I’m a trans woman. I have been dealing with, suffering with and generally sharing a flat with gender dysphoria for over 18 months now (although, let’s be honest, it was slowly creeping up and trying to let me know of it’s existence for the first 27 years too).
I wrote an article about a year ago called ‘Gender Dysphoria: A Guide From Someone Who Suffers It’ which covered all of the aspects that I felt came together to form my experience of the condition/affliction.
Since then I’ve changed a lot socially, physically, emotionally, shoes, hair, favourite Game of Thrones character and the way I pronounce the word scone. So it makes sense that I take another look at Gender Dysphoria and how my experience of it has changed and how it feels now, as well as the different affect it has on my life as a whole.
How it feels
I certainly still get good days and bad days, but the feelings I have about myself now are different. Early in transition I felt as if ‘It’s never going to change’ and a overwhelming sense of dread that the journey of hormones and surgery would never take me to the happiness and self-acceptance that I was looking for. Living each day in the ‘wrong’ gender and being read by others (everyone) as something incongruent to who I knew I was inside.
This has most certainly changed. Perhaps I am lucky, but I am also truly grateful because I am living my life now and being read by others (yea, everyone) as the gender now congruent with my true identity.
I no longer wake up and feel like I’m the presenting differently to how I identify, and I no longer feel as if there’s an unobtainable future.
However, I still struggle with the after effects of having been through such an overhaul of identity. I have been through a lot of pain, lost an awful lot of things and people that meant a lot to me, as well as parts of me that I now know were part of what I sometimes call my ‘male-disguise’.
It can be hard to accept that I am allowed to be female. Allowed to be me and that doing so will bring happiness, because for so long I have told myself the opposite. Hide this part of you, it is wrong and nothing that needs to be looked at, just pretend it doesn’t exist, it will just hurt you.
The acceptance I have found with friends and family helps more than they know, it’s not just their acceptance that they are giving me, but the tools to help me find my own acceptance.
It sounds cheesy, but if others believe in me, then I can believe in myself, if they accept me I can accept myself and if they love me then perhaps I can finally love myself.
Now, this is wonderful and I feel this growing each day, but I am not quite there with any of those yet. Dysphoria towards my gender and identity still resonate and make me feel weak sometimes, I feel like an imposter in my new life and that I don’t deserve to be progressing.
This is not my present, but my recent past, it is still a strong feeling, but one that will fade with time.
Attributed to physical features
My biggest cause of discomfort and dysphoria a year ago was facial hair. Thanks to laser hair removal I have almost completely removed all of my facial hair. Thus the dysphoria here is gone, I don’t fear mirrors in the morning anymore and don’t even own a men’s razor.
For me, one thing that has increased is genital dysphoria. I have come such a long way in being happier with so many parts of my body, but my genitals do not match me. Let me emphasise ‘ME’, everyone feels differently about their bodies, any person can have a penis or a vagina, it really doesn’t matter how you identify.
But me, I am a woman with a vagina, one that currently isn’t a vagina. That’s who I am and who I’m not. I don’t know how long I have to wait until surgery, I don’t even know how long I have to wait until a consultation for surgery, I don’t even know how long I have to wait until I am assigned a doctor who will speak to me about a consultation for surgery. (Welcome to the under-funded NHS).
Not knowing a timescale drives me mad. It brings on depression and suicide ideation, thinking I will never get where I need to be to be the woman I know I am.
Yes, I hear you, I am already the woman who I know I am, my genitals don’t affect how others accept me. But it affects me. I care, I want change and I am impatient, so I feel incomplete sometimes which brings on feeling like an imposter and the resonance of strong feelings of dysphoria.
Other physical attributes? My skin is much softer, my muscles and soft tissues have changed on my body and on my face, oh and boobs I do love the affect hormones have had.
The positive side is that I really do spend most days looking and feeling like the person I’ve always been on the inside. This makes me happy.
So, I have come an awful long way in a year, going full-time, changing medications a couple of times and ticking boxes with the NHS, still sitting on waiting lists. The biggest change has been my psychological battle.
In a lot of ways I feel like I have already got past and beaten my Gender Dysphoria, I live and am read as the gender that I identify as and have (almost) accepted this myself.
Depression and dysphoria resonates, but is behind me. I am happy, I am progressing. I am waiting for surgery, but that will come in time. I have changed so much and continue to change. Change is good. Change is growth, inside and out.
Oh, and I was only messing, I haven’t really changed the way I say scone! I’m not a maniac!!