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Exploring the meanings of Dysphoria:


Niamh

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Collins English Dictionary shows the differences between American and British definitions:

 

British -

a feeling of being ill at ease

 

From <https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/dysphoria>

 

American -

Psychology

generalized feeling of ill-being; esp., an abnormal feeling of anxietydiscontent, physical discomfort, etc.

 

From <https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/dysphoria>

 

Other dictionaries have variations including references to depression

 

From <https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/dysphoria>

From <https://www.dictionary.com/browse/dysphoria>

From <https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dysphoria>

From <https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/dysphoria>

 

You'll see that not all definitions include Anxiety or Depression.

 

In my opinion I don't get upset at looking at my Male body and thus I was of the opinion that I don't really suffer from Gender Dysphoria. Also - if we take the American and other definitions I have found, I could not say that I suffer any Anxiety or Depression from seeing my male body.

 

However I do hate the sensation of hairs on my torso, legs, arms and face (except where it is needed for expression).  This is associated with a strong desire to be able to run my hands (or feet) over parts of my body and they must be as smooth as silk. If that occurs with some hair remaining I don't mind, but if visually I can see no hair, but the skin is not smooth I still get quite annoyed and frustrated about that.

 

So is this tactile issue an expression of gender dysphoria? And given I don't suffer with depression or anxiety in relation to my gender (I personally don't class dissatisfaction as Anxiety or Depression) can it be said that I don't suffer from dysphoria? However if we take the Collins British definition which is "a feeling of being ill at ease" then yes I think I do have dysphoria, because I am dissatisfied that I am tied to the clothing and behaviour of a male. When I'm Niamh I want to experience the full range of feelings and interactions that a woman has with others (outside of the sexuality aspect). Ideally those feelings would include physical aspects, but given technology does not yet allow me to swap at will between male and female physical bodies, I have to acknowledge I will be limited to purely presenting as female.  I would be prepared (and want) to undergo HRT which would not likely prevent me from reverting back to male mode when I wished, but may allow me to experience a closer alignment to feminine feelings that I find difficult to experience at present.

 

I'm interested in what others think about this.  Are there others who regard themselves as transgender (as do I because I need to be a woman for a significant proportion of my calendar)  but have a more tactile type of dysphoria if it can be regarded as that? 

 

I should mention that I am not immune to anxiety, but this much more relates to the problems I have created for my wife in coming out to her.

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I think there's a wide range of dysphoria, from non existant to crippling. There's an important point to make here that IMO dysphoria does not equal transgender. If you feel no dysphoria you might be trans and very valid. Every time I write or talk about this topic I want to make sure I don't equate suffering with being trans, lol If a young trans is reading this I want them to feel wonderfull.

 

Those definition fits very well with me. Like I said many times on this forum I have a lot of dysphoria. Discontent and discomfort that lead to depression. That depression lasted 20 years and ended for me when HRT started more or less. I have stories of suicide related events around this dysphoria and my genitals. I didn't know what transgender was at the time and thought I was alone in this. (I was not, lol)

 

I was dissatisfied with anything gender related, lol I always hate when gender limit what I can do and always very very happy to see guys or girls do gender atypical things.

 

I do have a non scientific tendency to separate the two things when I think about the whole transgender thing but it might be that they are just 2 sides of the same coin?

 

I always say to myself when I encounter all the ways that people have of describing what it is to be trans that it's just, in the end, our brain interpreting the same phenomena. I'm asexual so of course if I describe what it is to be trans to other people there will be absolutelly no mention of sexual attraction. Yet, someone that is super sexual might incorporate a lot of attraction and desire in its description of what they feel. Also, those feeling popped up in my brain at an age where I was not super rational about it all. I thought that my stuff would fall at 11 or 12 and I remember taking baths and searching for my female genitals beneath the male genital. I mean.... that's crazy ain't it? I'm just saying that to underline the fact that it will be different for everybody, it have to be.

