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People Who Don't Get Dysphoria?


emeraldmountain

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Hi!

 

Does anyone have any helpful non-confrontational ways to address people who, with all good intentions assumed, will respond to your physical dysphoria with remarks like "lots of [gender] have [that feature you don't like,]" "try to get used to your [features] because surgery is frightening," etc. Same question as far as social dysphoria, such as "you can be [like this] and still be a [birth gender]."

 

They just don't understand how deep dysphoria can go. I want to keep the peace with these people, but have a response that lights up their understanding.

 

Thanks!

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This is an all too common problem.  By now, I just try to find some little "squirrel" to distract them from the subject and move on to something else.  I know I will not convince them to change their minds.  One of the worst who has endured in it for 15 years is my own daughter who just turned 50 last month.  I came out to her that long ago and there is always some excuse for her to make those remarks.  Other people I may "innocently" say "Oh my I would like to talk to them about how they do it".  They usually do not know anyone they are describing well enough to introduce me to them or they go off and mention a celebrity and my being lucky enough to know a few of those in person, I will tell them the next time I meet the celeb again I will ask them about it.  I have had a set of dentures drop out at that one on a few occasions. Folks that will make those comments to us really are pretty shallow.

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Thanks Vicky for your reply. I'm sorry to hear that people have said those things to you, as well. It seems some of those who just don't get dysphoria will still have an opinion, rather than an open mind.

 

I wonder if it might help to ask them to put themselves in our shoes. For example, for the transfeminine people, if they run into someone who says such things, to reply by asking how they would feel if they woke up with a chiseled face, beard, thick skin, etc.? Wouldn't they feel just wrong and try to change get back to how they were? Seems like it might not really get through, but hopefully at least unlock the door to understanding.

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One of the things that made sense to my wife as I struggled to give her an idea why "things" like looks mattered was to reinforce the fact that, as a cis woman, her gender identity matches the hormones her body produces. For those of us with mis-matched gender identity the natural hormones in our body are the complete opposite and fuel both dysphoria and dysmorphia. That made total sense to her - so much so that she teared up.

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 @April Marie I have taken part in several actual physical research studies where I have found that I actually have some genetic "variations" that while not unique to the Trans community, are more prevalent in our members than in the larger Cis population. One of those variations involves my Testosterone Receptor cells that prevents T from being put to work exactly the right way which would bring better harmony to my mind and body combo.  Since I am post-op GCS that is no longer a big issue, but it was there.  The human body does contain real surprises that for most people with Cis chemistry simply have no way of getting into their thoughts unless they are motivated by scientific curiosity or by empathy with a loved one, or some other reason . 

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Helpful perspective, @April Marie. Thank you.

 

@VickySGVVery interesting. Do you have more info on these genetic variations or know how to get such a test? Not that a test is needed to confirm one's identity, but it's a good talking point for the cis people who don't get it yet. Thank you.

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@emeraldmountain  The research I was involved in began with UCLA but ended up with a cohort of similar tests at 3 other universities and finally published by one of the main Australian Universities.  What it discovered was that the Trans identified subjects had a duplicate pair of protein components in the Testosterone Receptor cells that were acting effectively cancelling out the full range of T effects.  This was six years ago, and I know I posted it here on the site, but for me it would be a while before I can find it.

 

I have a condition called Ferro Hemochromatosis where my body does not pee out an overabundance of the chemical Ferritin which is an iron storage chemical in our blood.  This is based on a chromosome that is weird, and is found mostly in northern European population.  At the minute there is no real solid connection to being Trans, but a Trans person is 2% more likely than the Cis population to have it.  

 

I was a DES son.  My mother had taken DES as a precaution against miscarriage at the end of WWII because she had miscarried another child before she was pregnant with me.  DES son's have a 51% higher chance of being Trans.  The drug however was discontinued in the 1970's because of tragic effects it had in the propensity for vaginal cancer is DES daughters.

 

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1 hour ago, VickySGV said:

@emeraldmountain  The research I was involved in began with UCLA but ended up with a cohort of similar tests at 3 other universities and finally published by one of the main Australian Universities.  What it discovered was that the Trans identified subjects had a duplicate pair of protein components in the Testosterone Receptor cells that were acting effectively cancelling out the full range of T effects.  This was six years ago, and I know I posted it here on the site, but for me it would be a while before I can find it.

