When feeling better leads to an identity crisis

A female who describes herself as AFAB (assigned female at birth) and calls herself “genderqueer” has started taking wellbutrin (an antidepressant), and her feelings of gender dysphoria have significantly lessened. She posts to r/asktransgender:

Ok, so I’m AFAB genderqueer/genderfluid and I’ve been experiencing an insane amount of dysphoria on and off (corresponding with fluctuations in masculinity/femininity) since about June. I realized I was genderqueer about 3 years ago, but decided not to anything about it until this summer because, as I said, my dysphoria got intense. I came to the conclusion that I needed a low dose of T to be more androgynous and more able to pass in boymode… and after much angst came out to my mother and brother and asked my PCP for T. She said she’ll look into it (she’s never had a trans patient before) and possibly start me on it in January.

In the meantime, I’ve been struggling with depression on and off my whole life, and it’s been made unbearable by the dysphoria, so I finally accepted her recommendation for an antidepressant. She put me on Wellbutrin (150mg 2x/day) 5 days ago, and I’m already feeling WAY better in terms of my mood, but I also haven’t experienced any dysphoria at all. I tried boymoding once a few days ago, and it felt good, but still no dysphoria. Now I’m really worried that all this gender stuff is just a side effect of my depression, and it’s not real. I mean, not having dysphoria is good, and I know that dysphoria isn’t necessary to be genderqueer, and I still want to boymode and aim for a more androgynous presentation, but I just don’t feel like shit about my body anymore. I never thought that feeling better would make me have an identity crisis. Help?

TL;DR: I’m genderqueer and depressed, went on an antidepressant that works too well and got rid of my dysphoria. Now I’m having an identity crisis. Help?

Note the casual attitude towards taking testosterone – a drug that can have drastic unwanted consequences for females, but that in many transgender groups online is seen merely as something you can take to help you get a certain “look”.

Note also that the poster describes the lessening of trans feelings as an “identity crisis”. Shouldn’t feeling better be a good thing? What do the posters in r/asktransgender have to say? Interestingly, there are a few that have similar experiences:

dysphoria6

Interestingly though, many posters stress how this relief of negative feelings isn’t really a solution.

dysphoria1

They tell her that her dysphoria is probably still there, just wait. This relief is probably temporary.

dysphoria2

“Antidepressants helped me, but I still wanted to transition”.

dysphoria3

“You are just treating the symptoms”.

dysphoria4

“It may come back.”

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The narrative that have been created in these communities is that being transgender is an underlying, physical condition and the only way to cure it is by transitioning – by which they mean taking hormones and often undergoing radical body modifications. When people report finding relief in other ways, the consensus seems to be that these things don’t really help – they are just treating the symptoms, or masking the problem. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

We’ll show in later posts that this belief leads to significant perverse incentives pushing people toward dramatic, irreversible changes–making them alarmed or anxious when their negative feelings about their body go away.  It puts one in mind of the internet’s “pro-ana” communities, in which anorexic young women convinced one another that not feeling fat was a moral failing.  Having days when you feel comfortable in your own skin isn’t a sign of progress, even when it’s accompanied by a lifting of depressive symptoms, because it subverts the narrative that as soon as you start to question your comfort with gender roles, you’ve proven yourself to be destined for a permanent, fixed identity as transgender.

The fact that the poster likes being in “boymode” is seen as evidence that she is trans, no other explanation is considered. Could it be that she enjoys wearing masculine clothes? Many women do. Could it be that she likes being seen as a man because women are often catcalled, talked down to, or creeped on my males? Maybe it feels safer? No one asks her this.

Why does preferring a certain way of presenting yourself mean that you are somehow metaphysically the opposite sex? The traditional feminist view that we have bodies, we have personalities and preferences, and that these do not have to “match” seem to have disappeared somehow. Instead we get people feeling like they have an “identity crisis” when their negative feelings about their sex go away, because they somehow think that you need to have a condition to be able to present yourself in the way you wish.

7 thoughts on “When feeling better leads to an identity crisis

  1. Excellent analysis. The gender straight jacket and blinders are wrapped around us so tightly we often can’t see that non-compliance doesn’t need medical justification or assistance. This was caused by the feminist backlash. Patriarchy shut down the Resist and Do Not Comply discourse. It seems that no one but second wave feminists remember that each of us is “Free to be Me”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on naefearty and commented:
    This is an important new blog documenting the insidious nature of Trans “support” groups.
    I can testify that this absolutely is the nature of the circular reasoning and pressure to conform to the narrative that is the core of this “transition or die!” cult.
    My torturer joined one of these groups “in real life”. He went from “maybe I want to” to “I have to!” in the space of three meetings. He went from “maybe I would be OK with no surgery and this is something I can just accommodate into my life” to “I must have srs”. His online activity (porn, presenting himself as a “fully transitioned” “trans lesbian”, dating and hook up sites) escalated ten fold. His secretiveness drove me mad with paranoia. His utter dismissal of my worries, needs and emotional meltdown left me broken, isolated, bereft. Everything (for me) got much, much worse. I became so ill I could not work. My pain was immeasurable, but invisible to him. The trans world became his entire universe. When I looked for help, I was told that it was “selfish”, “transphobic”, “bigoted” for not jumping for joy for him. For refusing to see him as anything else than a sick, entitled, manipulative bastard.

    So anyway. Read this blog. See the harm done to those who come in contact with the Church of Trans. If you are not already familiar with that world, it is illuminating. If you are, follow this blog and send a big thanks to those who are finally documenting this.

    Like

  3. For goodness sake! To the trans advisers self appointed agony aunts over at reddit, who preach the gospel of ‘you have to be this way’, Like has been noted, there is nothing wrong with being a woman born woman yet preferring to wear what one might describe as traditionally masculine clothes or sport a traditionally boyish haircut. Leave the kid alone! They have found a modicum of happiness and don’t understand why. Be glad for them because they are on their slow way to recovery, to being true to themselves.Don’t threaten them with dire consequences if they don’t follow the path you have found! Don’t keep tutting and shaking your head and saying, “things are fine now, but just you wait”! Celebrate with them as they find come round to accepting who they are born to be.
    Anyone would think the reddit trans advisers didn’t want these kids to find contentment in their own bodies.

    Like

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