I am a bit new to Twitter having only given it any serious consideration as a platform in the past week, and over the course of this period of time, I have been noticing an interesting and somewhat worrying trend on the anti-trans rights side of things.
There are a group of individuals who are claiming that they experienced what they equate to gender dysphoria, in an effort to dilute trans-experiences and transition-related treatment. One such example is this post by Gia Milinovich:
Let’s be very clear, a tomboy is not a trans-man. While I am not trying to minimize her lived experience, her understanding of gender dysphoria is misformed at best. Best I can tell she experienced a form of misogyny as a child, and well into adulthood, which, while tragic, is not at all the same thing as gender dysphoria.
Gender dysphoria is not the same as gender nonconformity, which refers to behaviors not matching the gender norms or stereotypes of the gender assigned at birth.
American Psychiatric Association – Source
A girl preferring to wear pants and preferring Lego’s to dolls isn’t necessarily transgender and does this behavior does not warrant a diagnosis of gender dysphoria. While these can certainly be symptoms of a larger issue for some, they aren’t inherently so.
The American Psychiatric Association describes this as gender nonconformity:
“Gender dysphoria is not the same as gender nonconformity, which refers to behaviors not matching the gender norms or stereotypes of the gender assigned at birth. Examples of gender nonconformity (also referred to as gender expansiveness or gender creativity) include girls behaving and dressing in ways more socially expected of boys or occasional cross-dressing in adult men. Gender nonconformity is not a mental disorder.”
Gender dysphoria is something that is difficult to describe to someone that hasn’t experienced it. I usually describe it as the perceived disconnect between one’s mind and body. This disconnect can cause the affected persons to suffer significant distress and can impair their ability to function. While it in and of itself isn’t a mental illness, it is a human condition that can result in mental illness such as anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and even suicidal thoughts or self-harm.
Questioning your identity as a child, especially during adolescence is a very common experience for many children, particularly when it comes to sexuality. This does not, however, mean that a child is gay, trans, or otherwise queer. Again, this combined with other factors could be a sign of someone suffering from gender dysphoria, but it isn’t inherently so.
So in short, when you see an individual self-diagnosing themselves and saying they really, REALLY get it while also minimizing the experiences of those of us diagnosed with gender dysphoria… they really, REALLY don’t get it. For those of us diagnosed with gender dysphoria, it seldom gets better without treatment. It almost always gets much, much worse.
The medical community considers treatment such as hormone therapy for transgender patients suffering from gender dysphoria as life-saving for a reason. Bringing a person’s body in alignment with how they identify helps minimize and in some cases even irradicate the symptoms of gender dysphoria.
While I would certainly concur that more research is needed on subjects of transgender care, and long-term outcomes, there is already a wealth of information out there demonstrating not only the biological imperative of our condition but also the benefits of treating patients with this diagnosis.
People who insist on minimizing our lived experiences, and/or focusing their argumentation purely around our assumed genitalia, aren’t contributing to the conversation, they are diluting it.
The danger with these type of posts is that some young closeted trans-person might read these and use them as inspiration to continue repressing who they are, rather than seeking the professional help that could potentially save their life. All because someone on the internet told them they’ll grow out of it, and: “It always gets better.”