“That was dysphoria?” 8 signs and symptoms of indirect gender dysphoria

by Zinnia Jones — September 10, 2013

Update, June 2017: Please see my latest post on depersonalization symptoms in gender dysphoria for further details on the dissociative phenomena described in this article.

Zinnia JonesI am not a doctor, and none of this should be taken as medical advice or as diagnostic of any medical condition. These are anecdotes sourced from my experiences and those of others.

Gender dysphoria is widely described and experienced as distress due to discomfort with one’s assigned sex, and the desire to live as another sex. The condition of gender dysphoria is common among transgender people, although being transgender is not itself a condition or disorder, nor is the presence of gender dysphoria required in order for someone to be transgender. Not all trans people have significant gender dysphoria or experience their dysphoria in the same way: different trans people may be uncomfortable with different aspects of their assigned sex, their body, their presentation, the gender role expected of them, and so on.

Nevertheless, the common thread of gender dysphoria is that it is linked with our gender and the various components of this. The distress of dysphoria, and hopefully its resolution, are contingent on how closely the overall situation of our gender aligns with what we need it to be. For this reason, people typically understand the experience of gender dysphoria as being very clearly and self-evidently centered on gender. The most widespread notion is that we become aware of our dysphoria in very direct, gender-related ways, such as knowing from a young age that we’re actually women or men despite the sex we were assigned, feeling “trapped” in our bodies due to their inappropriate sex characteristics, needing to make our “outside” match our “inside”, and strongly wishing to present and live as another gender.


Diverse experiences of dysphoria

This understanding of gender dysphoria is an incomplete one. A largely unrecognized facet of dysphoria is that not all trans people initially recognize or experience this as being unmistakably connected to our genders. Some of us suffer the distress that stems from dysphoria, but without many clues that this is about gender, and its relation to our genders may be obvious only in retrospect. Much attention is focused on the “gender” part of this, the well-defined cross-gender identities and needs and feelings. Less is given to the experience of more general dysphoria.

What is dysphoria? Outside of gender dysphoria, it’s hard to find much useful information on what dysphoria itself is supposed to mean. It’s certainly not limited to gender dysphoria – it can be a symptom of various other conditions as wide-ranging as anxiety disorders, personality disorders, major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, insomnia, PMS, and stress, and it can also be a side effect of antipsychotic drugs.

But what does dysphoria actually feel like – how does it present itself? You won’t find much more detail than a simple list of other symptoms. Wikipedia describes it as “a state of feeling unwell or unhappy; a feeling of emotional and mental discomfort”. Another page lists anxiety as a symptom of dysphoria, and dysphoria as a symptom of anxiety. As a 2007 paper in Australasian Psychiatry concluded:

The current semantic status of dysphoria is most unsatisfactory. Its definitions are usually too broad or too simplistic and, therefore, not clinically useful. There is no agreement on what the term means.

People in distress want to understand exactly what it is they’re experiencing and why they’re experiencing it, and vague references to “feeling unwell” are not helpful. We already know we’re not feeling well. Why? And what can we do about it?

That’s the question faced by trans people whose gender dysphoria doesn’t present in ways that are directly and plainly connected to gender. My gender dysphoria primarily took the form of this indirect dysphoria, and I’ve spoken with many other trans people whose dysphoria also did not initially have a clear and unavoidable association with gender. Due to the lack of strong indicators that these “unwell feelings” are actually a matter of gender, it can take us quite a long time just to realize that we’re trans or that what we’re feeling is dysphoria. This can be so non-obvious that even as some of us do begin to explore the possibility of transitioning, we still might not make the connection that our unwell feelings are a symptom of dysphoria, or that transitioning is something that could help with this.


The importance of recognizing dysphoria

When you don’t know what this is, or that it’s even an actual condition, it’s easy to mistake it for who you naturally are. You might think it’s part of your innate personality and disposition, and something you just have to learn to cope with. This can delay recognizing that you’re trans or that transitioning is an appropriate choice for you. Because I viewed my lifelong unease in this way, I initially believed that I didn’t even experience dysphoria, and that I was already okay. I didn’t know there was anything wrong with me.

The real extent of my dysphoria only became clear after I began to transition (motivated largely by the desire to induce physical feminization and prevent further masculinization, rather than the need to treat a clear dysphoria), and these feelings dissipated for the first time ever. Once I had this basis for comparison, I could see that I was indeed experiencing gender dysphoria all along – it was just so indirect that I had failed to recognize it as specifically gender-related.