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@MaryMary thanks for your thoughts on this.  I guess there's a part of me which feels guilty that others within the transgender community suffer so much more than I do. It does make me question my right to be part of it. But I also know that I am not just a man and never have been. And not being able to participate in the activities, clothing and feelings that girls and women can, has always been a source of frustration if not anxiety and depression.  I "broke out" rather than "came out" of this straight jacket towards the end of last year and it has been such a liberating experience being Niamh. But not an easy one - dealing with the emotional fall out that my wife has suffered as a result has challenged my decision, but once out of the box - it was never and will never go back in.

 

 

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the important thing is that you are happy and able to be you. IMO dysphoria or not you are still 100% valid and the most important thing is to take all decision with your well being and emancipation in mind. The only real advantage of dysphoria in my mind is that it makes  the violence and intimidation less of a challenge RELATIVELY because I suffer so much from dysphoria. It makes me do it despite a lot of things. But, beyond that I don't think it makes the transgender person. It's just a symptom amongst many.

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KathyLauren

It is too easy for people outside our community to say that dysphoria must be an overwhelming hatred for birth body in order to be real.  It is a way for them to gaslight us by saying that, if that's not what we experience, then we are not really trans.  And it is too easy for us to take on that meaning before we learn other meanings.

 

Dysphoria doesn't have to be overwhelming.  It can be subtle.  It doesn't have to be hatred.  It can be a vague dissatisfaction.  It doesn't have to be about the body.  It can be about our social role or our presentation.  And all of it is real. 

 

I have heard lots of trans people say they didn't experience dysphoria.  And yet, when they describe their experience, it is clear that they do experience some degree of dissatisfaction with the situation they were born into.  I don't get into arguments about the definition, because there is no point.  If they don't want to call it dysphoria, I won't insist.  But I would call it dysphoria if I were describing it.

 

My main experience of (what I would call) dysphoria was social.  I couldn't fit in as a male, and I had this yearning to fit in as a female.  It included my presentation: I longed to wear pretty clothes.  Although that doesn't fit some people's definition of dysphoria, it certainly was from my perspective. 

 

And once I dealt with it, by coming out and going full-time, I became aware that there was indeed some body dysphoria lurking underneath it.  Hardly overwhelming, since I didn't even notice it at first, but there and insistent, nevertheless.

 

The way I define dysphoria, I haven't yet met a trans person who didn't feel it.  I accept that some trans people say they don't experience it, but they are working off a different definition.

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  • Admin

Sometimes we overthink some of this.  Dysphoria is actually two words that mean terrible / heavy burden.  When our birth assigned gender starts putting more pressure on us and is not letting us be our best, then it is a heavy burden of that type, whether is is physical distaste for our bodies or parts of them, of just when our personalities do not fit with what is expected of us.  The pressure will build on us until we cannot live our best lives and give us a nudge to change it, but the nudge will be Consistent, Persistent, and at last Insistent that we make changes to let the pressure off and we find that some form of acknowledgement for the burden must be made.  That form of acknowledgement can be any number of things, and here we accept all of them as being a signal that you belong here.  As I say, just accept what your life is bringing you and don't try to pigeonhole yourself in who and what you are.  This is a feeling thing, not a must be and know thing.

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This discussion has been quite helpful to me as well.  Thank you all for sharing some very valuable thoughts and perspectives.

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Heather Nicole
11 hours ago, Niamh said:

In my opinion I don't get upset at looking at my Male body and thus I was of the opinion that I don't really suffer from Gender Dysphoria. Also - if we take the American and other definitions I have found, I could not say that I suffer any Anxiety or Depression from seeing my male body.

 

This is pretty much what I always thought too, up until very, very recently. I thought gender dysphoria was a gender-directed form of body dysmorphic dysorder combined with a prevailing conscious sense of "I am the other gender".

 

I should probably point out straight away, I'm very early in this process, personally. I only made the realization "I'm probably trans" mere weeks ago. Nevermind my profile photo, it's (impressively) doctored by a nifty phone photo app that shouldn't be relied upon.

