D/s provides a much-needed release, helping me to love, allowing me to forgive myself, and above all allowing me to worship in a safe and controlled environment
It sucks. I am not asking for pity, only understanding. Because when people understand, it doesn’t feel quite so acute.
Important disclaimer. How different people experience dysphoria is not for me to judge. I know that there are people out there who are dealing with dysphoria and think they cannot make it. I would just say to them, you can, and if this post helps just one person to cope, to make it, then it was worth all the 100 other posts I have written.
Nor am I here to brag. Coping with dysphoria takes enormous energy, and I wonder what would I have done with my life had I had that energy to devote to something else? Or perhaps, the only reason I have been superficially successful is a direct result of dysphoria. I don’t know. What I can say is that having dysphoria doesn’t need to stop you from doing things, achieving. I have achieved career success that would appeal to most people, though it saddens me to think that if what I am had been known, none of that would have been possible. When you think you can’t do it, can’t make it, can’t go on, it just may be possible to overcome.
Lastly, this post is not to suggest any universal feeling of what dysphoria is. This is just what I have felt, what triggers it, what it feels like when it hits, and also the positives that have come from it.
First off, it is intense. Admittedly there are days where the topic is not front and centre, but it is lurking there right below the surface, ready to spring out at a moment’s notice and overwhelm me. And when I am not thinking about it, one little trigger can take me right into it.
Triggers? Just ask me how I feel about my body. Or start talking about gender issues. Say something mean or cruel about trans people. That’s the political/mental plane. But if I am walking on the street and I see a woman that is attractive in a way that I find attractive, tall and slim, I can easily tip over the edge. There may be something about her, some physical detail—the shape of her eyebrows, the tone of her arms, the way that her arm joins her torso, her neck, her hair, her ankles, but also the way she carries herself, the way she walks, the sound of her voice, the clothes she wears or even a single item of clothing…any of these things on their own can trigger feelings of dysphoria. Why? Just because I like her.
And what is it? I can tell you what it isn’t. I don’t go around thinking I was born in the “wrong” body…I might feel instead that I am in this male body as a punishment from God, that I am here to learn something or experience something, that I have to live this way because it is part of a bigger plan, one that I may never understand. What all those triggers laid out above do to me is remind me that such will never be me.
Wistful is the word that best describes what dysphoria feels like. Just this deep, overwhelming sadness that I am not female, that I cannot experience being a mother, that I cannot have babies, or carry children in my belly, or suckle one and build that mother-child bond. That I can’t inhabit a body that I would find pleasing instead of being in one I hate. Don’t get me wrong, I try to do what I can with the body I have by bending and shaping it with diet, exercise, depilation, and corsetry.
At its most intense I look at my male sex organs with hate. And by the way, that doesn’t mean that I want to get kicked in the groin as I see many guys get off on. And no, I don’t want to be degraded for being male, or feel shame for it—it isn’t my fault my body is like this…what would be my fault are my values, how I express my sexuality.
I know that not many people will get this. Not many people wake up every morning and have woken up every conscious morning of their lives and just felt this deep sadness about the most fundamental aspect of who they are. But that is what it feels like to have gender dysphoria. It is heavy, chest-crushingly so, as it strikes straight to the heart of who we are. Nothing is more potent than gender. And for someone who doesn’t ever even think about their own gender, that it might be as natural to them as breathing, trying to understand this is very hard—if not impossible. And I have always felt that there is nothing I can do about it. Hence the wistful feeling.
Yes, sex changes are possible, but these are cosmetic. Someday I am sure that it will be possible to truly change sex in every way, but that is not my viable lifetime. And, already, if you miss the window to stop puberty in your birth sex, your ability to transition effectively is radically curtailed. When I was of that age, we didn’t have the language or the support networks that exist today, so making the choice wasn’t even on the radar screen.
The Weight of Dysphoria Leads to High Suicide Rates
In the largest study ever conducted on the subject in the US, in 2015 it was found that 82% of trans people have seriously considered suicide in their lives. 50% have attempted it.
In my case, wishing for the end comes and goes. I am not saying I would ever take my own life, though the statistics suggest that many transgender people find themselves with a feeling they have no other choice. The most important and constant act of charitable giving I make is to a trans suicide help line. I send money every week. But I also know that when the time comes for me to go, there will be sadness, sure, but there will also be intense relief that the ordeal is finally over, that I can finally rest and relax and not have to worry about who or what I am anymore.