Trans and questioning people sometimes doubt that they’re trans simply because they don’t have distinct feelings of gender-related unease. They might otherwise face a great deal of confusion about what it is they’re feeling, but they can be aided in their self-understanding by the insight that gender dysphoria doesn’t always manifest as a neon sign flashing “FIX YOUR GENDER”. For them, it can help to realize that their less specific feelings of discomfort might also be due to gender dysphoria. It can give them a possible answer to explore. It can give them hope.

But they won’t get that from uselessly opaque lists of symptoms like “discomfort” and “unhappiness”. Words like “anhedonia” and “malaise” don’t capture the detailed, visceral, day-to-day reality of this indirect dysphoria. Here, I aim to define it ostensively, with real-life examples of this dysphoria that seem broadly common to the experiences of myself and others.

Again, not all trans people will necessarily have all or any of these signs, as everyone’s gender dysphoria is different. Some people have more obviously gender-related symptoms than others. Similarly, not everyone with these signs is necessarily trans. They aren’t inherently limited to sufferers of gender dysphoria and can potentially be due to any of the other conditions previously listed, like garden-variety depression or anxiety disorders – but for some trans people, these are indeed symptoms which resolve once the dysphoria is addressed.

This is an initial attempt to feel out a phenomenon that isn’t yet widely known, named, or defined. Some trans people may recognize their experiences in this list, and others may not. But if I had known these things, it would have made my transition a lot easier. And perhaps cis people, too, can start to understand just how damaging dysphoria can be – and how important it is to treat it.


Signs of indirect gender dysphoria

1. Continual difficulty with simply getting through the day. For most of my life, everything was inexplicably stressful, and it was hard to work up the effort to do even the smallest everyday things. Going to the store, cleaning up the house, getting in the shower, any little thing people asked of me… it all just felt like too much. Even when there was no situational cause for this stress, nothing came easily to me. It was more than a mere habit of laziness – it was like I was so mentally fatigued that everything was a constant burden and a struggle.

I could force myself to get things done, but it would take a lot out of me. I would be irritable, snappish, annoyed by everything, and in anywhere from a mildly bad mood to a very bad mood almost every day. What happiness I did experience was typically short-lived and compromised by the ongoing undertone of dissatisfaction and, well, grumpiness. I didn’t like this at all. It was a constant tension, and I wished more than anything that I could find some way to relax and unwind. I didn’t want to be this way.

2. A sense of misalignment, disconnect, or estrangement from your own emotions. I was always on an unsteady footing with my feelings. As a child, I would cry almost every day at the drop of a hat. Anything could trigger it – being even mildly reprimanded, getting a wrong answer on schoolwork, the sort of insignificant things that no one else around me ever cried so frequently about. It really was abnormal, and eventually most of the people around me got pretty tired of it. It was so embarrassing and I tried to stop it because I didn’t want to cry so much, either. But I couldn’t control it.

In my teen years, this shifted: I could almost never cry at all, even when I wanted to. I would feel like crying, I would know on some level that I should be crying, but I just couldn’t make it happen. When I rarely did manage to cry, that was even worse. It was too much, and I would be overcome by it to the point of uncontrollable wailing sobs. There was no in-between, no moderate amount of tears. I cried as much at the death of a month-old pet rat as I did at my grandmother’s funeral.

And I dreaded crying, because afterward and for the next day or so, I would be smothered in this horrible feeling of emotional deadness. It felt like my head was full of concrete, like my consciousness was trying to wade through molasses, and it was a feeling that seemed to be genuinely physical in nature. It seemed as though my brain simply ran out of whatever fueled my ability to feel anything at all – like I had no emotions left. There was no way to “get over it” or force myself to perk up, I just had to wait it out. I resented anyone or anything that made me cry. I feared the awful choking numbness that was bound to happen next time.

3. A feeling of just going through the motions in everyday life, as if you’re always reading from a script. Everything always seemed like it was somehow less real than it ought to be. I didn’t feel like I was my own person – I had no sense of myself as someone who could make my own choices and decisions as I wished. I often lacked that internal initiative that wants things and seeks things for no reason other than the fact that you simply want them and that’s that. I didn’t even think of that kind of wanting as a feeling I was capable of – there was just no drive for it.

