Transgender Dysphoria Blues
No one has ever told me it was wrong. Nobody ever needed to.
I've always knew. Starving myself deep into denial, starving away the girl in me, flinching every time they called me a "she", which was always, because that's who I was. Tearing up dresses, trying to kill my dolls when I was five — the most girlish ones, as if by killing them I'd also kill the girl inside of me. Always inadequate, always too much of a boy, punching myself inside of bathrooms, if only I could be the girl they wanted me to be; I wasn't. I could never be.
I've spent my entire life trying.
At nineteen I couldn't take it anymore, desperately came out — or at least thought I did. I told my boyfriend at the time I was non-binary, but I promised him and myself and the rest of the world I was only half a boy, I was still half a girl, I'd be okay. But even then I'd wear binders so tight I couldn't breathe and cry myself to sleep every night because of what I had between my legs. And I lied to myself through all of those nights, telling myself maybe not 50/50, maybe 70/30? But a girl, still. Always a girl. Inescapably a girl.
It worked. For a while.
I keep saying I wouldn't be able to explain what dysphoria feels like even if I tried. I wish it was as simple as being a boy trapped in a girl's body, but it's not. It's a deep pit of agony, it's something crawling under your skin, it's your soul burning away. It's an internal scream that never goes away. Still, you force yourself through dresses and make up and long hair and you look in the mirror every morning and you tell yourself: you're a girl. You're a girl and that's it. Better luck next time.
It doesn't work anymore.
Now I sit in a crowded Starbucks coffee, turn on the macbook. I've got the works: a binder that will soon drive into hyperventilation, a packer that works for nothing, a straight hat cap to hide my girly face, hairy legs and armpits and everything. I'm a boy, strangers call me sir. I hide in plain view, me and my dreams of testosterone, and every time someone looks straight at me I ask myself if they caught on my lies.
They didn't. But I know.
I know what I am while I wonder what’s the manly way to hold a soda bottle. I know what I am while I walk by myself in a crowded street, careful not to bump into anyone as I’ll have to apologize and they’ll hear it in my voice. I know what I am when I take off my clothes to shower.
Always halfway. Always suffocating. Never enough.
I also know what I am when I overhear two friends talking about me in the next room. They call me a him. They don't even think twice, it rolls off their tongues.
It's a him. I'm a him.
I know what I am. I'm a boy.