I tried posting this on another social media site, but didn’t get any responses or help, so I’m going to post this here.
I’m afab and In the last nine months or so, I’ve questioned that. It’s been a lot more severe in the last two months, where I’ve been struggling with possible dysphoria. I’m turning 20 in November and I haven’t questioned this at all until now. Dysphoria is when you feel part(s) of your body to not match your gender. It is similar to dysmorphia, but they are not exchangeable, as dysmorphia is the feeling of part(s) of your body being incredibly flawed, and need to be ‘changed’ or ‘fixed’.
And I feel like my possible dysphoria could be related to my aphantasia. I can’t picture or visualize myself in my head, so I don’t know what I look like. When I look in the mirror, I do feel off put when I see my face, like that isn’t who I really am, and a stranger is in the mirror. That I feel empty on the inside. I never really knew why I felt this way, it’s just always been with me, and it’s a heavy emptiness I have grown attached to. I can’t look myself in the eye when I look in a mirror. These are some ways that dysphoria can manifest in a person.
Therefore, I just can’t tell if it’s my aphantasia, or dysphoria, or what. Can aphantasia cause dysphoria? Can they arise separately? I can’t visualize myself as another gender even if I wanted, so I don’t even know if that’s something that people do. I also don’t have an internal voice, so I can’t hear myself when I talk in my head, and I can’t change what my voice sounds like to “match” genders. I just feel really lost and unsure.
I’m aphantasic and non-binary – my pronouns are they/them. I did experience strong dysphroria before I had surgery to transition, and now I do not. My advice to you would be to try experimenting with different kinds of gendered behaviour – if you say “I am a woman,” or “I am a man” or “I am neither a woman nor a man,” do any of those feel radically right or wrong compared to the others? If your friends call you he, she, or they, does one feel more accurate than the rest? Is there a way of dressing that makes you feel confident and secure in your own skin? Do certain bits of your body feel wrong or right? Is that consistent?
I think you’re right that aphantasia makes it harder to understand dysphoria, and to experiment internally with how you visualise your own gender. I didn’t realise I was transgender until my mid-twenties, although when I look back I’d been saying that my gender was wrong for a long time before that.
I hope that you are in a life situation where you feel safe to try out different modes of gendered life and expression, and find a way of being that feels right to you. If you can access therapy, that’s also a good place to start talking about those feelings.
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