As promised, this is my follow up to my previous post “An Androgynous Woman”. I was going to discuss exactly what the difference is between actual Gender Dysphoria VS acknowledging that someone likes things/acts in ways that are stereotypically of the opposite sex. However, the uber-talented Meizac in all her awesomeness did this second part for me in her post (here)
Is it entirely possible to be a guy who likes the color pink, cooking fancy meals, and is a timid type of guy? Of course!
Is it equally possible to be a gal who enjoys watching football, is aggressive, and loves working on computer repairs? of course!
While the above examples are not what society (or many individuals, for that matter) would consider typical,
there are quite a few people like this. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with being “traditional” if that is what makes you happy. Should a woman truly want to be a stay-at-home mother and raise a large family, that’s perfectly fine. The same goes for a man who wants to be the main breadwinner for his family and enjoys proving himself at work. So long as these roles are what people feel the most comfortable in, who’s to say they are “wrong” to live in?
On the other hand…
Gender dysphoria is very different than the examples above. The upcoming DSM-5 proposes that teens and adults who have it experience 2 or more of the following:
1. A marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and primary and/or secondary sex characteristics.
2. A strong desire to be rid of one’s primary and/or secondary sex characteristics because of a marked incongruence with one’s experienced/expressed gender.
3. A strong desire for the primary and/or secondary sex characteristics of the other gender.
4. A strong desire to be of the other gender (or some alternative gender different from one’s assigned gender).
5. A strong desire to be treated as the other gender (or some alternative gender different from one’s assigned gender).
6. A strong conviction that one has the typical feelings and reactions of the other gender (or some alternative gender different from one’s assigned gender).
I experience #s 1, 4, 5 and 6. I’ve never felt #3, but during puberty I felt #2 nearly every day. It was only in the past few years that I’ve (mostly) gotten beyond it…though whenever someone tells me I’m “pretty”, “beautiful”, shapely”, or otherwise comments on my feminine body it makes me shrivel up inside.
Which I guess is the real difference between gender dysphoria and just being atypical in regards to gender roles. If you just don’t fit the stereotype, that doesn’t mean you want to change or be treated as the other sex. You may not be completely satisfied with how society is, but you’re content in your body. Not so for us.
It’s hard to explain, but I suppose an easy analogy is the idea of being in a play. You are meant to play Romeo…but when opening night comes, the director hands you the script for Juliet. You haven’t played this part before, you don’t know the lines, the costume doesn’t fit at all, and you feel no connection to this character whatsoever. You don’t understand what her motivations are, and the director can’t explain them in a way that makes any sense to you.
But there is no choice. You MUST play Juliet or else everyone will mock you, beat you up, and torment you for years. If you resist, or mess up your lines because they are so foreign to your way of thinking, problem solving or speaking, then you have many weird glances, shoves, stolen textbooks, harassment and insults from your peers to look forward to. It doesn’t matter that the role of Romeo is what you truly were born to play…only that you smile and pretend to enjoy being Juliet.
This is what it’s like every single day for someone like myself. Reactions are quite varied too.
“Just get over it”
“You know, you should accept who you really, truly are”
“Nobody actually feels that way”
“You’re such a freak”
“Why do you hate your own sex”
“Why are you being so difficult”
And my personal favorite:
“You should have sex more, so your partner can ‘remind’ you that you’re female”.
Except that while most of these people are trying to be helpful in their own way…they’re really not. What many don’t understand is that this is not a switch to turn on and off. It’s not a choice to feel more in tune with the opposite sex, or to have severe difficulties relating to and having friendships with your same one.
I have always felt like a male, and have never grown out of it.
I have always felt repulsed and horrified by the idea of getting pregnant.
I can’t NOT take the initiative in sex with my partner.
I will always be this way, and will live my life as best I can.
I am sorry if that makes others uncomfortable, but I’m not sorry for being me.
Comments, ideas, and questions are encouraged. Remember to keep it polite and open-minded, and if clarification is needed, don’t hesitate to ask for it!