 

But, I love what @KathyLauren and @VickySGV said, and it goes along with what I've recently been learning both here and from trans videos on youtube. I wish I had known that stuff ages ago! There have been so many times in my life I've had thoughts like "Wow, that would be so amazing if I could wake up one morning magically transformed/bodyswapped into a girl!", or "If I were a girl I would so totally...(fill in any verb/predicate here)", or "(this or that) in my life would have worked out so much better if I'd been a girl", "Maybe in my next life...", etc. (I also hate body hair and unsoft skin too. It's like, hair belongs above the neck, not below!)

 

I guess my case might sound a little extreme too when I put it that way, but those thoughts always used to be infrequent enough that it was easy to dismiss as just another unrealistic fantasy. So I just assumed I couldn't be trans because my case wasn't "like that" or "that extreme". It's just another variation of the common "Am I trans enough?" worry. Which, BTW, is one of the things many of us, including me, still struggle with, even after we realize it's what's truly in our hearts.

 

There's two youtube videos I think are very applicable here:

 

 

And most of all, I think the message in this one is extremely important to always bear in mind...

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vx2u5uUu3DE

 

;)

 

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I had what I'd call mild dysphoria forever until it built up to being unbearable. So my advice to younger self was don't think it's going to stay constant for the rest of your life and treat it sooner. 

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7 hours ago, Heather Nicole said:

There have been so many times in my life I've had thoughts like "Wow, that would be so amazing if I could wake up one morning magically transformed/bodyswapped into a girl!", or "If I were a girl I would so totally...(fill in any verb/predicate here)", or "(this or that) in my life would have worked out so much better if I'd been a girl", "Maybe in my next life...", etc.

Oh gosh - that has been so me for as long as I can remember. Perhaps the only thing is that I've never been particularly upset about being a boy/man, but I've always wished (on a star/bible/my life) that I could experience BEING a girl/woman, not just looking like one. 

 

To everyone else who has responded so far - a large thank you.  Yes - I am known for over-thinking things, but sometimes I only resolve a problem when I explore it like this and talk it out loud to someone (or this group for example).  I particularly thank those who do suffer with significant dysphoria for not dismissing those of us who do not and are lucky and (mostly) happy.  I'll try and put away those feelings of guilt and just get down to enjoying my journey to even higher levels of euphoria that I can experience when spending time as Niamh - a woman. 

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16 hours ago, Niamh said:

It does make me question my right to be part of it

Hi Niamh.  I think you have already come to this conclusion, but, there is absolutely no reason to Question yourself or whether you should be "part" of this community.  There is a WIDE range of gender identities and types of dysphoria that goes along with them.

My feelings in many ways are almost identical to yours, but I accept that I have a "dysphoria" that is attached to those feelings, even if at times it mores subtle and in the "ill at ease" category. (probably why it took me so long to realize it)

 

I have found that Self-Acceptance is the biggest part (for me) of overcoming the self-generated dysphoria, and my therapy/therapist has helped me the most with that.  And like you, my greatest anxieties are over how this affects my relationship with my wife.

 

So, for both of us, I think this a day-to-day journey, but one worth traveling.  All the best to you, Dear❣️

 

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ElizabethStar

This is so interesting to read other points of view.

 

Looking back at my life there were so many signs I refused to acknowledge. Seeing it in myself for so long it could be the reason why it hadn't been that bad. That is, until I broke down and finally open the box.

 

 

 

 

 

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Heather Nicole
6 hours ago, Niamh said:

Perhaps the only thing is that I've never been particularly upset about being a boy/man, but I've always wished (on a star/bible/my life) that I could experience BEING a girl/woman, not just looking like one. 

 

I couldn't have put it better myself. :)

 

6 hours ago, Niamh said:

Yes - I am known for over-thinking things, but sometimes I only resolve a problem when I explore it like this and talk it out loud to someone (or this group for example).

 

I'm the same way. But I think you'll find a lot of that here, it goes with the territory!

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I was raised in a generation that was not open. I was raised by a Polish mother and Catholic so I had twice the amount of guilt feelings inbred. I had the signs from an early age and denied they and they fought back with depression panic attacks anxiety anorexia and various avoidance substances .... Now I am finally shedding all those obstacles and finally starting to feel like the woman I was supposed to be had nature not made a mistake with the body parts.

