Gender dysphoria, the pain of inhabiting a body that is not mine
Gender dysphoria is a concept that can be new for many people, but it occupies more spaces in society every day. According to Fundéu LGTBI+ dictionary, gender dysphoria is a “medical expression that describes the discrepancy of a person with the gender they were assigned at birth”, and WHO in 2019 defined it as “gender inconsistency”. This unconformity with the body that you were born with comes with hard-to-solve conflicts for both the people who experience it and the people who perceive it as a social matter out of normal.
A body that is not mine
Understanding and accepting the body you are born with is not an easy task. Doing exercise, eating healthy, having a healthy lifestyle or visiting the operating room are some of the solutions people find to make their bodies be consistent with what they want. In the case of trans people, it can work in a similar way, but the fixation of their discomfort is centered in most cases on their sexual organ, an area that is not visible before society, but that privately reminds them that their body is not consistent with who they are.
Victoria Volkóva, Mexican influencer, mentions in her video “my surgery of sex reassignment” that she “always had repulsion towards my reproductive organ. . . I never felt identified with my body, I never felt identified with the masculine gender.” Trans children suffer so much in the body they were assigned to that sometimes, before 14 years of age, the only way out that they see is suicide. This was not Victoria’s case, but it was still painful since she chose embarrassment, and hiding the only part of her body that was not consistent with her feminine expression, her penis. For Victoria, only a surgery could make up for that nature’s mistake and at 17 years of age she started to dig into every piece of information regarding the surgery. The costs were so high and the procedure so painful, that she did not think she could reach that dream.
According to non-official sources, the surgery of sex reassignment can be between 18.000 and 30.000 euros in private clinics. Until now, there are no countries in Latin America that ensure this surgery as a right for trans people, therefore, those who wish to have it must wait until they have the needed amount, then migrate to countries such as Thailand, that specialize in these kinds of surgeries.
The pain of choosing
During the first months of recovery, Victoria ensures that the pain she went through, was the worst pain she ever felt, and the dilations for her neo vagina not to lose depth just made it worse. Even when she assures in her video that she does not regret undergoing the surgery, she also mentions that “this surgery is not a magical surgery that solves all your problems, insecurities, traumas, or self-esteem issues”, therefore, to make an irreversible decision such as the surgery or hormone treatment, it is essential that people undergo therapy, since the body discomfort can have many factors that affect and sometimes the uncertainty does not subside after surgery.
The decisions that are made from anxiety, seeking a quick remedy, may bring much worse consequences on a long run, therefore, assuming a surgical sex change should be a choice that is sustained over time and accompanied by professionals who are experts in the field. Although only 0.5% of people who undergo medical procedures reverse their decision, it is important to recognize that this option exists in order to create contingency actions and a more adequate accompaniment in these cases.
There are no magical answers for everyone
Ellie and Nele are a couple of European girls that have come and go through gender with testosterone treatments to achieve a more masculine appearance, but some years ago, they decided to leave medications aside and to go back to their birth gender. They are part of the small percentage of people that go back on their decision.
In the story told about these girls in the BBC, it is shown how in both of their childhoods there was a fascination for male privileges, freedom, and every condition that surrounds men. They wanted to be able to work with a naked torso, practice contact sports and openly express their like for women. But since what they understood as a woman, they could not find those possibilities, therefore, since they were little they questioned themselves if they wanted to play that role, or if they actually wanted to look like men.
In Europe, it is easier to have access to treatment and the necessary psychosocial support, but even so, there is a lack of knowledge about sexual transitions, as was the case of this couple. The choice of sexual change was motivated by the uncertainty and anxiety of obtaining a social place that–from their perspective–was more privileged and freer. But when it came to the transition, they were also unhappy with the male body, and at one point they began to present a strong vaginal dryness due to the consumption of testosterone. That was the wake-up call that made Ellie and Nele wonder about the choice they had made and, after a while, they stopped their treatment to rid their bodies of additional hormones.
The importance of therapy and a good medical accompaniment.
In these cases, the transit may be due to situations that are much more complex to analyze, the most relevant being the relationship that is socially established with gender and the ways that define the behavior of women and men, with few options to create intersections between the characteristics of both roles. These girls had the need to adopt characteristics that would allow them to be free people, with the possibility of playing sports they liked regardless of gender and freely expressing their love, they did not necessarily want to choose one sex/gender and exclude all the possibilities offered by the other.
Ellie and Nele created a movement to give visibility to the voices of transgender people who want to return to their gender of birth, but they warn that their experience should not be used to generalize the processes of the entire community, because each experience is unique. They fear that their discourse will be fragmented and adopted by religious communities or people who discriminate against trans people, as a justification to deny the rights they have achieved with so much effort.
They do not regret anything of what they have lived during their transit process because this led them to have greater awareness and respect for their bodies, to accept themselves more and more and to learn to choose on the fly how they want to live their lives.
From the LGTBI+ reality, views are proposed that do not seek a single solution for all, in fact, the voice is raised for the difference and for those who have been silenced. Stepping outside the norm to weave one’s own identity is an admirable task. From the #YDNM movement, we hope that everyone who wishes to make the transition will have the psychological support of experts who can guide their process.
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