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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Looking at Monsters

The narrative I hear from trans* people the most is that they are often aware of their dysphoria at an early age. That they always knew that they were in the wrong body from the very start, sometimes I hear different narratives how they recognize their dysphoria later and then started transitioning. Or they always were aware but didn’t transition until much later. There are different reasons and different stories. Each unique as the person.

Mine doesn’t seem to follow the script though. I never been aware of my dysphoria, or saw it until a few years ago. It was muddled, mixed in with the feelings of alienation, isolation and othering I got as an autist. The feeling of being in the wrong body never was present, because my body was always a foreign thing to me. It was hard to understand the nature of it and recognize much of it. I guess this doesn’t make sense to some readers so let me try to clarify. 

I never noticed I had gait problems until someone actually pointed out, I never felt the dysphoria of my period because barely noticed it. I never notice that I was hungry or that I was suffering exhaustion until I was older and even now I still have trouble feeling hungry. Or thirsty, the only thing that I am pretty aware of was the need to pee and only that because it was drilled into me through toilet training. So I was made to recognize that feeling. The others come and go and sometimes I am aware of it, sometimes I am not. It’s hit and miss.

Because that, my dysphoria was incredibly hard to pin point. It was like an angry ghost that haunts me only when my back is turn. I never saw its face. As a child, I grew up being presented as female and I identified it as such growing up. It was a combination of lack of body awareness and being socially blindsided. I did stereotypical female things not because I wanted too, but because I was conditioned too. It was expected of me to wear dresses, to wear make-up and to be interested in boys. Most of those were genuine interests but they were also mixed into the idea that I had to follow through with them because of social obligations. One of the reasons I had a hard time understanding my feelings towards girls I had a crush on, is because I was conditioned to reject these feelings. My therapists didn’t help with that either and it took me years to see that I was in love with one of my best friends. It took me years to unlearn idea that I was obligated to act ‘female’ and present as one. It took me longer to re-understand gender and what gender meant. I think as a small child, I saw myself not as boy or a girl, but rather agender. I was adaptive to whatever social function was there. I played with trucks and dolls and blocks and tea cups. Everything was the same and I was not interested in people as so much the things. I didn’t care about looking ‘pretty’ or looking ‘tomboyish’ I wasn’t aware of looks at all until I was actually in my late teens. So even though I bonded with girls and identified with them, I did the same with the Sander boys and my friends in Kindergarten. I was a girl, I was a boy, I was both and I was neither. Gender, was a nothing word. Still though, despite being agender (sort of) I found myself more drawn to being a boy and that desire. I wanted to be a boy, I should have been a boy and so the first heartbeat of dysphoria emerged. It was squashed however through my parents and through the idea, that because of my sex I have to be of that gender. 

So as puberty emerged I found myself looking at gender. I went with what I was told to go with. I was a girl I was female. But for some reason at fifteen, that wasn’t fitting right. I ignored it as that feeling of ‘other’ was probably something else and at that age I found the Otherkin community and I latched on to it. It was there I probably reattached my frustration of something is wrong onto the idea that I was a therian or and animal trapped in a person’s body. It sounded delusional, but for some reason it made sense. I think it was first attempt to ignore my dysphoria or rationalize it. It got worse and worse as I got older and fell in love with women and men, to start loathing my breasts and hating my period every month. I was told this was typical, but in my heart this wasn’t normal. At that time, I was dealing with not just my body, but the fact I was neuroatypical and battled with that more than my body. My neurodivergence was a more present thing for me, I barely registered my body most of the time and I never saw the problems I had with it. The monster of gender dysphoria lurked behind my back, and glowered in the closet of my mind. I never opened the door.

 Not until I was 19.When I reached adulthood and gained enough research I actually started to realize that feelings of alienation weren’t just because I was autistic, but gender dysphoria. When I found the term ‘bigender’ I went with it. I started identifying as queer too, because I started to realize I liked girls and boys. But I was using bigender as mask, it wasn’t right label. But I hated the idea that I was trans*. It was a combo of internalize transphobia and the feeling of being alienated again. I was autistic and I suffered enough bullshit because of it. I didn’t want round too. So I ignored the monster in the closet, I paid no attention to the heavy breathing or the growling. At that time I tried to force myself to be more ‘female’. Because I didn’t want to admit that the bigender label wasn’t working. My marriage was failing I wanted to be loved and more and more, the monster roared and screamed. It wasn’t until I wasn’t until recently that the monster threw itself out and dragged me into the dark. In tears and anger at my ex-boyfriend I admitted I was transgender. It hurt like a son of a bitch. 

Now in transition, I recognize the dysphoria and I am starting to fix it. Looking back I noticed the symptoms much like my autism. I saw it in the shadows of my childhood. But years of not knowing my body, or recognizing it, had made my dysphoria a ghost and intangibility. It was hard to deal with it and hard to see it and now that I have, I now feel the anger and pain with my body that I’ve had but ignored. My periods are dysphoric, my breasts are dysphoric and lately vaginal sex is slowly being dysphoric.  Body awareness is a hard thing for an autist, but for me it was vital for me to see my gender problems and I feel it was the root of why it took me a long time to start transitioning and recognize I was trans* 

Maybe other transgender autists might have the same story.


  1. Knew things were wrong with body when puberty did not make it male as expected. First period nearly killed me from wrongness. So grateful for IUD. For doctor believing was too retarded to procreate. Hope new medical people believe same. Need it replaced very soon. Can not bleed again.

    But am not transgendered. Autistic people can not be that. Just normal for autistic person to be confused. Does not mean anything. Too stupid to understand, as usual.

    Was easier when believed self a changeling. That explained all the wrongness. Made it tolerable. Mostly. Miss that, so much.

  2. Realized my comment might seem offensive. Sorry. :( Meant, that is what I have been told, that autistic people can not be that. It is all very confusing to me.

  3. I think it's assumed autistics can't be aware enough to notice body dysphoria. Which is sort of true, I didn't at first. But I think it's an assumption that isn't completely true. So people assume autists can't tell that they are dysphoric therefor, they can't be 'trans*" Not true but that is the general context.

    1. If it is possible, then may be possible am transgendered too. But. Really do not want. Easier if they are right, if am just confused and do not understand. Too complicated.

      Do have usual autistic body awareness problems, especially about getting sick. But knew with no doubt at all that getting period and growing breasts was very wrong, should not have happened. The body is very wrong in other ways too, just can not say exactly except those two things.

      This is so upsetting.

  4. It does sound like you might have dysphoria. I wish I could direct you to doctors that are more understanding to your disability, but I don't know anyone in Seattle. I honestly think you should try to find someone that could help you. But it does sound like you have some sort of dysphoria.