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2 hours ago, ElizabethStar said:

That is, until I broke down and finally open the box.

This changed everything for me.

Something you run from your whole life, and then have a Pandora moment.

Then a lot of things start to make sense.

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On 10/10/2020 at 10:30 AM, MaryMary said:

Every time I write or talk about this topic I want to make sure I don't equate suffering with being trans, lol If a young trans is reading this I want them to feel wonderfull.

This is such an amazing way to look at the future reader's of these threads. It is really important not to inadvertently give anyone the impression that how they feel is or is not right. 

 

21 hours ago, Niamh said:

I guess there's a part of me which feels guilty that others within the transgender community suffer so much more than I do.

I want to offer a different perspective for this thought, if that is ok. This really applies to any community, not just this one. You see other's are suffering in a way you may not fully relate to but, you also wish it was not so rough for everyone. That's a great attitude and very caring. You do not have to feel bad because something is not as bad for you or that it is worse for them. Just being here for each other and showing we care is enough. You are absolutely a part of this community and have no reason to compare your life to anyone else's. That can get very difficult to navigate if you let yourself go that path. Just show people who you are and love yourself for who you are. We all have something very special about us that no one can ever take from us. There's an old saying, "Often imitated, never replicated." To me that is how we all learn to be unique individuals and still see similarity between others and ourselves. 

8 hours ago, Niamh said:

I'll try and put away those feelings of guilt and just get down to enjoying my journey to even higher levels of euphoria that I can experience when spending time as Niamh - a woman. 

Niamh, you do not have to put them away. We do not evolve from burying ourselves to avoid uncomfortable issues. Just tell yourself that enjoying the journey is what matters to you most. It is very clear in the way you describe your feelings. That does not mean you will never have a moment of doubt or sadness. That isn't how life works for any of us. You will not know euphoria without having some feeling that is somehow different from that to relate the two experiences to.

 

I have body dysmorphia which is essentially a feature to ones body which no person would like about themselves regardless of gender. I also experience dysphoria because I do not have the female body I know I should have. This has been gradually making my social life turn to an intense desire for isolation. I try to take the advice of friends sometimes and reach out for new friendships. I've been fairly successful with that online.I haven't had the best of luck with that in my real life but, I still have hope. I just try to work on the things that I can change and not put myself down for things I have no control over.

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7 hours ago, Abi said:

This is such an amazing way to look at the future reader's of these threads. It is really important not to inadvertently give anyone the impression that how they feel is or is not right. 

 

I think I have a pretty typical story in a way. I want to be able to share it and hopefully people learn as much from my experience then me from theirs, you know? I also want to be totally honest about it even if it's a little crazy in many ways. That the beautifull thing about life, when you honestly tell your story and experiences and they sound like a fiction because it's so ... special, in a way. But also in my mind my story have the taste of truscum narative because it's so teinted with dysphoria and medical stuff. I have to write those kinds of things, I just want people to understand the right things about what I say. Basically, it's all me being not so good and trans community diplomacy :D hahahaha

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@MaryMary,

    I understand what you mean. I still think taking that moment to let others know you don't want to hurt their feelings is very important. In my life, meeting people that were considerate enough to be careful how their words affected others is not typical by any means. It is actually quite rare and stands out to me. 

    

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Niamh- This is a great question, and one that really resonates with me.  I relate to everything just as you have described. I remember when I finally figured out and (or at least I thought I did) identified as transgender how I finally felt like I knew who I was.  But I have struggled trying to understand what dysphoria is, and what the discomfort that surrounds it is.  Maybe the term discomfort means what feels better -this or that?  For example, when I get out of the shower and towel off, I immediately tuck as I would rather not look at the alternative, but I don’t freak out if I didn’t.  And on the top end of things, I don’t hate what I see, but I do feel way better when I am wearing a bra and breast forms.  Is this a form of dysphoria?

