The many faces of gender dysphoria

This beautiful article by Sam Dylan Finch (Let’s Queer Things Up!) has opened my eyes! All my life I thought that I wasn’t dysphoric, until now. Gender dysphoria was for me, this is how I got told, that you know you’re transgender and you feel a strong denying or disgust towards your body, but also you know what your body should look like. But Sam beautifully describes it’s so much more!

For a long time, I couldn’t place why — I just felt ugly.

And not just in the insecure way, but in the something-is-so-wrong-but-I-can’t-place-what way.

Yes! All my life I felt ugly. Especially in my childhood this feeling was very strong. I assumed it was because of me being very tall and due to my tumour disease, severe underweight. But the feeling lasted until my adult years. Even after I’ve had let myself persuate into becoming more feminine and people telling me how “beautiful” and how much I “look like a model”, I still felt ugly and very uncomfortable.

When I look at old pictures of myself, though, I start to understand. For one, it doesn’t even look like me.

It wasn’t that I was ugly, so much as I didn’t look like myself. But not even knowing what “transgender” meant, I didn’t have a point of reference to understand my feelings at the time.

It doesn’t look like me. This feeling I can relate to very much! Every time someone wanted to take pictures of me, I was hiding. And if they got a snap of me, I looked at it and thought “That doesn’t look like me.” But since I didn’t understand what was behind this feeling, not knowing that transgender people existed, I couldn’t tell what me should have looked like.

There’s this narrative around transness, that we all knew immediately that we were meant to transition, meant to live in a different body, that the gender we were assigned is not the gender we actually are. For many of us, however, that’s simply not our story.

Oh yes! Although I had a sense of that I wasn’t a girl, I couldn’t believe myself. It is very hard, almost impossible, to realize this if your whole life, from when you were a toddler, every adult around you tells you that you are your assigned gender.
So I came to conclusion that I was just a very odd cis girl.
I remember a situation when I was around 12, I was talking with my cousin about how much I disliked my name, that it didn’t feel like my name, that I didn’t feel like it represents me. Her response was, that she didn’t like her name either because it was complicated to spell and that every person dislikes their name and you will get used to it.
That’s not the same.
Or different situations when I tried to communicate what I disliked on my body because it feels wrong. “Every woman dislikes something on her body. That’s normal!”
For many years my actual gender dysphoria was dismissed as “normal woman feeling about their body” (can’t find more accurate words at the moment).
That’s the reason I needed 30 years of my life to get that I was transgender.

I was drawn to short hair, and after cutting it, I felt euphoric in a way I couldn’t deny.

I had my hair short as a kid, so I cut it short again after I got rid of my toxic ex-boyfriend. At first I felt shocked and sad because it was so really short. Although I always loved having short hair, in the beginning it felt bad.
All my life I learnt how a girl was supposed to be, was pressured into feminity, so I was shocked when my hair looked “too short”. Girls were supposed to have long hair, to be feminine and I was never like that. It was what I was supposed to be, what everybody around me, assumed me to be. To break out of this toxic stereotype and genderroles was damn hard and a long journey.
My transition started odd. Already before my inner coming out, I switched between masculine and feminine presentation. I liked being masculine more but I was supposed to be feminine because I was a girl. So I first came out as genderfluid. But the masculine days came often and more often, so I started to explore my identity more deeply. It was a long hard road to the thought “What do YOU want?” and not listen what I was supposed to be.

I can’t really remember when, how, I got to know about transgender people but I do remember it were only sterotype stories: Always being boyish, liking “manly hobbies”, liking girls, dressing masculine-> coming out as trans man.
That wasn’t me. I didn’t like “manly things” like cars and sports. I wasn’t interested in girls. So I thought, “I can’t be trans. I’m just a weird girl.”
Only when I was 30 I got to know about different transgender experiences, and about nonbinary people. Though when I realized that I was trans, I came out as binary trans man. I didn’t know that being nonbinary was an option, and that it was possible to live so.


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