The two flavors of dysphoria.

There are two types of gender dysphoria.

1.Social dysphoria.
2.Body dysphoria, also known as Gender Dissonance#.

#Credit for this term goes to Julia Serano from Whipping Girl.#

 

**I am about to be speaking from my own perspective, and this does not apply to all Trans* people. I will be using myself as an example.**

 

They are very different experiences.

When I am experiencing social dysphoria, It hurts to be treated as male. “Sir,” is like a slap in the face. Having to be, “one of the guys,” is pure fucking hell. Just being seen as male is painful in its own right. Dressing in specifically male coded clothing hurts, not because women and men wear drastically different things, but because you are intentionally putting on something that will tell people that you are male, and that you should be treated as such. It is double plus bad because you are telling other people to treat you as something you are not. Not that gender roles are anything but bullshit, but I do not want to be referred to as a man because I am not one.

When I am experiencing gender dissonance, it is my very body that betrays me. My voice, not being in a female register is incongruent with how my voice is in my head. It is alien to me. My facial hair is repulsive to me. And I am very unlucky, because even after I shave, you can see a shadow. I can’t stand having any body hair, except for pubes, because, lets face it, bush is sexy (on any gender){I know, that is just my own personal preference, and someone can be sexy, pubes or no pubes}. I should have boobs. Sometimes, when I am just waking up, I experience phantom breasts. Why the fuck don’t I have boobs? I won’t even talk about genital dysphoria. Looking in the mirror is pure fucking hell because I see a man staring back at me where a woman should be. It is an attractive man, but it isn’t me.

Body dysphoria is why I hate certain forms of sex positive feminism that stress body acceptance. I’ve tried to accept this male body. I can’t. It isn’t because I’m fat,(I’m not.) It isn’t because I can’t see someone attractive in the mirror. It’s because I’m not male and I am forced to live in  a male body. So you can take your body acceptance and shove it. You just make me feel worse about myself, when it is something that is not my fault. Instead of shaming someone for their body, they are unintentionally shaming me because I got the wrong one. For feminists who are usually pretty good to the trans* community, they really fucked this one up.

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8 thoughts on “The two flavors of dysphoria.

  1. I’ve thought this through, maybe a dozen times. I have a fear of seeming fake or dishonest with you. I think that is because so much honesty pours out in your posts that it unsettles me a bit, yet acts like a flame to a moth.

    I will not pretend to understand what it is like to be you, but I have experienced dysphoria in a different context and I would like to have a discussion with you about the dysphoria itself, not the context. I would be happy to explain more, the history behind it etc. but feel that I should ask before simply launching into the conversation.

  2. I’m quite comfortable with a public discussion. It is not my intent to offend or even suggest right or wrong. It is the experience and not the content that I wish to discuss.

    By way of background, and this might not be easy, I have a disproportionate interest in intelligence and artificial intelligence. Both require one to assess what it means to say that something has intelligence. For many years I let this interest lay idle. Some years ago I became friends (on-line) with an intersex person who self identified as female. To me this is unusual, but none the less just a thing. It was neither a plus nor a minus. We spoke for a time, conversing about many things and she began to trust that I was not bigoted in a way harmful to her. Time and life eventually meant the end of the friendship as online things go. A regret, perhaps, but just the same a fact.

    My interactions with her were no different than with any other female if the context could be ignored.. if that makes sense. I thought of her as female, not as odd, but as female. We simply spoke as friends. This does not give me special knowledge but it does demonstrate where my experience and where my curiosity stems from for dysphoria. It was not a concept that I easily understood then or now, but she explained some things to me. This, as would be imagined, gave me cause to think. I took from our friendship a couple of things:

    1 – I expect people to accept me as I am, no questions asked but I often enough to do do the same for others. Trust me, I’m not your normal vanilla type.

    2 – Sexual orientation does not determine intelligence. That is to say that those of differing sexual orientation are not differing in intelligence. This might seem obvious but society will tell us otherwise. It was not a revelation as much as confirmation of what I feel about others. People who are not like me are not freaks. They deserve the respect I expect them to show me. I am guilty of not reciprocating as I should.

    3 – I do not know what I thought I knew about life and intelligence or even how to be a kind person.

    So, on this course of self discovery that began at that time, I began to notice a few things about life and how I personally viewed it. I’m telling this as background, not as definition of how I am. I do not know how I am, but I think I know how I want to be, and how I want to be perceived.

    That said, it occurred to me that intelligence was not a thing that society understands. Thus my latent curiosity in artificial intelligence was revived.