In the absence of a well-defined identity and a strong sense of self-direction, other people’s obligations filled the void. Since I didn’t want to do anything, I just did whatever was expected of me and said whatever was expected of me. That was all I ever did. I felt like an actor, being handed my lines by someone else, and I didn’t know how to be anything other than that. I didn’t know I should be anything other than that. I often thought of wanting to tear my face off to see if there was anything real underneath.

4. A seeming pointlessness to your life, and no sense of any real meaning or ultimate purpose. Even when I did find things to do that I vaguely enjoyed, it still felt like I was just killing time. Each day was like checking off a box, knowing that eventually the days would run out, but not really knowing how else to spend the time. When I worked on things, there wasn’t any higher sense of eventually working toward anything.

You live for a while, and then you die, and that’s that. I didn’t think there was anything else to life. So why bother with any real long-term goals? When I did set goals for myself, it was just for the sake of it – not because I was motivated by any purpose that I genuinely cared about. Nothing made me feel truly fulfilled, like I was accomplishing anything meaningful. So why bother?

5. Knowing you’re somehow different from everyone else, and wishing you could be normal like them. I often wondered how other kids could just go about their lives, talking and laughing and being so calm and happy, like nothing was wrong. I don’t know what I really expected of them – I didn’t have the vaguest idea of what was “wrong”, either. I didn’t know why I felt so anxious all the time, I just did. I had no idea why the rest of the world didn’t feel the same way, and I wanted to know what that was like.

It felt like my mind was constantly talking to itself without any interruption, and it was overanalyzing everything around me. Some second, parallel existence seemed to be running alongside my direct experience of consciousness: an inner monologue of sorts, but a very toxic one. I couldn’t stop thinking about everything – it was as though this loud voice in my head kept me from simply existing in the moment.

There was no way to shut off that voice and just be, like everyone else. I wanted those two sides to line up and merge so I could feel natural and at ease too. But it wouldn’t go away, no matter how hard I tried. There always seemed to be some invisible skin separating me from the rest of reality – I could move around in the real world, interact with it, but never actually touch it or feel it.

6. A notable escalation in the severity of these symptoms during puberty. Around 12 or 13, things really started going downhill for me. While it was already difficult to cope with school, friends, and a troubled home life, I was able to handle it before the onset of puberty. Not anymore. For a few years, my emotions weren’t just blunted or dysfunctional – they went missing almost entirely. I felt nothing, day in and day out. And each day was the same, a robotic routine of just waiting for the time to pass. I couldn’t even force myself to care about anything. This, too, felt like a truly physical thing that I couldn’t fight.

I knew I was failing every class, and it just didn’t matter to me. I handed in blank tests without a care in the world. I was fully aware of what the long-term consequences would be, but none of it seemed real. I’d already hit bottom – nothing could make it any worse. I couldn’t bring myself to get anything done no matter how much anyone lectured or threatened or punished me.

They told me I was throwing away my future – I didn’t even see any problem with that. What future? Why did anyone care about me? I sure didn’t. My parents withdrew me after sophomore year because there was no point to keeping someone in school who just didn’t do anything. So I stayed indoors like a hermit for most of my teen years, and didn’t do anything there, either.

7. Attempting to fix this on your own through various coping mechanisms. I often wondered whether some substance, like cannabis, was what I needed to loosen up and finally relax. I tried that. I tried drinking, I tried Vicodin, I even tried nootropics like piracetam, all of it in the hopes that it could improve my mood and make life feel easier. I wanted to find something, anything, that would be the key to repairing what I increasingly saw as the broken parts of myself. Some of it helped for a short while, thought not significantly. By no means did it “fix” me in any meaningful sense – it took my mind off things for a bit, but the problem was still there.

When none of that worked, I tried to train my mind to shy away instinctively from negative thoughts so that I wouldn’t spiral off into depressive ruminations as I had for most of my teen years. This was mostly successful, and it wasn’t a bad idea by any means, though the fundamental unhappiness and anxiety remained. I figured all I could do was ignore it as much as possible and focus on whatever positives I could find – I gave up hope of ever truly fixing this.

8. Substantial resolution of these symptoms in a very obvious way upon transitioning, particularly upon initiating HRT. While this is somewhat of a diagnosis-by-treatment, this is what makes it clear that these difficulties are indeed specifically gender-related, and not due to other conditions. If we’re fortunate, then one way or another, we eventually start to pick up on our own personal hints that lead us in the direction of reconsidering our gender. And at a certain point in the process, we begin to realize that this might be what we’ve been searching for all our lives.

