Lets not answer this question with a simple word. Let us first look more deeply at the causes and root of dysphoria itself.
Having been a spectator of the Trans masculine community, having transitioned, and having experienced dysphoria, these are my thoughts on the matter and I encourage a polite discussion either here or on the forums this article is posted.
When I experienced dysphoria, it was in direct result to my mind seeing a cisgender male and my overwhelming need to be that body. It was driven by jealousy of the ease in which he lived his life. The experiences he would enjoy that were barred from me for having been born and pronounced female at birth. You know… The extensive genetic testing we go through when born… otherwise known as a glance between our legs.
To me, dysphoria is significantly more sex based than gender based.
For those of you that don’t know, sex is your biological make up and gender is your expression of either/both masculinity and femininity based solely on your culture and societies ideas of what behaviors fit into which of those two boxes.
I always saw the masculinity and femininity sides of gender to be interchangeable. There were no hard lines of “girls do this…” and “boys do this…” – I’d seen plenty of traits acted out by both to know that that had nothing to do with who I was. It was when anatomical parts and hormonal development came into play that the deep seated, emotionally longing of what I lacked crippled me with what we in the community have coined “dysphoria”.
What dysphoria looked like to me was binge pinning muscular models on my fitness goals board. Standing in front of mirrors with only my briefs and packer on. An overwhelming jealousy of every cisgender male my partners had ever been with. Hours of begging my mind to feel “phantom limb” sensations with a prosthetic. Desperate peaks of frustration followed by incredibly low, suicidal valleys.
At the height of my transition, I would have argued with the best of them that you needed to experience this in order to know you had to make the switch. The problem in my way of thinking then was there was a switch to be made. I envisioned gender like one of those on/off light switches when it was much more complex then that.
I don’t believe, when it comes down to it, that my soul has a gender. I don’t believe that being seen as a woman is a bad thing, I just know that when I see myself after transitioning, I feel right. And sometimes people who identify as women wear the clothes I do and that’s what feels right for them. Gender is an expression, a performance. Something that is seen as masculine here in America could be seen differently in another country or culture, that’s how fleeting it is.
Do I wish I had typically male anatomy? Yes. But is it really so hard to believe that I was born with this anatomy, I socially transitioned into the man I identify as now, and I’m learning to love my own parts? For me, the alternative was not an option. But will I be shamed into believing not having it makes me any less than my cisgender friends? No. If I’m not ashamed of it, perhaps we can work towards even, maybe loving it. And if people skip the body shaming part of this process and just learn immediately that they are who they are and they have what they have and they’re still beautiful and valid.
This self love will be helpful to every single person, not just transgender people.
Can you be trans without dysphoria? Yes.
Can you accept the fact that you’ve got a certain anatomy and it doesn’t mean you’re expected to fit into the gender of that sex?
Isn’t that what being transgender is?