In my previous post, I explored the relationship between trauma and gender. Specifically, I asked: are trauma and gender dysphoria always related? And concluded that this isn´t the case. I did however explore how transgressions of identity (both on a psychological and on a physical level) can end up creating a complex of shame around both gender identity and the body. So how do you know if gender dysphoria is really dysphoria and not shame?
I had a very hard time with this question, because honestly, it felt like one and the same thing. It was as if my gender dysphoria had met with my childhood issues and decided to have a good time together. The only way that I had of figuring this out, was of simply starting to live the way that felt good to me. The reasons why you feel the way you do don´t always matter, but it does matter that you feel comfortable and grounded.
When I started living as a guy, I slowly discovered that some of the anxiety that I thought was caused by trauma, was actually not caused by trauma. The weird sensation of inadequacy that I had towards other men started to dissipate. The aversion towards getting stared at because of boobs and hips disappeared. What happened was that the huge mix of feelings, that had seemed made out of one piece, started to fall apart.
Now, it was possible, albeit with very good eye, to differentiate between one feeling of shame and another. The feelings of shame that I had had about looking female were obviously related to dysphoria, because they disappeared as soon as I addressed the problem. I was still left with the feelings of shame mostly regarding my genital area and there definitely was some shame there that had been caused by the past.
But it seemed only logical. My parents suffered from the weird emotional melange that abusers often have: they were both incredibly uptight about and incredibly okay with invasion of (physical) space and privacy. I learned to be totally paranoid about nudity. On the other hand, I´ve had many relationships, mostly with pleasant and happy partners, in which it was safe to explore these issues. The dysphoria remained.
So if you are struggling with this question, remember this. It is okay for dysphoria and trauma to exist side by side. It happens. Experiment with it, do what feels right, listen to yourself, and try to be as true to yourself as you possibly can. Regardless of how your anguish was caused, healing starts there, anyway.