Titty Talk Take 7: Dysphoric Dalliances

Parts of my brain are at perpetual war with each other. Competing thoughts swirl around like:

I was not born in the wrong body. I was born in a society that refuses to accept the humanity and worthiness of this body

vs

Look at that body– you’re always going to be read as a woman. People don’t care what you think you are.

Gender dysphoria- the mentally exhausting feelings of distress because of the mismatch between my actual gender (or lack thereof) and what I was assigned at birth. The cacophonous chorus usually starts screaming dysphoric thoughts right before sex, an action that requires me to show up as my most authentic and vulnerable self. It’s no wonder my discomfort would increase- how to be authentic, find pleasure, and navigate others interacting with body parts (huge breasts) that contribute to the distress?

Dirty talk and sexting, usually my zone, became an uneasy chore because I didn’t have language that affirmed my understanding of my body. And sure as hell didn’t know how to communicate that to others. I would sext anyway, my thumbs working overtime as I ignored the parts of their messages that included anxiety-inducing responses. Focus only on the good parts, I would repeat while scrolling. Or, I would abruptly stop and leave the person on read. Instead of mentioning the dysphoria I would, hours later, text back that I was working. Technically true, but still ignoring my needs.

Dysphoria before, during, and after the mattress mambo is something I’m still navigating, so that sex can be a source of pleasure. It has required being intentional and paying extra attention to my needs. Still on this journey, but some things I’ve learned along the way:

  • Allow yourself to process the emotions: I was trying to will the dysphoria away. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. As soon as I told myself not to think about the discomfort from someone trying to pull my shirt off, that’s all I thought about. The tornadoes in my head started to land, screaming with category 5 intensity about how the outsides don’t match the insides. By allowing myself to acknowledge and process the emotions as they came, I’m able to have both a more realistic and healthier mindset. The first step to mitigating the effects was knowing how it impacted me.
  • Focusing on affirming: I used to feel loads of shame about being mentally unwell, causing me to focus even more on what was wrong with me, how I was abnormal, a failure of a human. Not true and not healthy. It has helped to shift focus to what grounds me, and is an also an affirming practice. Sometimes that’s an object, like a shirt or bracelet, or smells around the room, what I can see, like the person on top of me and all the unique hues in their melanin. Anything that uses at least one of the 5 senses. Sometimes, the grounding looks like internally repeating a mantra such as my body does not determine my gender or these negative, intrusive thoughts don’t own me. Individualize it for your own needs!
  • Consent is ongoing: We’re never required to continue having sex. If feelings of dysphoria arise and I want to stop, then I can stop. I used to swallow it, shelving the emotions for another time, but now I’m not going to pressure myself to keep having sex when I’m feeling uncomfortable.
  • Low-fiving and exploring: Masturbation has helped with exploring and getting to know my own body. Not only what a certain touch feels like, but really focusing on my response to it, what brings the most pleasure and what is a no go.
  • I don’t have to be completely naked: unless I want to be. Using clothing or accessories that feel affirming and empowering is really important to me. This has mostly looked like teddies or V-neck shirts. I know for other people that’s included keeping their binder on, moving undies to the side, etc. But don’t get any more naked than you’re comfortable getting.
  • Society doesn’t determine what sex looks like: This has been one of the biggest things for me. I used to think there were only a few acceptable ways to interact with each body part. There are so many cultural and gendered norms attached to body parts, including what sexual stimulation looks like. That anything involving areolas and nipples looked like X, anything with a penis looked like Y. It may seem obvious, but it really helped to manage the dysphoria once I realized society doesn’t determine how I get pleasured, I do.

While I know gender is not tied to body parts, I’m still unlearning that societal conditioning and unfortunately gender dysphoria decided to come along for that ride. Does dysphoria increase for you during sexual interactions? What’re some tips you’d give others?

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