What Does Body Dysphoria Feel Like?

Distancing Brain from Body
Age: 31 years old
Identifies as: Transman/FTM

Sometimes I use the bathroom and everything is fine. I go in, do my thing, and leave. No big deal. And then there are the times when it feels just awful. I sit down on the toilet and start to urinate and I can feel the urine run along all of my parts that aren’t supposed to be there, that aren’t supposed to be shaped like that. It trickles down, outlining the labia that are supposed to be my scrotal sac. And it comes out of the wrong place. It’s supposed to be coming out of my penis, but something is wrong and instead it is coming out of the middle of my body. It feels like it’s coming out of the middle, instead of the tip, of what should be my penis. These sensations make me feel so weird. I want to stop urinating as soon as possible. I want the stream of reminder that my body was not formed as it should have been to end. I try to push the urine out faster so that I can stop feeling these sensations. My body seems to take an eternity to finish. I sit there on the toilet thinking, “Please make this stop! Please make this stop! Please make this stop!” over and over until it does finally stop and my body relaxes again in relief. Now I can pull my pants up, wash my hands, and return to a world that sees me only as male. I try as hard as I can to forget what I just experienced.

I tell my therapist I am fine with my body as it is. I’m perceived as a man in the outside world and that is all I need. I’m happy. I don’t need or want any more surgery. But he and I talk more. And more. And suddenly I am crying and I don’t know why. Suddenly my body tells me that I actually hate my uterus and want to rip it out of my body. My brain starts to imagine me taking a long, sharp knife to my uterus and removing it myself, since I cannot afford surgery and insurance will not pay for it. This seems like a very good idea, even though I know that it is not. I try to protest against myself. How could I possibly hate my uterus? I can’t even see it, feel it, touch it. How is it possible to hate a part of my body that I don’t even have confirmation that it is really there? And then it reminds me how I know it is there. Ouch! A cramp. And another. Oh, crap. I am going to start bleeding again. I hate bleeding. And then my brain switches and says, “Whatever. I don’t care.” I don’t feel anything when I bleed each month. It is as if my brain goes on vacation and I just don’t feel any of it. I am empty. I am gone. I am no longer habitating my body. This is how my body seems to have figured out how to cope with itself. I lie to myself that everything is fine and then mentally check out, because I am too scared to live in my own body when it acts like a woman’s body.

This entry was posted in Narrative and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

79 Responses to What Does Body Dysphoria Feel Like?

  1. This is a fantastic post. I don’t talk about it much because, like you said in the post, it is hard for me to articulate what I feel. I think, too, I have lived with it so long, it just seems normal. Doesn’t everyone avoid looking at themselves in mirrors and photographs? Thanks so much for gathering these responses.

  2. Zander Keig says:

    Reblogged this on Zander's Blog and commented:

  3. mymindofaman says:

    Reblogged this on From The Mind of a MAN and commented:
    dig this

    • Remon says:

      I am a man of 24 years old. I transitioned in 2010. Since a young child I knew I was direeffnt. I was three years old when I first told my mom Ma, I wish I was a boy. I went through life living it happy, having fun and doing what kids in New York City do. High school and college were the best times of my social life. It was not until I was 21 that I really realized the options I had to pursue and the fact that I had dormant feelings. While I did not ever experience an discontent with myself before testosterone injections, as time wares on, things get a little crazy. haha. I generally have high esteem and confidence. But I find myself feeling hmm..longing for things I never use to.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Brilliant! Thanks to ATM (for envisioning this and making it happen), as well as to him and all the others who shared their feelings. Beautifully articulated on everyone’s part, and really important to help open the eyes of those who haven’t experienced this.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Cool stories, I identified with many of them albeit in reverse for most of them. I too remember bending over, topless but instead of contemplating what was there I was pushing the flesh on my chest together trying to create breasts while at the same time catching a glympse of my male parts wondering what a strange thing it was. It’s funny how we stare at and contemplate parts that ostensibly belong there and yet don’t.

    I always marveled at the strength of my body for I felt that I could reshape the world, now I need help opening jars. Though I love my female slenderness I hate being weak. I knew that was going to be a trade-off when I embarked on estrogen and have no regrets. Being under the influence of testosterone gave me power to do things from great accomplishments to “Hold my beer and watch this” moments. My life is much calmer now and I am truly happier. I guess it’s a love/hate thing.

    Feminizing Facial Surgery FFS was crucial not only for helping others to see me as a woman but to allow me to remove my resemblance to my father. My face became a painful reminder of my history and even after all these years I sometimes still catch him looking back at me in a mirror. I realize that it is a false template for photographs always “reflect” female.

    The best part of all these stories is that it proves that I am sane, that I am not alone with these peculiar feelings. I wish that I could have had access to them earlier in my transition for I believe that they would have helped ease my mind. Instead I had to rely on thought experiments putting myself in imaginary situations of body modifications as if they were real learning which ones were right based on body alarm reactions for my brain knew which parts truly belonged and which didn’t. I just had to learn to let go.

    Some have said that they had a difficult time articulating their feelings, me too. It took me a week just to get myself ready to read all these stories and a half day to respond. Body Dysphoria is an amazing deeply personal experience known by few, thank you all for sharing!


  6. Sir Marvelous says:

    I am a man of 24 years old. I transitioned in 2010. Since a young child I knew I was different. I was three years old when I first told my mom ” Ma, I wish I was a boy.” I went through life living it happy, having fun and doing what kids in New York City do. High school and college were the best times of my social life. It was not until I was 21 that I really realized the options I had to pursue and the fact that I had dormant feelings. While I did not ever experience an discontent with myself before testosterone injections, as time wares on, things get a little …crazy. haha. I generally have high esteem and confidence. But I find myself feeling …hmm..longing for things I never use to.

    • Thank you Sir Marvelous for your comments. Congratulations on your transition and high esteem and confidence. Those are good attributes to have, in my opinion anyway.

