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.
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.
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.