17 January 2012

Partner Circle: Dysphoria

I am about to make a brash and possibly offensive blanket statement: no one is happy with the way they look. I for one will be the first one to put myself out there and admit it. I do not like my body, and there was a time when the thought of being naked with another human being, of said human being touching me would literally make me cringe. Dysphoria is, literally speaking, a state of unease or dissatisfaction with yourself, your life, and in many cases, your body. If you have ever avoided eye contact with a mirror, pushed and prodded at parts of yourself hoping they would simply disappear, or hidden yourself under oversized clothing, then listen up, because I am talking to you now.

As I mentioned, I do not like my body. However, being cis-gendered, I am happy with my gender. I am a woman, and my body reflects that. I am extremely lucky in this sense, as it is a luxury that many in the GFB community do not have. In the past, during sex I never wanted to be touched on my stomach, my sides, anywhere that I felt there was ‘too much’ of me. It caused me to push partners away, often physically because my anxiety about my body was too high.

This is something that those in the trans* community live with on a daily basis, not just in a sexual context. Sex with your partner should always be a safe, comfortable, and loving experience, and if it is not then you need to open a dialogue of communication until it is such an experience for both of you. If you are a cis-gendered person, you may not understand just how dysphoric your partner is, especially if it is not a conversation you have ever had. So… have it. Ask the questions, get the answers (and the consent), and touch them how and where they are comfortable. Communication is so vital in these situations because sometimes, your partner telling you what they want may just be too scary for them to be able to voice to you. So make sure you ask. If your partner is a trans*man, his chest is most likely a spot on his body he is not the most comfortable with – and that is just what it is – his chest, not his breasts (boobs, tits, choose your poison). Refer to this as his chest; just as you would refer to his genitals in the male form (dick, hard, what have you) as mentally, that is what he is equipped with.

The most important thing with respecting your partners body or gender dysphoria is that sex is never ordinary or routine. It is different for every relationship, for every two people. Just because something was okay with one person you were with does not mean it will be okay with another, so please, I am begging you… make sure you ask. Plus, let’s face it – consent is fucking sexy.

Xx Emily


  1. If I am reading your entry correctly, it would seem that you are not a "BOI" in any sense but are rather... a woman. Not just any woman, but a woman who feels that her body insecurities and self-help rhetoric cribbed lazily from a Savage Love entry somehow qualify her to pontificate to people who are in relationships where a partner may be experiencing "body or gender dysphoria."

    I'm glad that you've learned a lot from your first year of psych, women's studies, and/or LGBT studies classes, but I implore you to delve a bit more into the literature to see just how thoroughly you're wasting your time. It's quite arrogant for you to presume to know what gender dysphoria is like because you did (do?) not like your back fat or stomach rolls. The visible "body" is but one aspect of gender; it's a shame that you choose to fixate on a shallow, anatomy-based understanding of sexuality and identity. Maybe when you get to your senior seminars you'll come to embrace a more empathetic worldview, versus one that's depressingly emblematic of a hegemonic, mass-marketed idea of "tolerance."

  2. @Anonymous:

    No she is not a "boi" as you stated. That does not mean she is not qualified to write this blog. She is a partner to someone who is transgender and had huge body dysphoria. That and her complete understanding and innate ability to help others also qualifies her.

    This column is to help those who are dating or friends with someone who is transgender or gender non-conforming. This article was written quite well and was approved before being posted.

    Do not assume you know anything about this blogger because it seems like you are oblivious to everything posted.

    Furthermore, if you continue to harass our bloggers, then you will force our hand at removing the ability to comment on her. All comments will then be moved to the facebook page where you cannot hide cowardly behind anonymity.

    -Genderfuk Boiz

  3. I think Em did a great job putting insecurity and discomfort into perspective that anyone of any body form can understand, appreciate, and thus identify with. Props to her for putting her own image/body examples out there for the sake of others comprehending a point that many may not have any experience with. Thanks for sharing Emily. A Big thank you to all of GFB's bloggers for their efforts in sharing experiences to bring the culture of such a diverse group together.

    To the anonymous poster, didn't mommy give you enough hugs? Be nice or get lost. If you don't have something to say that would expand upon what the blogger is trying to convey, in a constructive manner for the benefit of other readers...Its not welcome here. Find something else to do with your time. Your ranting critism included not one statement that helped anyone understand or identify with body dysphoria....what a waste.
    Identify yourself next time

    Em - Thanks again for scratching the surface, I look forward to reading more of your posts as they progress.