For me, as I transitioned a little, it helped a little. When I presented in a feminine way and took on a feminine identity, I started to come into my own and take shape as a real person. I began to steer my life in a direction that I wanted. It was easier to have goals and things I derived satisfaction from, and this encouraged me to start caring about myself more. I was able to fall in love and have a real relationship for the first time – something I never saw the point of before, and had resigned myself to doing without.

Still, my general sense of discomfort and irritability remained, and it kept making my life difficult. I was tired of feeling bad every single day. But as it turned out, when I transitioned a lot, it helped a lot. Once I started HRT, the effect was immediate: these symptoms totally dissipated. It was such a stark difference, it became clear that what I’d been suffering before likely was indeed physical and chemical in nature. I could tell it had been gender dysphoria, because it just wasn’t there anymore once I received the treatment for gender dysphoria.

Now, I could actually relax – it was so amazing to be truly calm for the first time in my life. And it lasted, and there was no more pain to hide. I could cry and feel good afterward, as if it replenished me rather than draining me of emotion. It was possible to feel things in all their detail and depth and texture, rather than being limited to either numbness or emotional overload. The skin of separation was gone, and life was a breeze: I was just happy, all day, without constantly intrusive thoughts distracting me and separating me from the world. I can truly care about everything I choose to work towards, because it matters now. I’m the normal person I always wanted to be, and I can get on with simply living.

Finally, I was a whole human being. Nothing was wrong and nothing was missing anymore. I found what I was looking for, and it gave me back the life that dysphoria had taken from me.

Again, these signs aren’t shared by all trans people – every person’s dysphoria is a little different, and transitioning can have differing effects on us. But it seems that a significant portion of trans people, whether their dysphoria is clearly gender-related or more subtle, report having feelings similar to these. If you’ve been reevaluating your gender, and these experiences seem relatable to you, it may be worth considering that this could be gender dysphoria – and that it’s potentially treatable.

Note, March 2014: Please also see my followup post on my later experience of being diagnosed with depression after transitioning.

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52 Responses to “That was dysphoria?” 8 signs and symptoms of indirect gender dysphoria

  1. Pingback: Spawn More Trans: Transgender Awareness and Activation (Live at Social Justice Calgary) | Gender Analysis

  2. Pacey Banjo says:

    All of these are completely me. But I’m still not sure if I’m actually trans, because I thought about it for the longest time and decided if I were born a girl life would be more fun but being a guy is cool too, you know, that male privilege and stuff.

    The other link about being depressed after transitioning makes sense as well, I feel like I’m in the same boat as you when you were like this.

    I still think I’m a guy though.

    • trans male candidate with no direction says:

      I’m one of those persons who never knew who they are, but didn’t realize what was missing from the picture. I completely isolated myself from my peers as a teen, since I didn’t seem to fit with girls on mental level and obviously not with boys by my physical appearance. I always felt something was off. Still, I didn’t associate my struggle with any sort of gender issues until last few years. I just thought I’m an individual that happens to be born with a little more wistful mind than others. I had little glimpses of unexpected happiness, like when my parents complimented on my woodwork, or how courageous I was at a sport, or how good I was taking care of myself. Associated with anything that would be traditionally associated with boys. Still these feelings would be soon flattened by comments like how cute-cute-cute I am, how a piece of cloth really didn’t suit me (= not fitting my sex), how I wasn’t mentally acting like a girl etc.

      Anyhow, it always felt like I was living my life for someone else and not for myself. Like I was a side character on my own life. I accomplished some great things, and yet it didn’t feel like I was the one who achieved them. I felt like the purpose of my life was to make someone else happy (let it be my parents, teachers, grandmother of neighbors or whoever). Now I’m at a point in my, when I have no-one else to make happy anymore, but myself. I live by myself, I have my career and that’s it. My parents are happy with their relationship and a pack of pets, my sibling is happy with their relationship, my friends have graduated, having families and starting to have children. Feels like my life has lost purpose because of everybody else have achieved their happiness. So finally I can’t ignore myself anymore, I feel like I can’t run away from seeking my own happiness anymore. I want to move on with my life, the same way my peers did.

