Friday, July 22, 2011

Bump in the Road

Editor's note: this piece was originally posted 6/1/2011

(Content notice: discussion of gender dysphoria and thoughts of self harm) Okay.

So. One thing I didn’t prepare myself for. Issues with breast feeding triggering dysphoria.

Since I’m still working it all out, I rarely discuss the issues that come with my gender identity. Hell, until recently, I assumed that my gender issues were just deeply internalized fat hatred. Mainly because I experience little to no dysphoria regarding my genitals, I mostly don’t regard them unless I’m having sex. Pretty much all of my dysphoria centers around my breasts, which were H cups prior to pregnancy.

When I was a teenager, my boobs exploded over night. Flat chest to C cups and a year later C cups to Gs. I hated them. They never felt right or comfortable. I didn’t know what dysphoria was or that the nights I spent in tears, barely preventing myself from going to the kitchen and trying to cut them off with my father’s knives were part of anything more than normal fat teen self hatred. The fact that this coincided with getting passively kicked out of the dance company I was in just made me hate them more. It felt like my body betrayed me.

As I got older, I decided to keep my breasts purely for breast feeding purposes. They are not particularly sensitive and I derive little to no sexual pleasure from them, so beyond the function of feeding a baby, I saw no point in keeping them. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that breast feeding is something much more complex than it seems and that doesn’t always work right away. Imagine my dismay when I found breast feeding rather difficult.

My child was just early enough to have difficulty coordinating hir suck-swallow-breathe reflex. When babies are born as early as zie was, they also have trouble latching on to the nipple. That plus my nipples being flat (they don’t get or stay perky) makes breast feeding a stressful, pain inducing task. Add a dose of dysphoria into the mix and you pretty much have a typical night at my house since the baby came home. I haven’t had such a painful relationship with my boobs since they first grew.

I mean, I kept these fucking things for this? and then the guilt sets in, because I want to feed my child, and I enjoy seeing hir fed and growing and comfortable with a full belly, but at the same time its all I can do not to give up and hack these fuckers off for good.

Pregnancy helped me do a 180 on my body image, but my breasts were excluded from that. And with the lack of visibility of genderqueer/fluid folks like myself, there really isn't a manual for this.

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