My Dissonance Doesn’t Need to Make Sense to You

07Feb10

I get a lot of feminists, or really, a lot of cis people in general, who seem miffed about my dissonance as a trans woman. Or, in many other cases, confused. Apparently, a deep psychological or instinctual pain has to… make rational sense. Apparently.

This is illustrated best by a statement made by a cis woman I knew who I was speaking to about why I sought out hormone replacement therapy. Specifically, when I pointed out that I had dissonance regarding my facial hair’s volume (back before I got laser and estrogen, now my shaving is more of a safety concern and a lot less dissonance) she said, “but I have facial hair too! I don’t get how you can feel dysphoria over something regular girls have!”

Moving on from how she didn’t use cis and othered me, let’s take a look at this idea of “cis people have it too!” For one, this idea is based on a huge strawperson fallacy. Namely that our dissonance invariably comes from what we perceive certain sexes as having. This fail bomb of a fallacy sits within the reasoning of tons and tons of people. Bindel’s bullshit about gender essentialism depends on our dissonance somehow being caused by what we perceive others as having. Ron Gold’s bullshit depends on this same fallacy, that dissonance is just some kind of delusion built from what we see and perceive of another sex. But you see, it goes beyond that. This idea of “but cis people have that” is basically assuming that this is based off some sort of logical deduction gone wrong. When someone says that they don’t realize what they’re actually saying is, “your instinctual pain doesn’t follow logic!” Yes. If you think that sounds utterly ridiculous and unbelievably ignorant of even the basics we learn from our own experiences as humans, that’s because it is. Funny how that works. Deep psychological/instinctual feelings not being logical. Shocking, I know.

Now, no doubt, transsexuality and being transgender both come in a lot of different flavors (TG especially) and certainly many of us feel dissonance or dysphoria differently from others, in different intensities and due to different causes. So for the most part, this is going to be me, talking about me (and a contingent of trans folks I know who get it like me) and how I (and they) experience dissonance. In no way should these statements be applied across the board unless the trans person in question states they are accurate. Disclaimer stated, moving on.

My dissonance has absolutely nothing to do with what cis girls have. In fact, I am entirely indifferent to what cis girls have. You (you being directed at a hypothetical cis woman) could have a big bushy beard that birds live in and breasts flatter than a Plexiglas window for all I care. It is irrelevant (unless the birds were shitting everywhere, then it would be relevant to hygiene). Furthermore, and this goes back to all of this bullshit about how dissonance doesn’t make sense, who are you to expect a feeling, a deep psychological and instinctual feeling, regarding body structure, to be rational and easily explained? Last I checked, I didn’t have an awful lot to be sad about in my life (I actually do pretty well for myself, all things considered) yet I have depression. One could easily talk about how irrational my depression is. Yeah, except that depression isn’t rational. It just is. It’s a present internal feeling that has an effect on the mind and well being. It does not need to have a rational reason, just a cause.

And no one really knows what the cause of dissonance is. There are plenty of theories (most of which are made in complete ignorance of trans folk’s lived experiences) but the fact is, we don’t know what causes it. We don’t even know if there’s one single cause, or multiple causes or even multiple factors that merge together into a Voltron cause for dissonance. All of this combined, the fact that it’s a feeling, not a logical thought process, the fact that we don’t know the causes, all of this basically means that anyone who says that my dissonance “doesn’t make sense” is driving right off a logical cliff at max speed

Virtually all of the bullshit theories used to strip validity from us depend on some sort of socialization situation. And all of them arise from the fact that to cis people, our feelings “don’t make sense”. Shocking how a feeling that someone has never felt before wouldn’t make sense to them. Just shocking. The radical feminists say that it’s delusions that then make us hurt when we can’t get what we think other sexes have. The less intelligent gender abolitionists say it’s because we’re unhappy in our gender roles and instead of just saying fuck you to the roles, we change our bodies. Cisgays with an axe to grind say that it’s us trying to escape being gay and part of eliminationism of gay people (yeah, cuz everywhere = Iran. Apparently). All of this is ignorant. There’s really no nicer way to put it. In every single one of these blanket statements, there is an explicit ignorance of the counterexamples from among trans people and just a basic lack of comprehension of the fact that feelingslogical. For instance, gender roles: I said a giant fuck you to gender roles before I transitioned. I went the gender apathetic route and did what I wanted for my self expression. Didn’t do a thing to change my dissonance. Also, I’m more annoyed by the expected roles for women then I am for men. I act as a counterexample to that bullshit argument and I’m generally ignored when I break it by existing. I actually act as a counterexample for the sexuality one as well, being that I only find individuals with vaginas, breasts, curvy bodies and a derth of body/facial hair volume attractive and this would label me fairly gay to society with my being a woman and all.