 

I have a condition called Ferro Hemochromatosis where my body does not pee out an overabundance of the chemical Ferritin which is an iron storage chemical in our blood.  This is based on a chromosome that is weird, and is found mostly in northern European population.  At the minute there is no real solid connection to being Trans, but a Trans person is 2% more likely than the Cis population to have it.  

 

I was a DES son.  My mother had taken DES as a precaution against miscarriage at the end of WWII because she had miscarried another child before she was pregnant with me.  DES son's have a 51% higher chance of being Trans.  The drug however was discontinued in the 1970's because of tragic effects it had in the propensity for vaginal cancer is DES daughters.

 

Thank you for this very interesting information, @VickySGV. I have heard of DES before and that it was related to trans people, but did not realize there is a 51% higher chance of DES sons to be trans.

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I have had great success by explaining the medical aspect. I explain to them the variation of the Bed Nucleus during Foetal  development, then go into the purpose of this organ. Prior to being found to be different for the sexes, the known  purpose of the Bed Nucleus was to regulate anxiety. It did this by sensing what was happening around you, and sending signals of comfort or discomfort to the rest of the brain. This regulates anxiety, and controls the 'fight or flight' reflex. Now we know the structure of the Bed Nucleus is different for male and female (and there are variations which may support non binary), and that trans people have Bed Nucleus structure opposite to their biological sex, the same function as previously described will sense what is happening around us, and if it is congruent with the structure of the bed nucleus, it will send euphoric feelings to the rest of the brain, but if it is incongruent (as with trans people) it will send dysphoric feelings to the rest of the brain.

 

I back this up with the diagram below (from Harvard University), and go on to explain that many people don't identify the uncomfortable feelings, or the level is low enough that they don't need to respond to them, but for many people, the feelings generated are strong enough to significantly impact their lives, and even cause serious health problems. Most people can follow these explanations, but even those who can't realise that there is a real reason behind dysphoria, and that we are not just making things up to gain some advantage. To explain what dysphoria feels like, I borrow an analogy I heard on another forum. I tell people to swap their shoes to the wrong feet and walk around. They will initially feel that the shoes are wrong, and the more they walk the more uncomfortable they will get, until they just can't walk any more.

 

Hugs,

 

Allie

 

 

Screen Shot 2020-08-21 at 2.12.52 pm.png

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One of the best descriptions of gender dysphoria I have read comes from trans man and youth social worker Elijah Healy’s book Transgender Children and Youth: Cultivating Pride and Joy with Families in Transition. I have quoted this to a cis person dear to me and it resonated with her. She immediately apologised for her mischaracterisation of my dysphoria:
 

“This is not just about body image in the sense of being uncomfortable about some aspect of your body, such as weight, the shape of your nose, or having too many freckles. It is about not being able to see yourself other than in your own mind. Even more, it is the fact that the person you do see when you look in the mirror, the person people around you see when they look at you, is not who you are. This aspect of body image and gender dysphoria can bring a transgender young person’s grasp of reality into question. It can cause them to question the reality of their sense of self. Not being able to see yourself in the mirror can also engender a sense of unreality or even unrealness. If I cannot see myself and others cannot see me, am I real? Can I trust my perceptions? Can I trust my sense of reality? Is my internal gender identity and sense of self real? This can contribute to significant emotional distress and pain.”

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3 hours ago, AllieJ said:

trans people have Bed Nucleus structure opposite to their biological sex


Allie, by your own admission this science is not widely accepted. Also, you are using your own definition of trans people, not the currently widely accepted definition. It is simply not possible that every trans person — using the currently widely accepted definition — exhibits this biological trait, since trans people do not all identify as the opposite sex.

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19 minutes ago, Betty K said:


Allie, by your own admission this science is not widely accepted. Also, you are using your own definition of trans people, not the currently widely accepted definition. It is simply not possible that every trans person — using the currently widely accepted definition — exhibits this biological trait, since trans people do not all identify as the opposite sex.

