When you discover your state of gender incongruence, every therapist you meet will ask you the same question – when did you know? How did you know? Now, we know what they want; they’d perhaps like to find some deeply ingrained personal hurt, some evidence of pathos, symptoms and signs pointing toward a diagnosis. But what if you first felt gender incongruent when you discerned that your father was somehow never meant to cry? The realization that the most intense emotion he ever portrayed was rage? What if you felt gender incongruent when you got into classroom fist fights you really didn’t want anything to do with? A lot of transfeminine people/trans women will tell you they feel far more emotionally labile when beginning Oestrogen.
Pharmacology aside, I hypothesize that much of it is a visceral disinhibition, the opening of a floodgate, a downpour of everything any human being should be able to feel – only, the privilege of being able to feel is restricted in society. Apparent masculinity comes with great privilege in a patriarchy. They try to toughen up, they hide the playground hurt, they hold sorrow in excruciating lumps in our throats, because they’d like some of that privilege, they’d like safety, they’d like not to be harassed, molested, assaulted. Eventually, they realize that the feigning comes at a cost too great, and they go about resolving the incongruence to become our truest selves. The psychiatrist wants to hear about the distress in not being able to wear pink, play with Barbie Dolls. But I think what we don’t want to hear is that we as a society create the incongruence – we disallow the natural and call it anomalous. They will never know what it is like to live in a society that teaches its men that they may feel just as intensely. That they may cry when hurt. That they may be hurt. That they may be sexually assaulted, that they may experience psychological distress. It’s possible that a less stringently gendered world would result in less intense gender dysphoria. Personalities like Laxmi Narayan Tripathi are trying to tell us exactly that. I truly believe that a less stringently gendered world would mean healthier people, families, societies, nations.