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Is this dysphoria? Some toughts on gender identify/expression while questioning


Isabella

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Hello, I'm new here (sorry in advance for the broken english, brazilian here)

 

I'm afab and I'm 24yo, and since the pandemic started I have been questioning my identity more often. Three months ago I finally started to wear sports bras more often than regular bras, and I feel comfortable with my chest a bit more flattened (I never really liked my breasts if I'm being completely honest, but I always thought more of this being an image/body issue for not having the ideal body according to media). By the same time I started googling for binders to buy (didn't bring myself to buy one yet though, I told myself I was overthinking). However it's been like 5 years that I have been trying to avoid bras when I could, except when I needed to go to places where they were "recommended" or when my father spotted me without one.

I don't stress too much about clothing preference nowadays, but there was a time that I internaly hated girly clothes and avoided skirts at all costs once I got permission to wear pants (my family is catholic and a very traditional one, the type that goes to mass in latin where women have to wear skirts and veils). I got permission from my father to wear pants in high school during lab chemistry classes, but later I started to wear more frequently, now it's cool and I can even wear shorts if they're not too short, but believe me it was a long process and definitly a conquest. The fact that I have a very traditional upbringing played its part for me to take so long to find myself, I came to terms with my bisexuality when I was 19 (and I kept myself closeted ever since, only my boyfriend, my sister and some close friends knows) and I feel like I still have a long way to go until being in peace with who I really am.

 

The reason why I felt the urge to look into some help just now was that I had an anxiety episode while shaving my legs. I shave my legs and armpits since I was 13, when my parents told me it was time to start shaving and wearing bras because I was turning into a lady. I do prefer to keep my body unshaved (even though when they're shaved they are ok for me too), but the process of shaving makes me feel really uncomfortable, regardless of the procedure (razors, wax, chemical cream etc). Sometimes I even cry a little during the process (like today) and I don't really know where this is coming from. Sometimes I feel as if I'm giving up of a part of myself to fit in someone's ideals of who I should be, and I feel more and more suffocated everytime I have to shave my legs or armpits. Does it make sense? Can this be considered dysphoria?

There are some parts of my life that I question if I was just trying to prove sexism wrong (like proving that girls can be as strong as boys) or if I was leaning towards a more "masculine" self (according to what society perceives as masculine, not that they are right in labeling gender stereotypes) with having more boy friends, having more "boyish" interests like comics, videogames and nerdy media, and siding with more basic/neutral choice of clothing like t-shirts, jeans and converses.

Now I'm just starting to link some pieces or my life together and I feel lost, I'm not really show where I fit.

I'm fine with she/her pronouns (especially because in Brazil we don't really have gender neutral pronouns yet, it's a work in progress) but I don't mind being adressed with any other pronoun. I never felt bad or like hiding when telling people I'm a woman, and also the idea of considering myself a guy is kinda off to me, so I don't know if my issues are "valid" enough to place myself in the gray area of gender.

I don't know if my situation is too especific, but I'd like to know if some things I experience are similar to anyone else's experience.

Also sorry if this is not the right place to post this

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  • Admin

Hi-- This is your first post and more people will see it in the Introductions Forum here to say hello, so Hello and good to have you here.

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2 hours ago, VickySGV said:

Hi-- This is your first post and more people will see it in the Introductions Forum here to say hello, so Hello and good to have you here.

I'm so sorry, I had no idea, I thought I was posting on the non binary forum. 

This is embarrassing, I haven't introduced myself properly 

Hmmm hi everyone ?

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  • Admin

No problem, the staff here tries to be helpful. 

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3 hours ago, Isabella said:

I feel more and more suffocated everytime I have to shave my legs or armpits. Does it make sense? Can this be considered dysphoria?

Hello Isabella, It’s a nice to have you here. The question is interesting. Having stress by shaving you legs might by a gender dysphoria. I think if you asked ten therapists you’d probably get ten different answers. I can tell you that when I shave my legs I feel a slight gender euphoria or sorts so maybe it’s related. Of course, being an MtF transgender individual, it makes sense. I wouldn’t rule out gender dysphoria as a possibility though especially when combined with the other gender related issues you mention. I think it might be a good discussion to have with gender issue competent therapist who can help you better define your feelings and possibly help you work through some of it.

 

3 hours ago, Isabella said:

I never felt bad or like hiding when telling people I'm a woman, and also the idea of considering myself a guy is kinda off to me, so I don't know if my issues are "valid" enough to place myself in the gray area of gender.

Based on your statement above….feeling comfortable identifying yourself as your female birth gender and being called a ‘guy’ feeling kinda off might indicate another possibility. There might be no issue with accepting you female birth gender as you identity. You may just be more comfortable with a male self expression and presentation.

