Today something happened and I don’t know why. Dysphoria came back in a really strong and acute way, something I haven’t felt for a very long time. I had simply decided to change out of my workout clothes that I had been wearing since I went to the gym this morning. As I was changing my underwear, I removed the tight briefs that I wear when I work out (help with the tucking as I work out in leggings) and was going to put on a much more comfortable pair of everyday panties. That’s when that demon that so many transgender people know all too well, decide to rear its ugly head. Welcome back dysphoria, you sinister bastard.
It started simply but escalated fast. As I selected which pair I was going to wear, I could feel a disconnect between the body I was looking at and the clothes I was about to put on. I thought for a moment about the reality that underwear I was about to put on was not designed to fit with those male attributes of my body.
I began to analyze. Looking at the gusset, strategically placed in just the right spot for someone who has a vagina but certainly not providing coverage for a penis. I tried telling myself, these are the underwear I’m supposed to wear, I am female. Yet all I could think about was how cis-women never have to worry about such things. As I started to pull on my underwear, I thought about how their panties just fit their anatomy (maybe not perfectly, but certainly in much better fashion that a trans woman like me). And that was it, that old familiar feeling of how wrong my body is slammed into me like a freight train.
My body froze, I stopped moving with my underwear only pulled up to about calf height. I started to feel that disgust, that loathing of my body, the self-hatred over my condition, and of course all the questioning of why the hell did I have to be born with this mismatch between my body and my gender. As I thought about my identity, I shuddered when I realized that I feel trapped. I’m not a man, men don’t have breasts like mine, they don’t dress, act, think or behave like me. I rattled through every gender stereotype. Yet while I may have breasts, I may finally be free to act the way I feel in society, how can I be a woman with this thing between my legs?
For the first time that I can remember, I felt a true hatred for that thing, that quintessential male feature that brands me as less than a woman. While I feel blessed for the three children that it helped create, in that moment I wanted nothing more than to see it gone. But I’m stuck with it for now. All the legal, medical and insurance related hoops I have to jump through first prevent me from getting the one medical procedure that would address the situation anytime soon. This overwhelming frustration even fostered a very brief and passing thought of what if I got rid of it myself. Thankfully, the overwhelming logical side of me kicked in with all the reasons that would be a tragic idea.
As I finished getting dressed, I analyzed my overall appearance. I saw the attributes that I don’t like, the features that I hope the hormones will change. I felt disgusting and had to turn away from the mirror, quite literally. I felt all that hatred all that shame all that depression that I’ve been fighting for so long to conquer just rolling over me now like a rogue wave in the ocean. I was drowning once again, wishing that I could just feel right in my own body. I broke down on my bedroom floor against my bed and sobbed for what felt like hours (in reality it was merely minutes). “I don’t want this, I don’t want to be this, I just want to be normal” were the phrases I struggled to blurt out as the tears continued to fall.
So now I’m sitting here, pondering where this came from. I’ve been overall very happy for months. I’m living authentically to my gender every day. I have an amazing support system of family, friends and co-workers all of whom are just glad to see that I’ve found happiness. I’m treated as a woman by almost everyone I encounter every single day. Yet somehow I’m still not feeling like it’s enough. I still have this body that does not have the feminine features I long for. I’m in awkward area of transition now where I don’t feel my physical appearance fits either binary gender. It’s a very familiar feeling, in fact it was a few very specific instances where I felt this emotional entrapment that led me to transition. But I hadn’t felt this in so long, why is it back?
Unfortunately I don’t have the answer to that. I don’t know that even if I had the answer that it would really help me feel better. I’m not sure these feelings ever go away completely. I can have surgery, I can take hormones, I can do all these things but will I ever feel that inherent connection to my body that cis people cannot even recognize and therefore take for granted?