Over on Reddit someone asked about a sadness they've started feeling when crossdressing. Amy's comment hit home, and I had this to say:

If I had to guess, I'd also say dysphoria.

For me, 'cross'dressing was always a bit of a double-edged sword. Most of the time it was great, especially when I was younger and just figuring things out. But sometimes, and especially more-so as I got older, there was the side of it that made me feel terrible. Part of it was as Amy_of_Dallas says, that the clothes don't hang quite right, etc. But mix in with that the feeling of being a fraud, the suspicion that maybe I wasn't a woman, or when every moment of enjoyment is tainted by the knowledge of that impending crash in a few hours when you'll have to change back before [whatever], then the feeling that I'd never be able to be what I wanted, that the closer to it I got the further it was just out of reach, the shame and grief of daring to be a human being, of daring to be happy.

In the beginning, 'cross'dressing was great. It was my little secret, my playtime. I could lounge around and read books or play games and for once just be. But by the end, it was something I loathed; something I'd try to hide, even from myself, lest I be drawn in once more and for those few brief moments of solace pay in weeks of lament.

That was a big part of what pushed me over the edge in the end. That I could not escape this "addiction" after years and years, and yet that it brought nothing but sorrow. Now of course (or, I suppose, I shouldn't say "of course") things are much better. As soon as I made the decision to transition and started taking steps on that path, this angst cleared away. But then, now it's become daily wear. It's just clothes. I suppose it always was. But now there is no denial, no knowledge of the impending crash, no secrecy nor shame, no fearing to never become what I always knew myself to be.

Besides, the clothes fit a hell of a lot better now ;)

For anyone who may be questioning, Zinnia Jones has an excellent post discussing eight signs of (indirect) gender dysphoria. It's well worth your time. If you're familiar with the basic notion of dysphoria and just want the symptoms, feel free to jump down to where those start.

Another bit about me: I've always suffered from severe clinical depression. I had a really shitty childhood, so I always just assumed that was the cause of it. When I approached my psychiatrist to ask for a letter for HRT, I only then noticed I'd never brought up trans things with him before. Because in my mind, I've never associated my depression with my gender nor my dysphoria. Just didn't seem relevant before. However, when I mentioned this to my wife, she immediately leapt to thinking they were connected. She's convinced that after transition is well underway I'll no longer need antidepressants.

Every one of ZJ's symptoms describes my childhood perfectly, including (post-childhood) the last one. As soon as I started HRT I started feeling happier, more normal, and just plain better. Even just a couple weeks in, I felt better than I have since... puberty? since forever? Whatevs. Point is things are so much better now. If you are questioning, please, do yourself a favor and look into HRT.



March 2014

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