New Year Dysphoria & Euphoria

I began this post a few days ago, before I talked to my parents. I decided to keep what I originally wrote but add updates in blue. 

A review of this break

disney-princess-elsa

This break has been a bizarre but sometimes wonderful time for me. I’ve been home for the first time with my whole family since I came out to my parents and sisters.

I recently told two of my close guys friends that I’m transgender, and they both took it pretty well. I also got a change to catch up with my high school best friend and fill him in on how things have progressed. All went well.

Emotionally it’s been very up and down. On one hand I’ve been able to spend some beautiful quality time with the family, which is always awesome. I’ve been playing around with my baby brother, which is quite possibly the most wonderful thing in the world. On the other hand, coming home has increased my dysphoria. In general I’ve been very good about minimizing any actual gender dysphoria and focusing more on the positive aspects of being transgender, but for some reason being home makes me more aware of the social compromises I have to make on a daily basis and the person I have to pretend to be. At school it’s usually very subtle (probably because I keep so busy), but here in my own home I feel like I’m acting on a stage all the time, even when I open up more and ‘act natural.’ At the moment I’m totally ‘shut down’ – not allowing any femininity to peek through – since my parents when they talked to me told me they think any femininity coming from me is total bullshit. Anything I do, masculine or feminine, will somehow be used as evidence against me, so I’ve cut out the behavior that is the most ‘convicting.’ 

There have been several very random experiences of dysphoria that came out of nowhere. There was one day (the day before Christmas Eve) where I woke up feeling a strange instinct that my family wouldn’t tolerate any femininity today. Who knows if the instinct was correct (oh, it was), but I didn’t ignore it because when it comes to keeping the peace in my family, I never deny an intuition. That day I made sure to wear extra ‘masculine’ clothes, and even though the clothes were stuff I like and wear on a regular basis back at school, I felt a strong sensation of wearing a costume. As soon as I went out to see some friends, I changed into a more comfortable outfit. It wasn’t that I was wearing false clothes; it was the fact that I wore those particular clothes in order to please the macho expectations of my family, which made me aware that I was playing a role.

The other really strong dysphoric moment came from when I was at a girl friends’ house. I was sitting in one friend’s room looking across the hall at my other friend’s room. Her door had Disney princess pictures on it. As soon as I saw the Disney pictures, I had this strange rush of emotion that almost caused me to cry. The emotion was one of longing: I suddenly felt this huge sense of tragedy about my childhood and the present. I felt that I missed out on a beautiful normal female childhood in which I would have been affirmed as precious, but instead I’ve had a childhood full of pain and an adulthood thus far that is a mere continuation of that childhood.

This break has prepared me by trial by fire for what’s going to be a very difficult year. I know now for a fact that if I do end up transitioning, I will lose my entire family (immediate and extended) for a very long time if not forever. This has obviously made me question everything, but I still keep coming back to the same principles that hold firm despite the emotional instinct to forget all trans*ness for my family’s sake.

This New Year and what I know

When it becomes clear that your old life with your beloved family is distancing itself from you and taking everything with it, your immediate reaction is to scramble to preserve that old life and throw away the stirrings of new life if necessary. This process has made me question everything I know. I’ve realized how little I know about anything, but I’ve also remembered what is solid and what I know for sure. 

Here’s what I don’t know:

  1. I don’t really know if people are happy after transitioning. There are many voices out there saying that everyone is happier after transitioning, but then there are those people who detransition and whatnot. These people are few and far between, so the evidence definitely seems to be that people are happy, but there’s no way to know for sure.
  2. I don’t know if I’m mentally stable. I really really really think I probably am, but how do you really know for sure?
  3. I don’t know what I will do in the future. I have my desires, but they pale next to the massive weight of Life and duty. 
  4. I don’t know if it’s all a lie. Maybe I’m living in a dream. Who knows. People who say I am delusional are speaking from a place of ignorance, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t be right by accident. My entire life experience bears evidence to me being one person, but maybe my experience is deceived.  There’s just no way to know for sure. 

