from a cis woman's body, and that's the most obvious culprit for that. Nothing about my body feels 'wrong' or like it's not meant to be like it is - like, it is like that, so...? I get afraid that if I changed it, even though I feel no clear attachment to my chest, that I'd have missed something and I'd regret it and discover what dysphoria really feels like. Sometimes, when I'm newly awake, I don't feel weird about it at all and it's completely fine, and that seems suspect to me, because surely the least conscious version of me would have the most accurate reaction to my body, freed from the overthinking spiral?

    I don't get it, and it's weird. The whole experience seems contradictory.

    How do you tell real feelings apart from like...making yourself weird about your body because there's no 'proof' your gender is a thing? I can't tell if I'm going, 'Having a flat chest would make me Really not a cis girl', or if I'm going, 'I would be happier in a body of a different shape'? How the hell do you work that out?
     
  2. Mihael

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    To me it feels like the body never will be validating. No matter what you do or don't do, a trans person will never be cis. On the other hand, it can feel validating to look more like what you feel you are.

    So... I have no clue about gender dysphoria per say, it never felt for me like what it apparently does for most trans people. I would say that... what people say "you will feel dysphoria when you transition and aren't really trans", so I wpuld say how I would interpret that, this gender dysphoria doesn't have to do with any specific body part or something, it's just... you're in the wrong packaging. I'm not sure how to word it better. And... to me being in the wrong shell felt like what you are describing. I would also obsess that maybe I should be feeling more discomfort with my body parts and looked for a way to... mark myself as not a girl / as a dude. I never felt this way about my chest, maybe because it's small and a sports bra is enough to make it disappear. But I would feel bad about not feeling any discomfort with any specific body part to prove that I'm trans and felt bad about not being comfortable with hrt. (Not that it would make me look like a dude, I already look like a dude without it, but taking medication for the rest of my life scares me)

    Also my thoughts about body changes... you should be doing them for yourself. So if you do obsess about the chest, maybe pursue top surgery? Just to feel more comfortable and more valid? Nothing wrong with doing something to feel secure and just for satisfaction. Besides - even if you had a baby to take care of, there are plenty of artificial milks for babies on the market and even cis women use it. I'm not sure what other options transmasculine folks have? It's pretty much hrt and top surgery. Plus you can do with your body whatever makes you feel more comfortable, like exercising or taking birth control, but it's the same as for cis women. Plus, afab trans people like the mini pill /progestin only birth control, because it gets rid of periods.

    Also another random thought - social transition let me feel a lot more valid. It's a huge difference. I don't know how far you went with that, but using the right name and pronouns and being treated like a guy make me feel a lot better.

    And yeah, I transitioned socially, but I run into these loops too. That I don't feel okay with hrt, don't think much of my chest and even though I would want metoidoplasty, I feel like the stakes are high, my junk isn't impossible to use and if something goes wrong, it might become impossible to use. I naturally have slight facial hair, and it feels validating, that I'm not "just a girl", but... I had a downer recently that it makes no sense to get my documents changed to male if I can still give birth to a baby and need to go to the gyno every now and then (potential tumors, as above). I think that maybe I could pull it off, because I have some male traits and have an androgynous physique, but... yeah, gyno and babies. So it's a never ending story. While some changes offer satisfaction, the satisfaction might never be complete, because there will always be something, trans person will never be cis. Or idk. Maybe that would go away after hrt and hysto... if there would be nothing left in the body to make it female. Well, just my three cents on that.
     
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  3. clockworkfox

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    So, I'm coming at this with the perspective of someone who 100% wants top surgery. I am supremely bothered by my chest, I've always hated having boobs, but it isn't a fixation for me 24 hours a day. It's easy to wonder, when you realize that you haven't given it a second thought for a while, "huh, did the dysphoria go away??", and I'm always shocked when it's been days, or even weeks, where I haven't been miserable about my least favorite body part.

    There's definitely a "trans narrative" that we toss around about dysphoria, and how it feels, and we use it as a marker for transness. BUT. Everyone's experience varies. And everyone's dysphoria varies. I wouldn't drive yourself bonkers trying to determine if you have "real" dysphoria.

    You mentioned feeling indifferent about your chest in your earliest waking moments of the day...that's typically how I feel as I'm waking up, too. And I still know that, at some point and preferably sooner rather than later, I do want top surgery. For me, I stopped measuring my dysphoria, and started trying to chase after my euphoria. I'm tired of transness being marked with self-deprecation, social awkwardness, and body obsession. I want to hear about trans joy, about the euphoria that comes with finally feeling seen, and finally feeling at home in your body, whether that means medical transition or simply some new clothes and a haircut.

    For me, having a flat chest would bring me a ton of gender euphoria. It would be dishonest to say that the dysphoria is constant, but the euphoria definitely would be. That's my deciding factor right there. Chase your euphoria, whatever that means for you.
     
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  4. Oddsocks

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    Thank you both for your perspectives, I really appreciate it. <3 It's reassuring to hear experiences that aren't extremely Classic Trans Narrative, because my stuff is very not-that, haha.

    Oh, for sure. After like seven years of angst and uncertainty and near-attempts with names that never made it outside of my close friend circle, I've finally started what I guess people would call "social transition"? And so far it feels good! I like the name I'm using (more or less my given name genderbent, which I'm trying to not be embarrassed about but the only thing I didn't like about my given name was how gendered it was) and liking the name has made me even firmer about my pronouns. I simply am not having it with she/her next to my new name, and that feels affirming in and of itself.

    That's incredibly reassuring to hear from someone with clearer-cut dysphoria than mine. And I feel that! It's just a bit of a scary thing, because chasing euphoria has been basically all leaps of faith for me. I didn't know if I'd like my name, because last leaps had failed. This time, nailed it, hell yes. But surgery is so huge - it's not something I want to be a leap, but at the same time, I just feel so much better when I don't have to deal with my chest. When I bind, I never want to take my binder off - or at least, I want to take it off to rest my body but I don't want to have them back as a result. So I'm starting to think maybe it's worth giving genuine thought, considering how my response to the question of, "How would you feel if you woke up with a flat/barely-there chest?" is always, "Relieved."

    Definitely something to think about. I shall continue to mull. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:
     
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  5. Mihael

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    I feel you on that. Surgeries are scary. Something might go wrong and they're irreversible. But it might be worth pusuing if you want it in a persistent manner. And what might go wrong with top surgery? For sure less stuff than with bottom (meto/phallo specifically, hysto is safer all in all). So mainly what might go wrong is you not liking a flat chest after all.
     
  6. Oddsocks

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    Exactly. And realistically, I don't think I'd not like a flat chest. I can't see how I'd miss a feature I've been going out of my way to keep out of my way and out of my mind? It's just permanence that's scary. But considering that I'm also scared of the permanence of not getting top surgery, like. Hmm. We'll see what happens I guess, I'll give it a little time, keep observing my feelings. Thank you, again. <3
     
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