Roots: Dysphoria

A description of dysphoria itself and clarifications on the nature of Gender Dysphoria.

Before this series continues, I should slow down to bring meaning to terms some might not be familiar with.

Dysphoria is human incongruence.

It is a divide between all of the elements which come together to make one human.

Mind

Spirit

Body

I find it best that an understanding be established that dysphoria can be understood by it’s opposite, euphoria, which many are more familiar with, and would understand to be represented as the three elements shown above in congruence.

Mind

Spirit

Body

To experience euphoria is to be right with yourself and comfortable with your own presence in the world. Mind, body, and spirit unite and you are able to focus these into your presence, which gives meaningful impact to your movements and actions in the world. In this state of congruence, you feel the most like yourself.

To experience dysphoria is to be wrong with yourself and uncomfortable with your own presence in the world. Mind, body, and spirit disjoin and you are unable to focus your presence into any sort of meaningful impact to your movements or actions in the world. In this state of incongruence, you feel the least like yourself.

In states of euphoria, you are a complete human being.

In states of dysphoria, you are a ghost.

Everyone experiences moments of dysphoria and euphoria, but typically these moments are brief.

Gender Dysphoria, as my condition is known in psychology is the persistent state of incongruence brought on by a separation between the body and the mind. A great many studies in other fields have also confirmed, as most any of us would tell you ourselves, that this incongruence exists in us biologically and is experienced by us physiologically, socially, and psychologically.

This is just who we are.

Of course, science doesn’t really consider seriously the element of spirit, but I believe it is worth including as it is something nearly everyone believes exists in some form or another.

Call it what you will:

Soul. Heart. Essence, Core. Spirit. Nature. Psyche.

Or anything else you might fill with its meaning.

It drives us. It exists within us and moves beyond us through our many forms of expression and the impacts our lives leave upon the world.

It will exist long after our physical bits have turned to dust, even if it is only within the memories of those whose lives we’ve touched.

Normally, spirit would act as the glue which bonds the mind and body together in congruence, but in dysphoric states, it cannot attach to either and instead drifts between the two.

It is this part of ourselves that suffers the most from dysphoria.

This little light of mine,

I’m gonna let it shine.

No you aren’t, dysphoria is going to snuff it out.

I wish someone had told me this when they taught me that song.

The incongruence brought on by Gender Dysphoria can be dealt with via treatment to either the brain or the body. Neither is wrong, they simply are the way they are. Unfortunately for us, being as they are leads to a great deal of distress if untreated.

Strategies for coping with the distress are not very effective, nor are any other approaches which focus entirely on the mind/brain. Conversion therapy does not work. Nor do any medications which target the brain and/or chemical balance.

Trust me on this.

I’m from Mike Pence’s hometown.

It and all of my family/friends/co-workers were every bit as traditional/Christian/Conservative as you might expect. Fear of rejection by so many people who were important to me kept me from pursuing body-based treatment for far too long. If I could go back in time, I would tell myself not to worry and to follow through with it as soon as possible.

I would give anything to have those lost years of my life back, but what’s done is done.

The fact of the matter is that hormone replacement therapy is the best method of ending the incongruence of gender dysphoria.

Dysphoria can be brought on in a number of ways, gender-based dysphoria being only one of a diverse bag of possibilities. Most transgender people also experience “Biological Dysphoria” (though as far as I know, this distinction is not made in psychology) which extends beyond the experience of gender and into our biologies, driving many of us to seek out sex reassignment/confirmation surgeries, though in most of our cases, this type of dysphoria never dissipates because wrapped up in this type of dysphoria is our reproductive systems, which no currently available technology can repair.

Though my own lack of reproductive system does bring me dysphoric distress, it is not burdensome. At least not any more burdensome than it is to any other woman who might wish to bring children into the world, but lacks the ability to do so. It does not leave me locked in a state of distress, but rather brings me situational distress, typically only in sexual situations.