    Fast forward, you speak of dysphoria within the context of your life. I have experienced dysphoria in two different contexts, neither of which has anything remotely to do with your context so I am not assuming they are the same or that they should be. I do however think they are related, and that understanding all of them is important for all of us. My first context was LSD. Oddly, I was quite comfortable with that world… explaining to myself that the tree was not trying to get into the house, that I am not 10 feet tall, and that those things down there actually are MY feet. While this might be thought simply as a disconnect in reality, it is dysphoria for no manner of explanation from another person would convince me of what I was feeling and that it was wrong. I alone could do that.

    The second context came after a period of self reflection and training in meditation. I began (and continue to this day) to see people in terms of animals. I see it like an aura around them… fish, deer, oxen, apes, monkeys, insects… all kinds and when I see it I do so from a dislocated position… as if I am observing from some point above and behind my actual self.

    Now, I know that this is nothing like what you explain as your experience. The context is trivial to what you experience. Please do not think I am saying the context is the same. I’m interested in the actual experience, somewhat devoid of the emotion that accompanies it. Perhaps you cannot look at it at this level. I do not know. I personally do not think that dysphoria is odd or rare. I think that we simply do not talk about it as a society. It is an admission that our senses lie to us. No, I’m not saying that your senses are lying to you. I’m saying that the sense of dysphoria is common, and that it’s source is not well defined, that it is not context relative.

    In my case, both contexts are such that reality tells me that the dysphoria was a lie but in both cases it is induced. In your case it is not induced and it is probable that reality is a lie… this is where it gets odd, if that is a good word choice.

    If we can say that dysphoria is a dichotomy between sensed reality and internalized reality, then it is most probable that your dysphoria, while sensed in the same way as my experience, is different in that reality does not align with your internalized understanding of the world. I’m not saying that you are wrong, but that you are right in how you sense the world. Your internal understanding does not match that of the external sensed world… as if you are on LSD all the time… in some sense.

    If any of that made sense, and you wish to continue… I would be most grateful. Again, it is not the context as such, it is the experience of dysphoria that I wish to explore. Please tell me how I can better explain myself.

    Thank you so much for this conversation.

  3. @myatheistlife
    1. Before you make any other comments, Watch this.
    2. dysphoria is the opposite of euphoria. So by what you describe, you have not experienced dysphoria.
    3.”My interactions with her were no different than with any other female if the context could be ignored.. if that makes sense. I thought of her as female, not as odd, but as female.” good. She is a woman and should not be treated any differently.
    4.” I do however think they are related, and that understanding all of them is important for all of us.” They are not related.
    5.” While this might be thought simply as a disconnect in reality, it is dysphoria for no manner of explanation from another person would convince me of what I was feeling and that it was wrong. I alone could do that.” Yeah, not at all like dysphoria. For me, I know what reality is and I can see it in the mirror and hear the male voice that I have. The disconnect is what it should be. We all have a mental body map that we carry around in our head. I just happened to get fucked and got the wrong one.
    6. To better explain the phantom breasts thing. It isn’t at all like a hallucination. I have experienced hallucinations many times, though not due to LSD. It is a nerve sensation. I feel them the same way that I feel that my arm is where it is.
    7.” The second context came after a period of self reflection and training in meditation. I began (and continue to this day) to see people in terms of animals. I see it like an aura around them… fish, deer, oxen, apes, monkeys, insects… all kinds and when I see it I do so from a dislocated position… as if I am observing from some point above and behind my actual self” That sounds like a form of Synesthesia not dysphoria.
    8.” I personally do not think that dysphoria is odd or rare. I think that we simply do not talk about it as a society. It is an admission that our senses lie to us. No, I’m not saying that your senses are lying to you. I’m saying that the sense of dysphoria is common, and that it’s source is not well defined, that it is not context relative.” I completely disagree, and if this is how you view dysphoria, then I did not do a very good job explaining it.
    9.” In my case, both contexts are such that reality tells me that the dysphoria was a lie but in both cases it is induced. In your case it is not induced and it is probable that reality is a lie… this is where it gets odd, if that is a good word choice.” See the video that I directed you to.
    10. “If we can say that dysphoria is a dichotomy between sensed reality and internalized reality, then it is most probable that your dysphoria, while sensed in the same way as my experience, is different in that reality does not align with your internalized understanding of the world. I’m not saying that you are wrong, but that you are right in how you sense the world.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dysphoria Please read that. Please.
    11.” Your internal understanding does not match that of the external sensed world… as if you are on LSD all the time… in some sense.” This is both inaccurate and very offensive. Please do a little more research, beyond even the resources that I gave you.
    12.I’m beginning to think that it may be impossible to accurately describe the feelings of gender dysphoria to someone who doesn’t experience them.
    13.Also, do me a favor and read Whipping Girl By Julia Serano.

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