Reading this post by South Carolina Boy on dreams made me want to post on some of my dreams and their possible relation to gender identity. There was a period in my life, beginning late in high school and extending all the way through college, when I had recurring dreams in which my ordinary sense of my body was skewed. Sometimes my body would be distended and shapeless. But most often, I would go into a bathroom stall to piss and realize that I had a penis. At first, I would just pull it out to start pissing without thinking that it was in any way out of the ordinary. Then, some kind of anxiety would settle in. In one dream, as I began to pull my penis out, it just kept coming – it was incredibly long and thin, to the point of not being functional for bathroom purposes. In another dream, I finished peeing, then was assailed by doubts. Did I really have a penis? Yes. But I was a girl. Yes. Was that normal? I don’t think so. Did girls have penises? I thought about these questions till my head hurt and was relieved to conclude that Yes, girls have penises. Everything was in order, and I left the stall. In yet another dream (a sex dream) I was genitally intersexed, with both primary sex bits.
This dreams were remarkable to me both in that they were recurring and in that I did not, at the time, have any conscious awareness of desiring a penis or imagining that I had one. Nor did I identify as male, a man, or a boy. My presentation was more or less androgynous, and when I did get Sirred, I mostly felt panicked and embarrassed.
I don’t explicitly recall dreaming that I was male, mostly because I regularly dreamed that I was all sorts of people other than my everyday self, including men and boys (though I can’t really recall dreaming that I was a full-fledged woman). For instance, in one dream that I remember very clearly, I was a black boy of about 8 swimming in a rapidly flowing river. I remember distinctly the sensation of the flowing water and the sun on my dark skin, as well as the euphoric sensation of being a small, tight body moving through a deep and vast body of flowing water. I think I may have been in Martinique. I didn’t conclude anything specific from this dream because in it, I was so clearly not myself, though the sensuous memory of it has remained with me.
Since I have begun thinking of myself as male, however, my dream self either accords with my conscious self or else it represents me further along in the transition process. Mostly I will dream that I am myself exactly, a not always passing trans man, with the precise physical bits I have now. In most of the dreams I can remember, the folks I interact with know that I am a trans man and treat me like a man. Early on though, I did have recurring nightmares about encountering bad situations in men’s restrooms due to either not having the right bits or to being perceived as someone who should not be in the men’s room.
In the sex dreams I have now, I am having sex with my current body, and it doesn’t seem to raise any issues for my gender or the way my partners are gendering me (i.e., I’m still ME, a trans man).
In one dream I’ve had, I’ve looked in the mirror and seen myself a bit further along the transition process with a distinctly male, square-jawed face. This dream was a bit startling and alienating. In a more recent dream, I had a particularly gorgeous Asian man’s face with a nice bone structure. So masculine was my face that I could a long, messy Asian mullet, and still look perfectly male. This dream felt exciting and good, like I was finally coming into the self that I want to be.