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Gender dysphoria manifests in different ways in different people, but a rudimentary definition is that it’s a sense of discomfort or unease because of a conflict between one’s biological sex and gender identity.
Mine, personally, is mostly social. I’ve learned to be okay with myself when I’m on my own, but it hurts to know that people who have known me for years look at me and see somebody that I’m not. Before I started socially transitioning, it felt like nobody knew who I am, and it still feels like that sometimes.
In sixth form, when I fully came to terms with being transgender, I suddenly noticed signs of dysphoria in everything I did. I’d experienced it my whole life, I’d just never noticed why I felt so uncomfortable because I never looked at it closely enough. It’s like thinking that it’s normal for bananas to make your mouth tingly and then finding out that you’re allergic to them.
So, I cut my hair and started dressing differently and had my name legally changed, and came out as trans because the alternative was to feel so unbearably miserable every time someone so much as looked at me.
But socially transitioning isn’t the only thing that dysphoria made me do.
I don’t have any semblance of a fashion sense. Every day, I wear grey sweatpants and a huge grey hoodie because wearing nice clothes just isn’t worth it. I never look good in the way that I want to so it’s easier to just hide my body as much as possible. I recently tried to dress better and ordered some clothes online but I was so embarrassed at being swamped by a women’s size small that I hid the new clothes away and didn’t try them on for a month.
My posture is absolutely awful and it’s on purpose. If I slouch, then my chest isn’t as noticeable. I used to wear a binder (an article of clothing that flattens your chest) every time I went outside but I had to stop because it gave me breathing problems. Slouching is the next best bet, even if my back hurts.
I also consciously lower my voice. I’ve done it for so long that speaking from my chest comes naturally to me now. I stopped singing, too, even though I loved to sing because I’m a soprano and it’s embarrassing.
Possibly one of the biggest and worst things that gender dysphoria made me do is give up on acting – my biggest dream and one that I once thought was attainable. I no longer have any intention of being an actor because directors don’t want to cast me in male roles because I don’t pass, and they don’t want to cast me in female roles because I don’t look conventionally feminine. Sure, there are exceptions to that and times are changing but it doesn’t feel worth trying anymore.
There are so many other things I could address (insecurity about the length of my quarantine hair that hasn’t been cut since March; the fact that I don’t know where to get my tattoo because it can’t be in a ‘girly place’, whatever the hell that means; my height is the absolute bane of my existence; the list goes on).
Most trans people go through far more in everyday life than the average cisgender person will ever comprehend, so maybe, just maybe, could you make an effort to use our correct names and pronouns?