Dysphoria – Or Not

I’ve been thinking a lot about dysphoria lately. I’ve written before about how my dysphoria has not disappeared with introduction of radical/material thought, but that it had become more manageable. Now, I feel like my relationship to “my dysphoria” is again shifting as I come even more fully into accepting myself as a woman and as a Lesbian.

Fair warning here, I’m going to get a bit into how I relate intimately to my body.

Generally I have thought of my dysphoria as feeling mismatched and disconnected from my body. I’ve worked through enough of my body issues to fairly well remove the idea that my body/physique/musculature ideals are at all male, but issues of relating intimately to my body have been much more stubborn. Specifically, the way that I relate to my genitals and the way I want my body interacted with intimately is something that I have experienced as being the “active” or “insertive” partner and have therefore drawn the easy connections to male sexuality in the past. The more I dig into my relationship with my body and tie connections to the way other Lesbians before me have experienced their bodies, the more I come to find that experiencing my body this way is not at all related to male sexuality.

Pulling apart these threads has taken me to a point of reconciliation where I’m not sure I want to use the word dysphoria to describe how I relate to my body any more. The more I realize that experiencing my Clit as an active participant and driving force behind intimacy is a healthy female experience, the less disconnect I feel from it. The more I internalize the idea that I am far from the first Lesbian in the world to desire and derive my primary pleasure from interacting with my genitals in the way that I do, the less I want to describe these feelings as “dysphoria” because it has stopped feeling like a “non-female” or disconnected way of expressing myself. If I can wrap my head around the idea of the Clit as an active player in both giving AND receiving pleasure, then I can more easily come to accept the way I relate to my Clit as a healthy way to relate intimately with my female body.

I still struggle with the fact that my genitals are different now than they were prior to HRT, and that I know the difference in her function accounts for a lot of the healthy way I have been able to come around to understanding and accepting my genitals and sexual expression. I never tried to relate to my genitals in the way I do now before testosterone, but I wonder if I could have been able to come to a healthy sexuality on my own without medical intervention if I had some of these tools and knowledge  beforehand. If I had *ever* heard of truly Clit centered sexuality before transition, I wonder if I would have been able to see myself in it and latch onto some new understandings of my body rather than being convinced that the way I experience my sexuality is more akin to males than females.
I threw out the idea that I was “stone” early in my social transition when I realized I wanted to be touched and to be intimate, but “not in the way that one touches or is intimate with women.” I started learning to verbally communicate the way I wanted to be interacted with, although honestly I remained pretty “stone” in practice even for years after I stopped taking testosterone. I’m now to a place where I am lucky enough to have a partner who understands me and interacts with my body in the way I want to be interacted with, and it’s made such a wild difference in my bodily comfort to be treated this way without the idea that I’m being treated as “male” or “masculine.” Between us it is natural and easy, which further helps me internalize the idea that the way I relate to my body is not “outside of female.” This intimacy has the power to affirm my desires and my female reality in one swift, deeply healing movement and I’ve never felt anything like this freedom and acceptance before in my life.

I used to believe that I would never be rid of my dysphoria, but now I’m realizing that if I can accept the way I relate to my body without trying to change it or relating it to male expression, that I might just be able to settle down into living without feeling so disconnected.
Honestly, I’ve been feeling a lot more whole and integrated lately. It feels like it’s been a very long time in coming.

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Impulse Control

Through my childhood I developed an extremely strong impulse control as a way to mediate my then un-named anxiety. I could recognize that there were a lot of things that would make me feel “guilty,” which is the way I understood my anxiety as a young person. I set out to avoid these things at pretty much all costs and on the way gained impulse control that I now fear may possibly border on *too* strong.

I had a long list in my head of the things that made me feel “guilty,” and I avoided them well. A lot of the time these were normal pleasurable things (going to the movies, buying food just for myself, finding places of solitude, etc), but because I was overcome with guilt every time I let myself do these things I just learned to tell myself no. These sorts of things were so commonplace that I developed a very strong capability to talk myself out of the things that I desired by looking to the future and how my actions would affect that future. Mainly, I chose the option that would lead to me not feeling that horrible sinking “guilt” feeling in the pit of my stomach. I don’t think this was the best possible coping mechanism, but it’s one that I been able to use to my advantage throughout my life.

As an adult, I’ve probably let my impulse control overdevelop. I am now extremely good at saying no to myself, and denying myself all sorts of things that I may desire. This has served me well in a lot of arenas. I am good at avoiding an impulse buy, and choose instead to go home and research before purchasing new things. I practically never buy any clothes new, and if I do they have to be deeply discounted before I will let myself even consider spending the money. This also helps because clothing very rarely fits me the way I want it to, so if I can talk myself out of even going to look at clothes I am saving myself a lot of anxiety. I am good at avoiding eating when in public because there is an overwhelming chance that anywhere I go in public will not have food for me, so remove the anxiety of not knowing what is in my food and choose to eat at home the vast majority of the time instead. These practices of impulse control save my limited funds for more useful endeavors and save my anxiety-management resources for the moments (or days, or weeks, or months) when I will actually need them.

My powers of impulse control have also served me well in my detransition, and in dealing with the jealousy that I still sometimes feel towards those individuals who do physically transition. Impulse control, in my experience, is directly tied to being able to project into, understand and plan for the future. I may have the impulse to join the tide, and let myself get carried away in quick physical growth gained via intramuscular syringe. In complete transparency, this impulse has not yet left me although it is now easier to battle against. Transition, for me, was a much smoother way to exist in the world, if not easier to exist in my own brain for the long run. Taking testosterone would be the path of least resistance, and yet I use my impulse control to avoid traveling this path and instead choose to look towards building a future that includes living in a body that I have come to own through nothing but hard work and introspection. I am able to deny the quick-fix band-aid and look to what I feel is my true path of long-term sustainable healing and integration.