Dysphoria in Dystopia

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This photo was taken just before lockdown, I was supposed to be having a hysterectomy in April (for those that don’t know, this would have removed my uterus and ovaries) and this would’ve eased some of my dysphoria. Because of covid all non urgent surgeries got cancelled, which sucks, but is 100% understandable! I wanted to capture my “before” body. The only difference would’ve been a neat surgery scar on the exterior. I’m also “packing” (for those of you who don’t know, its a prosthetic willy that serves as a bulge). Not getting a surgery i need made my dysphoria so bad because it was in the front of my mind again and inescapable.
However this photo also serves as a reminder that I don’t need bottom surgeries to be the man I am. Packing isn’t something I do often. It makes me self conscious. Im scared of looking like i have a boner or some how losing it down my leg and honestly most of the time before lockdown I didnt feel all that dysphoric about down there, no one sees it other than myself. Its an easy ignore for me. Through lockdown I’ve been reflecting on whether I NEED a hysto or bottom surgery and I’ve realised that I don’t necessarily need either (a hysto will be medically necessary soon but for now I’m able to be at peace with it). I don’t want bottom surgery and that doesn’t make me any less valid. I don’t need to pack, if anyones looking at my crotch and noticing lack of peen that’s on them, not me. My body isn’t something made to appease others, its mine and I’m not being pressured to conform.
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I’ve been on HRT for 2 years now (YAY), but covid made things challenging. I get one shot every 3 months (again, lucky because I wouldn’t wanna get it every month) and I go to a nurse to get it done. Originally when covid struck I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get it and I get dehabilitating hormone migraines if my shot is late, so I was beyond panicked. I’d fully prepared myself for the worst. I got a phone call from my gp that started “is your shot necessary? There’s no nurses in the surgery to administer it”. I had to tell them that is is infact important for both my physical and mental health. This was when I thought that lockdown might only last a month, oh how naive of me. All nurse appointments had been moved to a different doctors so I had to have a new nurse administer it- another daunting task. Evetytime I get a new nurse, I think I’ve had about 4 now, i have to explain how to administer the shot so that it doesn’t cause me almost unbearable pain and that I am infact never going to stop HRT. Its not the worst thing in the world but its exhausting that healthcare professionals don’t even understand. Anyway, I had the shot, my blood tests and expected that I’d never need to go back to that doctors because mine would reopen very soon. NOPE. Almost 3 months later I had to book an appointment at a different place, thats in the next town over. For people with medical needs, lockdown has been exhausting, its been guessing whether you can get access to the care you need and in my case wondering if the nurse will be clued up in my needs (most likely not).
But as a positive, I was blessed to be able to still get my shot, that I now strangely look forward to every 3 months (super strange considering I used to be TERRIFIED of needles). Its just wild to me that I ended up having 2 shots during lockdown rather than just one and im keeping my fingers crossed that my next one is outside of lockdown and with my usual nurse- I kinda miss her.
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I had top surgery December 2018 and finally experienced freedom. I dont have to wear a binder any more and its constantly something im thankful for.
Lockdowns kicked my ass in the sense that some days I look at my scars and cry. Whilst I’m BEYOND grateful I no longer have breasts, realising I’ll never have a cis male chest hurts my heart and whilst I know the scars will turn almost invisible it still scares me knowing I could be topless somewhere and instantly picked out as trans, putting me in a potential dangerous position. Usually I don’t spend an awful lot of time thinking about this, but some days its super tough, especially when I’d originally tried to get a surgery that wouldn’t leave bug scars and found out that one of my nipples was annoyingly in the wrong place for it to look natural after surgery. Sometimes I think maybe ill tattoo over it, but its also a part of me? My scars make me who I am, they show my fight and honestly I get scared theyll attract more attention to them. Its an ongoing battle.
I’ve also managed to completely flip this on itself and become so wildly comfortable with them. Like I say, this is my body. For the first summer since surgery I’ve been able to vibe in my garden shirtless. I dont think I’ll ever not want them to be completely invisible, BUT I’m learning to love myself and seriously not give a damn. I get a lot of comments saying I’m brave. Im not. Dont get me wrong, I appreciate people saying nice stuff, like I went through a lot to get this far. I battled an eating disorder and intense hatred of myself, but I’m in no way brave. Just living my truth like every other wonderful trans person out there. This is possibly the biggest milestone I’ve overcome and I should be proud. I dont have to hide this from people. My body is mine, scars and all, its not here to please others.