Yeah, if I was running away from gayness, I must sure be lost.

And all of this, all of this silliness would be completely avoidable if these people stopped believing that central fallacious fail bomb that dissonance is based on what we think people have, that it arises from thought at all. And let me tell you, this central bullshit pillar drives me up the wall so much. Because that one, I get to hear it from allies too, who are trying to comfort me and be helpful. Yeah. Thanks folks.

This crowd should know that pain isn’t logical. If any of them have dealt with disabilities that involve various forms of pain (or know PWD) they’ve got no excuse to think that a feeling of pain needs to make rational sense. Emotional pain, physical pain, none of it is something that you think about or arrive to through reasoning. So the sheer level of ignorant fuckery required to expect our pain to follow your arguments about rationality is just ridiculous, Internet RadFems Radscums. And the truly unhelpful statement of, “hey, I have that trait too” doesn’t in the least comfort us, allies. You’re just being lazy. It’s not hard to research. It’s not hard to ask those of us who are willing to teach. Finding out more is the best way to avoid tasting your delicious toes when you’re trying to help. Omnomnom foot. I get that all of you are trying to be helpful and comforting but well, we all know my views on intent.

Let’s talk about dissonance. (A more basic, 101 level post on my dissonance can be found here.)

Me personally, I’m probably slightly atypical (or perhaps a lot of trans folk hide this from the gatekeepers, either way), the radscum bullshit theorizing is especially silly since the dissonance came first. Yep, that’s right. My identity as a woman congealed out of dissonance. Not the other way around. I’ve always been in pain from some of the features we commonly refer to as male that I possessed. Of course, not all of them, but golly we wouldn’t want to break someone’s theory, now would we? For instance, most of my body hair wasn’t a problem. Yeah it was asthetically displeasing but that’s not dissonance. I also don’t want a uterus. All of this shows that dissonance comes in all patterns, intensities and styles (and is not in the least dependent on what society says women should have). It’s important to learn this. This lesson is made even more abundantly clear by the presence of nonbinary folk and genderqueer folk. There are no sexes out there that match what a notable number of nonbinary and GQ folk need in body structure (for those that do require body modification). Yet that number still has bodily dissonance. Funny how that works.

I don’t know why I have dissonance. I don’t need to know why to have it either. It’s inexplicable, I don’t know where it comes from, just what it does. I know that my mind rejects the presence of a penis and accepts and expects the presence of a vagina and breasts. The dissonance for my chest faded as soon as I got development. They weren’t even big. And the dissonance was still aided and gone from that spot.

Not once has knowing what cis girls have changed this sensation. And that’s because it honestly is not about what cis girls have. My facial hair hurting me is as valid as any other deep psychological pain or instinctual response, no matter how many bearded cis women dance under the stars (or sit, sitting is fine too). I’m not dissonant about my wookie legs but if another trans woman has dissonance regarding leg hair? That’s entirely valid too.

Because pain doesn’t need to make rational sense. That’s not how it works. Get the fuck over this.

And since I’ve spoiled you all with my diagrams, have another.



64 Responses to “My Dissonance Doesn’t Need to Make Sense to You”

  1. Oh, I’m glad you put that diagram in at the end. I was starting to think there wouldn’t be a diagram this time! ;-)

    Seriously though, great post – and yes, pain doesn’t have to make rational sense.

    A lot of people don’t get this. E.g. “But what have you got to be depressed about?” (as you pointed out in your post, depression isn’t rational) and “why do you feel panicky when XYZ happens? In that same situation I don’t panic” and so on – never mind all the shit that’s handed out to PWD, especially people with invisible disabilities. (That’s not me conflating dissonance with mental illness or a disability, just comparing people’s reactions, by the way.)

