Microdysphorias

microdysphoriasIf I were the resolution making type, I’d be making a bucket list for 2017. A list of what I thought I ought to do, or worse, what other people expect me to do. If I followed that list, I’d probably end 2017 lean, deep voiced, and on testosterone. Instead, I’ll probably continue my journey looking like a well-worn Steiff Teddy Bear.

What I would actually like to do in 2017 is to continue what I started to do towards the end of 2016, which is to focus on microdysphorias. Things in everyday life that cause me small amounts of pain or cognitive dissonance around gender. Some of them are microagressions, things other people do to me, e.g. when someone calls me Ma’am with attitude. Most of them, however, are caused by things I do without thinking, or because I didn’t plan ahead, or forgot to tell someone, or neglected to submit paperwork. For example, the other day I had to use a public women’s restroom in an unfamiliar place because I didn’t know a safe unisex alternative.

The things that kick up the most dust are: entering women only spaces (bathrooms, dressing rooms, locker rooms), receiving mail sent to my birth name instead of my legal name, being called by my birth name (some people never got the message or “forgot” even though it has been over 4 years), being Ma’am’d or referred to as a lady, wearing men’s clothing that doesn’t fit properly, wearing a women’s shirt that buttons the wrong way and worrying that I will run into someone who will notice, and filling out forms that require me to check off female.

It isn’t a long list, but at least one thing on it happens every day. Each one, taken on its own, is slightly annoying, but the sum total is an unsubtle reminder that my transition is not as thorough or as obvious as I’d like it to be. I want to reduce the frequency of events, but it won’t happen unless I make it happen.

In 2016, I decided to stop using the women’s locker room at the gym and to use they/them/their pronouns in my political work. I also filled a prescription for testosterone (gel), which is sitting in my underwear drawer, available should I want it, like a toddler’s discarded soft blankie. I am content with all three decisions.

I’d also like to pay more attention to the things I can do to counter the effects of microdysphoria. It is easier for me to dwell on the negatives and ignore the positives. I know I feel better when I work out at the gym, practice basic yoga, maintain my current weight (still going to Weight Watchers meetings), and wear men’s clothing that fits and looks good on me. I never thought I would feel good about my body, and I need to learn how to acknowledge it and hold onto it.

2017 for me is not about passing or being read as male. In 2017, I want to stop apologizing for not being on testosterone, and to stop apologizing for thinking about starting it. I want to stop expecting, or asking, other people to validate my transness. I want to bring my complicated butch/non-binary/trans self with me everywhere I go.

Notes: New Year’s Eve resolutions are a social construct, and I don’t read most people’s lists. That said, I like Alok Vaid-Menon’s resolutions for 2017. You can follow them on Facebook if you are into that. Below is a screenshot of their New Year’s Eve post:

alok-vaid-menon-new-years-resolutions-2017

 

15 thoughts on “Microdysphorias

  1. Lesboi

    I’m not a resolution maker either, but I do usually set a few goals for myself for the new year and, often, they bleed into the following year because they are on-going kinds of things. These sound like great projects to work on this year, Jamie. It’s those tiny microaggressions and microdysphorias that can really eat away at your psyche and sense of well-being. That stuff builds up in us while we’re not paying attention and eventually we realize how angry/pissed off/frustrated/sad/etc we are and not really sure what caused it. I’d love to see you proudly wearing your Butch/non binary/trans identity for all to see and acknowledge. March on!

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      It is hard not to get ground down by it all. It helps to talk about it and to write about it – I don’t think most cis people understand the relentless minor stuff, even if they get the “born in the wrong body” tropes. In my experience the only people who get it are other trans people and their partners.

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  2. Tam

    Preach. I want to stop expecting, or asking, other people to validate my Tam-ness.

    I try to give people the benefit of the doubt but when I get called a lady it feels totally aggressive and not always micro.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      It sucks, because I don’t think most gender conforming people have any idea how much validity they get in their everyday existence and how little of that we get in ours. I did recently have the experience of a friendly gay male waiter calling me and Donna “ladies”, then seeing me wince, and apologizing for the ridiculousness of the statement. We had a nice chat about the alternatives and how no couple we know (femme, butch, or otherwise) wants to be called ladies.

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      1. Tam

        Wow that’s a great story about the waiter. Love that.

        I exhausted myself in a ski shop yesterday in NH asking to look at some men’s xc boots. The clerk could not stop mansplaining the difference between mens and womens feet. I asked for zero advice. I just wanted to look at some boots that were not white with magenta piping. I pushed back a bit saying not ALL women’s feet are narrow and regardless the selections are too limited. Turns out that professional ski boot salesmen with micropenises do not like to be questioned by dykes. Then he kept referring to me as “this guy” to the other clerk. Mediumaggression bordering on macro.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. youarequeerhere

    I love this post. As someone wandering along the non-binary/trans/butch spectrum, I really appreciate these resolutions. So thanks for sharing.

    (As a side note, doesn’t Alok use “they” pronouns? I follow Darkmatter and have seen Alok use “they” on their page, but I wasn’t sure if Alok used other pronouns, too, as some of my non-binary friends do.)

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      Thank you for pointing out my completely mindless and auto-piloted pronoun screw up. I’ve seen Alok and Darkmatter perform a bunch of times and they do use they. And I’ve linked to them before because they are awesome. Fortunately WordPress allows for editing and I’ve corrected the he/him/his.
      I’m still trying to figure out how to make this middle place sustainable and easier for myself to stay in for the long run, and it is not going to get any easier under Trump.

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    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      Oddly, one of the things about facing my transness is that I am less numb and generally more present in the rest of my life. I never expected to get sensitive to the “little stuff” – but a million paper cuts pretty much sums it up.

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  4. Simon

    “…being Ma’am’d or referred to as a lady, wearing men’s clothing that doesn’t fit properly, wearing a women’s shirt that buttons the wrong way and worrying that I will run into someone who will notice, and filling out forms that require me to check off female.” God! Sometimes I think we are the same person! It is comforting to know that there are others like us. Thanks for the post and for writing so many times what I feel.

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    1. Simon

      The clothes thing irritates me because I am short and men’s shirts are way too long in total length and sleeve length. Women’s shirts do fit better in those areas–IF I can find ones that don’t look too feminine. Otherwise, I will have to buy men’s shirts and pay to get them hemmed, which is costly and a pain in the ass.

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      1. Simon

        “I want to stop expecting, or asking, other people to validate my transness. I want to bring my complicated butch/non-binary/trans self with me everywhere I go.” YES! Thank you.

        Like

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