Do you suffer from Gender Dysphoria? If you do then you know that it can be very hard to deal with and will destroy your ability to enjoy your life if you let it. There are many ways that gender dysphoria can get activated and even some ways to try dealing with it in a positive, loving way. You do not have to punish yourself for your feelings any more than your average cisgender person does. None of this is your fault and never was, you do not deserve any of the blame for having these feelings, they just exist for good or bad and there are some interesting ways to deal with them.
Gender dysphoria is defined by Wikipedia as experiencing "...significant dysphoria(discontent) with the sex they were assigned at birth and/or the gender roles associated with that sex". The possible causes of this condition may be psychological, behavioral, genetic, the makeup of your brain or possible exposure to prenatal exposure to hormones(either estrogen or testosterone). A transgender woman having been exposed to estrogen and a transgender man having been exposed to testosterone. These are just a few of the many theories that have been thrown around over the years, utterly useless when you are trying to learn how to deal with the condition.
The first method in trying to deal with the dysphoria is to observe when it happens to us and what sets it off. Thus we can simply avoid those things (if possible) that cause so much distress in the transgender person's life. These things can range from the simple to the sublime and all serve to make our day a bad one. Here are some of the things that will activate the dysphoria:
- Wearing clothing (or being made to) that is of the gender you do NOT identify with. This can cause a massive amount of dysphoria and leads to other, less healthy, ways of thinking.
- Being exposed to people who are the prime example of the gender you wish to be. Sitting around looking at pictures of beautiful women or very masculine men can lead to envy and depression over something that you can do nothing about beyond your transition.
- Having someone "read you" as the opposite gender you are trying to portray and making you aware of their "discovery". This is where you have to try to avoid, instruct or complain about a specific person or persons. When it happens on the street there is little you can do besides a good iPod or pair of ear plugs.
- Someone asking about (or worse using) your "real name". Again people we try to avoid in future.
- Having a person call you "Sir" or "miss" in a public setting, exposing your gender identity and transgender status to all who can hear. This can sometimes be just a mistake or ignorance on the part of the person doing it, however it drives up your dysphoria none the less. When it's meant to hurt there is a significant reaction and can cause some serious distress.
- Being envious of other transgender people because you perceive that they "pass" better than you and therefore have an easier life. They don't have an easier life, just different problems. There are many shades of men and women, there is no cookie cutter perfect body even though our culture and media do their best to portray what they think everyone should aspire too.
These are just a few of the many delightful ways that your gender dysphoria can be activated and cause significant distress. These things will not change nor will they go away, so your only option is to try to avoid them or deal with them in a different way. Here are some ideas about how you can deal with gender dysphoria and try to make your transition, and your life, significantly better..
- Dress in a way that makes you feel good about yourself and your gender identity.Credit: Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
- Avoid spending a lot of time looking at and thinking about pictures of other trans people on face book or wherever else. They may be more attractive and pass better than you but so what? There are people out there that look at pictures of you and wish they were as feminine/masculine as you are, it's an endless cycle.
- Avoid people who do not respect your gender identity. If you cannot avoid them then take the proper legal steps to have the problem solved. i.e. go to your union or human resources department.
- If someone asks for your "real name" then give it to them, the name you are using now and the one matching your gender identity. If they ask again, say your name again. After a few times even the dullest of haters will catch on.
- If someone misgenders you in a public setting then go up to the counter and politely correct them, if they continue then file a complaint. After than try going to a different store/doctors office/restaurant. Money talks and when you voice your disagreement in terms of moving your economic stimulus somewhere else. You avoid the issue and hit their bottom line, two birds with one stone.
- Avoid envy if you possible can and don't feed into it. Do not wallow in your dysphoria and beat yourself up for not being as pretty or masculine as whoever you are looking at. If their profile bothers you then block them, surround yourself with people who make you feel good and avoid those who make you feel bad; simple and very effective.
- Self confidence is a big part of coping with your distress. If your confidence is high and you are portraying to the world the gender you know you are then people are going to be less inclined to bother you. They realize that the insults would simply bounce off of you and actually make them feel bad for saying it. A lot about passing is really an internal battle that is played out on the public stage. Believe in yourself and so will they.
- Self acceptance is also very helpful in dissolving your dysphoria. When you can come to love and accept who we are not matter what then you will project that into the world around you.
- The dysphoria is the worst at the beginning of your transition and will become less bothersome over time, so don't think to yourself that it's always going to be this way because it will change as you will change.
- If you live in a particularly bad area and have not been accepted at all in your community there is always the option of moving. You don't have to put up with it, you're not trapped there, you can do some research and find out where trans people are more accepted and move there.
You can see there are many ways to activate gender dypshoria and many ways to try to deal with it. Observe when your dysphoria raises its ugly head and why. Everyone is different and will experience the distress in different way; consequently there are different ways for each individual to deal with it. The dysphoria can be brutal and cause you to begin to think very bad thoughts about yourself and others. So do your best and talk to people; your friends, family, doctor and therapist. Don't try to carry it all by yourself, it will make your transition a living hell and you could end up self harming in a myriad of ways. Take care of yourself in the best way possible and you can increase the chances of you having a happy transition and a happy life.