  2. Dissonance about hair in general: check.
    Dissonance about wrong genitals: mega check.
    Dissonance about [word ommitted]: not gender related, but mega check, too.

    One of my main reasons for despising objectivism is covered in this post. People get it into their heads that only the pain, dissonance, happiness and such that they feel is valid and the pain and such of those unlike them might as well be packaged in a decrepit container and chucked out of a freight train into the woods somewhere.

    “Look eveybody! Look at how far and deep that [word ommitted] tranny’s feelings can go!”

    It is no revelation that Transsexuality is the most disrespected concept in the world now. You cannot even bring it up in academic conversations without almost everyone saying, “oh, don’t even start that bullshit…”

    It makes me wonder(no, it does not-I already know) if the average person realizes how fucked up their mentality is:

    all natural born males MUST think and behave according to the straight male archetype and all natural born females MUST think and behave according to the straight female archetype.

    How could someone think that those who believe, think and act in different things and different ways from they do are mentally sick/damaged? (If this is even remotely true than we are ALL the VIRUS WITH SHOES-gotta love Bill Hicks for noticing all of the important things about humanity.)

    Here’s why: so many are objectivist bigots and CANNOT TOLERATE another person not doing and thinking exactly what they do.

    Lpve,
    Lain.

  3. 3 anonymouse

    YES.

    Though I’d also add that where I have dissonance, this *may* be related to what it’s typical for a woman to have, but the existence of cis women who fall into the same category as me for xyz doesn’t mean that it’s illogical. So I’m quite tall relative to most cis women, and this occasionally gives me twinges of dissonance in part because I recognise it as related to my transness; the fact that my (cis female) ex is a couple of inches taller doesn’t mean it’s illogical to connect my own height to my transness. The fact that there are cis women out there with much more body hair than me doesn’t mean that it’s illogical for me to perceive what body hair I do have as an uncomfortable reminder of my genotype. And to broaden it out slightly, the fact that I’ve known various cis women to be misgendered doesn’t mean that it’s illogical to think someone shouting at me in the street is related to some real, visible evidence of transness (and to feel uncomfortable about that, above and beyond the discomfort at the abuse in itself).

  4. 4 Jemima Aslana

    Yep, some cis women have facial hair as well. Difference is also that men don’t call us fake women if we have it. Our essential womanhood isn’t called into question because of a little thing like that – though our femininity is. But so often do we see exactly such a little thing used as proof that this or that trans woman can’t really be anything but a man.

    It was incredibly ignorant of that woman to say that to you. It is so apparent to me that in our society trans women must live up to the masculine expectations of femininity in much greater detail than cis women in order to maybe, possibly one day have the hope of being a little accepted. I’ve had my femininity called into question many times, and since I still am unwilling to live up to the feminine standards, I’ve been labeled weird, but never have anyone denied and argued about my sex or my gender on the basis that I don’t shave my legs for instance.

    Not noticing that difference is truly cis privilege in action.

    Good comparison with depression btw, not that it is sure to help. Goodness how many times haven’t I been told that I sould just get up and take a walk, then I’ll feel better, because it makes no sense to be depressed on such a beautiful day. ARGH! Yeah, doesn’t work like that. So your comparison seems to be totally spot on, but since so many people are also ignorant shits about depression… yeah, it may not enlighten as many as we’d like. Hum.

    But as always: a good and informative post. As if I needed a reminder as to why I keep coming back to read your stuff :D

  5. Yeah, certainly, knowing that certain traits will mark us as trans to the general populace (and may mark cis women as trans and get them temporarily exposed to what we face) is a very logical reason to not want to have them. I was mostly discussing the deep instinctual pain and rejection of our bodies, but that’s a very valid point too.

  6. Yeah unfortunately, most of the examples I can use to describe that feelings aren’t rational are all subject to the same ignorant bullshit of people assuming that they have to be. Fundamental lack of even basic comprehension of how human minds work. Something that doesn’t require an education or anything either, since we all feel feelings and should be aware of how we didn’t think them through, they just are.