In spite of the biological dysphoria which will always be with me, I no longer suffer or am burdened by dysphoria otherwise. My incongruence has ended and I now live a normal life with a mix of euphoric and dysphoric states, though more commonly I know the former than the latter.

Roots: Birth, Burden & Separation

Insights into the experiences of sexual separation / segregation and the burden of such existence with dysphoria.

From my birth, up to puberty, everything was harmony for me.

After that, life became dissonant.

Of course, this happens to all teenagers to some degree, it’s a dissonant time by nature, but what happened to me was quite different.

I can’t explain to you the pain of experiencing the world as a girl any better than by describing what it’s like to reach puberty, see what’s happening to all the other girls around you, and then to realize that isn’t going to happen to you.

Instead, you realize you face life as a deformed monster infected with testosterone.

But worse than that is another realization.

It is the realization of sex and sexuality.

The understanding that you are different from the other girls.

You grew up socialized in such a way that you expected to be a mom.

The games you played were nurturing like that in nature. You cared for your dolls like children just like the other girls did, with the basic understanding that that babies are made in the bellies of people like you perceive yourself in every physiological, sociological, and psychological way to be, that you will fill that role one day.

But then, at puberty, you realize:

You will not conceive.

Ever.

The truest pain of my experience was that pain and I’ve carried it with me my entire life.

Trans exclusionists often love to taunt me with this fact.

It hurts, so much, every single time.

It hurts in the exact same way it would hurt any other female unable to conceive who wishes to.

If I could have perfect biology including a womb, I would, I’d do it in a heartbeat just like most women who can’t conceive. It’s truly the cruelest of our separations to hold against us.

This is a testament to the truth of the biological and physiological experience of transgender women. I didn’t have a womb. It didn’t stop me from feeling as though I did and being impacted by it accordingly.

All my life, I experienced my body in much the way an amputee might experience their missing limbs. Parts which should be there simply aren’t but it doesn’t stop the experience of them. It never goes away. It never went away until I began hormone replacement therapy. Now, it, and all of the distress related to it are gone.

But still now, as I am in my mid-thirties, the burden of not being able to conceive remains with me as it always has and sadly, always will.

Every woman who has lost the power to bring life into this world but who still wanted to bring more knows the pain of this burden and the social and psychological impacts on you.

This is the true pain of dysphoria.

Luckily, social progress, being the beautiful thing that it is, has allowed for people like myself to adopt in many areas.

Sadly, this is not true everywhere by any stretch of the imagination.

Keep going, social progress!

In the meantime:

Arguments over whether or not a person is mentally fit  to care for a child (or serve in the military for that matter) should be settled by case workers, not internet trolls.

Stop it for the betterment of humanity.

Roots: When did transition begin?

When and where did my transition begin? Let’s take a journey through time and explore.

It’s the 16th of December, 2011. I’m shaking as I inject myself with estradiol valerate for the first time.  A whole new life is about to begin.

But what about my transition? Where did my transition begin? Did it begin here, at this first injection? Or did it begin elsewhere? Let’s go a bit forward before we go back.

It’s December 2012. I’m about to see my grandmother for Christmas, for the first time since beginning Hormone Replacement Therapy. She tells me that she prayed for me. When she prayed, she asked God to watch over me and begged him to stop me from undergoing HRT if this would lead me to anything other than happiness. God never stopped me. In fact, my existence has seemed blessed. I consider the power of prayer and understand my grandmother as a religious person for the first time in my life. I fully realize what it means to talk to God. This is the greatest Christmas gift I have ever received.

I found peace in this moment. Was this feeling of peace the beginning? I’m not convinced. Let’s forgo the future for now and look further to the past for our answer.

It’s May of 2004. I’m telling the person I love with all my heart and soul that I am gender dysphoric. She accepts this about me and loves me in spite of it. She facilitates the social and lifestyle changes I will undergo over the next several years leading up to and beyond HRT We’ll eventually go our separate ways in the world, but in this moment, my gender is realized upon the world and is interpreted and responded to appropriately. This hasn’t happened since I was  12. It feels so good to live again.

