Before we even begin: I’m not a medically trained professional, nor am I a licensed therapist. Today I’m all curled up in my duvet cover because I haven’t been able to sleep in two days, and maybe if I were a doctor I’d find the little parts of me that aren’t working and fix them so I could get out of bed.
I’m just a half grown kid with a binder and a lot of pronouns, and the world seems like a whole lotta sharp edges right now.
If you’ve never had body dysphoria, let me explain a little bit about how it makes me feel and why I have it. Body dysphoria the incongruity between what the brain expects the body to be versus how the body is actually configured. It feels like the worst-fitting outfit you’ve ever put together, but you can never take it off. Or sometimes it’s more like a pebble in your shoe, or a belt that digs into your side, or a tiny thing that is just noticeable enough to throw your day off. Some days I wake up, and it’s just there. Some days it’s because I tried to fit my not-so-masculine body into my masculine clothes, and the parts that didn’t fit made me want to scream and disappear and puke up all my guts at the same time. It can grow into a scary place where I don’t know if my body belongs to me, and I feel like I’ve been detached from something essential and am about to wash out to sea. Maybe a picture makes me hate and fear the body I don’t have because it’s not the body I wish I had. Perhaps I think that the someone I desire won’t desire me because I don’t look like all the handsome cisgendered men they probably grew up loving. Maybe it doesn’t make sense why I feel these things, but I still feel them, and they still hurt, darn it.
Early in my process, I was confused about who I was, and I didn’t think that I was trans “enough” because I couldn’t relate to the narratives I’d heard involving extreme cases of body dysphoria. I didn’t know that manifestations of body dysphoria were unique to each individual, that there are many different ways and degrees that people experience dysphoria (and for some, not at all), and I especially didn’t realize that I’d been feeling body dysphoria my entire post-adolescent life. It was such a constant part of my existence that I couldn’t dissect out the dysphoric feelings and recognize them.
It wasn’t until I compared notes with an articulate trans man who was willing to speak about his body dysphoria that I could understand, identify and name some of my own discomforts. I believe that’s one of the real benefits of these types of narratives — helping people understand themselves and their experiences, especially in context with others so they can know that they are not alone with these feelings.
Most of the time, my gender is cocky grins and loaded statements and the smell of bourbon. I’m usually wearing a binder. The strands of stuff that make me up decided to give me too much in the tits department, which has always been
. The same bits and pieces of DNA decided I’d get child-bearing hips, though, and then added a smack of irony by making me PCOS-rated infertile. Those hips have made me cry in menswear dressing rooms across the Northeast. And if you’ve read my earlier pieces, you know I’m a masculine-presenting survivor who has a soft spot for
and wrestles with all the complicated things that come with it.
On the days like today when I’m struggling under dysphoria and anxiety and a whole range of things that are tied to those words by tight red strings, it’s hard to remember that I am a person who deserves to take care of their fabulous self.