Bra-Burning Brovaganza

I think I’m dealing with some pretty severe gender dysphoria.

I don’t know what to do. When I think about living as a man, my anxiety and discomfort go away. I’m 32 and married to a man. We live as husband and wife. He is annoyed, exasperated by my constant depression and anxiety, and I don’t blame him. He doesn’t know what the real cause is. He thinks it’s my childhood- and indeed my issues are largely due to that. But what he doesn’t know, and I fear won’t understand, is how it played into my understanding of what it is to be a woman.

I feel overwhelming pressure every day to play “woman.” Constant alertness of my appearance. Grating frustration at times when I have to wear makeup and pretend- weddings, family holidays, parties with feminine friends. Feigned submissive deference. Feeling coerced into patterns of behavior and speech that don’t feel natural. Being a woman feels like a cult to me- a cult I can’t leave.

Cutting my hair short helped. But I feel pressure to style it. I can’t just have clean, combed hair. I can’t just wear jeans, khakis, and polo shirts. I can’t wear boots. I have to think about these things. I am forced to bear a attractiveness mental load I don’t want. Have never wanted.

I just.. I just know if I said these things to someone else, they’d trot out the same old tired line-“You don’t have to wear makeup. You don’t have to style your hair.” Well, sure, if I wanted to guarantee social isolation. I barely play girl as it is and it isolates me. I also actively isolate myself because I know I can’t play girl well, and it shows. Someone would figure it out, I’m pretty certain friends of mine think I’m secretly gay. Which would be fine, if I was. I am attracted to men- so attracted I want their life. I know being a man has its own problems.

I don’t see a way out. My therapist is hilariously young- younger than me and fresh out of grad school. He’s not the one to talk to about this.

What’s weird is some days I do want to wear jewelry. I guess that’s okay. I don’t know. Going from one inflexible gender norm to another may not solve my issues. I just wonder what it would be like to have someone actually listen to me for once and not be intimidated and made uncomfortable by my thoughts and feelings.

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Self-Indulgent Prattling

Tomorrow is my first shrink appointment. Well, with a nurse practitioner. I don’t think I’ll bring up the gender stuff, just bring up the symptoms of the depression and anxiety I suffer and how they’re affecting my ability to function.

I think a course of meds may help me. I’ll request wellbutrin to start. No good taking something that’s just going to help me put more weight on. I tend to do very well on stimulants, nearly approaching normal in terms of ability to do things. I was diagnosed with ADD as a child, taking ritalin for a while until they thought I was “better.” I certainly still have executive functioning problems as an adult.

God, I hope they care. I really hope they do. I’m paying them, you know? I’d hope they care. I don’t know if I could take yet another doctor just kind of.. waiting for the appointment to be done.

I feel a discontent when I think about how according to society’s measuring stick, I’ll never measure up. I understand why masculine-leaning females transition to male. The gender binary, so entrenched. You’re a man or a woman, nothing in between. People think they need to be able to visually classify you at a single glance, and god help you if you’re not easy on the eyes. That brief and minor delay of “what are they” is too inconvenient for most.”How do I treat them,” because all interactions must be gendered and appropriate, just treating people neutrally until you know doesn’t seem to cross most people’s minds.

This may sound.. self-congratulatory or dumb, but I am proud of how I treated Noah back in the day. This was a good 8-10 years ago, before I even knew trans was a thing; I grew up in a conservative Midwestern town. I had no idea he was a transman, just that he was ambiguous in his appearance. I never forced the issue. I waited for him to bring it up, and treated him neutrally (non-gendered) until he did. If only I hadn’t had an anxiety attack while hanging out with him once; after that, we weren’t as close, until the temp job ended and I never saw him again.

I need to find like-minded friends. Some form of connection. If I rely on cis people, they may always be baffled by me. The mismatch between their gendered expectations and my NB/masculine-leaning personality leads to discomfort and eventually alienation. “Why is she so weird? Why doesn’t she pretty herself up?” These thoughts (probably) cross their minds. I’m so glad I’ve finally identified the disconnect between my efforts and other people. The revelations of the last few months have helped, considerably. I’ve noticed I have had fewer mentally ill vent posts. The hole is not as deep, and when I fall into it, I climb back out more quickly.

Perhaps I will post somewhere looking for a trans/NB-leaning-masculine penpal. Penpals still are a thing, there’s a subreddit for it I’ve been perusing. If anything else, sign up for a forum somewhere. Though, I’m not about to write letters on *paper*, how droll. Emailpal is better. There’s other options as well. Though I may be too old (31) maybe I could go to my local university’s LGBTQ events. I am an alumnus, so maybe that’s an in. Meetup might have some things too, as well as Craigslist. Craiglist could be.. dodgy though. Even creepers respond to platonic friend postings. They don’t read your posts.