Writing by Liz Bird // illustration by Nea Valdivia
Everyone has had the feeling of feeling good or bad in our bodies. Looking at yourself in the mirror and being uncomfortable in your skin. Or dancing while nobody’s watching and just feeling absolutely in love with ourselves. Human nature is that every individual feels every little thing that runs through their bodies. Insecurities run galore every day, set by social standards and gender norms to the mix. How we present ourselves to the world every day is often a competition between how we want to look and feel for the day and what we’re limited to work with. Maybe you’re stuck in a uniform every day that doesn’t make you feel as good, what do you do to make it feel like more of yourself? Do you do your hair a specific way? Maybe express yourself through jewellery, make up, even funky socks that give you a little hint of dopamine. It is normal to want to adapt and feel comfortable even when stuck with limitations.
But does this run a little deeper if we throw gender expression into the mix?
Those born in a body that doesn’t represent the one that they assign themselves with, very commonly must battle these experiences on a much more significant basis. Which often means that these gender-verse people often feel extreme ends of the comfortable-in-your-own-body spectrum; Gender Euphoria & Gender Dysphoria.
On one end, gender euphoria represents the unwavering comfort of being in one’s own body. Hitting unlimited pleasure and safety of their expression, eg. feeling on top of the world based on their gender identity. This could be represented by anyone who’s gone through a process of being assigned one gender, realising that’s not who they are, and then finding themselves. It’s a beautiful but often at times, traumatic, process. But the result of gender euphoria is an unmatched feeling, and what everyone I hope feels in their life.
It’s often not as simple as just realising you’re not the gender you were assigned at birth and changing it. There’s no simple switch to make that happen. It is often a challenge that hits so many roadblocks.
Which leads to the other end of the spectrum, Gender Dysphoria.
Imagine that the body you’re in feels wrong. You don’t even have to know where the feeling is directed at, but it’s there. And it’s strong.
Have you ever put on an outfit you’ve been excited to wear, then put it on, and it doesn’t fit? Or maybe you look in the mirror and it’s not at all what you’re expecting. And completely ruins you.
Amplify that and apply it to gender identity.
Gender dysphoria is a common feeling in gender diverse and transgender individuals. The unbelievable amount of strength it takes to be completely comfortable in your gender expression, must have downfalls.
I myself identify with being genderfluid. Meaning, my gender expression often changes. It can be extraordinarily fun to be ever changing but also causes major dysphoria when I can’t figure it out. I am burdened with living in a rather conservative country town, where I grew up as a girl. Even now, when I’m out and proud with my sexuality and gender, and even completely change how I present myself, I’m stuck often with everyone’s mindsets that I’m still that girl.
Even on good days where other’s opinions may not affect me, maybe I get myself into my own pickle where I don’t know how to present because I don’t know how I’m feeling. Or, my most common occurrence, wanting to identify quite masculine, but I’m trapped with a large chest and high customer voice. Turns out shaving my head, wearing mens clothes and making my voice deeper doesn’t do the trick.
But even when I dress feminine, I feel like a fake. The moments I feel like a girl, or even when I feel masc and wear dresses and makeup, it can strike me that I don’t belong.
It hits you like a tonne of bricks.
But I encourage you, gender euphoria and dysphoria are not necessarily end-all feelings. They are so interchangeable. But I encourage you to take notice of what is causing each one.
Your lifetime will be filled with moments that make you feel alive and beautiful. Please hold on to those moments. Find spaces where you can be wholeheartedly yourself. Surround yourself with people who love you for who you are. You deserve it.
And if you know someone who is gender-diverse and falls under the transgender umbrella, not just pay them respect, but admire their strength.