You don’t need dysphoria to be trans

This has been a controversial opinion for a while in the trans community. Some people (also known as truscum or transmeds) believe that being trans is the worst possible thing that could happen to you, you have to constantly hate your body and your name to be trans. They’re afraid of people just pretending to be trans because it’s fun or a trend. If a trans person gets top surgery without going on testosterone, for example, truscum would think that that trans person was “wasting resources” or they’re less deserving of that surgery than a “real” trans person (a binary trans person with dysphoria, who passes as cisgender).

I don’t agree with these people. When I first found out about the debate, I believed trans people don’t need dysphoria because gender expression doesn’t equal gender identity. We say that about clothes so why can’t we say the same thing about our bodies? I didn’t apply it to myself at first because I knew I had dysphoria. Not about every part of my body but some parts and I have dysphoria around my birth name and people using the wrong pronouns for me.

I didn’t think about the fact that I do own a binder and I used to wear it a lot but I’ve pretty much stopped wearing it altogether. My chest dysphoria went away for months too. I had a job at a supermarket so I had many customers misgendering me every day. Wearing a binder still got me misgendered because of my face and voice so I stopped wearing it at work and there wasn’t much point wearing it at home. Partly why I stopped binding too was that I wear a binder for a few hours and then it’s a hassle taking it off and I don’t want to risk binding for too long so I just don’t wear it.

Another reason was that life was distracting me from even thinking about my gender. It was mostly because of my mental health. I was too wrapped up in my own head to care about what my chest looked like. I mostly wear ill-fitting clothes anyway so I almost forgot they were there.

So, does that not make me trans any more? Just because I stopped binding and stopped caring about what my body looked like? No. It doesn’t. Sure, I still had social dysphoria and it’s awful but I would still be trans even if I didn’t have that. Being trans means “a person whose gender identity does not correspond to that person’s biological sex assigned at birth” and that’s it. 

I also learned about gender euphoria which, of course, I have too but euphoria doesn’t have to exist with dysphoria. I don’t completely understand it as I don’t only have euphoria so I can’t say too much about it but I believe that it is a genuine concept and the people who only have gender euphoria are still trans, just like people with dysphoria.

Gender euphoria is essentially the opposite of gender dysphoria, so it’s when you feel good about presenting or being accepted as the gender you are. This term is less talked about in the trans community (from what I’ve seen) than gender dysphoria which may be why people think it isn’t enough to be trans. But surely, if someone feels as if they are a different gender from the one they were born as and they feel happy being treated as that gender, regardless of how they feel about their assigned gender/biological sex then they’re trans too. Just like the people who feel like their gender doesn’t fit with the gender they were assigned as and they feel discomfort when they’re referred to as the wrong gender, but also happiness when they’re referred to as the right one.

Can’t we just let people live their lives as themselves without policing their identities? It would be so much easier and kinder.

Ellis

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