  7. I’m actually not sure if Objectivism is the cause of this. Objectivists can comprehend the concept that not everything is logical, that psychological aspects and deep instinctual feelings do in fact follow no logic, they just happen due to causes not related to thought. Some may not, but they’re not exactly running counter to each other.

  8. I think you may be a little too optimistic.

  9. Yanno, I should probably expand on this post and write about how Pain doesn’t need to make sense either. Cuz really, as PWD, we do face this bullshit for our mental illnesses, disorders, physical pain or whatnot. Seems to happen far more for things like depression and anxiety though. So I probably should tackle it from that angle, just to make sure I’m thorough.

  10. I don’t think I’ve ever been called optimistic before, much less too much. XD

  11. You experience something new everyday. XD

    Maybe I don’t know enough, but based on what I have seen and heard, my comment stands.

  12. Excellent post. From just a stylistic perspective, I have to say that “We don’t even know if there’s one single cause, or multiple causes or even multiple factors that merge together into a Voltron cause for dissonance” is one of the most brilliant sentences I’ve read in a while: situated in the context of the post, this sudden reference to a 1980s cartoon about the Defender of the Universe is a burst of humor that lightens the tone. I love that about your writing. You take no prisoners, harbor no excuses, make your points very clearly, have no fear of calling bullshit, work up a fierce piece, and then lighten the tension with something like a Voltron reference.

    Keep up the great work.

  13. Thank you. I’ve been told I have some talent there. XD

  14. This is true if it weren’t for the fact that the same people who often make these arguments often assume that because our feelings are “illogical” we should be able to reason ourselves out of them. That because we are “really men” who feel like women we should be able to stop feeling like women by somehow convincing ourselves that such is true.

    Great article, by the way.

  15. Those people should try to reason their way out of the pain of me dropping a brick on their foot.

  16. 16 Sas

    Anyone that pulls the “trans is just running away from gayness” excuse especially deserves a headbutt and a few days in the stocks. Yeah, I TRIED to pretend I could just be a gay man, I was unhappy and any gay guy I showed interest in said, “But you’re a GIRL.”

    The fact that they think we’re too stupid to have considered that possibility is especially irritating.

  17. 17 bellim

    I realize this is off-topic to the thread, but do you have any ideas for resources I could show a high school class of presumably-cis kids to just introduce them to trans issues? I’m cis and doing a project in school on TLGB people and discrimination, and I was just wondering if there were any short videos or articles I should pull from. I would really appreciate your feedback on how to approach these topics – obviously I’ll try to express that trans people have diverse experiences, but I would like to general concepts of dissonance and identity.

    I love your blog and think you’re brilliant, even if I’m too culturally illiterate to understand what a Voltron is. :)

  18. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voltron

    XD

    All I really have is blogs, not really any videos. It’s been so long since I did my own self discovery research that I can’t recall most of those resources.

  19. 19 Jessica

    Like many others, I want to say thank you for the post! So many times I’ve heard my friends, allies and other people I rely on say that “real women have that too”. It hurts. It’s fucking othering. Want to make someone feel dissonance, tell them they aren’t real. Yeah, that really makes someone feel really good.

    It’s something that I’ve had to fight over and over again. when I was getting my breast augmentation, I had to fight, HARD, to convince myself, and my Cis friends that it wasn’t about vanity. And when they accepted it, they still go on to say “anyone who gets breast implants are just too vain…”. And when I say “uh… I’m getting them…” they just go back to that othering statement “well, you don’t count…”

    I feel so much better since the surgery. Being able to feel like myself is great. And fuck anyone who wants to take that away from me.

    Sorry, just had to bitch. :)

  20. 20 Sas

    Err, and my clumsily-worded point was that it doesn’t work because it doesn’t remove a trans person’s dissonance to pretend to be a cis-gay person even if they give it a try, NOT that it doesn’t work because I personally was unskilled at impersonating one.

  21. Yeah, I gathered that. Thank you for the clarification though, in case anyone else was confused. XD

  22. 22 sarah

    Thank you for this post. I have currently been writing something in a similar vein (albeit of the 20-page variety, and sans Voltron) and it is helpful at times to not exist in a vacuum with this train of thought.

  23. 23 bellim

    Thanks for the link! That looks pretty badass.

