I've never strictly shown signs of preferring one gender over the other. I like being able to choose based on how I’m feeling each day, and I like having the ability for my gender to be fluid.
I think the majority of my dysphoria came from clothing. I know that clothing isn’t gendered– or at least, it shouldn’t be. But based on the media and society’s portrayal, it just felt better to wear whatever made me appear more ‘masculine’, despite feeling like my gender is fluid.
In middle school, my wardrobe happened to contain darker colors– mostly black. It wasn’t all on purpose. This posed a problem that surfaced during my eighth grade graduation, as my mom had me wear a bright pink dress, claiming I needed to add color to my wardrobe. Upset, I noticed my gut sticking out due to the form-fitting nature of the dress. The culmination of the style of the dress as well as the bright color resulted in an icky feeling. One that I now know as gender dysphoria.
I had other events that should’ve made me realize I didn’t identify as solely female. For example, in high school, I preferred to wear sports bras on a regular basis. For homecoming, I wore a jumpsuit. And in concert band, we wore tuxedos for performances. All three of these things– the idea of having a flat chest and the idea of wearing a jumpsuit and a tuxedo instead of a dress– brought me immense euphoria.
While clothing is the biggest part of my gender dysphoria, there are other things that make me feel it as well. There are occasions where I feel more feminine than usual, but I never, ever enjoy being called “ma’am” or “lady” or “daughter”, no matter what gender I feel more strongly that day. It brings me an immense sense of discomfort.
Gender dysphoria feels like a punch in the gut. It gives an icky feeling and honestly, it can sometimes be discouraging. Identifying outside of one’s assigned gender at birth isn’t easy, and with how our society is, we face many obstacles. People get offended with us trying to live our lives, when we just want acceptance and to be able to express how we feel.
Despite feeling discouraged on occasion, I find strength in hope. Hope that we can get to a place of acceptance in society. Hope that our rights won’t be stripped away. Hope that we can express who we are without judgment. I will not give up hope.