      The distressing part of this realization is that I have glimpses of gender-dysphoria, but as I’ve read several checklists, I don’t fit all of the criteria. I feel kind of funny with my body, like it wasn’t mine with the shapes, but at the same time I’m able to look at it in an objective way and think how good it actually looks as a female body. You get what I mean? It doesn’t feel like “I look good”, but like I was driving this body that looks good. I’m also able to enjoy “cross-dressing” (= i.e. dressing according to my birth sex), it’s quite fun to do make up and stuff. But at the same time, I feel like every time I dress up for a party etc, I mislead people little by little to wrong direction about who I am. I feel like if I was born into male body, with my current state of mind, I would definitely be doing drag queen or at least being at-home transvestite. And while enjoying it, I would still be very happy with my male body and identity. I’m not sure if this “drag side” of mine is a pure result of my upbringing as a girl, yet I’ve learnt to live with it and occasionally even enjoy it.

      My main problem is that everybody have used to see me as a female for all my life, me included. It worries me, that as I’m able to see my body in neutral (subjective) or even positive (objective) light instead of constant negative light (like people with medically treated dysphoria seem to see theirs), I’d regret any sort of physical change. Like, even if I know this body isn’t “mine”, I’m too used to it and my current state of life as “a woman”. I’m not sure if physical change would be “worth it”, or would negative things like difficulties to assimilate socially, outnumber the good ones. So I’m not sure if I ever will get medical treatments. I definitely don’t want to rush into wrong decision and later regret it. Yet I know that something need to change, for me to become happy.

      • trans male candidate with no direction says:

        Seems like I accidentally commented on Pacey Banjo. I meant to send my own comment!

      • Kal (trans masx says:

        Hey, I know it’s been 3 years since you wrote this, but j just wanted to tell you thank you for putting all of this into words.
        I have struggled similarly, in that exact pattern of enjoying “cross dressing” but sometimes that triggering immense negative emotion. I also feel like I would have been a drag queen or more fluid/femme in my gender expression if I were born with a male body. So it’s been hard to let go of my female identity. Sometimes I wish I could just be a lesbian and be happy like that. I’ve been identifying as gender fluid/non-binary for awhile and wishing I could be happy with that too. But my body, while it’s sexy and can be decidedly feminine, doesn’t feel like it’s mine. It doesn’t match my fave or my internal sense of self. The weird thing is this sense of self is not male…it’s like, the girl I wished I could be, the pretty, delicate, elfin, tiny girl that I have never been able to embody. But my mom seems to think of me that way, and some of my make exes as well.

        What resonates most about your comment to me, though, is that feeling like a side character. I’ve long thought that maybe my childhood abuse was worse than I imagined, or something terrible must have happened to me that I can remember, because my dissatisfaction with life just doesn’t match the severity of experiences I’ve been through. Everything negative feels amplified, and the worst things in my memory are not usually what other people think they should be (violence, name -calling), but fixate around gendered stuff: being given a different and lesser present than my brothers as a kid, being shamed for wrestling with boys, being told I couldn’t wear certain clothes because I looked too boyish, being given compliments on my breasts, etc. My mom just interpreted me as “a weird kid” and most of siblings haven’t struggled as much as I have with depression, lack of motivation, etc.

        Recently, especially through articles like this, I’m coming to accept how much more my experience matches “real” trans people (my brain loves to act like I’m a fake). So I am getting on T soon. I hope it does something. This in-between zone might fit for some people but it’s starting to feel straight up torturous. I’m excited and nervous all at the same time.

        All that is to say ….I don’t think we /choose/ to be trans, no matter how much transphobic people act like it’s a choice. I don’t wish I was a man, I just feel Wrong as a woman, and always have. Puberty made me want to die every day, melodramatic as that sounds. Sex has always been strange and distant and cold feeling, even when it’s fun. There is something in me that wants different hormones, I think. I’d feel much better in life if people gendered me as male, even though my gender is technically non-binary.

        And so, idk, I saw my own thought process mirrored in this post, and wanted to share with you that you’re not alone in this experience, your comfort in yourself matters, and that I hope you find peace in your body & soul, whatever that might look like for you..

      • questions abound says:

        I know several years have passed, but I wanted to say how much I connected with you on one part. I always describe myself as “a drag queen trapped in a woman’s body”. I’m then usually told that that makes me a woman. But it is a different thing, and I’m so glad I’m not the only one who feels that way!