  24. What woman doesn’t have a shit about facial… no even body hair anyway? I mean look at us plucking, waxing, shaving, and electrocuting hair off all kinds of body parts.

    I got a stash and a unibrow that drive me buggy. wtf?

  25. My conscious identity as female came about later, too. There were some unconscious aspects, like the seemingly-irrational feeling that I was going to the wrong bathroom every time I’d use the boys’ bathroom, for example. But, consciously, I was only aware of the bodily dissonance initially.

    And as another, personal, example of the ways that dissonance is different for different people, I actually don’t have much dissonance about facial hair (of course, the fact that my facial hair is already, pre-transition, rather sparse might help) and actually at one point wished I could grow a beard! Body hair, on the other hand, does create a moderate level of dysphoria. So, the opposite of you!

    Awesome Voltron reference, BTW. ^_^ I agree that it’s unlikely that there’s a single cause. I had an interesting conversation about that very idea with another trans woman friend of mine. Specifically, she’d asked if I felt like it wouldn’t be as important if our society didn’t have such rigid gender roles. I replied that I probably would’ve realized it much sooner, because one of the things that held me back was the idea that I wasn’t “feminine”, and it seemed “illogical” to want to be a girl, and then not act like a (stereotypical) girl! She felt the opposite, though, that if our society didn’t have such strict gender roles, that she wasn’t sure if she would’ve felt the need to transition, that she might’ve found some other outlet for her feelings.

  26. And definitely some of us do it for asthetics, like for me, some of the clothing I wear has nothing to do with dissonance and everything to do with “holy hell my ass looks good in those jeans”. It just goes to show that a lot of cis feminists are clueless about the fact that asking us what we’re feeling, instead of guessing, is the best call.

  27. I think, yeah, it definitely varies among folk, causewise. I know that for me, the biggest deal was the bodily dissonance. For others there’s a lot more social concerns in play. If gender roles were abolished (or diluted) some trans folk prolly wouldn’t do anything and would be fine. And others, like you and me, would still modify our structures to end the pain of dissonance.

    And yeah, I totally didn’t have a clue what was up since I’m not feminine or particularly girly. I prolly would have figured it out faster too, if society’s gender roles were scrapped.

  28. I absolutely adore your blog and was wondering if you’re cool with putting it in the link list on the side of my new blog. I wouldn’t normally ask, but my blog is about how I’m a prostitute, so I wasn’t sure if you’d be cool with it. From the stuff of yours I’ve read I can’t imagine you being offended by it but I still thought I’d ask.

    Oh. And I use your word “fuckstupid”. It’s just too good not to steal.

  29. Why would I be offended? o_O Go for it. In fact, I ought to pop you into my link list too. Better that I send people to you then try to speak on your and other sex workers behalf and fuck up. XD

  30. I can’t see why anyone here would have an issue with you being a prostitute.

    …If anyone does, I bite their fucking arm off.

    LL

  31. Yay! Your blog is the first/only one listed in my blogroll so far.

  32. This expectation for trans people’s sex/gender identities to make logical sense to cis people is completely ludicrous. The operating system known as the human mind doesn’t work on logic for any human being. We aren’t aggregates of patterned ones and zeroes represented on a friggin’ monitor. We’re living, thinking, feeling creatures for goodness sakes.

    OK cis folks, lets see you fit all of your desires, tastes, behaviors, and personality characteristics into a tidy, logical model. You’ll get bonus points for artistically rendered flow charts. I’m waiting…

  33. 34 muse

    I can’t comment on dissonance because I don’t experience it, but, actually, I get lots of people thinking that my anxiety and depression “should make rational sense”. I hear this all the fucking time, and it’s really ableist bullshit. I have even internalized this to the point that I’m unwilling to call in as sick when I am suffering from anxiety or depression so severe that I’m crying.

  34. 35 makalove

    Yeah, i get that a lot, from friends and allies and doctors and counselors… “What do you think triggered this?” Um, brain chemistry? Being a rape survivor? Sometimes it just HAPPENS.

    Thanks for this post, it is excellent. Someone linked it from a conversation on a Livejournal community where i was trying to explain why it isn’t okay for cis women to tell trans women “A lot of us have infertility or vaginas that don’t lubricate enough for comfortable sex without using lubricants.” i’m bookmarking your post to share with folks as needed.

