DISCLAIMER: Gender dysphoria can be diagnosed as it dysphoria is a recognized medical condition, for which treatment is sometimes appropriate. It’s not a mental illness. Also a quick Content warning for menstruation, body dysphoria (chest), social dysphoria (misgendering, gendered language)
Gender dysphoria is defined as, ‘a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there’s a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity.’ Biological sex is assigned at birth (so, for example, AFAB stands for assigned female at birth), and gender identity is a sense of a persons gender (again, for example, I identify as non-binary, which, to me, means that I don’t subscribe to the gender binary).
Firstly, while biological sex and gender are the same for most people (this makes them ‘cisgender’, which means that their biological sex matches their gender identity), it isn’t true for everyone. For example, someone may be AMAB (assigned male at birth), but they identify as a woman, this means that they are a trans woman. This mismatch between biological sex and gender identity can cause gender dysphoria, and this can cause feelings of distress and discomfort. Secondly, there are two types of gender dysphoria: there’s body dysphoria (which is when you feel dissatisfied with certain areas of your body – e.g. your chest, waist), and social dysphoria (which is when you feel dysphoric is social situations – e.g. when you are being misgendered).
Firstly, I feel dysphoric about my menstrual cycle (a.k.a “that time of the month”, or “the period”, or, my favourite, “shark week”). Simply put, when I’m on my period, I don’t feel good mentally – I feel low, like I’m somehow not enough – I don’t feel like socializing (but I do, as means to temporarily take my mind off things). This is also intertwined with my chest dysphoria – normally, I think I’m pretty neutral about my chest. But as soon as I’m on my period, I feel disconnected from my chest, as well as my whole body, and I feel too ‘womanly.’ But there are some positives – what is helping with my menstrual dysphoria is two things – I use an app called “Clue” which basically a period tracking app, and a good think about is that it doesn’t assume your gender. I also call my uterus my ‘neutralus‘, and this makes me feel less dysphoric because it validates my uterus, and makes me feel more gender neutral.
Furthermore, I think the biggest cause of my dysphoria is my chest – I don’t currently bind, which sucks because I think it would lessen my dysphoria. Though I can manage wearing sports bras for now, it just still makes me slightly dysphoric, but to a lesser degree. But, again, there is a positive to this – I’m questioning if I’m a transmasculine non-binary person, and I am actually going to get my first binder, but its coming from the states, so it won’t arrive until much later / next year (but its something nice to look forward to!)
In terms of social dysphoria, its pretty mixed – since I currently live at home, I’m still misgendered and given typically ‘female’ terms (like ‘daughter’ and ‘girl’) – this makes me feel dysphoric because I’m not a girl, but I’m also not a boy – I don’t subscribe to the gender binary, so terms like girl and daughter does suck, I will admit. But on the flip side, my friends, who are mostly LGBTQ+ to be fair, use my pronouns, which makes me feel euphoric – additionally, I’ve recently came out to them as possibly being transmasculine, and they were all super fine with it, which is another positive.
Overall, I know where these factors that play into my dysphoria come from – they come from certain aspects of my body and socialization that I don’t like, but articulating this burden is something that I don’t know how to explain, because I’m not very good at saying how I feel. But, I can compare it to clothing. OK, so wearing clothing, like a jumper or a button up shirt, that is the wrong size obviously feels uncomfortable – in comparison, being referred to as ‘she‘ feels like being forced to wear said jumper that is the wrong size. But being referred to as ‘they‘- that feels like finding that comfortable piece of clothing that perfectly fits – I don’t know how to fully describe it – but, it just feels – right ? But with my recent discovery that I may be transmasculine, the odd he / him pronoun being thrown in may also make me feel euphoric, so at least
But in terms of my body – my, temple, if you will – may need some refurbishing, which could many forms – and it is perfectly OK to want to change certain parts of your body if it will make you feel more comfortable in your own body, whether you are cisgender or not. The two that come to mind are that I could either start binding (which is the process of flattering your chest), or taking low doses of testosterone (which is something that I have no desire doing – for now, at least). But I don’t want to end this on a negative note – I’m going to take baby steps (like getting a binder for instance) in order to make sure I feel as euphoric as I can, and though it may take some time, I know it will be worth it – I’m also glad that I am able to find the positive aspects to the aspects that makes me feel euphoric, because I know that walloping in self – pity won’t get me anywhere, and I like to think of myself as quite an optimistic person.