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The feelings we don’t all feel

I used to think I didn’t have body dysphoria. I definitely don’t have it the way some people report it. For example, here’s a famous description from Lydia K.:

So you run your internal gender_check and get nothing as a response:

you@body# gender_check

Return code is zero, nothing is printed out, everything is all good, and you think “I have no idea what these people are talking about, there isn’t anything here.”. When a trans person runs their gender_check they get a slew of errors, a spewage of various issues that need to be addressed

IMG_2772No, my nervous system doesn’t randomly run a “gender check” and come back with an error. By and large, I’m satisfied with my genitals. It can be a pain (literally!) to tuck them out of sight when I’m presenting as a woman, but they fit my usual male presentation. I think they’re pretty nice looking, and fun to play with, and chicks dig ’em (okay, my wife digs ’em). If I woke up without them one day I’d make do, but otherwise they’re not going anywhere and I’m fine with that too.

I do actually feel dissatisfied with my body. Primarily it’s a weight issue, because for most of my life so far I was on the slim side. Then in my late twenties I got the “middle-aged spread.” I felt fine through all the childhood growth changes and a full male puberty, but it was the weight that felt foreign. Ever since I was about 27 I’ve looked in the mirror and thought, “that’s not me, that doesn’t belong there.” I’ve lost a little weight over the past few years, but a lot of it has come off my legs. I look great from the waist down, but sometimes my shoulder-to-hip ratio really jumps out at me in the mirror and in pictures, and I feel frustrated and discouraged.

The part that bothers me most is my belly. My shoulders and ribcage have also grown since then, which is perfectly normal for adult men, but I miss the time when my shoulders weren’t much broader than those of the average woman my height. And yes, I know that there are XX, women-raised-women with my shape, but most of them don’t have deep voices and big hands and thick facial hair to deal with too.

So yes, sometimes I do feel uncomfortable having broad shoulders and a penis, but only when I’m actively thinking about presenting as a woman. Otherwise I have the same body dysphoria that a lot of formerly thin people have.

Does that mean I’m not trans? Far from it. I still periodically feel a desire to be a woman, and sometimes I feel sad when I’m not seen as a woman. There are lots of trans people like me who don’t have heavy body dysphoria, and many of us have quite satisfactory transitions.

So in addition to the feelings I have, which I described in this post, we can add that some people have this “gender check” type of body dysphoria. Just not all of us.

You’ll notice that in my last post I used “I statements,” talking about the feelings that I personally feel or have felt. I don’t claim to know what “a trans person” feels, unless that trans person is me. Lydia K. doesn’t know what “a trans person” feels either unless that trans person is her, and I wish she’d stop pretending she does.

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