    • Josh Robles says:

      You might be a different identity then. “Trans” is an umbrella term for a wide variety of genders; look into it, maybe you could be a demiguy?

    • Ppppppp gone says:

      You can be genderfluid as well

  3. Terry (Genderfluid) says:

    I thought what I was going through was depression, but it suddenly let up when I got a hair cut and was easily able to pass as male or female. Only now have I realized it was dysphoria.

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  7. Aria says:

    This is interesting in that none of this is even remotely like my experiences!

  8. Katie says:

    Reading this made me cry. What and how I have felt al my life is about what you have written. It is clear I need to see an endocrinologist specializing in transgender people.
    Thank You!

  9. Ana Alise says:

    Everything you have identified makes logical sense and i would encourage anyone that has taken the time to consider your opinions on this subject. I am a older transgender individual that wishes such information would have been available earlier in my life.

    • Victoria Fraser says:

      I so agree. At 74 and still struggling I can’t help but wish my parents had known how to deal with a little boy who said he wanted to be a girl.

  10. I don't know right know says:

    I feel all these things but I don’t know. I don’t like be a girl. I hate being a ‘lady’ or ‘she’ or ‘pretty’. I like the thought of being a guy but then there comes a point where I get confused about it. Because some times it gets to the point where I’m laying in bed crying because I don’t know who I am. My parents would say it’s a phase considering I’m only 13 and I’ll probably get told that I wouldn’t know.

    • Bloop Bloop whatup says:

      Yeah, my parents said I’m too young to make a choice like this. Like yeah I totally voluntarily want to be miserable in my own body, and be hated by 25% of the people at my school that don’t even know me.

  11. Amber says:

    I am feeling all of this and more to an extreme degree. I don’t know how to get out of this spiral. I can’t do anything to come out to my family, my brother literally told me once he believed that trans people should get a death sentence. I’m so scared. I don’t think I’m either fully guy or fully girl but I am most definitely not just a girl. I want to cut my hair soo bad. But I might get kicked out if I cut my hair the way I want. Yeesh. I cannot thank you enough for explaing all of this.

  12. Alexander says:

    This is really good; i’ve never been able to say wether or not i was dysphoric, but this made me understand i completely was. Thank you from France !

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  14. Lex says:

    I feel like i wrote this? are you sure you’re not me? i think i wrote this when i was drunk and i can’t remember, that’s exactly how i felt all my life every single of these listed reasons whooooa what?? thank you for sharing i needed this i’m FTM by the way

  15. Ollie Pollard says:

    I can really relate to this, thanks. :)

  16. Daryl says:

    Just (maybe) coming to grips with who I (maybe?) am. AMAB. So a couple of specific symptoms that I present with. Are either/both dysphoric?

    1) Total aversion to having body hair. To the point that I shave. Chest, arms, legs, underarms, etc. If I can see to shave, I do.
    2) This one is a little backwards in that I LIKE what I see in the mirror. I have gynecomastia. Male breasts. Reading up on the condition it seems that it is a cause of great distress for many men. Not so for me. In fact, the exact opposite.

    So, growing up I didn’t have the same sense of unease that Zinnia did. I wanted to dress as a girl and did occasionally until my parents gave me the boys don’t do that speech when I was maybe 10. The desire is still there 45 years later as is the thought that I should have been a girl.

    So, gender dysphoria? Something else? I’d appreciate any feedback. I’ve really been struggling lately.

  17. Chloë D says:

    I was looking for answers on the question “what is gender dysphoria?” And I found you article. It amazes me, everything you said was so me, I felt like crying. But I couldn’t and you will understand why if you had read the article. But I am really glad you made it, and cleared my mind, thank you for that.

  18. Ashton (ftm) says:

    While I was reading this, I realized that this is quite like me.
    Sometimes I think “But I still like feminine things… How can I be male if I like pretty clothes and makeup?” but then I remember feminine trans men. To be honest, knowing that others like me are out there makes me feel a lot better.
    Thank you so much.

  19. Claire Grey says:

    This post should be in an anthology of trans writings to help others. This post describes me. I’ve been managing all of the same symptoms for 30+ years — most recently with intense creative activity as my main respite. When I accepted my trans-ness it all dissipated, the anxiety, etc. Props.

