When cis people tell me they understand my dysphoria because “everyone feels bad about their body” it takes all my strength not to go on a rant right there. But I have to remember cis people don’t understand what it’s like to have dysphoria.
I understand that almost everyone feels uncomfortable with their body. You might not like your nose or your thighs or your eyes. I get that. Because the way the media is today, we are faced with unrealistic body types with the assumption that you must look like this or no one will ever want you/you’ll be unsatisfied with your life. You feel frustrated about your body because it doesn’t fit an unrealistic standard. And I get that, and that feeling is genuinely awful.
But dysphoria is more than that.
Wanting to change a part of your body is different than genuinely feeling like you’re in the wrong body, like this body isn’t you. I used to look in the mirror when I was little and think “Is this really me? Am I inhabiting this body?” And I’d get really confused. I didn’t know I was transgender. I didn’t even know who I was a person. I would see my chest or my hips or even just my feet and want to cry. This isn’t me. I felt lost in my own body.
When I was around 13, I began to self harm because even though I knew that this wasn’t true, a little part of me hoped if I could get out of this body my ‘right’ body would be underneath my skin, waiting to come out. I know this is wrong now because this is my right body.
It’s taken me awhile to come to that conclusion. When people say “this is your girl body” and “this is your boy body” I tell them they’re wrong. This is just my body. It’s not gendered. I have biologically female parts, yes, but that doesn’t determine my gender. This is my body. It still makes me beyond uncomfortable and I wish that I would lose my curves and my feet would grow and that I’d become taller, but I know that can’t happen. So I have to accept myself.
Has my dysphoria gotten better now that I’ve accepted that this is my body and there’s not much more I can do to change it? No. But at least I can deal with it. I can sit down and think “Okay, so I feel very uncomfortable with my body right now. But this is my body, and it’s not a girl’s body because I’m not a girl and it’s not a boy’s body because I’m a boy. It’s just a body, and works just like any other body.”
I’m so lucky to be 15 years old and already be one year post top surgery and 18 months on testosterone. I have a beard and lots of body hair. I have a deep voice. I have a flat chest that I proudly parade in public during the summer. But I still have dysphoria. Dysphoria is not something that goes away after surgery or hormones. After my top surgery, my bottom dysphoria increased exponentially. I can barely look at my hips without feeling physical pain. I don’t ever feel comfortable talking about what’s in my pants. All I can describe it as is phantom pain. It feels like something should be there, and it’s not. And that’s something I’m going to have to live with because bottom surgery isn’t ready for female to male transgender people. There are still so many health risks, and even if you get through those obstacles, your new equipment will never fully function right. And that’s something that doctors are working on. They say in the next ten years, it will be perfected. And I’m just going to have to learn to wait.
Dysphoria is not just disliking a certain aspect of your body, but genuinely knowing that this body doesn’t feel right and doesn’t align with you and it causes extreme anxiety, but you can work through it. Just don’t tell a trans person “I know how you feel” if you’re cis. You have a similar situation, but you don’t understand and never will (thankfully). If you’re trying to help someone with dysphoria, just remind them that their body isn’t gendered and it is the right body and it’s healthy and keeping you alive and that’s all it needs to do.