I think there’s a big problem with the way girls are raised: adults often do not practice what they preach. My father always told me that I could do or be anything that I wanted to be, but frowned when I wore a (glittery, purple) shirt that read simply “Girls Rule!” I was allowed to like dinosaurs and videogames, but was teased if I didn’t shave my legs. Teasing was enough to make me think that I would die a social death if I didn’t shave every day. It didn’t matter that I always wore long pants- what if someone glimpsed my ankles?
Girls receive mixed signals- hearing that they are just as good as boys, but observing something very different. I knew this before I transitioned, but by that point, I was so entrenched in the idea that my dysphoria was something innate, something that I was born with, that I thought, “Well, perhaps that exacerbated the issue, but it’s not the root cause sooo…” And so I downplayed the issue and transitioned anyway, not coming to truly understand how big an influence misogyny had been until after I’d already had a mastectomy.
I believe that the tendency towards dysphoria may be something that we are born with- a certain sort of obsessive, perfectionist personality trait, not unlike that which compelled me to aim for perfectly smooth, shaven legs that no one would even see. Or perhaps it’s the result of a certain style of parenting. (Insert your nature vs. nurture argument of choice here.) I also believe internalized misogyny plays its part.
But when we mix perfectionism with misogyny and exposure to just the right ideas, “I should have been male- no, I AM male,” seems an obvious, entirely logical (if nonsense) conclusion for a teenage girl.
You have to be able to recognize both aspects in yourself, untangle them from one another, and approach them from an objective angle. No chastising yourself for misogyny- it’s not helpful. Rationalize: when you see a reeeally cool bird, do you care if it’s male or female? Should you care?