What is the Definition of Dysphoria?
Age: 48 years old
Identifies as: Male
After being asked to share my view on what body dysphoria feels like, I decided to take the time to understand what the true definition of dysphoria is. According to Webster, the definition is – a state of feeling unwell or unhappy.
During my research of the meaning of dysphoria, I also found lots of other definitions which span from unhappy to anguish or intense feelings of acute depression. The extreme depression end of the spectrum seems to be what most people think of when they describe feelings of dysphoria.
I also had to consider the semantically opposite – euphoria. It, too, has a broad spectrum of feelings ranging from happiness to ecstasy….although most would not use the word euphoric as a way of indicating they are simply having a good day! So if euphoria is the opposite of dysphoria, then it makes sense that most would consider these as extremes.
I have never really used the word dysphoric to describe my feelings about my body because when I think of dysphoria, I too relate it to extreme feelings of depression, discontent and anguish – none of which describe how I feel about my body. But if I consider Webster’s definition and move to the less harsh end of the spectrum and think about the things that make me unhappy or that I would like to change about my body, then it would be correct to say I do have a less talked about form of body dysphoria.
I have undergone some surgical procedures to make me more comfortable with my body. I am also researching other procedures that would give me a feeling of being more “complete” or independent. There are many things that one might change about their body to feel more comfortable or less dysphoric – not all of which are gender related. For example, I have used a whitening gel to make my teeth look “healthier” or younger. So whether these feelings are defined as dysphoric or not, is kind of up to each individual and how they interpret their own feelings.
Since transition there are many things I’ve changed about my body – and many things that simply changed due to hormone therapy. My shape, size, weight and body hair have all changed. Most of these changes give me a feeling of fitting in or looking “natural” when compared to what society perceives men to look like. Even though I didn’t feel a strong desire to achieve any of them prior to transition, I do enjoy the changes now.
Facial hair seems to be one of the biggies. Before I transitioned I had an extraordinary amount of facial hair for a biological female. There were times I felt people were staring at all the fuzz on my face. It sometimes made me uncomfortable or less likely to participate in group activities because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. Now that I have the choice to either grow it out or shave it off, I do feel a real sense of freedom from having to fit into only one “norm”.
I am also a 24/7 packer. I don’t dislike what I have without the prosthetic, but I also feel more intact with it. Even though my body did not develop the same way my mind did, I don’t spend a lot of time wishing I was born in a more male looking body. I try to focus on the things I can change or the attributes I do have that are more male. At least with those I have a chance of feeling a sense of accomplishment.