    • Abii says:

      that so much better than I could. You naelid it. Thanks for writing this. Your entire post is really a worth-while read.I invite readers to check out South Carolina Boy’s post. Just click on the pingback above.

  7. Pingback: Dysphoria « South Carolina Boy

    • “I hadn’t known what tension had been in my body till I felt it leaving, and didn’t know how shallow my breath had been until I could take a deep one.”

      Oh man, you said that so much better than I could. You nailed it. Thanks for writing this. Your entire post is really a worth-while read.

      I invite readers to check out South Carolina Boy’s post. Just click on the pingback above.

  8. Evolving Gender says:

    Reblogged this on Evolving Gender and commented:

  9. Ravin says:

    For me the experience has changed over time. I remember being completely embarassed and humiliated when I first grew breasts and had to start wearing a bra at age 11. 90% of my life since then, even when I had no conscious awareness of being trans, I resented their useless presence and the bra.
    Some things I am comfortable with, though. I have two children, and breastfed them both–one is still nursing, in fact. I look forward to when he weans, because then I’ll be free to have them off, because I’ll have no further use for them.
    Childbirth was something I was also comfortable with, but some part of my mind found the failure of natural childbirth for me to affirm my maleness. Even though I can rationally point to external factors that contributed, the feeling is still there.
    The physical sensation of breastfeeding is something I’m detached from much of the time, even as I enjoy the intimacy of nurturing my child that way.

  10. Pingback: “I just want to be able to wear t-shirts,” or, “I don’t want to get top surgery.” « South Carolina Boy

  11. RJ says:

    Very similar to my experience, although even when I was very little (2-3ish) there was a lot of genital dysphoria, maybe more than anything else (however, there was a social component that came a bit later.)
    How the hell do you express THAT as a child?? lol.

    I’ve been taking testosterone for almost 2 years now and it’s still fundamentally the same problem as when I was 2. And I’m 22. Haha lots of 2’s… anyway, I was always one to be very aware of what I want (self-aware, maybe? Dunno) just a lot of those things–case in point–never really made “sense” and I was always well-aware of that as well.

    The social stuff was cake, as far as “integration”, compared to this. Society tends to be so disconnected as far as emotionally vs. physically or intellectually, which isn’t much help. Not sure what/how to go about addressing this, but I definitely think it’s warranted (and I’m not sure whether just a purely psychological approach would help, as I’ve never heard much about it being a “physical self” issue post-transition.)

  12. ireneshyz says:

    Thank you for this. I have recently realised my body dysphoria and it’s very close to if not exactly what this ftm felt. The sight of my C cup under my head just gives me this yucky feeling in my stomach. Whenever that happens I just imagine a different head on my body and it goes away…that was when I didn’t know my mind wasn’t matching up with my body. I hope I can get on T and get top surg done asap because binding hurts. (I also had a wonderful feeling when I first binded!)

  13. Erik says:

    I don’t have time to write a thorough reply right now, but I wanted to say for a sec that this is a GREAT and very helpful post. I thought I wasn’t dysphoric at all, and felt disconnected from all the extreme cases too. For a long time I’ve thought “no, I’m not trans, look at all those people nearly killing themselves because of their bodies, getting into depression, etc. I’m not like that.”
    Now I found out my dysphoria is a lot more subtle, and that it has been SO engrained into my entire being that I couldn’t tell it wasn’t actually a ‘part of me’.
    Thank you so much Transman!


    • Wow, you’re welcome Erik. Sounds like you and I had very similar experiences, so I am really glad that this post was helpful.

      • cialis says:

        Interesting post. I'm a straight female who has been reading these posts, as a gay classmate posted this blog on Fb. Looking to childhood is an interesting thing. If I were to post my pics, maybe everyone would assume I'd be a lesbian. I was a tomboy, who wore boy clothes. I played Ninja Turtles with boys, and refused to wear dresses. I dressed up as Data from Star Trek for Halloweén, and loved to go with my dad to Civil War battlefields. I really wanted to be a boy. My first sexual encounter was with a girlfriend when I was 8… but not because we were attracted to each other, but because we were both curious and convenient. I hit puberty, and became attracted to men. I can honestly say that while I'm still a tomboy, I'm happy I'm a woman… and I'm straight. The one thing that I disagree with on this blog is the people that say that they were this way as a kid, and their parents should've known. I'm glad my parents never labelled me. They let me play soccer, bike ride, wear my brother's clothes, etc. without having to have a label. In the end, I was able to become who I was. No one tries to prove my present with my childhood. Maybe some things are still here… I still like adventure, I'm still shy, and I still like to read… but thank goodness that no one gave me a label back then!

        • Thanks for your comment. I’m glad that your friend posted my blog on Facebook.

          You raise a number of points in your comment and they’re all mixed together so let’s untangle them.

          First, you mentioned your sexual orientation along with your gender identity, when actually, those characteristics are separate. Who you are attracted to does not dictate your gender identity. Clearly, lesbians, who are attracted to women but who also identify as women, prove this concept. Trans men who grew up as females and are attracted to men are still men – they just happen to be gay men. So who you are attracted to is not a factor when you talk about your gender identity.

          Next, you said that your parents did not give you a label when you were a child, but actually, they did. They labeled you as a girl. Did you spend your childhood with a genderless name and not being referred to as a boy or a girl by your parents? I doubt that happened, although I certainly stand corrected if that was your history. Because I suspect that you were raised by your parents as a girl, however, I’ll say that you can “thank goodness” that no one gave you a label, but in fact, you did have one, and because it matched your internal sense of self, you didn’t experience the issues that trans people do. You say you are happy as a woman and that is your gender identity.