 

Janae

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KathyLauren
7 hours ago, Janae said:

Niamh- This is a great question, and one that really resonates with me.  I relate to everything just as you have described. I remember when I finally figured out and (or at least I thought I did) identified as transgender how I finally felt like I knew who I was.  But I have struggled trying to understand what dysphoria is, and what the discomfort that surrounds it is.  Maybe the term discomfort means what feels better -this or that?  For example, when I get out of the shower and towel off, I immediately tuck as I would rather not look at the alternative, but I don’t freak out if I didn’t.  And on the top end of things, I don’t hate what I see, but I do feel way better when I am wearing a bra and breast forms.  Is this a form of dysphoria?

 

Janae

 

Yes, I would describe that as dysphoria.  It doesn't have to be a freak-out.  Just the fact that you dislike what you see is enough to be dysphoria.

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There is also something quite difficult to understand within ourselves: since we "live" in our own bodies/ minds, we don't know what is "normal" to feel or not. My dysphoria is real, but it, like many others, did not manifest itself in some diagnosable depression or anxiety, or even severe body dysmorphia. For me it was persistent lifelong feelings of "guilt," for what? I did not know. (Turns out it was towards myself for not being honest with myself about my identity). The other was a feeling of disconnection with life, which I feel vastly more connected with as Sabine, and as I slowly transition I look forward to actually living! Nevertheless! What is important is in how it can take so long to connect the dots and understand that these feelings are not "shared" by the general population. It is hard to know why we feel a pull towards "other" gendered things and behaviors. But, as it has been noted, it won't get "better" or go away, so yeah, its probably dysphoria!

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1 hour ago, Sabine said:

since we "live" in our own bodies/ minds, we don't know what is "normal" to feel or not.

I was asked if I "feel like a woman".  How do I know?  What is it like to "feel" like a woman?  Or a man, for that matter.  All I can really know is what it is like to "feel" like me.

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11 hours ago, Janae said:

Niamh- This is a great question, and one that really resonates with me.  I relate to everything just as you have described. I remember when I finally figured out and (or at least I thought I did) identified as transgender how I finally felt like I knew who I was.  But I have struggled trying to understand what dysphoria is, and what the discomfort that surrounds it is.  Maybe the term discomfort means what feels better -this or that?  For example, when I get out of the shower and towel off, I immediately tuck as I would rather not look at the alternative, but I don’t freak out if I didn’t.  And on the top end of things, I don’t hate what I see, but I do feel way better when I am wearing a bra and breast forms.  Is this a form of dysphoria?

 

Janae

@JanaeThat does so feel like me. My daily routines have so changed since I came out a year ago. Now, I spend at least 20-30mins in the shower to make sure I have smoothed off all the hair that I've not managed to through shaving before I got in the shower. My wife has started complaining that I spend too much time and wasting too much water (just like my daughter used to do) but I don't feel "right" unless my skin feels how it should do. If this is dysphoria then yes I suffer.

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3 hours ago, Niamh said:

I spend at least 20-30mins in the shower to make sure I have smoothed off all the hair that I've not managed to through shaving before I got in the shower

My chest hair drives me nuts.  I can never seem to get it off to my satisfaction.

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Heather Nicole
10 hours ago, Jandi said:

My chest hair drives me nuts.  I can never seem to get it off to my satisfaction.

 

Ugh, join the club! I went along, "going with the flow", until I felt like I had shag carpeting super-glued to my chest. I could actually grab the stupid stuff by the handful and pull on it. Eeewww!!! That's when I first knew I hated body hair. Even dark hair on legs or arms is repelling to me now, on me, or even even on other guys! Hair belongs above the neck, not below!!

 

Since then it's been an uphill battle. I have a very light complexion and very dark, thick body and facial hair. So even when I get the closest shave in the world with the best skin-safe precautions and skin care, I still have visible stubble and get red bumps and ingrown hairs...Aaaarrrgghhh!!!!! Looking forward to HRT, electrolysis, laser, whatever!

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      I did PRK when I was on active duty...one of the best decisions I ever made beside reclassing from 13B to 46Q. I wish you luck on the glasses. I did get to speak to Jilian Shipherd, the director of LGBT care at the VA. She actually seems to give a -crap- about people's care; I was impressed. I also have the latest version of the VA care directive if you want me to upload it.
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