Writing Trans Characters // Part Two: Gender Dysphoria // Christopher Drost [CC]


Hi my name is Christopher Drost and welcome back to my channel Today we’re talking about gender dysphoria and what you should know about it as a writer While researching this video I was reminded constantly of how important it is that I make these videos and specifically for writers because I do know than everybody can do research, it’s just that When I use very basic search terms like gender dysphoria or transgender, things like that What pops up constantly is not actually good information problem is that when I go through the research I know oh, this has a bias, or this doesn’t have a bias but the thing is that if you’re a writer and you don’t have any basis like me, you know, I have gender dysphoria So I kind of know a little bit about it so that makes it easier to select the right information But first we got to do the disclaimers because apparently I love disclaimers now First disclaimer: I’m going to use a lot of terminology terminology is moving very fast and is constantly evolving on this issue There is not even a consensus on the most basic terms What I did for this video is I took the definitions that resonate the most with me but there is some slight variation in different views on certain words In this video I will be mostly aiming to at least be internally consistent because that’s the only thing I have control over really Disclaimer number two is that I am in no way trying to discredit non binary people who do not experience gender dysphoria Today I’m just talking about dysphoria and what it means in a medical sense Disclaimer number three I will be using the binary for both biological sex and gender but keep in mind That whenever I talk in this binary system I do mean that it’s a spectrum This is just to simplify the situation so that it’s easier to understand If you understand this part you can add in that it’s actually a spectrum Yeah, that’s about enough disclaimers. Let’s get on with the video So what is gender dysphoria? Simply put gender dysphoria is the diagnosis you get if you walk into a gender and you tell them “Hey I feel like I’m not in the right body.” Lets start at a very basic thing that you need to understand in order to know what gender dysphoria is There is a difference between gender and biological sex Biological sex is basically just your body It’s the chromosomes you have: do you have female or male chromosomes? Primary and secondary sex characteristics Think about things like that: it’s what you see on the outside Gender, on the other hand, is what’s in your brain I like to think of gender as ‘brain sex’ because it actually has a biological basis but it’s also how you feel Your biological sex and gender when you’re cisgender, they’re both male or both female So if you’re a trans guy you were born with a female body with a male brain and if you’re a trans woman you have a male body with a female brain There is such a thing as a male and a female brain I will get into that into more detail later on in the series when I’m actually going to share all the science-y things and actual research papers and that kind of thing when you’re transgender your brain is more like the brain of the gender that you identify with than the one associated with your biological sex This is also why I get really pissed off when somebody throws a gender reveal party for their baby You can do a biological sex reveal party but not an actual gender reveal party because you don’t know the gender of your child yet Gender identity doesn’t fully form until you’re 4 to 5 years old about gender dysphoria there’s a lot being thrown around A lot of the time you’ll hear people say that gender dysphoria is a mental illness or a mental disorder to talk about mental illness first A mental illness is defined either so broadly or so specifically that under the broad term it could be a mental illness for some people but under the more narrow term even depression doesn’t fall under mental illness So that’s just a question of what definition you use I will link a video down below that talks a little bit more about that When it comes to gender dysphoria being a disorder I know that the DSM is a book of disorders but there’s multiple kinds of disorders in the DSM For example: ADHD and autism are neurological disorders Gender dysphoria, in that sense, is closer t autism and ADHD because that’s also more a neurological disorder than it is a mental disorder As a matter of fact, the DSM 4 had the diagnosis ‘Gender Identity Disorder’ This was dropped from the DSM 4 and in the DSM 5, when it came out, it became gender dysphoria So, the term disorder isn’t even in the name anymore How is gender dysphoria diagnosed? This is actually the phase that I am in right now I am waiting for a second opinion and after I pass that, with flying colors no doubt I’ll be diagnosed with gender dysphoria This part is where you talk to a psychologist There is no blood test, there is no brain scan, there is nothing they can do to diagnose gender dysphoria except just listen to the person who has gender dysphoria Once you have the diagnosis there is only one thing you can do to alleviate gender dysphoria And that is medically transition It’s not like everybody starts at the same point and ends at the same point You can have a lot of different treatments and a lot of different choices when it comes to what your medical transition looks like I’m going to talk about trans guys now because I’m more knowledgeable about that part For trans guys sometimes just hormones is enough Sometimes top surgery and hormones is enough Some do need lower surgery There is a whole bunch of things you can do Every trans person at every step they take will take into consideration How much risk there is and if they are willing to take that to alleviate more symptoms of gender dysphoria I covered what gender dysphoria means in a medical sense That’s all great but what does it mean for an individual? I just thought I would talk about what gender dysphoria means for me and some of my experiences One of the things that I really think is not understood by cisgender people is that gender dysphoria fluctuates So it’s always on my mind because well, I live in this body and that can be pretty annoying it’s always there, but sometimes it just feels more persistent than other times It’s a little