          Lastly, those things that you did as a child – the tomboyish behaviors – are aspects of your gender expression which, like your sexual orientation, does not dictate your gender identity or vice versa. You might have a more masculine gender expression than other women, but there certainly are “tomboyish” women like you who are not trans. Whether a child likes to play with dolls or trucks is not the only issue – it’s that coupled with the child expressing who they are (and not always listened to) that trans people talk about with reference to their childhood.

          Here is a link to a post I made about the different aspects I’ve talked about here that might be helpful:

  14. Pingback: Making Room for Cemia | Disrupting Dinner Parties

  15. lizcooney says:

    Reblogged this on this is liz and commented:
    Extremely well written and insightful piece on Gender/Body Dysphoria from American Trans Man blog author.

  16. tesstangents says:

    Reblogged this on TessTransgenderTangents's Blog and commented:
    So helpful to describe body dysphoria.

  17. Drew says:

    Reblogging/sharing this on transpositiveliterature.tumblr.com in the resources section (it’s a timed post so it won’t be up for a week or so).

  18. Pingback: Rage and Social Change | SoshiTech – Social Media Technology – Soshitech.com

  19. Pingback: Rage and Social Change – Loraine Kanervisto

  20. elimv says:

    Reblogged this on themanbehindher3li and commented:
    This sounds so much like what I went through, only–sad to say–not even as extreme. For me it was like this multiplied several times over… being able to think and act–to a certain point–like anyone, whoever I though I was being ‘ordered’ to be, and even believing each time that what I expressing was my true personality. Also, the faith side of it.. I still struggle with understanding how God made me, why it’s like this, etc.

  21. Pingback: What Does Body Dysphoria Feel Like? | themanbehindher3li

  22. Pingback: BDSM and Transsexualism – Rant | Uncollared Pup

  23. Chasin Durbin says:

    Hello. My name’s Chase, and I’m a 13 year old transman. I loved this post. All the different perceptions, the different experiences… they enlightened me a little, I think. I want to thank everyone for sharing. I’d also like to share my own experience, if that’s ok.

    For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a ‘tom boy’. I never liked ‘girl’ things; pink, frilly dresses, glitter, etc. I was always wearing pants, t-shirts with dragons on them, and other ‘boy’ things. I was a rough-and-tumble kind of kid; I loved playing in the mud, getting dirty, rough housing and wrestling… I even convinced my parents to sign me up for baseball when I was 8. Kids at my elementary school were always asking me if I was a boy or a girl. I hated that question; I still do. It confused me. I was a boy, but I was a girl. What? I mean, everyone, my teachers, my parents, my doctor, told me that I was a girl. I was SO confused. So I just went with it. I was a very masculine girl. I got comfortable with this idea. My parents let me be tomboyish, they didn’t force me to be girly.
    Then, I hit puberty. I think at the time I was about 8, maybe 9. I got a hard bump on my chest. I didn’t know what it was, and neither did my mom, so she took me to the doctor. He took one look at it and declared “it’s a breast bud”. Imagine my horror! What? No! I don’t want this! I wanted to yell. But I didn’t; I stayed silent. I didn’t know why I hated it so much, I mean, girls were supposed to WANT breasts, right? It just confused me even more. I found solace in what I told myself; this doesn’t have to change anything, I can still do everything like I used to.Then, one day, it became clear to me just how much of a lie I was telling myself. I remember it vividly.
    For my entire childhood, occasionally, my dad would go into the backyard, take off his shirt and just chill in the sun. And whenever he was doing this, I’d take off my shirt and join him. I really loved doing it, too. It felt natural.
    The day that I realized I was lying to myself was a couple days after coming home from the doctor’s. My dad was chillin’ in the backyard with his shirt off, so I took mine off too and joined him. He didn’t have a problem with it, the bud was super small, and I don’t think he even noticed it. Then, my mom came home. She got to the back door, and saw me just laying there without a shirt. She pounded on the door, yelling at me to put my shirt back on and get in the house. I was young, and still believed in my parents’ authority, so I did as she said and got in the house fast. She picked me up, took me over to the couch and sat me down next to her.
    “You can’t take your shirt off in public anymore.” She said.
    “Why?” I asked. “I like it. Besides, its summer and it’s too hot to wear a shirt outside, mom.”
    “You can’t take your shirt off in public because your a girl and you’re starting to develop. People, bad people, will start looking at you, and they might do bad things to you.” She said.
    “But mom-” I’d started, but then she pulled me over her lap and gave me 5 hard swats. I was tough, so I didn’t cry, but it hurt and I didn’t know why she was spanking me. “Why’d you spank me, mom?” I’d asked when she let me up.
    “You didn’t get it.” She said, sadly. “I just didn’t want something to happen to you, and with your thick skull sometimes that’s the only way I can teach you.”
    I didn’t say anything, instead I stood up and ran off to my room, rubbing my bottom.
    After that, I kept my shirt on. And I hated that stupid little bud even more. I ignored it as much as I could, but then another one sprouted and they both started to grow. I hated them, and I started to hate myself too. I didn’t understand why I felt this way.
    I went through elementary school feeling this way. I hated it when people would call me a girl or call me by my birthname. I loved getting called a boy or a ‘handsome young man’ by strangers, and HATED it when my mom would correct them.
    In 6th grade, I chopped off all my hair. I’d had a bob before, and I hated it. So I had my mom take me to a haircut place, and asked them to cut it all off. They hesitated, but eventually I got what I wanted. I loved it, but afterwards, whenever I used the girl’s bathroom, I’d get yelled at for being ‘a boy in the girl’s bathroom’. I avoided the bathrooms religiously, only went in if I absolutely had too, and only if there wasn’t anyone else in it.
    It was about halfway through 6th grade that I finally realized I was trans. This realization didn’t help me, at all. I was scared. My sister was trans, and my parents accepted her, so I wasn’t scared of their reactions. I was scared of being trans, if what kids would do to me if they found out. Also, realizing I was trans didn’t help with my dysphoria. I finally knew what the feelings I was having were called and why I was having them, but the dysphoria got exponentially worse.
    Even so, I kept quiet for a year, until I was about a month into 7th grade. I came out to my teachers first, in letter form. They were all supportive, so that week on Friday, I gathered my courage and came out to my martial arts teacher. He was totally cool with it. And yet, even after all that acceptance, I still had an irrational fear of coming out to my parents.
    I remember the day I came out to my mom vividly. We were in the store, shopping for clothes. We were shopping in the boys’ section as always, then I casually mentioned that I needed underwear, and that I wanted boxers instead of panties.
    My mom glared at me. “I’m not buying you boxers.” She whispered.
    “Why not?” I asked, following her lead and whispering as well.
    “Because boxers have a cutout for a weewee (I’m not even kidding you, she totally said ‘weewee’). And you’re a girl, you don’t have weewee! So unless you’re telling me you want to be a boy, I’m not buying you boxers!”
    I crossed my arms and felt my anger boiling. “Well maybe I am!” I whisper yelled. At this point, we were getting a few weird looks from people, but neither of us cared at the moment.
    My mom studied me carefully, then sighed. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” She asked.
    I ignored her question, instead reaching for a pack of boxers and grabbing one, my hand hovering over the shopping cart. “So, can we get boxers now?”
    She nodded. “Fine. Put them in the cart.”
    And I was happy. Eventually, I convinced her to buy me a binder, and that made me even happier. My dysphoria wasn’t so bad when I was wearing it, but it hit me like a semi truck when I took it off.
    My mom arranged for me to see a psychologist, who I hated (and still hate). Mom said that I had to see her, so she could write me a letter, telling people that yes, I really WAS trans. Like I wasn’t already! Ugh!
    I’ve been seeing her for 7 months now, and the stupid shrink STILL hasn’t written me my letter. I’m super pissed.
    Anyway, that’s my story. Sorry, it’s a super long post. And, I just realized I’m supposed to be telling you about my dysphoria…
    So, here it goes. I’m super dysphoric about my body. The two growths on my chest, my genitals, my hips, my shoulders, my voice, etc. Whenever I look at them, I get physically sick, sometimes throwing up. Sometimes, I’ll get severe stomach cramps, or I’ll get light-headed, dizzy, and feverish. Other times, I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and my head will be hurting so bad it’s like I’m not breathing.
    And if it’s not physical pain or discomfort, sometimes I’ll just break down crying in my room at the end of the day. I’ve cried myself to sleep many a night and woken up many mornings to a splotchy face and red eyes.
    All in all, dysphoria SUCKS and so does my shrink. I hope I get my letter soon cause then I can use the boys’ facilities at school, and I can get on track to start Testosterone… and I can can finally stop seeing that INFERNAL shrink.

