layers of dysphoria

lately, i’ve been thinking about the ways i experience dysphoria.  my dysphoria seems to occur in layers like a rainbow jar cake, only shitty instead of awesome.

also, i’m gonna try to keep this organized cuz dysphoria is a big, messy topic.  yeah.

*   *   *

the top layer: social dysphoria

for a while, social dysphoria was the worst thing ever for me, but body dysphoria wasn’t a problem.  i was all like, i love my tits!  yay for my tits!  but i’m gonna die next time i get misgendered, zomg!

then i came out to a shit ton of people.  i started insisting on non-gendered pronouns, i legally changed my name, i started wearing a gender tag, and i calmed down about my social dysphoria.

i mean, it’s still a big deal for me cuz i get read as a binary person 100% of the time, but i feel like i can fucking respond to misgendering.  like, you fucking misgender me and i will correct you.  i know where all the gender-inclusive bathrooms are in my town and i refuse to use gendered bathrooms.  my teachers know i’m a nonbinary trans* person, my family knows, my buddies know– and most of them are supportive.  basically, i’m transitioning socially and i’m fucking handling my social dysphoria like a boss.

i think my social dysphoria will always be an issue cuz, like, i don’t know what to do even do in order to consistently be read as nonbinary.  i think i’d settle for confusing some people for a split second, ya know?  like, “what are you?!!  oh, you look like a woman/man.  ok, then.”  that’d be good enough, i think.  so social dysphoria forever, though it’s somewhat alleviated.

*   *   *

the next layer: body dysphoria

body dysphoria wasn’t an issue for me for a long time, though i struggled with it during puberty.  like, shit sucked for a while, but i guess i buried my body dysphoria or something cuz there were long years when it didn’t even come up.  now that i’m not obsessing over my social dysphoria, though, it turns out there’s a gross mess of body dysphoria underneath the social dysphoria.  oog.

(note: for me, body dysphoria is about my tits and my…”inside-junk.”  i’m not going to do anything about my inside-junk for a while, if ever, but my tits are GOING.  and i can’t talk about my inside-junk cuz dysphoria.  so let’s not go there, lovelies.)

so i’ve been binding more and more often, having meltdowns when i can’t get flat enough (or can’t bind cuz i have to sing at school), and fantasizing about killing a rich person and stealing their money to fund top surgery.

i do this thing where i put on 2 binders, put on my magical binding clothes (they’re encrusted with faery dust and they make me look flatter), look in the mirror, and try to see myself in there.  now that i have 2 binders that work well together, it’s usually not hard to see mx. punk in the mirror.  usually, i just glance in the mirror and start crying in relief.

before i had 2 binders, though, i couldn’t get very flat at ALL.  i’d struggle with the velcro and the flesh, get all leaky and upset, give up on getting flatter, and squint at my reflection to try to find mx. punk.

the first time i did that was in spring 2012.  except, it wasn’t really the first time.  it was the first time in fucking YEARS, but when i started trying to find the mx. punk in the mirror, i remembered doing it before.  i did it constantly in middle school.  like, go to the bathroom– squish tits down and squint at the mirror.  try on clothes– squish tits down and squint at the mirror.  etc.

i think i seriously buried that shit.

so, yeah.  top surgery asap.  it’ll probably take years, but i’ll save the money somehow.  it’s funny how quickly i went from “i love my tits” to “get them off get them OFF!  GETTHEMTHEFUCKOFFME!!!!”  i guess that’s what happens when you peel back one layer of dysphoria and find another layer of dysphoria.

*   *   *

i don’t know where i’m going with this ramble-y post, but i think i’ll stop now.  i should be doing homework anyway.  any thoughts, cats?  has anyone else experienced this weird layering of dysphoria?  and what if there’re more layers?!!  talk to me, peoples!  <3

12 responses to “layers of dysphoria

  1. Well, for me, I barely had any dysphoria before I acknowledged that I was trans*. As soon as I admitted it though, the floodgates opened. The body dysphoria got worse. I disliked my body hair, so I removed it. Now if I see any growing I have to remove them Immediately. I can’t do anything about my facial hair shadow unfortunately. I’ve never liked seeing pictures of myself, but now I hate even looking in the mirror. As time goes on, my social dysphoria gets worse and worse. Before removing my body hair, I never really had genital dysphoria, now though, I can’t even really talk about it.

