Gender Dysphoria, Who?

Insecurity is pretty common, right? I wake up and say hello to a few insecurities daily. My best friend has qualms about her skin, while my wife worries about her hair and I’d be willing to bet you have a couple too. If you don’t, please teach me your secret! Now, think about those insecurities and dig a little deeper. Tap into the discomfort and questioning it makes you then add the idea that the reflection you see or the body you feel isn’t properly reflecting who you are. That’s roughly the weight of gender dysphoria, give or take a few pounds of detail. I’ve touched on it before but today, it gets the spotlight. Gender dysphoria rears its ugly head when a “person believes the gender they were assigned at birth is not the same as the gender they perceive themselves to be.” Gender identity assigned at birth is either boy or girl and it was assigned according to sex, male or female. So, what does it mean when you feel gender dysphoria, and what do you do about it?

First of all, it doesn’t mean something is incurably wrong or necessarily needs a “fix,” so don’t panic! It means your mind is in distress or discomfort and possibly confusion. If you’re feeling gender dysphoria, which displays itself differently in different individuals, it also means you successfully achieved some self-discovery. Now that you know what you’re feeling, you can do something about it. Wait, you don’t know for sure if you’re dysphoric or just insecure? That’s fine. There are questions and trials you can work through to figure out the difference. Keep in mind, you don’t have to surgically alter your body! If your dysphoria comes from your sex being obvious (oh, my DD chest that fights all binders for example) and causes people label you as male or female, try binding breasts or oppositely stuffing a bra. Try packing or try tucking. If you feel more confident seeing yourself express the opposite gender, a mix of both or no gender, if you feel satisfied when people gender you as the opposite of what you’ve been called before or can’t tell your gender, then it’s likely you’ve been feeling dysphoria. Through those experiments, you may have found out which parts of your body cause it too. For some people it’s as simple as their hair, but a simple action can have a life changing impact.

If the haircut is just the beginning and binding or stuffing a bra is a stepping stone to a more permanent solution, this could mean your gender dysphoria led you to discover you’re trans. Transgender is an identity for “people who identify as the opposite gender from their birth sex [or] are moving across gender or sex boundaries”. If you’re not comfortable self assessing, there are gender therapists and other types of doctors to help with that. Most surgeons who perform gender reassignment require a referral and being on hormones for six or so months anyway! Now, just because you transition your body doesn’t mean you have to pick a gender. To display gender neutral, non binary or even gender fluid in a way that makes you feel comfortable and true to yourself, you can physically transition your body. Those that do are still transgender. Even though they don’t use he/him or she/her pronouns, they went through a transition to get to they/them. Trans can actually act as an umbrella like the term queer and to read more on what it covers or many gender non conforming identities, visit SexInfo Online. Identity is personal. If you choose to say non binary, trans non-binary or that which you identify with, more power to you. 

There are many elements to reducing gender dysphoria. I say reducing because even with developments, it may remain and while that’s a daunting thought, it’s a consequence of being imperfect but beautifully complex creatures. The elements range from jumping head first out of the gender binary with articles of clothing, makeup, even the way you speak, to starting hormones that alter your body’s internal and external composition. The task of determining if you feel strong insecurity versus gender dysphoria is daunting as well as no one can tell you the answer but yourself. You can talk through it with friends, family, doctors from different specialization but they can only be your mirror. It’s up to you to be honest, which can be hard when you’re confused. That’s why another thing you do is take things slow. If you ask yourself questions, experiment with change and feel deep connections to personal experiences like that of a gender non conforming role model of mine Ash Hardell then it may be easier for you to go quickly. Otherwise, don’t be surprised if it takes years to discover who you are. There’s no deadline to know by and, dysphoria aside, we never stop learning who we are and changing. It’d be great if we all just went through puberty once, in our teens, and knew who we were that young so we could start living life as whoever we consider our “self” then but that doesn’t mean it’s the incomparable right way. It just seems ideal. 

It’s not the length of a timeline that matters though: how long you deliberate dysphoria or how long it takes to transition if you decide to. What counts is the product of your deliberation. Congratulations to those who knew in an instant and quickly developed but for the rest of us, we shouldn’t compare ourselves to them. We must be motivated by them and happy for them and keep searching ourselves. There is a Ted Talk by Audrey, a non conforming teen where they explain gender, the application of it and pronouns in a way I never discovered until I reached college and began studying gender and sexuality! So, the last thing to do, is actually a don’t. Don’t compare yourself to others, you’re only in competition with yourself to be a happier and healthier person than you were before.