    • Thank you Chasin for your post. I’m sorry you’re struggling with your transition but at least you have supportive parents. Regarding the therapist, you can always ask her when she plans to give you a letter. You have the right to know her thoughts about your treatment. Regarding testosterone, at your age, if your doctor is reluctant to prescribe it, hopefully you can get puberty blockers so you stop developing and don’t have to have top surgery later. There is plenty of information about this on the internet including in this blog. Best wishes to you.

    • Brad says:

      Hey there man,
      You sound like me at your age, articulate and certain. But my question to you is why feel so sooo bad about your self? Why not critique it, i mean we were all stuck with those damn buds until surgery, but you can work out and maybe make other friends with kids like u if you’re in a big city or over the web.
      Maybe focus on the ends not the means, meaning. Sure you’re in this version of the man you want now, but soon (sooner if you can accept) you will be able to phenotypically depict the man you want. Plus your Rents, and fam are on board now u need to think of getting money for you procedures? Or the social aspect, meeting new ppl, being ur new real self, school? A career you love?. Even without the binder. I guess I’m just a real social guy.I can understand your feelings too though. Let me say, I just view it as different but the same like my body is a mans, just different but the same. And I think you’ll believe that more once you feel that, and also for me it helps that my wife is totally in love with my physique. And I transitioned on her while she was my fiance…and I was her first woman…very interesting circumstances.
      I will say T can help aid you, I’m sure you’re closer to getting it, maybe ask your mom to switch to a diff therapist?

      • Chase Durbin says:

        The therapist finally gave me my letter just recently, around the beginning of June. I hounded my mom and she got me an appointment with an endocrinologist, scheduled for July 2nd. Hopefully I can get on T before the end of the summer.
        I also recently convinced my mom to buy me a packer and a new binder.
        Thanks for the response, and the advice. I really appreciate it.

  24. Arthur K says:

    thanks for your post..You know for the first time since i was you i understand why i have been dysphoric all my life.I dont remember the last time i enjoyed being authentically myself.Before i discovered am a man i was the most miserable person on earth.
    At the age of 27 you would think i would have a better sense of direction on what i want.First my brain refused to accept the female names that were given to me.Second the voice that comes from my throat is just not mine.My greatest struggle is accepting this feminin body.I struggle with restrictive eating when i was younger coz my body just didnt feel right.I tried exercise but nothing would bring out my male body.I honestly hate this female body.Am ready for my masculine body.My name is Arthur and this is just but part of my story

  25. Arthur K says:

    Am 27 year old preFTM.Thanks for you post.I totally identify with you.At the age of 24 i came out as a gay.Until recently when i realised am a straight guy i have struggled with so much dysphoria.Now that am aware am so much at peace to call myself a straight man.It never felt right being gay smh.
    I recently met a beautiful gal and we started going out.Sex was fun but i could not let her touch me or see me naked.I loved making love to her.One night i took her out and we got drunk.She insisted on touching me and all the dysphoria came back.Everything has changed now and i wish things were different.it sucks

  26. Pingback: body dysphoria - Empty Closets - A safe online community for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender people coming out

