A. Romano

Great writing, I enjoyed reading it. It mirrored a lot of my experience with PTSD and dysphoria: for me, when I passed, it felt amazing beyond words…like a safe relief…but I couldn’t quite a lot especially as I got older and like you wrote, I would hyperfixate on my body and be in a state of high anxiety about passing/failing which felt like a big threat to my wellbeing & it just made everything worse. The constant narrative of ‘if you feel this way, you must do X to be happy and if you don’t, you’re lying and hurting yourself and others’ really messed my head up for a while.

Personally, for me, what really helped is just going back to as simple as possible (my sex & DSD) and finding a neutral, authoritative definition I could find for gender to begin rewrapping my head around away from the noise everywhere (found it through the World Health Organization which has done tons for health issues connected to dysphoria, to being trans, to being sex role nonconforming and to sex-based oppression and works across many disciplines). “Gender: Refers to the socially constructed characteristics of women and men — such as norms, roles and relationships of and between groups of women and men. It varies from society to society and can be changed. The concept of gender includes five important elements: relational, hierarchical, historical, contextual and institutional. While most people are born either male or female, they are taught appropriate norms and behaviours — including how they should interact with others of the same or opposite sex within households, communities and work places. When individuals or groups do not “fit” established gender norms they often face stigma, discriminatory practices or social exclusion — all of which adversely affect health”. I don’t need to feel or be any of that, it’s just one of those systemic constructs that makes things harder for many of us.