|>> || You don't have to experience gender dysphoria to be trans, but I don't think it's really out of line to say that most of us do. You could also experience it and not be able to recognize what it is, which is the case for some people but after a certain point, at least in my experience, it becomes entirely impossible to ignore what it is and why it's happening to you. |
You could just be depressed, you could just hate your body, your voice, your skin, and your hair, you could just feel like you don't have a place in the world, you could just have this weird relationship with the "opposite" gender that you can't understand or place, you could just dissociate constantly and feel like everything is fake and no one can tell what's real and what's not, it could all be other mental illnesses playing tricks on you -- or you could be experiencing all of these things because your trans and this is all part of gender dysphoria. That was the case with me.
After talking with a gender therapist for a few sessions, I came to find out that I started experiencing gender dysphoria as a very young girl. I experienced it as this sort of feeling I could somehow "relate" to girls more, but I didn't look like them and I didn't really fit in all too well with boys either so I just kind of kept a tight circle of other semi-outcasts all the way through high school. I felt occasionally like I wanted to do gender non-conforming things or I'd have these weird ideas like "it'd be nice to be someone's wife some day" and I'd be terrified of them, block them out as hard as I could, because I had an ultra-conservative upbringing.
This intensified when I went through puberty but I still didn't have a way to describe what I was experiencing. I hated that my voice was getting higher but at the same time hated that most boys were becoming more masculine, as I had anticipated I would. I had a weird relationship with sexual attraction, where I was kind of conditioned to be attracted to women and that's what I went along with that, but even before I realized what I was doing I would self-insert as the woman in porn. At this point I started to realize I definitely wasn't straight but was terrified of telling anyone and just considered it a fetish.
Later in life I started to drown out these feelings in drugs and alcohol as they got stronger and stronger until they became impossible to ignore. I didn't start piecing things together until I was 18 or 19, I thought I was just regular gay, and even THAT was a huge hurdle to get over. I didn't make the commitment to transition until I was 22. I feel like I've already waited too long but that's not really true. At this point I dissociate constantly and feel like I'm controlling a body that isn't mine, and I get to the point where the dysphoria becomes so intense I get depressed to the point where I do nothing but smoke weed and stay inside for weeks at a time. It feels like I'm constantly wrapped in barbed wire and everything I do hurts because it isn't me doing any of these things. I go to cry about it and put my face in my arms and feel the stubble of not having shaved for a couple days, or maybe let something out without thinking about the pitch and get even more upset.
I know I just wrote a novel, but I'm coming off of some speed and that was a lot for me. It's a tempting basket to put all your eggs in, but if it is the case that you're trans it really is impossible to explain how much repressing that fucks up your brain and how much better things get every day after deciding to transition, even before starting HRT.
tl;dr: you don't need to experience dysphoria to be trans but most trans people do and it fucking sucks and you could already be experiencing it already but at the same time, it does get to a point where it's impossible to ignore it for what it is.
Good luck though, no one can answer these questions for you. Only a trained gender therapist can. I know it's not so easy to find one, but if anything start going to regular therapy if you don't already and mention gender identity issues in passing, they can give you a referral.
On a final note though, I will say that just because you feel uncomfortable about the idea of presenting as feminine, doesn't mean that you aren't trans. You have to do a lot of soul searching (and therapy) to find out of it's because you aren't trans or if it's because of internalized transphobia/misogyny and the fact that things are still pretty shitty for women overall and transwomen in particular, so you while you might not hold any explicit prejudices towards (trans)women, you really really desperately desperately want it not to be the case that you are one.