dysphoria is a disorder. being trans is not.
when it comes to dysphoria, i feel like a lot of people are afraid to really talk about it in any sort of analytical way. i think it’s something that’s incredibly important to talk about, especially with kids, because of all the ways it crops up, but we only really hear about it when we talk about being trans, and if we do, we don’t talk about it for very long and try to ignore it, or shove it under the rug. it’s ‘oh, i have dysphoria’ but never questioning why or trying to understand our very specific and unique, personal brand of dysphoria on a deeper level. it’s hard to face, it absolutely is. i’ve barely gotten there.
body dysphoria can come from a lot of things. for me: parental abuse, bullying, sexual assault, my other disorders, a side effect of my PTSD, a side effect of harsh roles pressured onto me without my consent, such as gender roles.
i tried everything. medication and talk therapy, to self-harm and drug addiction. nothing helped and nothing took away my pain. i was never happy, i wasn’t able to look myself in the mirror, no matter how much i tried to love myself. i spent years fantasizing about suicide. the only times i felt happy were when i was able to ‘pretend’ to be someone else, live off in a different world. i had no control over my body or my self-expression.
when i escaped the worst of my abuse, i was finally able to really analyze myself and discover things about myself safely. after coming to terms with why i felt this way, understanding myself and how i could benefit and be harmed by my choices, i decided transitioning medically was the last thing i could do to try and help the dysphoria i had to such a massive scale. so i started hormone therapy.
and i was right, my quality of life is significantly higher, i am finally able to love myself, i am now finally able to respond to talk therapy and be productive and think for the future and engage with the world -
but i think a lot of people assume that dysphoria is exclusively a trans thing. i would be surprised if i ever met someone who had never once experienced dysphoria in some way. and i think it’s important that we recognize that many of us have dysphoria, and having dysphoria doesn’t automatically mean you’re trans or that medically transitioning is the only way to be happy.
i think what we need to do is understand that everyone has a unique experience with dysphoria. and it’s very easy to fall into the trap of seeing what worked for someone else and replicate it without really thinking about how it will effect us personally, and when it comes to things that can be permanent this is really dangerous.
being trans is part of my therapy and part of my self-made, personalized prescription against dysphoria. we need to create thoughtful, purposeful, and educational ways to discuss dysphoria openly and give kids the tools to deal with it as best they can so they can be ready to make their own educated decisions about their own bodies and find out what makes them, PERSONALLY, happy and fulfilled and comfortable with themselves inside and out.
i see a lot of people sad that they’re not where i am because i am happy, but they equate being happy with medically transitioning without really thinking for themselves whether it’s really right for them. because for some people it isn’t all they thought it was going to be. it’s not a magic thing that will make all of your problems go away and i know some people think this, i thought that before i sat down with myself. some people tell me how lucky i am, how wonderful my life must be - and yes, there is some weight off my back, but there’s a dangerous slope of thinking that anything will make your problems suddenly vanish. there are bad things and good things. life is not a perfect upwards incline since starting T. it’s rocky, it can be frustrating, i still have bad days.
the only way to make your problems go away is to try and find the source, find the resources, find the ability and wording to explain to yourself why you need something, why you want something, how what you want can help you and how it can hurt you and what YOUR truth is. not anybody else’s. your truth will not be someone else’s truth. nobody else can tell you what your truth is and nobody can know better than you. someone else’s truth is not yours, and trying to apply it to your life without any criticism of yourself and how you really, really feel can hurt you.
learning to love yourself and overcoming body issues is not an exclusively trans experience. body dysphoria is an incredibly powerful and terrible thing that we as humans often experience to massively different degrees, and there is no one-size-fits-all ‘cure’. you’re the only one who can make yours. be honest with yourself and write things out, explain yourself to yourself openly and at your own pace, and come to your truth. it’s going to be better than anybody else’s truth and it’s going to be tailor-made for you.