Dysphoria and body positivity

A flip of a coin on waking…

“Hello world, this is me in my non binary body, rocking my breasts and wide hips”

or

“Please don’t look at me, please stop calling me she/Ma’am/missus/mommy. Can’t you see that I am more than your preconceived idea of what my curves and shapes mean? Gaaaaah! Piss off!”

Since I started T the crushing weight of dysphoria has been much less. I have been able to relax a little and shrug off the strain of society’s expectations and assumptions of me. It is as if I’m holding a secret that gives me resilience, my inner voice can exclaim “HAH! You think I am female but inside things are changing and one day you’ll look at me and have no idea what I am, just you wait!”

In the last 2 weeks I haven’t felt compelled to wear my binder. This is usually when I know that gender stuff is getting overwhelming. My binder is my armour that I strap on to protect me against the world. Even more, I walked around topless all weekend and actually felt quite comfortable in the privacy of my own home. It is a complicated balancing act within myself while trying to foster a positive attitude about my body. Dysphoria for me is a cognitive dissonance between what I see when I look in a mirror and what I know I look like inside my head, it leaves me with a feeling of duality, wanting to feel accepting of my body but also having a niggling discomfort debilitating schism of self when I am confronted with those parts that don’t actually look how they should in my mind.

I often wonder how much of my dysphoria is a result of the limited the representation of transgender, gender fluid and non binary people in the world. So much of non binary representation in the mass media revolves around conventionally euro-centrically beautiful, skinny, androgynous people like Ruby Rose. Don’t get me wrong, I cried the first time I watched the Break Free video because the affirmation of my identity in it was intense, being able to see something similar to myself, in a video clip out there in the world, shook me.

I am no Ruby Rose, and beyond the fact that we both identify as gender fluid, the gender bending representation of the video is superficial at best. Representation matters, and frankly I am impatient with the limited representation of gender non conforming people. That said, every single person who puts themself out there is a step in the right direction and one that builds the visibility of a massively underrepresented community.

When faced with an onslaught of skinny androgyny, it is very difficult to find an internal acceptance of who you are when you don’t fit that stereotype. Yes I am somewhat androgynous, but not enough to pass as anything other than female. I am not skinny. The effects of pregnancy on my body has me looking like battlefield of scars and stretch marks, sagging and distorted in a way that will never compare to 20 something models. And you know what? That’s okay.

Part of me dealing with my dysphoria is practicing mindful acceptance of my body. There are some parts of my body that will always be dysphoria inducing however I will not hate on my body nor punish it for not being a societally prescribed ideal. Dammit, part of being non binary for me is exactly that rejection of gendered ideals in the first place and rejecting the idea that my body dictates how I should behave and exist. I am not going to reject one set of manipulative ideals for just to be forced into taking up another.

Sam Dylan Finch wrote a great article about trans body positivity – I’m Transgender And I Need Body Positivity, Too which sums up a lot of my own feelings.

“My body positivity does not hinge on the idea that all bodies are perfect as they are, because for some of us, this isn’t true to our experience. But all bodies are worthy — meaning we should treat them with love and care, whatever that care looks like so long as it’s good for us.”

Part of my journey in body positivity is detangling the negative messages that have been forced on me by a consumerism driven, media machine that thrives on promoting low self esteem and insecurity, from those parts of me that I struggle with because of the fact that I loathe with being seen as a gendered being.

The StyleLikeU video A Boy, A Girl, A Gender Revolutionary with iO Tillett Wright has me wondering if the influence of societal shaming isn’t greater than I realise.

My entire life was a series of messages telling me that I wasn’t enough: not feminine enough, not masculine enough, not trans enough, not skinny enough, not disabled enough, not talented enough, not worthy.

My self care, my body positivity is a rejection of that. I am standing up and saying; Fuck the impossible ideals that are designed to disempower me and make me doubt the value of my unique existence. I have the responsibility to myself to live and celebrate myself as a person that is worthy of love and respect.

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.
Audre Lorde

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One thought on “Dysphoria and body positivity

  1. Pingback: Gender Perspectives, Vol. 10 | Valprehension

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