  27. Rachel says:

    Hello. I am 28 years old and biologically female, however, I identify as gender fluid. I am currently in a relationship with a transman since March, in which I assume the female role. Our relationship is just now beginning to take a turn for the worse. He has been taking T for approximately six months now, and is beginning to assume his true form, while the dysphoria only continues to grow. I’m not going to lie when I say that the past couple of weeks have been incredibly trying, because they have. His gender dysphoria is something that he chooses to deal with (or not deal with) alone, and our relationship is far from a partnership. I am his number one supporter, his one true ally. I see him exactly for who he is. When I look at him I don’t see a female form, I fully acknowledge him as being male. Lately he has been feeling “off,” but refuses to talk to me about it. He has created this wall, shutting me out in the process, and has left me feeling in the dark and very alone. As the construction of said wall continues, our level of connectivity wilts, becoming less and less every day. He won’t let me in. He won’t discuss his feelings with me. He won’t talk about his body. He won’t open up. He won’t tell me how the T makes him feel, or if he feels any different. I know it’s an uncomfortable topic, and I know it’s not an easy one to discuss, but I want to be in this together, and if we’re not, I don’t foresee our relationship advancing much farther. Just today he told me that he doesn’t like to discuss it or think about it because if he does, it’s only going to cause him more pain and unhappiness. He said that the only way he can live is in a fantasy world, and that he doesn’t have to hate himself if he doesn’t think about it. He said that T injections are something he has dreamed about since he was five years old. He injects god knows what into his body once a week for an outcome he has no control over to essentially make his life more manageable in public. All things I understand. In his mind he will never be biologically male and that’s just how it is, so he’d rather not think about it. While I understand that may be true, I also feel that not thinking about it, or addressing his feelings, or discussing them will cause more damage in the long run.

    I have struggled with my own gender identity for as long as I can remember, until society became more progressive, and new terms were invented to describe people of all walks of life. I never really knew where I fit in, and have never embraced my true female or male identity. I’m just floating around somewhere in the middle. And while that may seem like an easy place to float, it’s not. He seems to think that I don’t have a clue what it’s like, and said “It doesn’t matter if you love me or are attracted to me. Sorry.” I know that my love and adoration of him will not magically change his biological form. I know that. But is it wrong of me to constantly feed him words of encouragement or tell him how much I love him? I constantly tell him how much I love him, how handsome he is, how manly he is, and I don’t just say those things to make him feel better, I say them because they’re true. Today he completely shut me down and said that my words more or less mean nothing to him and don’t change anything. So what do I do? Where do I go from here? I am diligently trying to be the most supportive girlfriend, and it’s like nothing I do makes a difference. He’s impossible to deal with. I’m constantly subjected to mood swings and distance. I can already feel us growing farther and farther apart.

    Any words of advice?

    • Wow. That’s pretty heavy. I’m sorry to hear that the both of you are going through something so painful.

      You’re asking me for advice, and the first thing that pops into my mind is that if Matt Kailey were still alive, I’d recommend you talk to him, but he’s not and so here we are. Well, my initial thoughts are: (1) I’m not a therapist, and (2) it seems to me that each of you might benefit from some sessions with a trans-knowledgeable therapist, and not necessarily the same one. You didn’t mention whether either or both of you are seeing a therapist, so I will continue with the assumption that a therapist is not in the picture.

      There are lots of moving parts to the situation you described. There are issues you each have with your own gender identity, there are the issues he has with his dysphoria, and there are the issues that you have as a couple within your relationship. As I mentioned, I’m not a professional, but if I was in your or his situation, I would think that it would be very difficult to address the issues you have as a couple until each person first addresses their individual issues.

      Now I’ll give you my perspective of a trans man who has medically transitioned, who still has dysphoria and who has had a relationship with a woman, albeit post-transition. Medical transition is a difficult time, and the person who transitions and their partner, if they have one, all handle it differently. It seems from what you’ve written that the way he prefers to handle it is at odds with the way you would like to handle it. Perhaps there is a middle ground.

      First, for me, it was very helpful to talk to other trans men while I was transitioning. I was able to ask them how they had felt and were feeling, both emotionally and physically, from the effects of the testosterone and even with their own dysphoria. There was comfort in talking with someone who understood what I was going through. And if your boyfriend doesn’t want to talk about himself, he doesn’t have to. He can simply ask questions of other trans men and hear their experiences. He doesn’t have to talk about his own if he can’t find the words or if it’s too difficult for him to do so. However, having said that, although talking with other trans men helped me, it might not help him.

      And that brings me to my second point. I can tell you from experience that you telling him how handsome or manly he is, no matter how lovingly you tell him and how true it is for you, it will not make his dysphoria go away. It just won’t. The point is not that your words won’t magically change his biological form, it’s that your words won’t magically change his *dysphoria*. That shit is hard-wired into our brains. For me, even now, years after I’ve medically transitioned, I still can’t stand to see myself in a mirror. I see something that clashes against what my brain expects and it’s an awful feeling. I’ve had people sitting across the table from me, saying things to me like you do with your boyfriend. They tell me how they could never tell I was once female, how handsome I am, how good looking I am, how masculine I am, and I’m talking both gay men and straight women saying these things to me. Their words do not change one iota the gut-wrenching feeling I get when I catch a glimpse of my reflection in a mirror or window or even a computer monitor when I’m working. I can intellectualize it, and I can tell myself well, at least how other people see me is not what I see, but I don’t want to talk about it, I don’t want to have this “debate” with these people who I know are only trying to help but whose kind, well-meaning words cannot affect my reality. And that’s what it becomes, a debate. They keep trying to convince me about how they see me, and as much as I try, I can neither explain to them how I see myself, nor can I use their kind words to reduce my dysphoria, so in the end, I wish that they would just keep their well-meaning compliments to themselves. And I hate that feeling because they are only trying to help, but in the end, it’s not helpful for me.

