A Strange Dysphoria

Recently I took part in a training course investigating autism and gender identity. It was extremely comprehensive and educational. Scientifically it is a fact that around 1-3 births in a 100 have non-binary chromosomes determining biological sex which impacts gender identity later. It also means that we are inherently as a species far less black and white as we like to admit when it comes to our own identity. Who knows, perhaps people can exist with biologically female traits as a male their entire lives and never notice nor think about it. This course focussed on how to support young people with autism and their concept of identity and gender which, for a neuro-divergent individual. These people statistically, are seven times more likely to identify as transgender than neurotypicals. It was all very well and good, I thought, to educate ourselves and turn the spotlight on them. I thought instead, I would turn the spotlight inwards onto the operator to examine, in the stoic sense, a thing at its root. The thing: my own perceptions of identity.

It made me uncomfortable because it was such a new feeling. It was like going to the gym and working a muscle untouched before.

I enjoy feminine things. My perfect night is a face mask, foot rub, a Hugh Grant movie, a chat about life, and pizza and wine. I feel a strange alienation when I see same-sex romance on screen, particularly between two females that’s not some sexual need but a feeling of spiritual absence from myself. It’s a longing in my skin and feeling of something lost, something I had but longer have in this existence – a loss of something indescribable. A strange sadness, and something that I’ve never felt before and cannot put a name to. I’m lying, I’ve always felt it, but I’ve never looked at it.

The soul is genderless, the rest is just a vehicle. Why wouldn’t I feel somewhat female at my core? Yin and yang resides in all of us – the male and female. The balance of that is the source of our chi in the Taoist sense. It’s not a new concept.

It’s not a superficial surface feeling of insecurity about my hobbies nor a sexual inadequacy, it runs deeper into my marrow. I’ve just never stopped to look at it before.

I spoke to a close friend about this who is non-binary who explained to me that they have heard about similar feelings before. That it’s a specific kind of sadness. I boil down my experience of sexuality and gender into a catchphrase: “ass is ass/it’s all meat and mucus” yet as my friend said:

[They] have been comforting for you to say, because the help things feel less complicated. But I prefer to say that, for me, attraction is a science? It’s always more about chemistry than biology.” – X

Another friend was said simply that some are more in tune than the true soul than others.

“Only you know who you are and how you define yourself but, you don’t have to. You don’t owe an explanation to anyone.” – Y

Simply: I am.

It’s less about what more about who. Who we are, not what we are.

For me, I am a human being. Biologically male and with a male gender identity. Do I need to feel more to be me? I am who I am, whether I inhabit this body or another. I am still a human being, experiencing all that is allotted to me by nature to experience. Perhaps it’s my time to look in this mirror and accept what’s there within and without because my feelings of a strange dysphoria (whether this can be truly described as dysphoria) are a part of me and a part of me I can accept. I may not fit conventionally into the box of a machismo hero yet that’s ok. I look back over what I’ve done in my past, and my theatre of arrogance and all I see now is someone desperately trying to live up to a patriarchy in which I exist on the fringes of.

I accept my exterior, I accept my interior. I am a human being. This skin of mine, while my soul may feel wanting if I let it and it craves for renewal: I wouldn’t want it any other way. This mind and soul of mine, as complex and seemingly labyrinthian as they are: similarly, I wouldn’t be me without them. For others, the experience is different, and unliveable. It is theirs and not mine and that’s ok. We all walk different paths in this life and live different lives but we all born and die the same way. We are all one in our collective experience of humanity from our first breath to our last. Despite all the labels we may attribute, perhaps the truth is that we, as expressions of the divine, are far too infinitely complex to ever be tied down or put into boxes.

“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.” – Meditations 10.16

It goes without saying if we are to be nit-picky with semantics, when the Romans reference “man” I say: “human”.



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