  35. 36 nix

    feet are just a social construct.

  36. 37 nix

    THANK YOU. I was just having this very “conversation” with a well-meaning but befuddled person who couldn’t understand why trans people (including myself) feel the way we do. I told them they didn’t need to understand, they just needed to respect it, but I might also either point them this way, or send them a few edited highlights.

  37. I lol’d till it hurt. XD

  38. 39 Dove

    I just got linked to this blog, so commenting late.

    I’m cis (more or less) and not that good with all the labels, my apologies if I get something wrong with terminology or otherwise (corrections appreciated).

    I comment because I feel like I am one of those people you speak so angrily about (and yes, perhaps I would deserve some egging. Since I’m looking at this from the outside I can’t really say), one of the people who think that dissonance like that does have reasons and roots in our culture and how our culture represents women and men. Not in cognitive, conscious level, but somewhere deep down.

    Whatever the reasons though, they don’t change the feeling of pain, or the need to change. Nor do the reasons need to be announced or examined to validate the feeling.

    I think pain, be it from depression, dissonance or any other not-directly physical (as in, running into a tree accidentally) does come from somewhere, it’s not completely irrational nor illogical. The reasons can be hard to explain or even find out, but they exist. But it doesn’t *matter* when it’s happening. If someone is unhappy with their facial hair, well, THEY ARE. No matter what the reasons are and if they are explained.

    Certainly, many ciswomen have facial hair (and lot of them are obsessively getting rid of it). A friend of mine had her facial hair removed with a laser and it cost a lot. I had never noticed her facial hair, but if it was bothering her and now she’s happier, who am I to say anything or question how she spends her cash? I’m glad she’s happier with herself now. Some of my friends had too large breasts and had them surgically reduced in size. Some have no breasts to speak of, and might get implants. One woman I know had her breasts removed due breastcancer and has implants now. I don’t see what difference it makes if these people I know are cis or trans, it’s their body and their own happiness. I mean, ciswoman gets implants, transwoman gets implants, both are happier, what’s the harm?

    I think the statement of “but real women have XXX” is wrong in so many levels (differentiating between cis and trans for starters) but also somehow assuming that there is a mold of Woman that trans should be aiming it. Real Women can have flat chest, hairy legs, facial hair, short hair, no jewelry… Real Women can look like ogres and thus anything wanting to differentiate from that is unneeded. That makes no sense. Being a woman isn’t to do with amount of hair here or there or the particular shape of the body. But a person who is a woman can want to have certain hair and bodytype. (isn’t that what being a trans is, I don’t know).

    The question of why your mind rejects the presence of a penis and accepts and expects a vagina and breasts instead is not relevant to the everyday life, it’s a fact and reality for you (I assume). It’s just as relevant question to you as it is to a ciswoman. I can’t answer why my mind is okay with what I have. Why don’t I have the feeling of something that is missing and something that is too much?

    Finally, thank you for posting this. I think for me, as cis and rather ignorant (although trying to understand and learn), it’s easy to fall back to “But why won’t you wear trousers? Lot of other women wear trousers too!” where I think I fail to recognize the person as a breathing, living human being, an individual woman and treat them just as someone who is trying to masquerade as one. Since for a individual woman, what does it matter what other women wear or do? It doesn’t.

    I can only hope I’ve never said that, but who knows what stupid things I’ve let out of my mouth, but at least now I know I won’t be saying that anymore. Thank you.

  39. Just wanted to point out one thing, there are a lot of biological induced psychological pains. For instance, clinical depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. So there is absolutely no logical reason to feel that pain, not even deep down, it’s purely chemical. I don’t know if that’s the case with being trans, but I do know that dissonance still doesn’t need to make sense.

  40. 41 Dove

    Oh, but I agree. I just count biology as a reason or a cause. :) If my hand hurts after I broke it, it’s quite logical, but nothing to do with if I was allowed to wear gloves as a kid or not. But yes, it should be pointed out that the reason might as well be biological.

  41. I think where we differ is on the usage of logical. I’m dealing with people who think there has to be a rational reason, within the person’s mind, to feel that way. Like say, you’re sad because your dog died. As opposed to just being sad with nothing bad going on around you.

