What is a gender dysphoric trigger?
To understand what a gender dysphoric trigger is, you must first understand what gender dysphoria is. There are many long and drawn out descriptions of what gender dysphoria is and what it isn’t. It is also important to note not all transgender people experience dysphoria. Here is one of the simplest definitions of gender dysphoria.
Gender dysphoria is the distress a person feels due to a mismatch between their gender identity and their sex assigned at birth.
Ok so what does that mean? The very core of my persona is female. Most of my body’s sexual characteristics are currently male. I say “most of” and “currently” because I am on hormone therapy to bring my physical body into alignment with my gender identity. When I experience something that many females do not, I sometimes feel discomfort. The discomfort can range from mild to very extreme. It can also be somewhat disturbing and trigger fears of certain circumstances either real or imagined. Below is a list, in no particular order, of my more commonly occurring dysphorias and a brief explanation of a simple trigger for each.
- Facial hair growth.
Yes, at one time I had a beard. This was a phase I went through in an attempt to feel more manly. Recently I have been known to shave two or three times a day. Some men may say this can be normal with a heavy beard. Those who know me know mine is anything but a heavy beard. My growth of facial hair now triggers a fear of being accused of being a man in women’s clothing, a pervert and even fear of being assaulted and killed.
- Wearing of clothing that even remotely evokes a masculine appearance.
If I have to wear a crew neck t-shirt, a men’s style dress shirt, or men’s business slacks I begin to have a panic attack. Obviously this wasn’t always the case. I was able to wear pretty much any typically male clothes until I began to express the person I truly am. Now I experience a fear that I will be forced back into hiding. This fear is debilitatingly intense and is accompanied by thoughts of never being able to express who I am again.
- Size or lack of female breast tissue.
For nearly my entire life I have wanted breasts. The hormone treatments I am on are now allowing my body to develop as a teenage cisgender female would. I worry that my developing breasts will be seen as man-boobs, that they are too small for my body frame, that they are not shaped correctly.
- Genital mismatch.
This is to difficult to explain in a few sentences. I’ll most likely write a separate article on this topic alone.
This list is fairly common among transgender females. The list of triggers and fears is extremely brief. Unfortunately I have quite a few. A trigger in general can be something I see, hear or physically feel which may be related to one of my fears or anxieties. This morning I experienced an odd trigger for the first time.
- Pride in being transgender.
How can having pride in who you are trigger dysphoria? The answer is below.
I assist with running multiple Facebook groups which support both the LGBT+ community at large and the subset of transgender or gender questioning people. I am also a member of of multiple groups similar to these. Within one of these large more inclusive groups, a meme was posted. The image was a simple rainbow frame around bold block rainbow lettering stating “I Woke Up Gay Again!” This meme gets posted to the group quite regularly. Today I felt inspired by my pride to create a meme to match for the transgender population. I searched Google for “Trans” in bold transgender pride flag colors. One was easily found. Then in a meme creation app on my phone, I set out to create the meme “I Woke Up Trans Again!”
It’s a simple image with quite a proud message. I am truly proud that I wake up every day as a transgender person! I hid for so long that I now want people to know I exist, that I am human, and that I wake up every day just like you.
I post my newly minted meme in response to the “I Woke Up Gay Again!” meme. A few seconds pass and my meme begins to collect good reactions. Satisfied that I showed some pride in being transgender to the greater LGBT+ group, I then post the image to the smaller transgender support group. The image again begins to collect good reactions. All is good in the world. I am feeling my pride swell.
Then it happens. My bi-weekly calendar alarm goes off. Reminding me which of my thighs will be the target of a prescribed dose of Estradiol. Instantly I feel anxiety due to the fact that I have to force my body to match who I am. The tears fill my eyes. I begin to shake with hatred that I for whatever reason was born a female with male physical sexual characteristics. I collect my medication and the injection supplies. I am now nearly filled with anger, anxiety, fear, and jealousy. I take a break and perform my calming ritual to recompose myself. Twenty or thirty minutes pass, I am now calm enough to administer my medication.
I return to my post in the transgender support group and make a small comment.
When I first posted this I was proudly claiming my trans-ness.
Then my reminder that today is E shot day went off and all of a sudden this image is a reminder that I have to force my body to be what I need it to be.
Lately I have been trying not to focus on my dysphoria because so much time and energy is wasted when I do. I decide that today I will not be ruled by dysphoria, instead, I will own it! I go about the rest of my morning routine and begin my day. Tomorrow, I will Wake Up Trans Again!