Where does one turn for relief?
Mainly I turn to women. Being around women, especially at soft, tender moments, is a most potent medicine. Better still, having laughs with them, being natural, just hearing them talk, feeling them feel, and touching, gently touching.
Validation from women, not in my trans self, but just for anything. When I do something that is nice for a woman that she says it was nice, that she appreciates it.
Somehow, female company is the only really deep antidote to dysphoria, especially when the woman or women know this aspect of me. Not that we talk about it at all, but just the knowledge that I don’t have to self-edit out this part of me, gives a freedom and lightness that is liberating.
And on the good side?
When life gives you lemons you make lemonade. Right? Well, what I can say is that my version of lemonade has been to get closer to women. I have a deeper appreciation for women than I might otherwise have had: a complicity, an understanding, and a sensitivity to women’s issues. I have much deeper respect for women by dint of dysphoria, and I have benefited mightily from their company all my life. Until I was married, I had almost exclusively female friendships. That became more difficult with my SO, as she was often threatened by these women in my life, so I gradually cut back on spending time with them. That said, having so many great women in my life has been incredibly enriching for me.
I see the world differently. I see the world through de-gendered eyes, and see gender issues both good and bad much more clearly. When I look at natural beauty or man-made beauty, I enjoy it differently than male or female.
I have also been able to experience the love of a woman several times in my life, and do so now—even if all of them loved only the part of me that they chose to see, or which I allowed them to see.
Perhaps, most important of all, I have been able to benefit from being a man while experiencing all these things listed above. The social benefits of being a man are superficially real, though I would trade them all a thousand times over without hesitation. And indeed, material success that has come to me was only possible because I played my role.
A Political Digression
What I really struggle to understand is the amount of hate that CIS people have towards the trans community. Whether straight or gay, gender issues seem to threaten people in ways that trigger deep-seated issues in them. There is no other explanation for the existence of fringe political groups who froth at the thought of issues that become existential, when for most trans people they are dwarfed by the consequences of being trans in the first place. Bathroom use, sports, those kinds of things. I don’t think that trans people get up in the morning and say “if I can’t use the bathroom of the sex I am transitioning to, I will kill myself.” Ditto for sports. This isn’t to say that these issues are unimportant, and have now become political flashpoints. But nothing matters more than overcoming dysphoria, and overcoming the massive negative consequences of transition—economic devastation, discrimination, hate.
No trans person thinks, I am going to transition so that I can have access to women’s locker rooms or bathrooms so that it makes it easier to assault women. I am not sure if all “trans” are trans, or whether there is some other thing going on, but this isn’t what is going through our minds. Just acceptance, starting with acceptance of self. The rest is just noise. Certainly no trans I have ever encountered is anything other than super respectful.
It really is a political digression. Respect, people. That’s all it takes.
There is no doubt in my mind that D/s helps me enjoy life more. First, the intensity of the emotion is like a salve. Second, physical pain and the endorphin rush and emotional rawness that accompanies it, is a cathartic chance to let go of these bottled up and hidden feelings. Third, she is a Domme. And the Domme who is teaching me and guiding me is an archetype for me: she is beautiful in the way that I find a woman to be beautiful; she is intelligent and witty and fun; she is passionate, and passionate about things that I love too; and she does not judge me.
She is one of the few people I have ever met whose features don’t even flicker when I open up about something I might have been carrying around for who knows how long forever is. But she also receives my love feelings in whatever form they take. And that could be as wide-ranging as baby feelings towards mommy or my own daddy feelings and wanting to protect and support. She is fragile and strong, sensitive and sadistic, spiritual and well-grounded. She has coped with life and its challenges and come out the other side as an amazing person. Being with Her and experiencing these strong emotions is enriched because She is feels a bit like an archetypal Woman to me. And playing with such a person, free of judgement, allows all of this to surface and come out, allows us to enjoy the good bits and let the bad bits go down the drain.
Dysphoria sucks. It also helps one to see the world differently, experience things differently, much of it not bad, and much of it unique. But it also can be overcome. Figuring out whatever it is that helps you overcome if you have it, is worth the effort. Getting therapy to help you cope is worth the effort. Not giving up is worth the effort. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t feel good to have a really good cry. In my case it helps that the good cry comes from interacting with an amazing Domme. And frankly, there is nobody in the world I would rather have wipe away my tears than a Woman who exemplifies everything I love in Women, but also who is just a really great human.