    So yeah, layers upon layers upon layers. It’s like an onion, peel back one layer and find another.

  2. whoa, cat. i feel ya. <3333 i'm glad i'm not alone on this one, though i wouldn't wish dysphoria layers on anyone; they're weird.

    i feel like there must be more layers under this tit-thing. really, i think the top layer of my body dysphoria is tit-related and the next layer is probably inside-junk-related.

    only, i've been dealing with my inside-junk by pretending it isn't there since the big bleed began. before that, i believed i didn't have anything in there– maybe some crayons or something. so i don't know if it's really another layer or if it's just reallyreally bad and i know i can't do anything about it right now. (i should really write a post about my inside-junk…)

  3. Woah, such a timely post! I’ve recently had dyphoria sneak up on me too, and it caught me totally off-guard. I’m more-or-less ok with my chest, but my “nether-bits”? WHOLE OTHER STORY. Basically I thought I was generally ok with it, like I’m ok as long as I don’t have to think about it, but recently I had to LOOK down there and I ended up crying on the bathroom floor for like two hours and my brain was like WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE OMG OMG OMG. It SUCKED and I’m really struggling with it right now. So yeah. Hear ya loud and clear, cat. Solidarity.

  4. I can relate to this post and to e(m)’s comment. One thing is I think that comes from being cis-identified (necessarily, because there is no other way) before one comes out as trans, you don’t have an explanation for some things, so you ignore it, or if you feel discomfort it must be from something else.

    Then again, it is okay for feelings to change (and I don’t know why this is such a big scary idea, or why everything always has to be One Way Forever And Ever Amen or else it’s Not True – you know what I’m saying.)

  5. I don’t understand life, but that metaphor about the onion and the jar of sand make a lot of sense. I’ve been peeling those onions on my way down the rabbit hole for a little while now. I only hope there are crayons down there.

    I distinctly remember when I was about 13 and hated it because my breasts were pointy and more noticeable because I was supposed to be a boy and I got kinda chubby. But on some level I knew I didn’t want to be a boy, just that I was “supposed” to be one, but “supposed” became: “I’m going to ignore all this because I’m already kind of an outsider.” Now I can’t wait to have tits.

    Life is fucking strange.

  6. @tendergender: <3 internet hugs if you want them, cat! <3 that sounds pretty rough. all the solidarity!

    also, i'm glad my post is resonating with peoples and i'm glad we're talking about this.

  7. @ sc boy: “before one comes out as trans, you don’t have an explanation for some things, so you ignore it…” holy fuck. i think you’re seriously onto something, cat. like, i’ve been experiencing dysphoria all my life, but i still went through long periods where i buried/”forgot” that i knew i wasn’t a girl when i was little. but the dysphoria was always there. so, yeah. holy shit.

    about feelings changing, folks get pretty uptight about that shit. so uptight, honestly, that i’m often too scared to mention for how many years i believed i was a girl (even though some of the dysphoria was always there and i didn’t know what it was). like, i fucking loved my tits a year ago.

    but really, think how much people change between birth and death! each moment, you’re the person you’ve always been becoming and you’re becoming someone new. it’s pretty fucking lovely, actually. <3

    yeah, social dysphoria and body dysphoria get kinda entangled for me. my tit-dysphoria is definitely part social and part physical. like, i bet if i lived in a society where cis women were expected to cut off their tits (or if tiny tits were valued) and where cis men were expected to wear breast forms, i might feel more attached to my tits. i guess i'll never know, though.

    basically, coming out as trans* uncovered a shit-ton of my buried social dysphoria.

    thanks for sharing your thoughts, cat. you have a fucking rad brain and i always value your input! <3 (also, i'm going to reply to your email! i keep forgetting, but you made all the good points ever. thanks!)

  8. @ bia: life is fucking awesome! <3 onions, jars of sand– it all works for me. i just reallyreally hope i don't keep finding layers til i die. like, there HAS to be an end to the layers. right? the bottom of the jar, the heart of the onion– it can't go on forever.

    again, i reallyreally wish i could just give you my tits. like, if they were stuck on with velcro and i could be like "crzzzzzzzp!" and hand them over. <3 that'd rock hard.

