Before I began hormone therapy, my dysphoria could get very bad, and it was incredibly frequent (I've written about it several times in detail, but a good summary of my dysphoria experiences is here). At its best I'd feel slightly uncomfortable - at its worst I would break down crying (even in public) and find myself leaving quickly and desperately hoping nobody saw me.
In the time since then it's gotten better and better. Beyond one or two instances (related to physical intimacy with a partner) my dysphoria tends to be limited to mild feelings of discomfort in which I begin to get nervous that my body is "too masculine".
It's not uncommon for me to not even think about it for a whole month at a stretch these days. That's amazing. I'd never imagined, before I began hormone therapy, that I could ever be this comfortable with my body.
But something residual does affect me, even if dysphoria is uncommon now and something I have a good handle on how to deal with. (Even if that just means some time alone and a good night's sleep.)
I still feel nervous sometimes when I think about dysphoria. As in - years of dysphoria being such a huge, massive, common part of my social and even private existence have meant that even now it's rare, I occasionally have small panic attacks being worried that I might feel dysphoric in a given situation.
I often wonder if I'd transitioned earlier, would I feel better about this? If dysphoria hadn't been a running part of my life for at least 23 years before I began hormone therapy, would I find things even easier now?
I'm not one to get morose and play the what-if game or lament what's already happened in my life, but sometimes it's hard not to wonder how much easier my life would have been if I'd been comfortable admitting how I felt and had begun transitioning at an earlier age.
I think of this increasingly as the discussion of trans children comes up.
Because I was a trans child who was too scared to admit how she felt, so without the ability to transition earlier not only did testosterone have more of a chance to do things to my body I was uncomfortable with, but my near-constant dysphoria has left residual psychological effects on me, even now the worst of it has passed.