  42. 43 Sara

    This really helps me be a better ally. Experience with depression helps too–no matter how illogical it is, there it is. Fighting it is like banging my head against a brick wall.

    The ciswoman comparison is othering. I suppose the reason for it is that the ciswoman feels her femininity is being questioned–if the transwoman’s hair/chest/neck is manly, then what does that mean for the ciswoman? If a ciswoman shares masculine traits with a transwoman, this is perceived as negative, due to transphobia. This, as well as the othering, needs to be called out.

  43. 44 Jemima Aslana

    Uhh that’s not entirely correct. Clinical depression *can* stem solely from a chemical imbalance. It *can* also stem from a long string of bad experiences causing one to lose whatever faith in humanity/life/parents/whatever one might have had.

    Sometimes it’s both. Sometimes it’s one or the other. When a depression is caused by having had bad experiences it is often also the kind that cannot successfully be treated with anti-deps, because a chem imbalance is not the problem whereas life itself is.

    But aside from that, yeah, when depression is caused solely by a chemical imbalance you can look for as long as you like for a psychological reason for the pain, and there won’t be one.

  44. Ah okay. Thanks for letting me know.

  45. 46 Jemima Aslana

    Gods, that’s such an awful argument.

    Let’s remember that everytime a cis woman says she’d like smaller breasts, other cis women will look aghast and tell her she’s spoiled, whiny, she’s living their dream yada yada. How could she possibly want smaller breasts when *they* want bigger ones? Well, possibly because she’s unhappy with something here. It seems to be a favourite sport for cis women (or cis people in general I’ll venture) to police the bodies of everyone else. And they don’t even see the double standard.

    Cis people (and very often the women at that) will lambast another cis woman for not wanting to live up to the beauty ideal (ie big breasts), but they will lambast a trans woman for wanting to achieve the very same beauty ideal that they attempted to push so heartlessly on their ungrateful cis-sisters moments ago. There’s a clear tendency of transmisogyny here, since it is apparent that to these cis people the female beauty ideal is for cis women only. And that’s a load of crock, really. Arbitrary standards if ever I saw them.

    http://deeplyproblematic.blogspot.com/2010/06/trans-woman-delphine-ravise-giards.html

    The linked article here describes how French authorities are attempting to force a trans woman to live up to a standardized female mold; they will dictate the size of her breasts, and before her breasts are that size they will not recognize her womanhood. But would they ever question the gender of a cis woman who just happens to be flat-chested? Would they question my gender because I want mine smaller? Hardly, because I’m born female and in their eyes the sex we are assigned at birth is unshakeable. But this woman, who is happy enough with living like she does (that’s my understanding at least), she does not feel a need for bigger breasts, ’cause she already feels like the woman that she is. It must actually be a bit of a relief to be able to achieve that without the extra surgery that so many others have needed. Surgery that is not without risks, and definitely not free either.

    We need to remember that when cis women’s looks are discussed ie. with regards to facial hair, it is solely a matter of beauty and ideals. When trans women’s looks are discussed it quickly becomes a discussion of whether they are woman enough to be considered women. And that is some serious transphobic attitude right there. The difference is immense, and the two are not truly comparable.

  46. 47 Jemima Aslana

    No problem.

    There are doctors and psychologists denying this fact in several places – possibly because they get paid by medical companies for handing out drugs, we’ve a seen a few scandals like that around here – but it is easily found even in beginner’s psych textbooks. In other words, you were likely told this by a pro, but they are not always reliable sources.

  47. Oh man, the whole french thing is making me utterly hate that country.

  48. That’s pretty much what happened.

  49. 50 Jemima Aslana

    Yep, I’m not terribly impressed with their state of affairs, either (read: I’m deeply aghast). I’m trying to figure out how anyone can find it in their hearts to want to force a person through an unwanted surgery as the condition for acknowledging what gender they are. It’s completely inexplicable to me. It’s just… I’m drawing a blank here.

    I can understand where prejudice comes from and how it works. But this kind of senseless cruelty is completely incomprehensible to me.

