To read previous posts in this blog series, click here.
I was actually flipping through my previous blog posts and I realized that I never did one on gender dysphoria. That's kind of like a huge oversight, isn't it?
What is gender dysphoria (official explanation)?
All of this is taken from the National Health Service (NHS) of the UK. You can read it and sort of make your own interpretations.
Gender dysphoria is a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there's a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity. It's sometimes known as gender incongruence.
Biological sex is assigned at birth, depending on the appearance of the genitals. Gender identity is the gender that a person "identifies" with or feels themselves to be.
While biological sex and gender identity are the same for most people, this isn't the case for everyone. For example, some people may have the anatomy of a man, but identify themselves as a woman, while others may not feel they're definitively either male or female.
This mismatch between sex and gender identity can lead to distressing and uncomfortable feelings that are called gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is a recognised medical condition, for which treatment is sometimes appropriate. It's not a mental illness.
Some people with gender dysphoria have a strong and persistent desire to live according to their gender identity, rather than their biological sex. These people are sometimes called transsexual or trans people. Some trans people have treatment to make their physical appearance more consistent with their gender identity.
Signs of gender dysphoria:
The first signs of gender dysphoria can appear at a very young age. For example, a child may refuse to wear typical boys' or girls' clothes, or dislike taking part in typical boys' or girls' games and activities.
In most cases, this type of behaviour is just part of growing up and will pass in time, but for those with gender dysphoria it continues through childhood and into adulthood.
Adults with gender dysphoria can feel trapped inside a body that doesn't match their gender identity.
They may feel so unhappy about conforming to societal expectations that they live according to their anatomical sex, rather than the gender they feel themselves to be.
They may also have a strong desire to change or get rid of physical signs of their biological sex, such as facial hair or breasts.
Who gets gender dysphoria?
Most transgender people, but not necessarily all transgender people, experience some form of gender dysphoria. Some non-binary people experience gender dysphoria. It really differs from person to person, but honestly there are tons of commonalities.
If two transgender people meet each other and discuss their gender dysphoria, often times one will end up nodding their head because the feelings and sentiments are very recognizable. The patterns can end up being quite similar.
One thing about gender dysphoria is that we aren't born with it.
It develops over time just like some people develop eating disorders.
Sometimes it gets better and sometimes it gets worse. It waxes and wanes. It can also occur at different intensities. For some people, it's only a mild blur at the back of their head. For other people, it drives them to the brink of desperation and the edge of suicide.
Honestly, it's very variable.
What is it like to have gender dysphoria?
Let's do a thought exercise!
Imagine that you are a 5-year old girl.
All of the friends that you have are girls, you get along with the girls, and basically since as long as forever, you've felt like you connect more with the girls, empathize with them, and understand them better than the boys.
The friend group that you have feels like home. You feel like you share more commonalities with them, so you identify with them. They are your people. Your species.
Boys? Well, I mean, they're like aliens.
They don't stop making jokes about poop and farting and they think running around spanking each other with toy trains are so cool~ Chuu chuu~
You continue on in your merry life for several more years.
One day, you wake up in the morning and come out of the shower and realize that you have hair stubble on your face.
You take your first glance and instantly you hate it.
Why? Well, I mean, what kind of girl would like it if they started growing a beard?
It looks weird as fuck and makes you ugly. Who in the world likes a girl with a beard? It's disgusting and everyone will hate you forever because of it. All girls are quite conscious about their appearance (reminder: puberty is also when sexuality develops), and it's the nightmare of every middle school girl to be perpetually ugly forever and forever and forever.
Anyways, you shave away that hair.
The next morning it grows back.
No matter how much you shave, it keeps growing, mocking you no matter what you do.
Soon, your shoulder starts broadening and your voice starts deepening.
Your fair skin disappears and instead you're becoming somebody you don't even recognize. You might as well have grown horns and a tentacle out of your head because you've basically transformed into an alien.
At this point, it's impossible to avoid.
You are not a girl.
Every time you look into the mirror, the little voice in your head screams at you that fact. It makes your head hurt. It makes your heart wrench and feel empty.
Your old friends don't want to be friends with you anymore.
Well, not exactly, but at the very least they don't include you in everything they used to.
In a blink of an eye, you find yourself alone.
All of a sudden, you're thrown into this isekai world where all of a sudden you have to figure out how to sink or swim in this alien body. Since you can't interact with girls, you find yourself sort of flailing around the boys side of the classroom confused and lost.
Boys have their own ways of hazing and social pyramid, and the culture shock can be very severe. You don't even know how to talk like a bro, and when somebody whips out a porn mag and says "Dude, check out those enormous tits!", you kind of just... ha-haha? ...laugh along?
Uh... am I on Mars?
Oh fuck, you kind of have to stay undercover and pretend you're a martian like everybody else.
You sort of end up with your head in a toilet like the little fatty being bullied over there, right?
I mean, the ultimate sin of betrayal of brotherhood is to be OMG UR A FAG!!!! Guys wave around their dicks trying to be the most masculine/dominant, and the worse insult that you can call a dude is that they're GAY (oh the horror!). People actually start fights over that kind of stuff.
Fake your way up the social pyramid or end up with your head in a toilet.
Yup, that sums it up.
The days, months, and years pass by.
You look at yourself in the mirror and the only thought that you have is how disgusting and ugly you look. No matter how many muscles you build up from doing workouts or how conventionally attractive you might have become, your mind is fixated on those same parts of the body that you've always found ugly.
Ugly and ugly and ugly.
You wish all of those parts could just disappear.
You are not a girl.
You are not a girl.
Some of us start cutting ourselves. Others find themselves in a spiral of depression.
How do we get ourselves out of this hole?
How is gender dysphoria treated?
The problem with gender dysphoria is that it's mental spiral that occurs solely because of the incongruence between our gender identities and the lives that we live.
Many of us figure out with our own trial and error what makes the dysphoria slightly better.
If mirrors trigger a spiral of negativity, avoid mirrors.
If body hair makes you think you're disgusting, get rid of it all.
I crossdressed a little just to make myself calm down.
It's a constant battle against our own mind and hearts.
Many of us come to the obvious conclusion that we if we just lived as the other gender, the dysphoria would go away (and it does). This is why transgender people exist and why people get hormone therapy, puberty blockers, and all those other treatments.
Being caught in a spiral of gender dysphoria is a little like depression.
At its worst times, you don't want to get out of bed, go to work, school, class or anything. It's absolutely paralyzing because your brain is literally filled with how much you hate yourself. I remember timthes not being able to sleep, suffering through it all, and rolling over and looking at the clock and it's 4 o'clock in the morning. This entire time, I'm doing nothing but agonizing about how no matter what I do, I'll never be able to compare to someone who was born the normal way.
Currently, the standard of practice in the medical community in the United States and the UK is to treat severe gender dysphoria by helping transgender people validate their gender identity (either through counseling and/or medications), because it's proven to improve outcomes in the research data.
It was not very long ago when we used to have gay-conversion therapy or psychotherapy to try to turn transgender people back into normal cisgender people. Those therapies from back then were a disaster because LGBT people killed themselves more frequently than baseline under those types of old therapy, which is precisely why the modern medical establishment gave up on those 20th century strategies.
That's basically the state of how things are right now. o7