For the first year of my transition, there existed in me a sort of inner turmoil regarding ‘dysphoria’, and the lingering self doubt I now found myself in. My dysphoria certainly didn’t look like it did for most other trans people who had discussed it, so could I really be trans enough to transition? And there it was, the diabolical phrase ‘trans enough’. The phrase that had launched a thousand internet debates each one more fierce than the next; even the trans community couldn’t quite decide where it stood on the matter. If you don’t have dysphoria, or it isn’t so cripplingly severe that you can barely get out of bed, can you actually transition?
That’s a lot to unpack, but let’s begin at the beginning. What is dysphoria?
Dysphoria is a shorthand term for gender dysphoria which is essentially the understanding that there is a disconnect between the gender you understand yourself to be in your head, and what everyone else sees. Or at least, that’s the Pageant Queen answer. The truth is far more complex, because how one experiences dysphoria and for that matter gender, is different for everyone. For instance, over the weekend, I found myself in some amount of pain in the bathroom, and so in an effort to seem well informed over the health of my own body, I decided to do what is easily the stupidest thing I have ever done and investigate. Which lead to tears, frustration with myself and the fact that I was pretty sure everyone in the world was asleep when it all happened. Thankfully my dog came to my rescue and that coupled with a hoodie my boyfriend had left for me a few weeks earlier, and the sounds of rain and thunder on the tv, I was finally able to calm myself.
In another experience, pre-laser hair removal, I was shaving my face for a date and quite suddenly and without warning, I was so utterly annoyed with my appearance, that I decided the only solution was to take several mouth shots of Fireball, and a mixer of Vodka and Monster leading to the worst dizziness I had ever felt, coupled with an inability to feel my lower extremities and a mini hangover in the form of a headache. I had never before, and not really since, used alcohol to abate dysphoria, I strongly suggest against it by the way.
The next part to unpack here is the idea that there is a certain level of transness one must exude in order to even be considered trans enough, which is, quite frankly, bullshit. As someone helpfully pointed out on the internet once, if you want surgery or to transition at all, you are automatically trans. People who aren’t trans don’t want these things. Its likely never even crossed their minds. The scare tactics certain groups have created around transness to suggest that there are those who would go through this entire process simply to enact some sexual fantasy is ludicrous to say the least, and offensively ignorant to say the most.
There is no right way or wrong way to be trans or even to transition, only your way. Nobody gets to decide for you, what is right for your life. Maybe you don’t need full medical transition, maybe you don’t want any medical help at all. Or maybe you just need to be you. However you transition, in whatever form it takes, even if you are not what society views trans as, know that no one can dictate yourself to you. Nobody gets to make the decision of what gender you ought to be, based on what you look like, sound like, act like, dress like… you have to make that call.