 

When I attended a conference two years ago (before Covid), there were about 350 young adults at this 10 hour LGBTQIA+ event. I saw seemingly every gender identity and expression under the sun. And every mix that seemed possible. It was wonderful seeing all the variety. I sat at a table during lunch with four very friendly young ladies. One of the young ladies identified as female which was also their gender at birth but enjoyed presenting in a very masculine presentation. Another identified as NB but to me looked more masculine than NB. Not that it matters, but they both passed a young men completely. If they wouldn’t have discussed it with me, I would’ve had no way to know they felt comfortable identifying differently than  anything other than their masculine expression/presentation. My point is that it could be either an expression or gender issue or some combination of both. It’s a complicated thing to pin down but as time passes and as you work through these parts of yourself with others and/or a good therapist, I believe it will eventually become crystal clear.

 

I wish I had more for you but I think others here might be able further help you with their perspectives.

 

Warmest Regards,

Susan R?

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Welcome Isabella.

I'm MtF myself, but I have a daughter who is close to your age.  She is not trans, but is Bi.  She does dress mostly fem though, but does not shave legs or pits.  

There are a lot of possibilities.

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Hi @Isabella and welcome. I am glad you're here. As you're in the process of questioning, it's great to be able to interact with others who have gone through the same/similar things. @Susan R offers great feedback regarding variety in gender expression/identity. You've expressed ongoing unease and discomfort to varying degrees culminating in severe anxiety. I think this is dysphoria by definition, but is it related to gender identity? Gender expression? Gender role conformity? Reaction to strict religious upbringing? Feminist inclination? Some or all of the above? These are aspects to explore and there is no rush or pressure to figure it all out. I think the goal is to be true to yourself as you're able moment by moment. If there's a moment in which you feel powerless to break through some expectation or norm, try to see what you can learn about it by perhaps journaling and discussing with a therapist, if possible, and sharing in this forum. As far as the validity of your experience concerning the grey area of gender, just know that you're welcome here and you're not being judged. 

 

I am NB and afab and for myself (at the risk of grossly oversimplifying - and by no means do I mean to imply these are hard rules - they're just personal insights) NB resonates with me because me I do not identify as female or male, and do not desire to express as overtly masculine or feminine. I like some clothes that are considered feminine and others that are considered masculine. As a fellow NB person I encountered on another forum put it "I just want to look dope". (In case this doesn't translate well, "dope" is American English slang meaning cooler than cool, lol.) I experience mild dysphoria shaving. During the pandemic, I didn't shave for a few months and I liked my body hair. I thought it was cute, and I took pleasure in the sensation experienced by breezes brushing it when wearing shorts outside. But I also felt self-conscious about it and eventually shaved/epilated when anticipating seeing some friends again - I was afraid they'd like me less because of it. Interestingly, I didn't care as much what other people I didn't know well would think. I felt sad getting rid of it, frustrated with myself for feeling so worried, and discontented that I was very clearly only doing it for "others". Note though, that shaving dysphoria does not equal any specific gender identity; I just wanted to let you know that I empathize - you're not alone in that. 

 

By the way, your English is excellent. ? 

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  • Forum Moderator

Hi Isabella,

Welcome to Transpulse. I'm glad you're here!

 

Lots of love and a big welcome hug,

Timber Wolf?

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16 hours ago, Isabella said:

Sometimes I feel as if I'm giving up of a part of myself to fit in someone's ideals of who I should be, and I feel more and more suffocated everytime I have to shave my legs or armpits. Does it make sense? Can this be considered dysphoria?

Isabella, welcome.  I really never understood what dysphoria was until my gender therapist explained it to me and pointed out where it existed for me.  Reading stuff on the internet explained nothing to me.  I would class what you mentioned above as dysphoria. But if you do not see a therapist just yet, I would highly recommend that you do, as they will help you immensely.  

 

Janae

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Hi @Isabella, nice to meet you!

You have great feedback in the previous posts: you might be trans non-binary, you might be not trans but you like to express as the opposite gender, etc.

Explore as much as you can and see how you feel.

This is a great forum to get feedback about your feelings and experiences, so don't hesitate to post.

Part of my family is very religious as well, and my language is very gendered like yours, so I can relate to that!

Tenha um bom fim de semana!  ❤️

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Welcome Isabella! From what I've learned so far in my gender journey, our gender can be anywhere on the gender spectrum, it can even change. The best place on it is where one is most comfortable.

There are some helpful books like You & Your Gender Identity (on YouTube also) that can help if a therapist isn't currently an option.

 

Feliz Viaje!

Delcina

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