Monday, December 26, 2011

Gender dysphoria

What is this thing?

Gender, despite efforts to conflate it with sex, means the presentation and behavior associated with one's sex. Society expects men to be masculine and women to be feminine, although what constitutes "masculine" and "feminine" varies from culture to culture. There is no hard and fast link between femaleness and femininity or between maleness and masculinity, but people can still be rather rigid in their expectations.

Dysphoria is the opposite of euphoria. It comes from Greek roots meaning "difficult to bear." Euphoria is being on a high. Dysphoria is being on a low.

So gender dysphoria would be dissatisfaction with one's gender, or perhaps with the gendered behavior and presentation that someone feels are expected of them. A woman for whom stereotypical femininity is not a good fit might experience gender dysphoria. Same for a man who dislikes stereotypical masculinity.

I find it not just puzzling but actually misleading when people use gender dysphoria as a synonym for transsexualism. Dissatisfaction with gender expectations is not at all the same as having a birth defect in which the sex of your brain is opposite that of your body. People who transition to female may or may not be stereotypically feminine. People who transition to male may or may not be stereotypically masculine. People born transsexual change anatomical sex. It doesn't require hormones or surgery to alleviate dysphoria with your gender.

People born transsexual still get saddled with a diagnosis of Gender Identity Disorder, which is also a misnomer. We submit to such nonsense so we can meet our actual need, which is to change sex. One hopes that someday the medical and psychological establishments will finally get it.


Anonymous said...

Somehow I doubt they will ever "Get IT" This is precisely what I was hinting on my comment on slippery slope. Maybe Kiwi John Money did not himself understand that the terms sex and gender are not in fact interchangeable. Perhaps the word sex troubled or embarrassed him, I do know this that it was my sex I was "dysphoric" towards and not my gender I was already quite feminine enough! something that caused me a lot of hassles and beatings. My need and the need of every transsexual I have ever encountered was not just to appear female, I already did that, I desperately needed to be female. To meet a man, marry have a family and be like everyone else. I was never one to need to flaunt myself as "different" to challenge social gender boundaries and norms.

It really does boil down to these statements in the final analysis: transvestites have a gender issue, homosexuals have social issues (though this has largely been overcome) transsexuals have a sex issue.

I am getting the impression that among the very young the issue of "separatism" has to a great extend been put to bed. They are quite adamant that Tg and TS are quite different conditions. It's the older transvestites who have a vested interest in conflation and the psychiatric profession who are protecting their income stream who keep this debate running.


Sagebrush said...

Not just Money (and I totally agree with you about him -- amazing and disgusting he has any influence at all after how incredibly wrong he was) but all the gender studies programs in the world and tons of books. They focus entirely on gender as though it were the same as sex, or perhaps as though sex doesn't matter.

I also agree about our own personal gender. I never changed that. How could I? It's part of my personality. Thankfully, I *could* change the sex of my body, the part that really needed to be changed.

I hope you're right about young people.