body dysphoria

Algorithms of dysphoria

I am one of those fortunate trans people who don’t experience a lot of dysphoria around their gender. Really, for years now I’ve been in a place where I go long periods without thinking about my gender at all (which makes a certain kind of sense since I’m pretty much agender, to be honest. Why would I spend time thinking about something that doesn’t exist?*)

The dysphoria I do experience is mostly (maybe entirely?) social rather than physical/bodily – which is to say, I can and do experience discomfort related to my gender when I am misgendered (explicitly or implicitly), but my body itself isn’t a source of dysphoria for me. This makes me very lucky, because it means I can, and do, escape from sources of dysphoria on a regular basis. It’s a lot harder to run away from your own body.

But still, when you get right down to it, social and physical dysphoria aren’t as easily separable as all that. And this is an important point, because there are people who like to gatekeep non-dysphoric trans people, or solely socially dysphoric people from being considered Really Trans (TM). There’s a related misconception that direct physical dysphoria (that is, discomfort with one’s own body) is the only reason someone would pursue medical transition (hormones, surgery, etc.) – the true hallmark of being Really Trans.

Reality is, of course, far more complicated than that.

In fact, if I experience dysphoria because the shape of body causes people to misgender me, even though the *best* solution would be to teach people not to do that, the more expedient solution is still be medical intervention to my body (who wants to wait through the several generations it’s likely to take for the general population to get comfortable with trans people in general, let alone non-binary genders?) But in many cases, even if there are doctors near you that work with trans people in the first place, depending on the model of care they follow, simply being non-binary, being someone who experiences primarily social forms of dysphoria, could make you ineligible for their help.

So people who don’t experience the “right” kind of dysphoria can be stuck in a feedback loop of gatekeeping, they’re not Really Trans because we don’t seek medical intervention, but we often times *can’t* seek medical intervention, on the grounds of not being Really Trans

Ouch.

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*this is mostly facetious. Being gendered all the time when you’re agender can be pretty uncomfortable.

Dysphoria and how you manage it: 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge part 5

This post is part of my participation in the 30-day genderqueer challenge, which I have modified to a weekly exercise.

Today’s prompt: Dysphoria and how you manage it

I actually wrote a bit about this not too long ago, but I didn’t really address management tactics, so here goes.

The main thing for me, in dealing with the social dysphoria that inevitably comes from being misgendered on the daily by people who just plain old don’t know any better, is constant reminders that I am not defined by how others see me. I mean, hilariously, people also tend to assume I’m straight, so given that level of obliviousness, I find it hard to be bothered when they think gender is binary also.

I find it easiest to manage social dysphoria when I my self-presentation is authentic and when I haven’t already deliberately watered down my gender ambiguity out of fear. If I’ve deliberately presented myself as binary-gendered (whatever the fuck that even means, really…), then I find it harder to shake of misgendering that occurs, because I partially blame myself, even though I know that’s not actually valid or called for. on the flip side, if I’m looking good by my own standard, and if I feel awesome about the image I’m projecting, I’m just straight-up less likely to care what other people think about what I look like, so.

As for body dysphoria, I don’t have as much experience with it. Some days I look in the mirror and am surprised at what I see. Some days I am suddenly in love with my body and some days I am shocked when my body seems gendered to me in a way I don’t want it to be. I mean, I know bodies don’t have genders, I just don’t have better words for that experience. Sometimes I look in the mirror and see a woman’s body, and I have all kinds of feelings around that. Other days, I see my body, and it is a part of me and who I am, and it is great.

I don’t have any really solid ways of dealing body dysphoria, though it is usually mercifully short-lived for me. Binding helps, but if I am in this headspace, I will really only see the ways in which binding fails to give me a distinctly masculine shape, so it definitely doesn’t get at the root of the problem, whatever that may be.

The only other thing I can do is throw myself into activities that absorb my brain, the ones that settle me into a more agender space, where I am less aware of myself as a physical being, and more just a free-floating context-free self – writing, or watching tv, or crafting can do this for me. Though I think this might actually more honestly be an “ignore it til it goes away” approach rather than an actual preventative/management measure.

So yeah, I’d love to hear others’ strategies for dealing with body dysphoria, since I don’t really have any solid ones.


Catch the rest of my 30-week genderqueer challenge here!