  9. Um…I’ll email you. I’ll explain it, but it contains things that I probably don’t want to say on the big wide Internet – controversial subjects and whatnot. In fact, I was saying a lot in the original comment which I could’ve kept to myself. But I’ll email you……

  10. for me the social dysphoria and the body dysphoria aren’t tangled up at all. They are two completely separate things. The body dysphoria is much more constant and much stronger.

  11. You could also have many other layers of gender dysphoric experience. For instance, I experience intrasocial and extrasocial dysphoria. Meaning, between me and the world, I have a specific level of dysphoria I feel about the dynamics that affect how my body is seen, and about the dynamics that assigned my body without my permission in the first place. Then, I have intrasocial dysphoria, and those come in the way interactions, and interpersonal relationships affect my dysphoria. Like when a friend or family member misgenders me, or when I fight with family over my gender.

    Then, beneath those layers, I have historical body dysphoria, present body dysphoria, interpersonal body dysphoria, and internalized body dysphoria. Historical is, as it sounds, pain over the history of acting in use of said dysphoric body parts. I am constantly reminded of how my intimate moments were always deprived of joy and meaning by the dysphoria I felt. Then interpersonal body dysphoria relates to my dysphoria related to intimacy with others in regards to how I feel about my own body. Like how, in my recent post, I talk about how I want intimacy, but I don’t want it as I am. The juxtaposition of the two creates a uniquely frustrating dysphoria all to it’s own.

    The internalized body dysphoria relates to my self worth, self value, intimate value, and interpersonal value in my perceptions as affected by gender dysphoria. As a result of the disgust, dislike, and dysphoria of the anatomical aspect of my body I devalue myself, and feel sometimes as if I am less needed in intimacy, less desirable (some of this is from the higher Extrasocial Element), and ultimately depreciated for the nature of what I have that I don’t want. The reason why this is here is because we both devalue ourselves through dysphoria, and are devalued socially because of our bodies. It’s however, impossible to discern where the internalized dysphoria ends, and the internal gender dysphoria begins.

    It’s also all the more why we don’t need other people making us feel like shit about our bodies. We are quite efficient at that without help, however, not all of these perceptions form in a vacuum, and are thus linked to both social elements. Additionally, the problem is predominantly a cisgender problem, one with which the responsibility to change lies with cisgender people, not with transgender people to educate and push our selves into existence. If it weren’t for the cisgender oppression we’d likely never experience the some of the kinds, and many of the degrees of dysphoria we experience. Then, as the final layer, the gender dysphoria itself, emerging out of the fact that neurologically our brains are responding to an amorphous mismatch between current genital configuration, and the mapped expected genital configuration. Gender dysphoria is so complex, that literally everyone experiences it differently, and everyone has their own “layers”.

    Gender dysphoria is a pain in the fucking ass, and is so much more complicated than cisgender people give credit for, which in itself is a privilege for them, that they don’t need to think about it. It’s all the more reason why the onus is theirs to figure this out, not ours. This however, doesn’t come in our silence, so the onus to share our experience is on us. But I don’t think we are failing to do this nearly as much as cisgender people do on their part, and all in all it’s hard for you to not share something so intense, so profound, and so life altering. Expressing gender (or even no gender) is an inalienable quality, therefore it’s not really a choice to repress, suppress, or attempt alteration to that. Certainly fluid, and dynamic, but still inalienable in the scope of human experience.

  12. I feel you. I’m a Demigirl and I keep being like,
    I’m good with she, BUT IF YOU FUCKING CALL ME MAAM ONE MORE TIME RESTRAUNT PERSON I WILL MURDER YOUR DYSPHORIA INDUCING FACE. And my hair is too long. Would it be a bad idea to just cut some of it off with scissors? I’m using a bandanna and it seems the help. Hoodies help. Hats held. Messy hair helps. Still, it’s not androgynous enough. Ironically, I love love love dresses. Femme Demigirl who hates her hair? I guess. Any tips of dealing with hair?

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