Betty, The science is solid, and accepted by the scientists, and though it isn't popular with insurance companies, and many trans people, as I said above, it helps people who don't 'get' dysphoria, to understand. I used the term Trans people as I don't know the term for just those under the umbrella who have dysphoria.

 

Hugs,

 

Allie

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1 hour ago, AllieJ said:

Betty, The science is solid, and accepted by the scientists, and though it isn't popular with insurance companies, and many trans people, as I said above, it helps people who don't 'get' dysphoria, to understand. I used the term Trans people as I don't know the term for just those under the umbrella who have dysphoria.

 

Hugs,

 

Allie


Last time we spoke you said the results “have yet to be accepted by academia, and more study will be required.” 
 

How about just use the term “people with dysphoria”? Though even that would be over-simple, since many non-binary people have dysphoria. Maybe if you said “binary trans people who experience dysphoria”?

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Well, here's my take:  Dysphoria seems to be a lot like the LGBTQ+ category of people in general.  There's a spectrum....a rainbow!  Some of us have mild dysphoria, others experience it in a way that is intense. 

 

As an analogy, measuring dysphoria is as subjective as measuring pain.  Like, when you go to the hospital and the nurse wants you to rate your pain on a 1-10 scale....and doing that is difficult because you're trying to compare what you've got currently to something else and find a way to describe it.  And you don't know how other people would rate a similar level of pain.  For example, my husband actually walked away from a car accident, hopping around with a broken leg, and said it "didn't hurt much," so he refused an ambulance and prioritized arrangements for his car before going to a quick clinic. High pain tolerance!  Me...I was a crying ball of misery with a broken ankle, and I wasn't able to do anything and had to be carried.  Similar injuries, but totally different perception of pain.    

 

Compared to some other folks, I think my dysphoria has been more mild.  For those who might say I should just "get used to it" or "lots of people have THAT physical feature" I would say, OK.... lots of people cut themselves, break a finger, or twist an ankle.  Could I go through my day with a bleeding wound or something else wrong?  Yeah, I guess.  But if there's a way to stop the bleeding, adjust what's twisted so it doesn't hurt, or set something that's broken...why wouldn't I do it?  It may not be as good as new, it may not heal like it never happened, but why not try?

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On 10/14/2023 at 7:37 AM, emeraldmountain said:

I wonder if it might help to ask them to put themselves in our shoes.

I read this Thread last night and I thought 'what a wonderful collection of answers and ideas everybody presented'

My expectation has always been that there really isn't any way to get a cis-person to understand what it's like to be trans or more specifically how gender dysphoria feels.  I want to be able to explain to others, specially as there are a couple of people I need to Come Out to in the near future. 

I remembered the quote from @emeraldmountain while I was driving today and suddenly an idea popped in my head ... so I wanted to share it with you all.  This is me, talking to someone who wants so understand what it's like (the key word here - wants).


Imagine you are born with abnormal feet.  Your left foot is actually attached to the bottom of your right leg, and your right foot is attached to the bottom of your left leg.  Two feet, just backwards.  You can walk normally and feel this must be normal.
But, when you get your first pair of shoes you notice that the way everybody else wears them doesn't seem to match your feet.  So!  you put them on so they look just like how everybody else wears shoes.  This must be correct, right?  

You now walk through life feeling like you are like everybody else, but you now sense something doesn't feel right.  Still you feel you have to conform to the rest of society and how they wear their shoes. 
Over time the mismatched shoes begin to chafe, and rub, and burn and create callouses, bunions, and corns, and it gets to the point that the pain is soooo bad ... you just can't walk anymore.  This is Gender Dysphoria.

And then, one day, you see somebody with feet just like you, wearing their shoes opposite ... and they notice your pain and tell you it's OK to wear your shoes however you want.  And the RELIEF is incredible and you say 'I will never go back to wearing my shoes just to please everybody else'.  This is the end of your dysphoria.  It's call -Self-Acceptance.

 

Thank you ALL for giving me the ideas to come up with this idea of how to explain Dysphoria to others.  I am going to try this next time I have a chance.  You're all welcome to use it as your own too, if you like.

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