Tuesday, 30 August 2016

where the dividing line is

I continue to be fascinated with gender non-conformance and where the dividing line with dysphoria lies. Although I may be wrong, I continue to think that some transitions are linked to the level of societal tolerance for defiance of gender norms. This means that at least some people are transitioning who might not otherwise if they felt they could live completely genuinely without doing so.

Although transgender people have always existed, proceeding the way Christine Jorgensen, Lili Elbe or April Ashley did wasn't even possible before the 1930's and we know that statistically the vast majority of gender non-conforming children end up working through their gender issues. Most androphilics end up as gay men who may or may not have a drag persona and most gynephilics work through their gender incongruity enough to at most end up being crossdressers (oh how I abhor these older labels but they sometimes serve their purpose).

My point is that as we loosen the grip on gender restrictions we are less likely to see people switch sides presuming their dysphoria is manageable. In this way one element of dysphoria might be tied to the suppression of gender expression and I am reminded here of Anne Vitale’s wonderfully descriptive “gender expression deprivation anxiety”.

What has helped temper my own dysphoria was to expand my gender expression and while this may not work equally well for everyone the fact that it worked for me means that it can work for others. Some might dress everyday while some might do so once a month and be happy. If dressing doesn’t work for you perhaps some other form of honouring your own gender identity will. This is not so much an opposition to transition as a reflection on when and how it becomes a requisite treatment for chronic dysphoria.

The other day I was watching a YouTube video where mothers were discussing whether they would let their sons go out into the world in a dress. While the attitudes were mostly open and supportive the overwhelming message that came through loud and clear was also about shielding them from prejudice and eventually hoping they would outgrow it so they could lead a normal life. Of course what society considers normal doesn't always work for the dysphoric child and hence the start of the problem.

I was left pondering on just how strong our impetus towards conformance is and how it begins at the earliest stages of our life development. Sometimes our parents' concern for our well being can unwittingly build us a prison.


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