Trauma and Gender Identity/Expression

Blogs may include sensitive or triggering content. Reader discretion is advised.

I don’t like the way that our body looks.

It’s different from how it looked in the past, though it doesn’t feel like a body that most of us want to cause. Not a body that we want to call home. 

Growing up we used to hear a lot “You look exactly like our mother!”, which is not as much of a compliment as more so as a fact. This body did look like a younger version of our mother.

Now at this point in our life, we somewhat closely resemble our brother. 

Mother when we had longer hair. Brother when we have shorter hair. 

And these are two people who have caused us significant abuse and trauma in two different ways.

And one of the reasons why we fear aging. Who would want to age into their abusive mother? Aesthetically speaking. 

Then comes the gender identity/expression factor.

Personally consider the body to be nonbinary. Though it is AFAB.

Trauma has mostly taken away lots of claim to our own body, we have done some work. Though looking unassuming to be considered insignificant as to not attract negative attention and more thus more trauma onto ourselves. Is top priority. Even if we don’t think about it that often.

Then when we look for people for style, hair, clothing aspirations we want to look like those people. Those glow-ups of people finding home in their body.

This body is still a place of pain. And we have not even done the trauma therapy processing stuff or the “healing-body-trauma” stuff that I do not quite know the name of. Somatics? I do not know.

Good thing is this body looks fairly androgynous. Something in which we put hardly any effort into (no make-up, actual skin care besides shower and lotion, or hair care), which has been a good thing. “If we are getting abused, might as well have a body that still looks good” /sar. 

That does not mention the varying levels of dysphoria and dysmorphia that we have with our body. That will probably not be touched on in detail. At least for now.

I have been thinking about going on HRT for awhile. Stopped after we started college and returned sometime around winter break. 

We have not looked into anything about it recently. Mainly because we don’t have our own insurance (though even we talked about it with our parents in the past, they said that we could their insurance. Just with our stress over tuition payments…. best we find other options financially. Even if that means getting our own insurance), and do not have enough money that won’t require other financial sacrifices (as we have been largely using our own money from our minimum-wage jobs to pay for things like detergent or food, because we don’t want to go back to our parent’s house to get them from them). And we don’t have therapy.

I am fine with how our body is. Though I want it to be more of a home to me. I do not know how I personally identify. Nor do I think that I want to be binary. Not necessarily a woman or man. 

Maybe gender is not as much of a place as pain as the abusers who caused that pain to us. The numerous abusers of different genders. Making us fear certain genders. While others still caused us harm. 

But “gender” didn’t abuse us. People did.

Though looking like a certain gender might be triggering. I think that it is important to remember that we are not those people who abused us, and we can do our best to not become them. No matter how we might want to adorn the body. 

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6 months ago

Of the alters in our system who identify with the way our body looks, we only have a handful, and they don’t front very often.

Our body is AFAB as well, and the majority of our trauma holders, like myself, identify as male. It’s very a very specific expression of that identity though – most “traditionally masculine” things are things that are very triggering for us. I guess it would be more accurate to say that I identify as a “son”, but not necessarily as a “man”. If that makes any sense at all.

Some of our alters want to make clothes for everybody in the system so that we can express ourselves the way we feel inside. It is very difficult and sometimes nauseating to front in this body. We never feel “at home”, so creating a pocket of home to exist in with our clothes is something that we hope will help. We’ve gotten a lot of inspiration/motivation for this from people like The Pretty Shepherd and Bernadette Banner. It’s definitely helpful for us to have that sort of inspiration/confidence.

It’s hard enough to navigate gender identity and expression without trauma. Trauma makes everything so much more complicated. I just want to exist as me, I can’t figure out exactly what that looks like, and on top of that there are pockets of things that I can’t explore or think about because of trauma.

I hope that you and your system are able to find some things that can feel fully yours and safe at the same time.

6 months ago

Are there any questions/thoughts y’all have about hrt that you have? I know there’s a LOT of things with it. And everything can vary based on the types of results y’all might be wanting.

Our system was raised female, and we were on hrt for about 4 years, and only recently stopped due to several factors that I don’t want to unload upon y’all rn.

I know some of us were a little annoyed due to the fact that we started prior to our self-awareness as a system, as they didn’t really get a say in it. However, I also know that none of us truly regret the time we were on testosterone.

At the start of things, our system didn’t even really know the vast realm beyond the binary (wasn’t allowed to interact with the places where we could’ve learned about that). I know I’ve heard that some hormone doctors can alter doses to go after more specific changes that their patients want to see, but I’m not all that knowledgeable about how that works.

If I had to give our over all system a gender, we have reached the consensus that “genderfluid” is the simplest. I know many of us identify outside of the binary, but the umbrella of genderfluid is really nice because it gives an explanation to our shifting appearance and even our voice without having to go into giving away or explaining our D.I.D.

Now, setting hrt aside for now (if anyone has any questions about our experiences with it, we’re happy to answer them, though!).
I don’t know what y’all’s aesthetic(s) and such are, but what has helped our system feel the most “at home” in our body are the following:
-Clothing (especially shirts/blouses) for the different alters
-LOTS of jewelry options. Both masc and femme. Being able to switch between or even wear multiple styles all at once has been fun. And letting different alters have some jewelry that’s specifically “theirs” helps.
-Hair dye. (I know there’s plenty of people that are against boxed dyes and such. But we’ve been broke as hell, and sometimes that’s just how it is. But we were generally able to scrap up $10/$15 every couple months to buy a box of it and change up the color. And obviously, depending on job(s), allergies, hair type, and whatnot, there might be some limits/restrictions of colors and dyes. But even just changing to another “natural” color can change your entire look! I know we really want to split-dye our hair again…we’ve found that we really like doing a half & half, because it gives us another choice to vote on, or gives an additional alter a choice…we’re still trial-and-error figuring out the best ways of making decisions, but with temp stuff like dye, we’redefinitely trying to be more fluid/laid back. Bc we can always change it later if we must)
-Piercings (again, depending on job(s) and whatnot, might not be feasible. But even fake piercings have helped us in the past.)
-Tattoos (once more, depending on job, allergies, pain tolerance, etc. might not be feasible. But seeing the different art tastes of our alters, and having them be able to see something they picked out for a tattoo has been…really nice, honestly. Our system used to be very anti-tattoo…but there’s this one that we have now on the front of our right shoulder. It was a flash sale one, like most of ours (bc cheap and easy), and there were several people in here that were like “we’re really letting The Red Sea Witch (a fictive of ours) pick THAT design?”. Not a whole lot of people were sure of the blend of creepy and kinda cute that is our skull with a witch hat. But since feeling the bleedthrough of absolute joy and awe she has whenever she sees it makes the rest of us smile. It may not be all of our styles, but this body is hers, too. And I’m glad she’s happy with it)

And like…none of this is perfect. It has definitely helped us, but everyone-to include each and every alter in every system-is different. I truly hope that y’all are able to find some things that help

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