Reflecting on my Isolation and Dysphoria

I’ve been thinking a lot about the feelings of isolation I’ve experienced over the past few years, and I’ve come to a realization that I wanted to share with everyone. Throughout my time in high school I was struggling to comprehend the feelings I was having towards my body and who I was as a person. I didn’t express those issues to anyone close to me (to my own regret), and now that I’m a bit older I’m realizing that I started to isolate myself quite a bit earlier than I had ever considered. I thought that I felt isolated because I was living on my own in Victoria BC, because I struggled to reach out and connect with others, and also because my family lived across the country. But the reality goes so much deeper than that. My dysphoria and the internalized shame that I was feeling towards myself and my body when I was younger (and even to this day to a certain degree) was a massive contributing factor to the loneliness, isolation, and depression that I experience as an adult, and it started as soon as I started to realize that something is different about me than other kids around me at the time. Not different as in having obscure interests or having strange personality traits (though I also certainly did have those too) but different in the sense that I did not feel comfortable or at home in my body or with the gender identity that was given to me at birth, and also how I was unable to express who I was to other people. As soon as I became aware of the complexities of gender and sexuality (as early as high school, puberty and my teenage years) I started to isolate myself. This is because I felt it was necessary to hide who I was, because to be different in our society is to be deviant, and I felt an increasingly intense amount of internalized guilt and shame.

In the end, all I was doing was hiding from myself and denying those who I interacted with an authentic relationship with me based on who I actually am as a person. What I’ve come to realize is that I’ve been doing this for the majority of my life, and as I’ve aged it’s started to take a massive toll on my mental health. I struggle with depression and anxiety among various other mental health issues. I have difficulties trusting and loving others because I struggle to trust and love myself. I was hiding my authentic being from the world and from my relationships, and I’ve come to realize that I was actually running away from myself and how I feel about who I am as a person. Being trans is difficult in our society because we teach our children that being trans is wrong and that difference is something to be disdained, and to be honest I fed into that logic as a teen. To be honest I still find that I feed into that logic subconsciously even though I know better.

I’ve come to realize that the reason I moved away from my family and my friends to a province where I knew no one was because I wanted to distance myself. I wanted to be able to explore who I was without exposing anyone I cared about to that process, but I also think that I wanted to subconsciously run away from who I am. I think moving to this province gave me the opportunity to reflect on who I am as a person, and to be more honest with myself about my feelings and how I traverse the world, but now I face the issue of not knowing how all of that fits into my relationship with my family. I’ve started to navigate that more with those who are very close to me, like my mom and dad, but I also want to know where the authentic version of me fits into our larger family dynamic. I’m sure that it will be the same loving and supportive family that I have always known, even more so now that I am able to develop authentic relationships with my loved ones based on who I actually am as a person, rather than as a performance of someone else.

I don’t want to feel so isolated and alone anymore. I don’t want to struggle to love and accept who I am. I want to be able to connect with others, love them authentically and never deny myself or others the opportunity to explore our relationships. Hiding myself was one of the most selfish things that I ever could have done, because I eliminated the possibility that I had to create relationships with others. I felt like I was lying to everyone that I ever met, and that only further contributed to my feelings of isolation. I realize that I did this for a number of reasons: internalized shame, ensuring a sense of security from others and myself, avoiding the situation altogether, and running away from who I am. I don’t want to deny myself an authentic life anymore. I’ve decided to embrace everything that makes me who I am, because I deserve to be loved and have authentic relationships. Because of this I want to reconnect with my family and move closer to them. This means that I will likely move all the way across the country to either Ottawa or Toronto once I finish my last year at university in Gender Studies. I want to know what it feels like to interact with my family and have them really know who I am, and for them to be able to see the authentic me with their own eyes and to connect with me based on that honesty.

Note: I don’t mean to say that trans people are being dishonest towards their family or to anyone else in society. There is a sinister narrative in our society that says that trans people are deceptive, and I don’t mean to feed into that narrative here. What I am saying in this article is that I have found it difficult to be honest with myself about who I am as a person, and thus before I came out as trans I was dishonest about that both with myself and others. When I was still closeted I was pretending to be someone that I wasn’t, and through that dishonesty I isolated myself and struggled to connect with others. For me to  be able to say that I am transfeminine is for me to be honest about who I am as a person.

The Dilemma

Complicated emotions wound tight like a noose around my neck.

The tense anxiety of existence that dominates every fiber of my being.

How else do I explain what it’s like to traverse this world as me?

Should I lie to you, the people I love most, and say it’s all going to be fine?

Or do I tell the truth and risk exposing myself to the chaos of your empathy?