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I’ve been doing a whole lot of daydreaming and new things through lockdown. I started practising keyboard again, painting, i started a college course, then knitting and collage work. Im sure I’ve missed things but its been busy. I’ve been living in a real sweet fantasy world some of the time, daydreaming about my own future, romance and other stuff. Keeping myself busy has been the only thing stopping me spiralling into bad dysphoria thoughts. Its been so interesting reconnecting with my creative side, something I haven’t been able to do since university. I chose to make this collage soft and dreamy to reflect my state outside of my dysphoria and depression episodes. Its not all doom and gloom.
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I’ve been struggling massively with my weight and eating habits over lockdown. As some people know, I suffered with an eating disorder for some time and usually have it in check. I dont want to fall back into bad patterns, but its been an uphill struggling. Why does this relate back to my dysphoria? My bad eating habits stemmed from losing weight to look like a boy (i don’t recommend in the slightest, it was a truly awful time for me, I was always exhausted, always trying to eat as little as possible and hating myself). Its something I’ve had in control for a long time, ever since I got my first binder, but the underlying dysphoria has been overthought in isolation and spiralled into something beyond my control again. I spiralled into eating a lot of snacks instead of actual meals and CONSTANTLY checking the scales. I unintentionally lost an amount of weight that im ashamed to say and had folks saying they wished they could do the same because lockdown had made them put on weight, so eventhough I KNEW it wasn’t something to be proud of, it felt like something i shouldnt take for granted and should keep in check and upkeep. The worst thing is, I know I shouldn’t feel like i should lose weight and its scared the life out of me. My scales ran out of battery a few days ago and I wasn’t sure if it was a blessing or not. I know keeping at a low weight doesn’t help my dysphoria, especially now, it serves no purpose and only makes me scared. I guess this is me admitting I need help. Its strange for things to crop up that haven’t affected me badly in a few years, so thanks lockdown.
Here’s to pride though. Here’s to the future, one where I’m hopefully able to have a firmer grasp on relapses. Im unashamed to say I ate all of this candy over like 2 days. Also I found out a pretty neat thing to do with skittles, maybe ill share that sometime in the future, so is this a new project teaser, maybe! As I always say: recovery isn’t linear. Im proud of myself for catching myself sliding into old patterns before it got too late. Im proud of myself for being able to admit there’s a problem.
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I’ve been semi joking with myself for years that I want to grow a mullet and ive always been too scared for it to grow out. A huge source of my dysphoria used to be my hair and a huge contributor to being misgendered was also my hair, so I’ve always tried to keep it short back and sides. The typical “masculine” hair cut. I feel like i need to conform to be gendered correctly and its kinda exhausting when I don’t want to. Lockdown though, no one can get a hair cut, its either shave all my hair (it looked awful last time, my heads an odd shape) or just let it grow wild, something i hadnt allowed it to do for over 6 years. I obviously chose the latter. Its been super interesting watching my hair grow, seeing how the texture has changed slightly since starting T, my hair used to be ridiculously straight and frail and now it appears to curl slightly and have more volume, something that previously I could only dream of. Whilst I’ve had huuuuge urges to shave it all off, I’ve kept at it and almost have a mullet i can braid. I slipped slightly and cut my fringe, an oasis reject is the only way I can describe that aesthetic. Lockdown presented me an opportunity that I otherwise wouldn’t have had. One to explore how I wanted my hair, without folks seeing the awkward growth stage. Im unsure whether ill keep it because society says no, but I’ll also see how this goes!
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A would have been pride look. I dont really do pride most years, it feels very excluding for trans folks and appears to have lost its meaning which makes me sad. This year pride was protest, both online and offline. I havent been in the company of any queer folk for 6 months now and it makes me sad. Whilst I’ve been becoming more comfortable with myself and my gender I’ve been practising make up looks and daydreaming about all the fabulous looks I could do if I was an mua. Practise makes perfect right? Its been nice having the time and space to explore myself. I was questioning my gender before lockdown, Im not sure if male is the correct term any more. Its been confusing and a struggle. Having the time to explore myself has been both a blessing and a curse- simply bitter sweet. I still don’t have a “label” so to speak and im vibing with that. No one needs to know theyll just assume stuff about me anyway so I’m at peace and dont feel a need to explain myself and where my gender happens to fall. It just definitely isn’t binary. I still have lots of stuff to understand, but I am where I am now and im content. This is my self portrait. Even my imperfections make me perfect. Being myself and being authentic is all I need to be. We’re ending on a positive, thankyou fo engaging with this series! This is my self acceptance
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