A Look At Gender Dysphoria Part 3 – From Truth To Myth And Back Again

Posted: 07/27/2012 by erichblayde in Gender Dysphoria Series, Life Lessons
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**AUTHORS NOTE** Today’s entry is the third in a five-part series publishing once a week with the intent of exploring the big wide world of gender dysphoria (discontent with the gender assigned at birth and/or the gender roles associated with a persons biological gender) Using an interactive format that includes visual aids, these entries will explore four questions I feel are crucial in learning about gender dysphoria, its effects, and how it differs from the concept of Gender Identity Disorder. To be dysphoric with ones gender is not at all an indicator that one is transgender, but these days many associate dysphoria with transsexuality and transsexuality only. Let’s debunk that shall we?

Hello all you wonderful readers out there, today is the third in our gender dysphoria series and today we are talking about common beliefs. That is to say, as the title suggests, myth versus truth.

Now if I wanted to be cute I would probably have said “myth versus fact – the tranny way to the truth” but seeing as how I am trying to debunk some of the misinformation surrounding gender dysphoria I forgo cuteness in favor of plain language. Because, while I am a transsexual, a fact that would make the aforementioned cute statement a viable thing, gender dysphoria IS NOT transsexuality as so many believe.

Did you follow all that? I hope so dear reader because in that one babble we just debunked our very first myth about gender dysphoria. If you somehow failed to place your thumb on your place in the script let me say it again for you. Gender dysphoria is NOT another term for transitioning (or gender identity disorder as it’s called in the medical world.) Gender dysphoria is a symptom of gender identity disorder yes (why would someone transition their body to another gender if they were comfortable in it already?!) but it is not the whole condition. So Myth #1 – gender dysphoria is the same as gender identity disorder = FALSE

On to the next common piece of tomfoolery. It has come to my attention that most medical personnel, when confronted with someone who is dysphoric about their physical gender, seem to think that the only option is the other side of the gender binary! Here’s a news flash folks – not every man who is gender dysphoric feels they a woman and not every woman that is gender dysphoric feels they are a man! Dysphoric folks may often feel they are a third gender/pan-gender/gender-neutral/dual-gendered/other-choice-that-feels-right. As much as everybody wants to believe it there aren’t just two genders. So Myth #2 – Gender dysphoria adheres to the gender binary = FAIL

Now we come to a most interesting subject (to me at least) the choice to transition. As we said above gender dysphoria doesn’t immediately indicate that someone is going to physically transition. Also as we said above, not everyone adheres to a gender binary. So what does that mean for those who wish to transition physically to a non binary affectation of gender? Well, contrary to popular belief more and more doctors are now becoming willing to assist those persons dysphoric in their physical gender to manipulate hormone levels and even have surgeries such as mastectomy, hysterectomy, breast implantation, laryngeal reduction and various cosmetic procedures to produce a desired non-binary gender transition without having to go “all the way” (historically gender-variant dysphorics had to lie about feeling fully like the opposite gender in order to obtain surgical letters) I personally know many older transgender individuals who fight with gender dysphoria years after having completed physical transition, because they were forced to fully transition owing to the expectations of gender-binary existence from both peers and medical professionals. Despite this however, and thanks to the tireless work of many variant-gender pioneers it comes to pass that Myth # 3 – Non binary transition to relieve gender dysphoria is impossible = FINISHED

Which leads me to the next incarnation of the mythological tomfoolery surrounding gender dysphoria, the belief that the only way to stop feeling dysphoric is to transition to the opposite gender. In truth gender dysphoria can spring from many different root sources in a persons life and it is only by identifying the causation of the dysphoric feeling that one will ever truly find the antidote. However, with all that being said there are some commonalities in some of the remedies that tend to pop up when one is looking to ease the dysphoric bite. Physical transition is one of course, as is the changing of gender pronouns (using they or ze instead of him or her) Sometimes even a simple change in the spelling of ones gender (changing him to hym and her to hur or hyr) can have a profound effect. Name change is also a very common occurrence among gender dysphoric individuals. (Sometimes it isn’t even about the gender of the name but the historical connotations arising from it) All this leads us to one infallible conclusion, Myth #4 – Transition is the only way to cope with dysphoria = FUBAR

And now we come to the final myth, the great grandaddy myth of all the misinformation and outright lies that have haunted the topic of gender dysphoria for so many years. How on earth this one sprang to life is far beyond me, but it seems that most people believe that the root causation of gender dysphoria is, was, always will be, only the physical gender of a persons body at birth! First off, if you haven’t read them already you need to a) read the authors note at the beginning of this page and b) check out Part One of this series in which I devote a paragraph to the definition of gender dysphoria, the crux of which, is this: “Gender Dysphoria is literally the feeling of unease in ones biological gender of feeling wrong in the traditional roles of your biological gender.”

Did you catch it that time?

Sometimes the biggest cause of dysphoric feelings regarding ones gender has NOTHING to do with the physical body and everything to do with the roles associated with that gender, whether the assignation of such is coming by way of yourself, friends, family, coworkers, lovers or society at large.

One of my all time favorite queer storytellers Ivan E. Coyote did a show called Swell: So The Story Goes with the ever amazing Anna Cammaleri and the ridiculously talented Lyndell Mongomery. There was a moment in the show where Ivan chided the audience “Do not give your butch friends a hard time about havin’ a ponytail or a pekenise pommerainian cross, or nail polish or shaved legs or even a fucking smart car! Get over yourselves. Seriously. You are a rare species, not a stereotype”

Unfortunately though, stereotyping of gender roles is still one of the most common causations of gender dysphoria in the world today. People put so much weight on certain activities being a staple of a specific gender that anyone who is assigned that gender but does not feel that role applies to them is left questioning their gender as a result. Even within non binary circles I have seen individuals questioned, ridiculed and even ostracized for adopting certain roles seen by other non-binary people as “too gender specific” or “not androgynous enough”

So in the end Myth #5 – Gender Dysphoria is caused only by discomfort with your physical body = RIDICULOUS!!!! (sorry…I ran plumb out of applicable f-words)

Whatever the cause, whatever the outcome of whatever method a person uses to find comfort within themselves I think I will have to echo another quote of Ivan Coyote, and leave the matter thusly:

“Some people, even when forced into a gender box, refuse to close the lid”


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