Here’s what I do know:

  1. My gender identity is female. I wake up every morning and question myself to see if it still is, and every day without fail my entire interior life flows from a core female identity, as basic as my core human identity.
  2. I know I am different, and that God made me to be different. I don’t know what this implies for my future, but I know that God loves me for being his strange little child. 
  3. I know God adores me. 
  4. I know God loves me a lot. 
  5. I know that no matter what I’ll have to be a pioneer and crusader. The future is going to be extremely painful, but I can hope that the joys will outweigh the costs. 

Another way to express what I know is through the new Disney movie Frozen. The movie really struck me because of how much I relate to Princess Elsa. She has special magical powers which have the potential to hurt the people she loves most. In order to protect their family, her parents make sure she hides her powers away and shuts out the world. She spends here entire life in fear of what others will think if her powers are revealed. At last she doesn’t have the strength to hold them back since their potency grows every year. Terrified, she runs away to start a new life by herself where she won’t hurt anyone.

Needless to say, I saw Elsa as an analogy for being transgender. I don’t know how things got the way they are. I don’t know if my “magic power” was a mistake or a fluke of fate. What I know is now I am what I am and I’m blessed to be different. I don’t know for sure what it’ll look like if I show my true colors, but I do know it can’t be hidden. I don’t know if I need to do HRT to be me, but I at least know I need to be me.  

At the end of the day I am overwhelmed by hope. The future is a blank vortex of possibility right now, but there’s something incredibly exciting about that. I might be homeless in the future, I might be lonely, I might be a social outcast, I might be attacked, I might have to struggle day in and day out to be joyful, but I know there is One who stands with me. Christ will be with me all the way. I can’t be homeless as long as I have a home in His heart. I can’t be lonely as long as I have Him as companion. I can’t be rejected if He has accepted me. I can’t be attacked if He is my shield. I can’t be joyless if He delights in me. 

Heading into the New Year, this song fills my lungs as I belt it out into the winter air. I have a lot to figure out this year, but no matter what I hope to do it dancing and singing.  

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9 thoughts on “New Year Dysphoria & Euphoria

  1. What a good post! Glad I stumbled across it. I got really dysphoric going home too. It was also the first time I’d been with all my family for more than a day or two since I came out. College is a chance to be comfortable in another setting.

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  2. Hey there! I am so sorry to hear that your family is completely closed to the idea of transition. I am very glad to hear that your religion is such a source of strength for you. I also leaned hard on my religion during transition. I think something about being pushed farther from the community can sometimes push trans people closer to God.

    Regarding some of your knowns and unknowns. Detransition is indeed quite rare–the evidence says that transition steps are largely effective for treating gender dysphoria. That last bit–for treating gender dysphoria– is key. Transition (in most cases) solves one problem. For many people, dealing with that one issue greatly improves their quality of life. It can certainly make it easier to face life’s other problems. However, it’s possible that transition will alleviate your gender dysphoria…and still not make you completely happy. Life will still be full of struggle after transition. This is especially true if your transition is going to coincide with the loss of major relationships.

    Regarding mental stability, if you’re not already, I definitely recommend working with a counselor. You are in an extremely difficult situation, making a profound decision, and whatever you choose, you will face a lot of challenges. A good counselor can support you, help you clarify your feelings, and help you assess your mental state. A lot colleges offer free or low cost counseling on campus.

    I admire your hope, faith and courage.

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    • Thanks for this. It’s funny: my parents said one of their many concerns about transitioning is that I’d lose my faith; I tried to make them realize that finally accepting myself as trans has actually solidified it.

      I am seeing a counselor (a free school-provided therapist), which has been wonderful for me.

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  3. It is such a relief to find someone else who grapples with similar issues… I’m not a Catholic – I’m a Protestant who leans more east theologically – but hey, we’re both Christians 🙂 It feels good to know there is another Christian of a similar age (I’m 20) who is also dealing with a disharmony between brain and body. I have to say, your blog has actually helped me quite a bit, even though I only discovered it a few days ago…

    Anyway, you comment on Frozen inspired me to take my blog out of hibernation (or, perhaps, cryogenic suspension…) and write a post of my own:

    http://needsmoremarshmallows.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/this-misfit-is-you.html

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