      It seems to me, from what you’ve said, that this is what your boyfriend has been trying to tell you, that your words aren’t helping him with his dysphoria, and that brings me to my third point. You say that he won’t talk to you and won’t tell you how he’s feeling, but it seems that he is telling you how he’s feeling, he is talking about his body and opening up. He’s told you “that he doesn’t like to discuss it or think about it because if he does, it’s only going to cause him more pain and unhappiness. ” He’s told you “that the only way he can live is in a fantasy world, and that he doesn’t have to hate himself if he doesn’t think about it.” He’s told you that “T injections are something he has dreamed about since he was five years old.” He’s told you “It doesn’t matter if you love me or are attracted to me. Sorry.” in the context of his dysphoria. When he told you all of these things, he *was* telling you how he felt. He was opening up. Perhaps not to the level you would like, but those were his feelings he was sharing with you.

      So my advice would be to ask yourself whether you can be content with the level of sharing that he is currently comfortable giving you or whether you will continue to want more from him than he seems able to give you right now (remembering that might change in the future). Also ask yourself that if he tells you that your words about the maleness, handsomeness and masculinity of his body only makes things more difficult for him, if you can respect that and not continue to try to convince him of what he currently cannot be convinced of because his experience is otherwise.

      My last piece of advice is based on my own experience with what helped me and gave me support when I went through what he’s going through right now — show him this blog post written by other trans men (with no expectation that he will or won’t read it) and ask him if he would like to talk to other trans men and/or a therapist about what he’s going through, adding that this would be something you would not insist on being a part of unless he wanted you to. If he chooses to talk more to other people but not to you about what he’s going through, it’s more than likely nothing personal against you – it’s just the way he chooses to deal with it, and how he chooses to deal with it might not be influenced at all by your own non-conforming gender identity. You might wonder, “If he can talk to other trans men, why can’t he talk to me? I’m his partner and I’m gender non-conforming.” True, but you’re not medically transitioning. There might, however, be similarities in your experiences that you could share and talk about. Do you have your own type of dysphoria that you can use as a basis for sharing and coming together? If not, you might have to be content if he is at least able to share with others who have similar experiences. In addition, continue to tell him that you love him, with the assumption that this is very important to him, but don’t talk to him about things that he’s already said make it more difficult, but do ask him how you can best support him. If he says, “Just be here with me and love me and nothing more,” then hopefully that will be enough for you, and if it isn’t, then that’s where the therapy might be helpful for you too. And therapy also might be helpful for you in dealing with your own gender identity issues, especially how they both affect and are affected by your relationship. If you each can move past where you are right now, then perhaps joint therapy might help to bring you closer and deal with this together.

      No matter what you choose to do, I wish the both of you less pain and lots of health and happiness.

  28. Smitty says:

    Thank you so much for writing about this topic and allowing for a great dialogue here on your blog. I’m 27 and just came out as non-binary/transmasculine about 6 weeks ago, only to my parents, several close friends, and therapists. I’ve experienced intense body and gender dysphoria since I can remember, and it got much worse once puberty hit when I was 9 years old. But I never knew there was a word for what I was feeling or that other people felt very similarly. I just thought there was something really wrong with me, and I was too embarrassed and ashamed to tell anyone, until my current therapist suggested that my feelings towards my body and gender might have something to do with my severe anxiety and depression. When I discovered the terms “body dysphoria” and “gender dysphoria,” it was like I finally had found an explanation, that I was finally going in the right direction in terms of feeling better about life. I read a blog about “indirect gender dysphoria,” and it was as if the author had taken the thoughts straight from my head and put them on paper. It was incredible to finally realize that I’m not the only one who feels like this, and that there are things I can do to help myself feel more comfortable living in this body that feels so wrong in many ways. Before learning that there was such a thing as top surgery, I used to wish for breast cancer so that I’d have an excuse to get a mastectormy that no one would question, and I imagined taking a knife to my chest and doing it myself. Now the hardest part is knowing that there is this great option, but having to wait to do it. Now that I know that this surgery is available, I just want to do it. But there are so many things that are intertwined with it, and I’m struggling to figure out how to make it happen. I’m living with my parents, who are not very understanding of my situation, and are definitely not comfortable with me making physical changes. Just getting a haircut and wearing masculine clothes makes them uncomfortable. Their approval or support wouldn’t be an issue if I didn’t live with them, but it’s going to be a while, maybe a year or so, until I can even move out, and the thought of having to wait that long triggers my depression and hopelessness. I try to remind myself that I’ve dealt with this my whole life, that I can tolerate another year or however long it will take before I can have surgery, but it’s so hard to not let the negative thoughts take over when the thing that bothers me so much is the body I live in. It’s not like something I can put on a shelf and forget about. And my job is another big factor because I’m constantly reaching for things and lifting heavy stuff, which I wouldn’t be able to do for a while after surgery, so I’d need to take a lot of time off. I’ve asked many people about recovery times, and there seems to be a very wide range, but someone with a job that requires him to do similar activities said he’d reccommend about 2.5 months post-surgery before returning to work. So that definitely is a huge factor. I guess I just don’t know what to prioritize-working my ass off and saving as much as I can to be able to move out, and then get surgery at some point, or try to do it as soon as I can, still living at home, have to deal with my parents and taking time off of work? Also my whole vision of moving out is to get away from here and start fresh, have my own life definted by my own terms. I plan to go to a much more diverse, accepting area, and introduce myself as the person I want to be, not the person I’ve been forced to be. But if I haven’t had surgery yet, I’d still have to hide the physical parts of myself that don’t match who I am, and I’ll still feel uncomfortable in my own skin. I dunno. I keep overwhelming myself thinking about all of this. Another thing I wanted to bring up that I’m having trouble finding information about is how body and gender dysphoria relate to feelings of disgust, shame, embarrassment, discomfort, and anxiety reagarding anything related to the physical aspects of intimacy. My therapist wants to try to understand if the negative feelings and disgust I have towards physical expressions of intimacy, and also just like anytime anatomical terms or medical procedures involving those parts of the body are brought up, if it’s a separate issue that I need to deal with, or if it’s all just connected to my dysphoria and once I feel comfortable with my body, these things won’t be so uncomfortable for me. I’ve been reading about asexuality, and I feel like certain categories like demisexuality might fit how I feel, but my therpist is caught up in the fact that this stuff disgusts me, and that it doesn’t make sense to me. Like I’ll be watching a tv show, and two people who barely know eachother feel attracted to one another and their first reaction is to like kiss and touch eachother, etc, and seeing that makes me really uncomfortable and I don’t understand why they do that, like how that’s something they want to do. So now I’m thinking about all that too, and wondering if I could feel comfortable in my own body, will these thoughts and feelings change? It’s weird because I can definitely look at someone and think “wow they’re hott,” but it’s not like how I think most people feel when they think that. There’s no desire to do anything physical with the person, yet I find them attractive. It’s really hard to explain. But it makes me feel like there’s one more thing messed up with me to add to the list. Sorry this is so long…Writing is my main way of expressing myself and once I start, it’s hard to contain all the thoughts. But thank you for writing this blog, it’s been very helpful!

