Anonymous asked: Do you have any suggestions as to how to explain body dysphoria to someone to doesn't have body dysphoria? I'm trying to explain to a friend why her comment about my packing was out of line.
Hm, that is a tough one. Dysphoria can be hard to explain, but there are many places in western/American culture where we can see comparable experiences. Perhaps by re-framing the conversation and broadening the scope, your friend may be able to better understand, or at least conceptualize, your experience. Trans bodies are like any other bodies; many (if not most) people root part of their self-esteem from how they experience it, how they see it, and what they want to see from it. That is why fashion is so important to so many people, and hair cuts, and why racism, sizeism, and ableism hurt us so deeply. Normative culture tries to use our own bodies as weapons against us and others like us. There are so many oppressive constructs surrounding body weight/size, body shape, color, ability… the list goes on. The need for a trans person to pack to better identify with their body isn’t the same, but is similar to what other people do to positively change/maintain their sense of self. Gender-related stuff is sometimes really hard for people to understand because it challenges what they know about bodies, gender, sex, and identity. If you do not have cause to process your own body, your relationship with it, and how society views it, then you may struggle to understand how and why someone else does it, and what actions they may take to address issues that may arise - like dysphoria.
When I am teaching/lecturing, I often compare one’s body to a house. Our bodies are our homes; we live in them for our entire lives and if I’m going to spend a ton of time somewhere, it makes sense that I’ll want to decorate it in a way that feels good to me, that makes me feel comfortable and safe. Body ownership is a process where we find ways to make ourselves feel more at home in our own form, but instead of ottomans and curtains, we use clothes, breast forms, packers, binders, make-up, hormones, surgeries… really anything to make us feel more at home in our bodies. Other people may not like how we decorate, or understand why we like it, but that is ok. They don’t live there, so they don’t have to. What would be nice, is if they were respectful to our needs to keep our space feeling good, and looking good. A person wouldn’t walk into someones home and automatically start to lecture them on how their furniture is placed. It is considered rude. Why should people act any differently about someone else’s body?
This is a rather brief address to your question (despite it being long) but I hope it is helpful. If you think I can be of more help, or elaborate more, feel free to hit me up again.