What is gender dysphoria? Gender dysphoria is where you experience a disconnection between your biological sex and gender identity. It comes in varying degrees of distress and varies from person to person.
My dysphoria was always worse around my chest, I’ve always hated my chest. I never connected with it and as I got older I just tried to completely detach myself from that part of my body. It caused me immense pain and stress and it was such a relief to finally have had top surgery. But I still have a huge disconnection with my chest and in fact myself in general.
After surgery, I tried not to touch my chest too much as I wanted the healing process to go smoothly, as I was at a higher risk of complications due to having granulomtosis with polyangiitis. So I was probably a bit too careful, as I was worried that the nipple grafts wouldn’t take and I would get infections and luckily the nipple grafts took and I didn’t get any infections.
Even though my scars are fully healed, I still struggle to touch my chest around my scars. I think a lot of that is because there’s still such a huge disconnect between mind and body, because of the intense gender dysphoria I have had surrounding my chest. To the point I’ve really struggled with aftercare, because it means touching my scars.
It’s something I am working on to improve, which isn’t easy. Today I put the surgical tape over my scars, which I’m meant to wear a few days a week to strengthen them. I am hoping this will help me have a better connection to my chest, I’m also trying to spend a few mins a day touching my chest and again maybe it will help me connect with my body more.
I have no regrets in anyway about getting top surgery done, it feels right. I always hated wearing a bra or binding because that never felt like a natural thing to me, it always felt super weird. So being able to get dressed without having to wear a bra or bind, feels like how it should have been all along, it feels more natural, feels good.
I have the same disconnect when I look in the mirror, I don’t recognise the person looking back at me, but I never did. I’ve always struggled with my reflection, I don’t quite know why. I don’t think it can all be blamed on the gender dysphoria, maybe low self esteem, trauma has had an impact.
The dysphoria has been bad to the point where I have struggled and still struggle with dissociation, which is kinda like a break in your mind, so its caused my memories to be out of order and somethings I just can’t recall at all, its a complete disconnect from thoughts and feelings too.
Dissociation for me often feels like I am trapped inside my head and can’t get out. I often lose chunks of time, as I just sit and stare into space. Lack on concentration too, sometimes I really struggle to even think straight. It’s sometimes such a struggle to perform the simplest of tasks because I can’t get myself organised enough.
The dissociation hasn’t been as bad since I had top surgery, it’s less intense and happens less often. I feel more in control of my mind but I still get bad days, especially when I’m tired.
Today the gender dysphoria has been really kicking my ass and it’s exhausting. To take it back a bit before I explain what’s been happening today. Back in August 2019, I was 2 years on testosterone, so I had to go have a ultrasound scan of my womb, as its standard procedure, as testosterone can increase the chance of problems in that area. The results said the lining of my uterus was still thick and it shouldn’t be, so they made me an appointment to see a gynaecologist, which I have on the 24th Jan.
Since a bit before my scan, I kept getting cramps now and again, like period pains. Now I’ve not had a shark week for about 4 years, as I take the pill without a break. As testosterone hasn’t stopped them and they just aren’t something that is good for my mental health, again like my chest having shark weeks are so stressful and makes me feel so depressed, so having them just isn’t an option. But over the last few months the stomach cramps have increased, they don’t last too long and don’t happen every day but they are pretty intense and just reminds me of the parts of my body that I hate with a passion.
Its really sucky, as it makes me feel so shit. I makes me feel like a bit of a freak and it just spirals down from there, into a decent of such bad thoughts. Which I won’t go into right now, as I’m trying not to walk down that path at the moment, that’s why I decided to sit and write this out.
I don’t know what to expect at this gynaecologist appointment this week, which is a bit scary and I really hope they don’t have to do an internal examination as I don’t know how I would cope with that. But I’m trying not to think about that right now and just hope its a talking appointment.
I think before I started testosterone I had the idea that it would maybe make the gender dysphoria go away, although I know rationally that’s a pretty optimistic view. Same with top surgery, I thought it would make the gender dysphoria go away. But I think it’s something that will always be a work in progress.
I don’t think the dysphoria is something that completely goes away, but I think if I continue to work on connecting my mind and body so they are more aligned with one another, then that will at least help ease this huge disconnection I have from myself. It feels like such a huge task and sometimes feels like I’ll never feel at peace.
I do and have felt at peace since starting my physical transition, so I do know it is possible. It just feels out of reach at the moment, but I am working on getting back to myself, through counselling, writing things out and trying my best to be kind to myself.