    • Wow you said a lot in your comments. I’m sorry you’re going through this discomfort and decision-making issues. I hope you can get some relief soon. Regarding your parents, it’s been 6 weeks but they have their own process to go through and might be more supportive with time. Otherwise, you have a lot of different moving parts in your narrative and you already said you overwhelm yourself when you think about everything. Perhaps if you can “turn the noise down” a bit it might be easier to sort things out. It’s great that you have a therapist, but rather than try to figure out your sexuality (or lack thereof?) right now, perhaps the priority issue would be the decision to have top surgery and the effects on your job and your parents. If you and your therapist focus on one thing at a time, eventually you can come back to the sexuality piece, but from where I’m sitting, it seems that the most pressing issue is the decision about top surgery. Perhaps if you focused on that issue with your therapist and part the others for now, you can be less overwhelmed and come to a decision about top surgery. No matter what, I wish you the best with these decisions and issues and hope they become resolved in a way that allows you to fee better.

  29. Jaimejo says:

    I have always wondered if what I am feeling is all in my head or if it was a mistake I was borne with. I am a female, and I feel like a female but I feel like I was suppose to be borne with male gentlest. When I was a little girl, I was always curious about the naked body boys and girls. But I was jealous of boys for what they had down there, but I also wanted to grow up with beasts. When I was about 10 I went and got one of my barbies and put a hole in her down there, and dipped a tooth pick in wax and made a little cook I put on her. I loved it! When I was 16 my first boyfriend was the first one to show me videos of trans not knowing that I was always interested. From that point it has been getting worse and worse for ten years. Now I am 27 I imagine it there, I can feel it there barely. I’m obsessed, and I want it so bad but I can’t have it. And I don’t know what to do. Thankfully my boyfriend knows and accepts it, tho he would be embarrassed if i came out. I do not know if I would be able to look my family in the eye and tell them but I am proud of how I feel. And I am pansexual as well so I am attracted to a wide variety of people. So is this just me being a horn dog or is this a legit feeling? If it is what would I identify as?

    • Thank you for your comment. You asked whether your feelings about your genitals are legitimate and how you would identify. I’m not therapist, but I believe that one can help you answer those questions. When I first became aware of my variant gender, I didn’t know my identity. A therapist helped me understand myself. If you aren’t seeing one, I suggest that if you are able and have access to a therapist who is knowledgeable in gender identity work, to take advantage of their help. As for your feelings, my own personal opinion is that they’re your feelings, they are what they are and they are therefore legitimate. Best wishes for you on your journey of self exploration.

  30. Tigris says:


    First, thank you for this dialogue. As I’m reading it, it’s helping with my own dysphoria (which is currently going haywire after having to take a shower).

    I identify as FTM. I’ve truly identified as it since this past June, but as I’ve looked back on my childhood with my therapist, I’ve realized that my dyshporia started much sooner than that. I, too, was always the tomboy. I played flag football and other sports. I enjoyed racing and pretty much anything other boys did. I always had more guy friends than girl friends, just because I always felt more comfortable around them. They’d always treat me as just another guy.

    When I began to hit puberty, I really didn’t think too much about what was going on with my body. It was just something that I dealt with, a day to day thing like eating breakfast and going to school was. But I also remember getting out of the shower and covering my female parts. I’d look at myself in the mirror and I’d breathe, almost like a sigh of relief. I’ve done it for as long as I could remember. High school was the worst because I was lonely. I didn’t have many friends because I was either too masculine for their tastes or not masculine enough. I even tried to dress and act more feminine, spending over two years dressing and acting as feminine as I could (subconsciously) allow myself, but it didn’t work. So my senior year, I stopped caring what other people thought and went back to wearing my t shirts and jerseys (I’m a HUGE sports fan).

    Once I got to college, I really didn’t start questioning whether or not I was trans again until Sophomore year. I don’t really know why, but all of the sudden I was looking at other guys on campus, wishing I had their body, their haircut, that I looked like them. I kept putting it off although every now and again for a couple months I’d mention how I was feeling to my then partner. She’d kinda just say, “Well I don’t know what to do about that. How about we just keep things where they are for now, until you can explore it more, ok?” I’d accept that for a bit, putting it to the side, but the wishing just kept getting stronger. In January, something kinda just clicked. I don’t know what, but I realized that something wasn’t….right. That I didn’t fit in this body. So I started to look up information, making sure websites were reliable, Facebook pages, etc… In March, I got up the courage to mention that I wanted to get my haircut and that I wanted my body to at least become more androgynous. That seemed to be generally accepted, but I knew it wasn’t enough.