Is this where my transition began? Let’s go back even further.

It’s 1996, I’m 13 years old. Puberty has begun. All of the other girls around me are getting their periods and I don’t quite understand why I’m suddenly being treated so differently. The female groups I grew up with have split off from me and we’re suddenly, and shockingly segregated from one another. Reactions to me shift in everyone. The world becomes a completely different and ugly place. I’m a pig in a chute. I don’t belong here. I can’t exist here anymore. I refuse to exist this way anymore. I become a ghost. The world never sees me nor hears me. I am unable to impact reality in any meaningful way. I find solace only in voracious reading and solitude.

I realize in this moment what Gender Dysphoria is. Great distress is born from the incongruence internalized between my body, mind, and soul. Is this where my transition began? Maybe not. How about this time we go back…. Back to the Future™?

It’s 1998. Hello, world! The internet is here and my parents hook up the modem in our house for the first time. This is incredible. I discover multitudes of social spaces in which I can be myself and I set about doing so in every one of them. I am reacted to here in ways that make sense to me. It feels so good to be myself, but whenever I step back out into the real world, I continue as an apparition, unable to be seen, heard, or understood.

Did my transition begin here? Let’s take another trip back.

It’s 1990. I’m 7 years old and stranded after school after my mom had issues with the car. A teacher offers to take me to the community Boy’s club with some other kids. I’m confused but I accept. I’m bullied relentlessly once there. The males occupying this space know something is wrong with me but they don’t understand what and neither do I. I feel like a monster for the first time. I avoid spaces like this like the plague from this moment onward.

Did my transition begin here?

Or maybe it was 1987, I’m 5. My mom begins babysitting for a girl named Sarah and another girl named Kaycee. They are my best friends. I am a happy little girl playing with Easy Bake Ovens and dolls. Sarah tells me about Charlotte’s Web, her favorite book her mom’s been reading to her. I can’t wait to learn to read. Charlotte’s Web becomes my favorite book as soon as I do.

Did it begin at 5?

Or was it at 4 in July, 1986?? I’m in Florida on vacation. I’m a small blond haired person. Men on the beach tell me what a cute little girl I am. My mom reacts strangely. I don’t understand.

Or maybe did it begin at 3? I’m experiencing my very first memory. I’m sitting in a sink full of water that is sloshing all around my body. I become aware, for the first time that I have a body. The world suddenly begins becoming more tangible to me. I begin becoming familiar with objects and form my very first, most basic understandings of reality. I don’t know what any of this is, but it seems great. I look down at the water and catch a glimpse of myself reflected in it. Who is that?

What if it was when I was 2, when my mom dressed me up in frilly clothes and had a professional photographer take my picture for the first time.

Could it have been at 1? Maybe Soros funded birthday cake manufactures to inject cakes with chemicals that turn the frickin’ kids transgender and my first ever taste of cake poisoned my mind against my body?

We’re running out of room for time travel within my life’s experience. We could go forward I suppose, but no, let’s go even further back.

It’s October 20th, 1983. My mother is in labor. She’s expecting a girl. She plans to name her Brooke. In the last 9 months leading up to this moment, she had been hoping for a girl and was told by many that it looked like she was going to have just that based on the way she was carrying me. Doctors agreed with this assessment and offered ultrasound confirmation but she refused, wanting to be surprised. Now, in 1983, she pushes me out into the world and her heart is broken by not receiving the daughter she had hoped for, but is immediately mended by the idea of guiding a boy into the world, so that is what it is decided I am, then and there. She scrambles to come up with a name. A soap opera is on TV. I am hastily named after an actor on the show. A façade falls over my existence.

Did my transition begin in my mother’s hopes and the world’s initial perceptions of me?

Where did it begin?

The truth is it never did, in the sense of moving from one gender to another. I’ve never transitioned to anything. I’ve just been exactly who I am throughout my entire life, with varying degrees of distress born of Gender Dysphoria at varying points.

The only transition I ever went through was the one from girlhood to womanhood.

Just like every other adult human female.