This FtM named Tyler (YouTube name is Tyince) made a video called I Hate My Arm. It’s about feeling uncomfortable about the scars to his arm that he got due to using arm skin for his phalloplasty. He lives in Florida and he says it’s 90 degrees out most of the time, but he always wears a sweatshirt to cover his arm.
He says “I worked so hard for this body, and now I’m not ashamed of the parts I was before. I don’t experience dysphoria, I don’t hate my body. Now it’s all about my arm. I can go out shirtless, I can go out naked if I want, but my arm would be covered, no matter what. I want to start forcing myself out of sweatshirts and long sleeved shirts and forcing myself to go out and show my arm, but any time I think about it I just get sick to my stomach ‘cause I’m so afraid.”
Although Tyler says he no longer feels dysphoric, he also reports feeling like he can’t reveal his arm and the thought of doing so makes him sick to his stomach. If dysphoria is discomfort, and he obviously feels discomfort over his arm, then isn’t he still feeling dysphoric?
One of the reasons I’m skeptical about using body modification as a cure for body hatred is that modifying the body may not actually solve the problem. In some cases, the individual who transitions becomes dysphoric about different parts after transition. Tyler surely must have hated having breasts and a period, but now he hates having large, obvious scars all over his arm. What’s the point of changing something you hate only to hate something else instead?
As I’ve said before, humans are not Mr. Potato Head toys on which you can mix and match parts on a whim. The removal, modification, and addition of body parts is an injury to the body that leaves a scar and the surgical procedures come with additional risks besides the injury that is being deliberately performed. Tyler looks more masculine now, but he’ll always have an injured arm. (Not to mention that phalloplasty does not produce a realistic working penis. That’s a whole ‘nother issue.)
Dysphorictransguy wrote in a comment on the questions for FtMs post :
Testosterone, liposuction, and top surgery have helped but I still have dysphoria about many things: my genitals, my height, my small hands, not having a broad/long enough face or a long enough chin, having girly looking lips that one shithead probable future rapist in sixth grade called “bl0w job lips”, etc.
If a female makes body modifications to look more masculine, there are only certain things she can change. She can’t make her hands bigger, or her height taller, she can’t change the shape of her skeleton or her jaw bone or the shape of her lips. The reminders that she is female will never go away. It is absolutely necessary for her to come to terms with the fact that she is female and accept her body as it is, even if medical transition is complete, because she will never be biologically male, and she will always know this. So why not use that as a strategy in the first place? If you are going to have to do the emotional work of accepting your body as it is, why not do that right off the bat?
Tyler says something near the end of the video that I would agree with, but it sounds kind of ironic to me coming from someone who made massive changes to their body. “Let’s figure out ways we can be more body positive. Let’s love ourselves. Let’s give ourselves the kind of love we want others to give us.”
I think that part of loving yourself definitely includes not getting most of the skin cut off your arm and sewn into a cylinder between your legs so that you can pretend to have a penis. If it makes you happy to pretend to have a penis, then by all means, go ahead and use your imagination. But injuring yourself in this drastic way is not an act of self-love.