bit like something big like financial problems When you have financial trouble it’s always there in the back of your mind but sometimes, randomly, it will flare up and suddenly it will really worry you That is also a little bit how dysphoria works It’s always there, it’s always on your mind, but when certain things happen it’s almost like you’re reminded of it, or it just comes back with a vengeance or something like that Hey, I’m doing great and than suddenly, bam, not doing great For example, to get a little bit ahead of myself with the pronoun video Pronouns can be very triggering because it’s very confronting That something as easy as language can trigger such a horrible feeling I really wanted to describe how it feels to have gender dysphoria I had to stop filming for a while and sit down and really give it some thought because, as I was talking I realized that it’s really hard for me to explain what I’m feeling I made a metaphor that I think will be the closest to something that cisgender people will also understand because otherwise I’m going: “Hey, what if you’d always be called Ma’am?” while you’re really a Sir, or the other way around And you would go like: “Yeah, so what? What about it?” While for me, that is like the most cringy feeling in the world And makes me feel really bad Most people don’t understand that, so I can’t use real life examples and just turn them around What I came up with is that gender dysphoria feels like you’re in a room full of people but those people don’t see you They are talking to you but they don’t see you They see someone else, you’re someone else, and you’re constantly trying to let them know who you are But they don’t see you And the worst part about it is, when you look in a mirror you don’t see yourself either So what does gender dysphoria mean in daily life? For every transgender person gender dysphoria means something else I’m going to share some personal things for that Let’s just start with this channel I don’t do the editing of my own videos because I can’t stand the sound of my own voice When I talk my voice sounds lower to me I think that’s for everyone, but for me, in my head, my voice sounds a little bit lower When I look at the video, I hear my voice, and it triggers a lot of dysphoria for me Although I can look back at it once, or twice maybe I can’t go through the process of actually editing the video myself Fortunately I am lucky enough to have a girlfriend who does that for me What is also a point for me is that I have a bullet journal I am a fairly creative person so I draw in my bullet journal The thing is that I end up drawing ‘girly’ stuff Although I’m not ashamed that I do this It does trigger dysphoria so bullet journaling is not always something I can do Another hobby that I have is horse riding I have been riding horses since I was 9 years old That is also something that I don’t talk about anymore and that I don’t do anymore Also because it’s an expensive hobby but if I had the money right now I would not go horse riding Because this is also an activity that even though I enjoy it and I’m not ashamed of it and I also don’t think it makes me any less of a man It still triggers dysphoria for me at this point These are just things that I have to see what I gain vs. what I loose Another issue I have is that I prefer to not make phone calls It’s very distressing for me to constantly be gendered as female over the phone And I also get into this constant loop with people like: “Is your husband there?”
“No, you’re talking to Chris” “No, I mean, is your husband home?”
“No, you’re talking to me.” “Ma’am, is your husband home?”
“No… …” Really? And on really bad days it can happen that I need to go out of the house and I really don’t want to Sometimes it does happen that the dysphoria flares up so high that I just stay inside So I have minimal other people to deal with The last thing I want to talk about is mental health I feel like writers especially need to know a little bit more about it There are a couple of mental health issues that correlate with being transgender The first one is depression and the second one is anxiety Those two thing correlate, this is not a causation It is not ‘you are trans so you are depressed’ No this works a little bit different When you look at all the trans people and how many of them experience mental health issues like anxiety and depression You will see a significant correlation I need to point out that if you split up these numbers If you are transgender and your environment is supportive the numbers drop down to normal rates for the overall population Let’s work with an example that feels very extreme to me but is very real Among transgender people the suicide rates are much higher than the normal population You will find in trans men, for example, that little over 50% has attempted suicide in the span of his life When you take the environment into consideration you will see a very steep divide Transgender people who have the support of their environment So friends, and family, work environment and general vicinity They have suicide rates much more comparable to the suicide rates among the general population While if there is no support system in place The suicide rates sky rocket to sometimes even 80% depending on how bad it is I think this is important for writers to know because if you look at the stats I gave you at first you will write a very different character So maybe you would accidentally end up writing a character who is very supported but still has depression Which is much less likely than an unsupported character In the end it is not entirely impossible to write a character like this but it’s much less realistic that you may think That’s all I got for you today Usually this is the part where I go: Hey, the question of the day is … but it’s sort of after midnight and I’m really tired and I just want to go to bed really, so… Okay, so last night the camera rudely cut me off the camera decided that it was enough Let’s face it it was pretty late so, good morning As for the question of the day: Was this video helpful? Let me know in the comment section down below If you liked this video please give it a thumbs up and while you’re down there don’t forget to subscribe to this channel I post new videos on Wednesdays If you liked this video, get me coffee!

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