Siri, Define Dysphoria: A Student’s POV

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Siri, Define Dysphoria: A Student’s POV

Jo Orr in a chest binder

Jo Orr in a chest binder

Jo Orr in a chest binder

Jo Orr in a chest binder

Jo Orr

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Dysphoria is an experience trans, genderqueer, and non-binary people have. It describes discomfort, loathing, anxiety, and depression revolving around one’s social gender role and/or physical sex characteristics.”

My name is Jo. You may not know me. I didn’t grow up here, and I don’t wander the halls very often. If anything, you know me from when I’m performing on stage. You probably see a girl with pretty hair, who keeps to her own social circles, and loves theatre too much to talk to you.

You’d be wrong, but for one thing: you do know me from performing. From the moment I wake up and put on clothes that will make me tolerate my own body, to how I chose to walk down the hall, to pretending to be on my phone at lunch, to when I go to bed at night after taking a shower in the dark because I was too afraid to look at my own body, I am always performing. Usually it’s for myself.

Chest Binder. Noun. An item of clothing that constricts the breasts into a more flat chested appearance. Usually worn by transgender individuals.”

I wake up. I take one glance in the mirror and immediately reach for my chest binder. I take the safe route with some black jeans 5 sizes too big scrunched with an army belt, and a baggy XL maroon tshirt. I tuck my hair up into a beanie, and put some brow gel in my eyebrows to fluff them up, giving me a rougher appearance. I look in the mirror. I could point out a hundred flaws, but the biggest one is that not in a million years could I pass for a guy. My cheekbones are too high, my eyes too big, my lips too arched. I turn away, disgusted.

Dysphoria. The opposite of euphoria. It’s a mixture of depression, anxiety, rage, and despair.”

When I get to school, I focus my eyes on the distant wall, trying to look average and unnoticeable as I walk the 200 feet from the side door to the theatre room. I try to get lost in my music, but one of my earbuds is broken, so I can’t completely tune the world out. As I pass a classroom, I hear two boys joking around, pushing each other. “As boys do.” One of them calls the other a fag. A wrestling match commences. “As boys do.” I walk the last 10 feet through the open door of the music room and collapse on the couch, with my best friend running over to me. She spots my binder and immediately gives me a hug. She knows it’s a dysphoria day.

“A genderfluid person is someone who fluctuates between more than one gender, or between having a gender and not having one. They do not stick to one gender, or lack thereof, for their entire life. It is not related to a person’s genitalia, nor their sexual orientation.”

I am genderfluid. I’m not a girl. Sometimes I feel more feminine, and sometimes I don’t. To clarify: it’s not that I feel pro-masculine, it’s that I feel more anti-feminine. I am not attracted to one gender for a day, but more that I am repulsed by one (or more). This is my experience, but it’s one that I share with countless others, many of whom are unready to speak their truth to others.

It shouldn’t matter to how you treat me. Respect costs you nothing. If someone tells you that their dog is a boy, you use the correct pronouns. And yet, when I tell you to use mine, it’s too much work? It goes against your beliefs? God told you that I’ll go to hell? I’m just confused? Does a chihuahua deserves more respect than I do?

Genderfluidity is nothing new. It predates the birth of Jesus, in fact. You’re just now hearing about it because we’re tired and angry. We’re tired of being ignored, and disrespected, and even murdered. We’re tired of people pretending that respect is a sacrifice. So, hello. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Jo. I’m a senior, I’m a virgo, and my pronouns are they/them.