    So in June, I came out as FTM trans. And at first, that was taken horribly by everyone but a few close friends. But, it has since improved to my mom and step-dad’s support as well as my co-workers and friends. I also see a therapist who is very supportive and helped me realize that I’ve been identifying myself as male from my childhood to now.

    I just started T yesterday 😀 I am so excited. I wear a binder (that’s currently fraying so I need to get a new one) and am looking to get a packer (although I have no idea where to really begin on that so any advice there is welcome).

    And since I just realized that I haven’t mentioned what I’m dysphoric about here goes:

    My chest is the biggest thing I’m dysphoric about since my size is DD so its kinda hard to just ignore them. But after that its my genitalia (which the dysphoria for has been getting stronger lately) and then my voice. I also don’t like my birth name, but I don’t hate it either. It just doesn’t match. The funny thing is that I don’t hate my body, if it was on someone else if would be fine. I just don’t like it as my own. I don’t really ever look in a mirror, as that just triggers the dysphoria.

  31. raymond scarlett(raerae) says:

    i am a male but have never felt that was really me need someone tobtalk to really feel more like a girl am 63 now pleaseb helpm please please!!!

    • raymond scarlett(raerae) says:

      I have found someone that acceptes me as I am as long as I do not go out side need help now I want to bebfemale but am63

      • You don’t say where you live. Hopefully near you is a trans support group and a therapist who is experienced with gender issues and working with trans people. Finding these resources might be possible by searching online. If you can find the support group, they can likely point you in the direction of therapists who work with trans clients. Best wishes to you on your next steps.

  32. luckytreeboy says:

    The dyphoria feels like watching life instead of living life. Finally I can see my actual self through HRT!!! It is amazing. Now I am having fun checking myself out in underwear…

  33. Pingback: New York Times Trans Voices | Thomas in Genderland

  34. TomCat says:

    This is a fantastic series of posts! I have rarely seen body dysphoria described in detail on other trans blogs. Since my personal experience of gender dysphoria consists entirely of physical/body dysphoria, these posts were refreshing to read. I recently started my own blog and I have written a few posts related to body dysphoria. I refer to this series in my first post: https://thomasingenderland.com/2016/04/18/new-york-times-trans-voices/

  35. AhdontheDon says:

    I am a transmale pre-t. I cried 2x reading this because until I looked up gender dysphoria I couldn’t get through my head that I know I’m trans and I bind and voice has dropped from consistent practice but from the mirror, to the toilet to the body every though about this body that I can’t stream to escape engulfs me. Man I can even express how good it feels to know I’m not alone.

    • Hi Ahdon. Thank you for your comment. I’m glad this site was helpful for you.

      • AhdontheDon says:

        Today is yet again one of those days. I work in Towers with Roadside Assistance for U-Haul. I here and there request coworkers and managers to prefer to me as Ahdon or Don instead of my birth name. I tried to tell this one manager Chris and he refused cause no one would know who he is talking about and I suggested birth name then preferred name in parenthesis but no response. I know this may be small or don’t matter to some people but this is breaking me down and I’m trying to keep it together but , these stupid tears keep falling as I try to get it together at my desk. I’m trying to concentrate on my work. After my call I just got. Broke down again. I’m trying. It’s almost like I’m not allowed to be upset and deal with it. Deal with it huh. If you only knew what”it” holds. Getting words out now is gradually making me feel better as if someone was reading and understating as I type. Dam tears here they come again. I’m trying. Trying not to brake all the way break. I wanna leave my my desk as is and run far away as I can get and take a breath. But I can’t. So I sit and take breaths after every thought to not magnify it. Just another day with this dysphoria. Another deep reminder that I am powerless in that second to control a name. I know I’m strong. That’s why Im still here. So I shall continue to push these things to the side and live. Man I just wanna make this feeling go away. It s like a itch I scratch and comes back in seconds. tears again.

        • Dude, are you trying to transition at work all by yourself? If you haven’t done it already, go to your HR department and get their support. If they don’t have a corporate transition plan where you work, ask them to put one in place. You can get information on how to transition at work in a number of places online, like the Human Rights Campaign website, the Center for Gender Sanity website, etc. Google it- you’ll find resources.

  36. Grey says:

    I know I am terribly late commenting on this, but I just had to because your story moved me so much. I am 18 years old, and I have recently come to the realisation that I am transgender – that all this discomfort and pain I have been feeling for so long are because of that.

    The description of your after-shower ritual literally brought me to tears. The reason it hit me so hard is that I have been doing the exact same thing for years and years. Not knowing why I did it or why I liked what I saw in the mirror in those moments, but doing it consistently nonetheless. It was only after discovering my gender identity that I connected the dots.

    Thank you for sharing your story, because it is so deeply personal but it helps so much to read about it. It shows us that there are many forms of dysphoria, and that they don’t have to fit into the stereotypical trans narrative. Thank you.

  37. Pingback: What the heck is chestfeeding? - Rachel O'Brien, IBCLC

  38. Pingback: Chestfeeding: What is it? : Rachel O'Brien, IBCLC

  39. Pingback: Some Tips on Finding a Properly Fitted Binder - How to do everything!

  40. Pingback: Dysphoria in Trans Guys – Unite UK

  41. Aiden says:

    This is me. I had always dressed likea boy, but it never really occurred to me that I was one. One day, I had a strange thought, so I tried binding with bandages (don’t do that, though!! I was dumb!) I looked in the mirror and just had this incredible moment of happiness when I saw my flat chest. I felt… powerful. I did end up buying a binder and now identify as a trans guy. But this just goes to show that I never truly recognized my dysphoria until it was partially gone, and only then did I see myself as I had always been in my head.

  42. Kay says:


    can I share your article on the Italian Transgender Community on Reddit?
    Waiting for your reply… thanks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s