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We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

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Gender Dysphoria and Why I Misgender Myself

November 19, 2021

Content warning: Gender dysphoria will be discussed at length in this article. There will also be a mention of weight, internalized white supremacy, and body trauma. 

I am not a non-fiction writer. In fact, when I first wrote this article I cried and I had to redo it multiple times. When I write, I write for fantasy lovers, sci-fi enthusiasts, and most of the time the romance addicts. My characters are so intricate and complex that sometimes I question if I am doing too much, am I overcomplicating things? 

You see growing up I was always the fiction ‘girl’. I loved writing and reading fiction. I’d write poems to teachers for their retirement parties. I’d made my aloofness and creativity into my whole personality, but for some reason, I felt broken. I related much more to my characters than to myself, I found myself swallowed up in an endless cycle of obsessively consuming all the books I could in order to feel whole. 

The issue with this obsession was that it made me feel very self-conscious. I was not the most well-dressed person, I barely took care of my looks and general well-being. Yet I was constantly obsessed with wanting to look and feel different. Maybe if I cut my hair I’d feel better no, maybe if I gained weight I’d feel more desirable and confident. Maybe if my skin was lighter and my voice was more high-pitched. I just wanted to be a girl. The girl you see on TV that everyone finds cute and adorable.

But I could never attain it. That drove me into a deep depression. This paired with a very severe illness made me develop severe agoraphobia. I met my ex during this time via an online dating site, but that did not end well. Actually, I take that back, it did end well. 

I was never a Facebook person. I had it to keep track of friends and family all over the world and that was it. But when I broke up with my ex I started joining all these Facebook groups. Facebook groups with queer people of colour. I knew then and there I was home. 

It started slow, first by accepting gender as a social construct. Then by figuring out why gender never suited me and realizing it's because it never felt correct. That led me to one term I had only heard in passing over the years: gender dysphoria. If you ever experienced gender dysphoria you will know the pain, it's almost like this itch you can never scratch. It’s like someone permanently added a debuff to your stats (RPG joke). I can only describe it as that feeling when it's too hot for a coat but too cold for a sweater. It makes you anxious and depressed. These are just the feelings I am describing not symptoms because I truly do not believe in gender dysphoria only being classified as ‘uncomforting with the sex assigned at birth’ sure that might be a nice way to explain it to cis people (those who identify with the gender they are assigned at birth) but to us it’s more confusing than that and we might not even realize that is what it is (I used to tell my friends I have a penis that was only visible to me and even though they were very uncomfortable with that statement it brought me comfort).

So I am about 24 at this point and confused. I know I am not the gender I was assigned at birth, I am also not the other one. That much is clear. I spent the next few years coming to terms with the fact that I am gender fluid. Yet no one would know outside of my Facebook groups. To my doctors, counsellors, family, friends, and the local convenience store cashier I was for all intents and purposes a woman. 

I still call myself a woman today outside of my Facebook groups and the tiny amount of friends and coworkers who know. But this time I also sometimes call myself a man. It is because it is no one's business but my own. 

A lot of people feel entitled to know what someone's genitals look like. It is actually very weird to me and rubs me the wrong way. People have parties around announcing a fetus’s gender at birth. Someone burned down half of California for a gender reveal party. People get excited because of gender norms, cis men just want a son they can teach extreme sports and project all of their uncompleted hopes and dreams onto. Trans women are constantly faced with the fear of death when and when they don't disclose their assigned gender at birth. Transphobia kills people every single day. 

So to protect myself and others around me, I just misgender myself. I then just let gender dysphoria swallow me up. 

Note: Please don’t invalidate AFAB or AMAB trans people by saying gender isn’t real so they shouldn’t feel constrained and accept that everyone is gender fluid. There are binary trans people and their existence isn’t an attack on gender fluidity.

By Tia