(My riff as a transwoman in recovery on the PurposeFairy series 9 Reasons Why You Should No Longer Care About People’s Approval; all creative credit belongs to to that author.)
I’ve never had an easy time explaining gender dysphoria to people. The experience of being male or female is so much what it means to be human that folks have a hard time wrapping their heads around the thought that experience just doesn’t make sense to some people, including me.
I’ve had the most success describing the first time that I knew I was different. I gazed into a mirror and the person looking back was not whom I expected to see. I expected to see a girl with shoulder-length hair, blue eyes and a bright smile. Obviously that wasn’t the image. And this is gender dysphoria.
What did I do about it? Absolutely nothing, nothing but destructive behaviors, that is. I knew I was different sometime in the mid 60’s. I needed approval as an adolescent. I could not have withstood the disapproval of society and family in those years. The great paradox is that in the middle of this internal struggle and the need for approval, I rejected approval entirely.
We have indeed come a long way in the last fifty years. We talk more openly about such matters as gender identity and we are better (not perfect) about encouraging a sense of worth not based upon an unhealthy need for approval. As a people we still struggle towards a better vision, but we are on the journey. We are braver these days about moving past that need for approval which usually doesn’t materialize anyway.
My family, church and community are important to me, but they all no longer get to call the shots. I’m free to be who I am because that girl decided to step out of the mirror.