Growing up, I was always a ‘tomboy’. I liked to play with boys, playing soccer, with legos and remote controlled cars. I liked to wear boy’s clothes, baggy pants and shirts, and hated wearing skirts and dresses. Since I was about 11 I had my hair cut short.
It’s the same obsession with gender stereotypes that we’re seen before, but this time from the female perspective. Rejecting the female gender role is seen as unusual, and potentially signifying something more than just not liking the female gender role.
During the years from about 11-15/16, I honestly wished I was a boy. I wanted to be a boy, it made me happy when people accidentally gendered me as a boy, (though it upset me when people purposely called me a boy to be mean). I hit puberty, and unfortunately my breasts grew to be pretty damn large. (I was forever hunched over, wearing baggy shirts etc. although I have never consciously felt ashamed of them in a dysphoric sense.)
This experience is incredibly common, but it seems like nobody is talking to young girls today about this, except in the context of trans issues. Just as teens are apparently sorely lacking in role models that don’t conform to gender roles.
Flash forward to me aged 19-21. I was never really comfortable with being female. I like the idea of femaleness and femininity, but.. I prefer it on other people. I still can’t be bothered with make-up, never have been. I love baggy shorts and snapback caps and basketball shirts, and more than that I love suits.
Note how she claims to not be comfortable with “being female”, but what she’s really saying in this paragraph is that she is uncomfortable with make-up and that she prefers clothes more commonly worn by males,
Now. Today is transgender day of visibility, and all over I’ve seen wonderful pictures of men transitioning, you know, those time-lapse photo sets, pre-t, 6 months etc. They’re the best thing I’ve ever seen, and.. I want that. I want to go from whatever it is I am now to being as happy and attractive and confident as they are.
This obsessing over “timelines” and youtube videos is a staple of these stories, and if you pay attention when browsing places like r/asktransgender you will see them a lot. Person being happy with their sex goes on week-long binge of obsessively consuming trans stories, a few weeks later they are feeling awful about their bodies and want to transition.
My problem is: I don’t have dysphoria. I look at my female body and I see just that, a female body. I don’t -feel- like a man the way some transgender people have reported that they always KNEW they were male inside. I don’t look at my female body with disgust, but I know that I would rather be skinny and flat and a boy.
Not feeling distress over your body is apparently a bad thing now. What is left unsaid here is that it seems like the poster wants a justification for her non-compliance to gender roles. It’s as if she thinks that if she’s trans, then she has an explanation for why she doesn’t like make-up and prefers to wear suits. It might seem unfathomable to readers with a traditionally feminist perspective: what happened to just being yourself? But like we have seen several times, there are many young people who think that liking things associated with the oppsite sex is somehow Very Significant.
But I’m ambivalent about being female. I refer to myself with female pronouns because it’s easier than explaining when I don’t exactly know who I am. I don’t mind having a vagina. Sure, I’d rather have a fully functioning penis, (as though I had been born male,) but I’m okay with having a vagina.So I suppose my question is.. I’m not dysphoric. I’m not disgusted with my female body, I’d just really rather it was a male body. Could I be transgender, or is this something else entirely?
This attitude of contemplating having different body parts from the ones you were born with is another recurring thing in these stories. It’s not unusual for people to be told “would you rather have a male/female body? In that case, you’re trans”. There is no reflection over the fact that our bodies have social meaning, and that the feelings we have about them do not just come from nowhere. Especially for females: the consequences of having a vagina are sometimes very unpleasant, from risk of being raped, to lack of reproductive autonomy, to earning less than males. There is also little acknowledgement of the fact that changing sex is not physically possible, and body parts are not things on a shelf we can pick and chosse from.
And as expected, the comments:
You might say you’re fine with your body and you don’t have dysphoria, but you do actually have dysphoria.
This is a common sentiment but it never gets called out on how bizarre it is. Wanting to control how the world sees you in a way that majorly conflicts with physical reality is a desire that is bound to create a lot of distress.
Note how this poster talks about the same phenomenon mentioned above: she was feeling fine but envied men slightly, then got exposed to a lot of transition material online, and then wanted to change her body irreversibly.
This poster learned to feel dysphoric over her body, and now her mother is going to let her take testosterone.
It’s ok though, you can totally change your mind later. Except for the part where testosterone causes irreversible changes to female bodies, including the risk of sterility, permanent hair growth, permanently lowered voice, and increased risk of heart disease.