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  21. L says:

    just sounds like depression and was resolved through transitioning, which is normal…. i wouldn’t say it’s dysphoria, but depression subconsciously caused through dysphoria… doesn’t seem like deporsonalization either, tbh. but that’s just my thoughts on it. -trans psych student

  22. Nigella Rolfe says:

    Superb article! This is the first time I’ve read something that hit home so many times. I thought, yes, that’s me, it helps it all make sense, someone has really thought this out and it really makes sense. So thank you!

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  24. a_lethe_ia says:

    1. Continual difficulty with simply getting through the day
    [yep. depression yay. Problem even having a regular body-cleaning routine.
    Having a dirty room.. everything is exhausting.
    One difference: its easier for me to do when other people ask me to. I am dependable, having some external pressure to get shit done helps immensely]

    2. A sense of misalignment, disconnect, or estrangement from your own emotions.
    [yes. Partially, specially being stressed, nervous, sad. I can feel strong anger and strong happiness, everything between is..muffled, foggy. Always assumed its more related to the depression I got…since puberty]

    3. A feeling of just going through the motions in everyday life, as if you’re always reading from a script[no.. No strong dps]

    4. A seeming pointlessness to your life, and no sense of any real meaning or ultimate purpose. [yes. very much. I don’t care much for anything at all, I don’t have any dreams or hopes. I live.Nothing more]

    5. Knowing you’re somehow different from everyone else, and wishing you could be normal like them
    [yes. Since childhood, May also be related to my diagnosis of ADHD and aspergers. Was always isolated, and still less able to read emotions or react appropriately, but got better with training]

    6. A notable escalation in the severity of these symptoms during puberty.
    [yes. I feared puberty like I now fear even the idea of a pregnancy. In abject horror..
    I didn’t want to start bleeding or getting breasts, I wanted to stay as androgynous as I was. I got depression with 14, started self harming. Was on antidepressants with 16 who helped okay.Still was foggy]

    7. Attempting to fix this on your own through various coping mechanisms
    [yes. Starting with autoaggressive behavior, to starving
    (thinness means amenorrhoea and reduced breasts..Problem is just I like food and am too lazy to do so much sport to reduce my bodyfat amount so much it would reduce my breasts),
    with 16 I started to be promiscuous, had a lot of sex with different people
    (1 age of consent is 14 where I live, ) Tbh I don’t have any regrets, it was the most benign way, I learned a lot about myself, my sexual identity, but lots about other people, meet some pretty cool ones and had a great time. (Always safer sex ofc, also made rules to exclude shitty people. Like I wouldn’t take anyone home who couldn’t respect small seemingly insignificant rules, tried to argue or get me to do something i said I didn’t want to or behaved shitty towards any people they thought couldn’t retaliate..(If you want to know the character of a person, look how they treat people in a weaker position) But after I met my SO that stopped.
    With 19 I started to try drugs and I got stuck on opiates. I got help which avoided me crashing horribly. (free healthcare is overwhelmingly great- just not when you like me want to get rid of your tits and the healthcare doesn’t know how to deal with dysphoric afab people who arent trans men.) Now.. there is still an urge to self harm but it’s less strong.]

    8. Substantial resolution of these symptoms in a very obvious way upon transitioning, particularly upon initiating HRT. [I can’t. I am afab, but I am not a man.
    My dysphoria is mostly related to my breasts, the rest is okay, (Well i’d love to not have to bleed every fucking month but that one distresses me not as much as those damn bags)
    I don’t feel that bad getting misgendered (necessarily as my language has no gender neutral pronouns that arent dehumanizing-the only available is only used to describe things)I prefer the english language because it allows me to be addressed in the most comfortable manner, but having to deal with “ms[my name]” is weirdly okay..I mean it doesn’t feel like it means me but I know it does and being addressed in that way doesn’t stress me.
    When I’m asked for gender somewhere, when I can I decline to identify, but I cant avoid misgendering as where I live there is little room or knowledge about any non binary people like me.]

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  28. Aspen says:

    You… you put my feelings into words. Wow

  29. Nikki says:

    I am trying to come out as Nikki. I’ve always been feminine, but was embarrassed and afraid to live it.

  30. Jeasun says:

    This was so wonderful. 100% what I had gone through. The word about this needs to be spread.