  50. Well, you do have a soul after all. Senseless cruelty tends to be incomprehensible to people with souls.

  51. 52 Jemima Aslana

    Whaaaa? A soul? Where’d that come from? I sold mine to the devil years ago when I decided to have sex before marriage… while autistic.

    I feel cheated now.

  52. The devil is just a storage man. XD

  53. 54 Argo

    Thank you. I am a trans guy with depression. I feel so guilty and down when I feel bad even though my life is freaking awesome. That just makes me feel more depressed and it’s this really dumb cycle. But, I don’t feel bad or guilty for my dissonance. I am going to try to think of my depression in that way. It doesn’t have to be logical, and it is often not going to be. No joke, I think this way of thinking is going to help me cope better.

    I’m glad I found you! This is one of my fav blogs now.

  54. I’m glad I could help. XD

  55. 56 intrados

    I hope these aren’t offensive questions and, of course, no one is obligated to answer. Are feelings of dissonance meant to be distinct from more general feelings of bodily dissatisfaction (weight, skin, etc.)? If feelings of dissonance aren’t subject to reason and are purely emotive, how does one distinguish them from more general bodily dissatisfaction?

  56. @intrados: Feelings of dissonance are distinct from bodily dissatisfaction largely because of how they feel.

    Because they aren’t dissatisfaction. They’re confusing, intensely painful senses of foreign wrongness. Dissatisfaction makes sense from the standpoint of a lack of acceptance or internalized hatred of certain traits due to social training or even just “eh it doesn’t look good”. Dissonance literally makes no sense even to us. It’s completely out of left field and makes us feel like aliens grafted shit on us. So the feelings themselves are what differentiates them.

    Not all emotions are the same.

  57. 58 Lika

    This is a brilliant post and does a marvelous job of showing why those “but other people have it too!” comments are dismissive of someone’s experience or pain, not just for dissonance but for so many other kind of issues. It helped me make sense of a lot of things, especially when you said that your dissonance has nothing to do with what other cis women have. You’re right, this is not about them, it’s about how you feel, and what causes you pain, and what you need to do to address it.

  58. I know this isn’t really the point of the article–and I agree 100% with your main thesis and so on–but it always makes me really uncomfortable when people are like “omg those crazies in iran, forcin’ all the gayz to transition!” like … i’m not from there or anything, but it just strikes me as connected to the general western fear/hatred of the middle east and islam, like anything they are doing to their bodies must be Bad News, like it’s SO FUCKED UP that they hate on the fags and tolerate the trannies, because we in the *civilized* world do the opposite dontcha know.

    Am I making sense?

  59. @Simon

    Sort of a merging of western culturocentrism, imperialism, racism and transphobia? Yeah, totally makes sense. You put it well.

  60. 61 Lily

    “merge together into a Voltron cause for dissonance”
    You have such a way with words. I loved this phrase!

    I love this post. It gets me so upset and angry when people say things like this about my anxiety disorder, refusing to understand that it isn’t rational. Also, thank you for giving those of us who haven’t experienced this a glimpse of the inside, especially for teasing apart the variety of dissonance patterns. I hadn’t realized they were so varied!

    A bit of a tangent related to the topic… The invalidation of that kind of “but it doesn’t make sense!” statement is unfortunately very, very common. The scariest part? It’s even common in psychiatry, as I saw in my pre-med shadowing experiences last year. Far too many professionals who should KNOW better think or say “What you’re feeling doesn’t make sense to me, so there’s something wrong with you/you’re hiding something/you’re not really feeling what you say you’re feeling, and we have to fix that so it makes sense to me, even if it makes you feel worse. THEN I’ll make you feel better.” So few are willing to honestly say “Ok, so this is what you’re experiencing. I may not understand it, but I’m going to accept it and go with it, so we can work through what you want to work through and help you.” Hopefully, by the time I graduate from medical school, this healthier, more helpful view will be more common, because I can’t even imagine how hurtful it must be to have a doctor or therapist invalidate a person’s experiences like that.


  1. 1 Open Posts! How Does That Work? « Questioning Transphobia
  2. 2 Implications of Those “it’s not just an adoption thing” Comments « Adoption Paradox
  3. 3 Introduction to Gender Questioning « TAL9000

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