[TW: Cissexism]If all a person had to do was to announce hirself as a certain gender to be read and treated as that gender, then there would be almost no drive to change hir body.
Wrong. Dysphoria persists even in the absence of social pressure. RTFA.
You can’t cite that article as “in the absence of social pressure”; no one is without social pressure, no matter what time or place hir’s in. I was wrong to be so extreme and exacting in my response, though I still believe that societal influence, even and especially if it’s subconscious, plays a large part in dysphoria, along with genetic/mental influences. I know what the author of that article means that some things are just wrong/don’t belong, but a significant part of that for me is because people will think I’m a certain gender when I’m not, and their thinking that is just bad (for some reason I can’t really explain). I’m also more genderqueer than fully FTM or MTF, so perhaps I’m more comfortable with a range of in-between. From what I know comparing to others, I have little dysphoria. I’ve also been anorexic as a (subconscious) way of dealing with puberty and gender-related body differences, which is perhaps why I find it nigh impossibly to separate trans-ability, dysphoria, body image, and gender.
One reason I connect dysphoria to body image is that trans* people try to change their bodies to fit a certain image or ideal (presumably internal, but also outwardly influenced). In the case of (FTM) breast-binding, a common goal is flatter, flatter, flatter, which I see as idealistic, as it is certainly not realistic. Again, to me this is similar to anorexia, where one strives unrealistically for something often intangible (body as a way of dealing with social pressure, stress, responsibilities, gender). Both binding and anorexia provide relief from something body-related, so I see it as body image. (On a side note, I also don’t believe anorexia is entirely because of social pressure and idealistic advertising, but that it is affected in part by genetic/mental factors as well. When you’re anorexic, as when you’re dysphoric, you see your body and you just think that there’s something wrong about it.)
As this article discusses, there is some awareness in the brains of trans* people that their bodies aren’t right, and they have “phantom” sensations of body parts (e.g. an FTM person might have a phantom penis, or have a body image that doesn’t incorporate breasts).