  31. Nicki says:

    This was very helpful and all of it applies to me directly, I feel every single sign is 100% true for me and this gave me the clarity I needed. Thank you so much for writing this, this just made my life so much easier, and there is not a doubt in my mind. I am currently in 8th grade and I just went through all of this, and now that I’m honest with myself I feel better, I start my transition today.
    -Nicki, MtF and proud

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  33. Golden_DragonKing says:

    This hit the nail on the head for me. I have known that I am transgender for some time; five years to be specific. I have the normal dysphoria but they only presented after I had come to the realization of my gender issues. And even then I have not gone through a chemical or surgical transition. I am socially transitioned mostly. Mostly meaning my family does not accept this. However for years ever since I was young I have always had the feelings described above. This rendered me with little friends. And those I did have, I had a hard time connecting with them. They did their best accepting me as myself at the time. But we drifted apart.

    Now I don’t have friends. I live in my parents home. This toxic place. Feelings of regret, of not feeling fulfilled, going through the motions, the depression that’s not, feeling like life is pointless. I’m pointless, all that is said above rings through my head loudly. I have come to terms with myself. I need to continue on with my transition. If I do not then I cannot live the life I was meant to live. I cannot live in this standstill one more day. This is my year to shine no matter how hard it will be.

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  35. F says:

    I relate to most of it to some extent, but still, I don’t know that I have gender dysphoria.
    I must have been 15, the first time I read about how you didn’t have to be the gender you were assigned at birth, and I just didn’t identify with it so I was like “oh, I’m agender, ok”. And I was fine with leaving it at that.

    I’ am now 22 and I think about gender a lot. I don’t think I have dysphoria, and sometimes I feel illegitimate, like I’m making things up, like I could just live that way, not change anything and I could handle it without too much trouble so why bother.

    I was assigned female at birth, and sometimes I like to wear traditonally feminine clothing like dresses and skirts, especially when it’s something people would frown uppon. I also wear traditonally masculine clothing. I just don’t know. Lately I’ve been noticing every time someone calls me a girl/woman or uses gendered language to talk about me (my native language is very gendered by nature). I think it doesn’t really bother me, but it just feels wrong. I can live with it but it feels wrong.

    Also, I’ve changed my name legally to a more gender-neutral one. The first few months, when people were starting to use it, it made me feel really happy. I don’t know if it was gender euphoria or just me feeling glad that people were taking my wish into account.

    I don’t think I can start asking people to gender me differently because it would feel like I’m asking for too much.

    Sometimes I wish my voice was deeper and I had more muscular arms but I don’t do anything consistently enough to change both those things.

    I also have some kind of psychological problems, don’t know exactly what is wrong with me but mood swings, low self esteem, and self-harm are involved. I’ve been seeing a therapist for that but I haven’t found any resolution to those issues.

    It feels like I’m stuck somewhere in the middle, undecided, not fully choosing something, not fully accepting myself.

    Is it possible that even while knowing all of that, I still ignore my own dysphoria because I can’t see myself being accepted if I had to come out and start making and asking for changes ?

  36. MxMothman says:

    It’s uncanny how this is like 99% me

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  38. Alex says:

    Thank you so much for this article. It has helped me a lot during the process of realising I am trans. I would probably still be very hesitant about my feelings if I hadn’t read it. Now I’m on T and recovering from top surgery and I finally feel how’s it like to be alive and truly happy. Of course, my dysphoria is still a huge arduousness, but now at least I am sure what’s going on with me and I can work on that. I am very thankful to you for that.

  39. Nathan says:

    While I don’t actually match any of these and am definitely not trans, I feel like “5. Knowing you’re somehow different from everyone else, and wishing you could be normal like them.” is kind of not “trans”, as you feel different and wishing like you could be normal by being just fat or smarter or even just having different interests.

  40. Abi says:

    Well I am late to the party BUT
    (And maybe this isnt the right site for this, idk)
    I have a long istory of depression and anxiety and it started during puberty
    I have dissociated a few times (not recognizing myself in a mirror, etc.)
    Sometimes I love seeing myself in dresses
    Sometimes the idea of a skirt gives me a panic attack
    I dont think I am FTM? I mean sometimes it feels like there should be a penis instead of breasts and other times it’s like yay womaneness.
    I also find my body hair kind of ..comforting? Sometimes.
    Maybe I am genderqueer?? Idek.

    Excuse my word vomit thank you

  41. Jess says:

    This was really helpful, thank you

  42. Jackie Williamson says:

    Thank you. Ive been suppresding all my life. I did not know it was dysphoria

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