How to Cope With Gender Dysphoria

It’s difficult for transgender or gender variant people to handle their dysphoria. Some may wish to embrace it and begin transition, while others may wish to alleviate the dysphoria altogether. There is no easy fix; however, one thing will always be true, and that is that you should never take action out of desperation or out of thinking there is a grand solution that will make all of your problems instantly go away. Remain calm and relax. As for a self-image, whether it has something to do with the chest, voice, or even clothes and hair, it requires a lot of strength to handle these feelings when you are feeling so uncomfortable with yourself. Here are ways of easing your gender dysphoria.

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Have hope.

Have faith in yourself. You might feel as if your life won’t get any better, but know that you live in a time where you can actually be helped. You have the chance to become who you are supposed to be. Remember that there are plenty of people who went through similar experiences to what you are going through. You are not alone and you are definitely not weird. There are plenty of transgender people out there living happy and healthy lives.

When you are having a hard time, try to remind yourself that this isn’t going to be your reality forever. Just hang in there. Eventually things will change for the better making it all worth it. Also remember to look out for yourself. If you feel you need external help coping with emotions, whether environmental or clinical, ask for help.
Don’t be afraid of asking for help . There are many people in this world who are supportive and caring. Consult a counselor or trusted adult about your feelings related with dysphoria. Talking to someone will help you cope with your emotions; remember your emotions are valid.
Get inspired by reading stories of people who have survived some very difficult situations in life, be it illness, injury, war, poverty, abuse, criminal background, addiction, or natural disasters. There are people who have lost everything they ever had and became refugees or lost their home in a fire or flood; people who have survived imprisonment and torture and horrible circumstances; and people who were born dirt poor but became billionaires. And people whose lives were transformed by an illness or a serious injury, but who still flourish and succeeded in life. Many successful people say that you need to hit rock bottom or have serious difficulties in life in order to change your life into something better. You do not need to compare your suffering to other people; but you can get inspired by seeing how people are able to overcome all kinds of odds life throws at them. Seeing others have survived all that can give you a glimpse of hope that you can too survive whatever you are going through at the moment.

Express what you feel.




Express what you feel.

Expressing yourself in any way you want can help you cope with the situation. It could be drawing, writing, painting, or even running. Crying, screaming, or vigorous exercise. Even cleaning the house. Find whatever ways that can help you deal with your dysphoria. It’s important to let all of your internal feelings out so you can let go of these negative emotions.

Channel your negative energy into something productive instead. Just taking a pen and paper and starting to draw whatever comes to your mind (however dark), can really alleviate your stress. For some, the best outlet is a creative one, such as drawing, painting or writing. You can write down all the aggressive things that come to your mind for example. Just let your mind wonder until you start feeling better.
For others, physical approach works the best. Doing anything physical such as vigorous exercising, running as fast as you can, doing weight-lifting, or any hobby such as swimming or horseback-riding or trampolining does the trick. Channeling your anger into movement will make you feel better. You might notice that you will really need to tire yourself to exhaustion until you finally calm down.
These negative emotions can really hurt you in a mental and physical way. Some people try to repress their emotions and they are likely to become passive-aggressive or very unhappy. You might feel like you are broken or as if there is something wrong with you. These negative emotions can physically harm you and you could develop diseases due to stress or depression.
You can also talk to yourself (literally). It doesn’t make you crazy. Many people talk to themselves, because it is a way to release the emotion you are bottling up inside. Some people have compared talking to yourself to crying. These are methods of releasing sadness or stress. Just don’t do it out loud in public!

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Take a deep breath.

Relax. Breathe in and out when you feel as if your worries might overwhelm you. Being balanced can help you deal with your emotions. Meditation and yoga are ways of developing this ability to relax.

Deep breathing can alleviate stress and immediately reduce anxiety as it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for calming your body down and slowing your heart rate, thus immediately making your relax. Breath slowly through your stomach for a while.
Practice mindfulness by calmly observing your surroundings, your feelings and thoughts without judgment, and by engaging your senses. What are you feeling, seeing, smelling and hearing right now? What are you feeling right now? Where do you feel that in your body? Do you feel tightness in your shoulders or neck? Or a knot in your stomach? Become aware of your current emotions. That can create distance to your raw emotions and calm you down and help you gain back control.

Understand what you are feeling.

Understand what you are feeling.

Do research on transgender people and gender dysphoria. There are plenty of videos on YouTube on gender dysphoria. Transgender people have an inherent feeling that there is something wrong with their assigned sex. Just because you might be a boy who feels more comfortable dressing like a girl, doesn’t mean you instantly are transgender. You might be non-binary, having a gender identity that doesn’t adhere to the gender binary, and be experiencing dysphoria. It can still be difficult, since society has a hard time dealing with anyone who doesn’t fit the box. Understand that it is totally okay the way you are feeling and that you are a wonderful human being no matter what.

Dysphoria isn’t just something people experience before fully transitioning. You can still experience if after being completely ‘done’ and even had genital reassignment surgery. Things like talking about your past, or going swimming or to the gym can trigger it. Your height and bone structure will always stay the same, so that can be triggering too. Understand that the dysphoric feeling you have may not suddenly disappear after being on hormones or having surgeries. You may experience difficult feelings related to your voice or hand size etc. from time to time for the rest of your life. But you can train yourself how to cope with all that.
Listen to yourself. Do not listen to people who try to say your gender dysphoria is like BDD (body dysmorphic disorder) or it’s “nothing”. Your dysphoria is a piece of who you are, which happens to be being uncomfortable with your assigned sex. It’s the need to be comfortable in your own body and to be happy.




Talk to a good friend.

Talk to a good friend.

It can help a lot if you know someone that you can trust to listening to you and understands what you are feeling and what you are going through. It can be a real relief to be able to express yourself and talk to someone freely. The feeling that you are being listened to and understood is important.

You can look up forums for trans people and connect to others online. You could use video chatting, emailing or any type of social media to talk to people like you. There are people who are in the same situation that you are in right now. You might be surprised by the amount of people that are looking for others to talk to about their dysphoria and their experiences. You may feel very lonely, but many other trans people feel exactly as lonely as you!
Check out your local LGBT resources. There are trans or LGBT groups and gatherings in many places. Joining a group will make you feel less alien as you see that others are going through similar stuff as you. You can also make new friends this way – friends that absolutely respect your identity and understand you.
You can talk to your family members or any good friends you might have. Connecting with other trans people can offer you different kind of peer support though, as they are struggling with the same issues themselves and know exactly how you feel. But cisgender people can be exactly as supportive.
Consider talking to a counselor or contact your religious group for support, such as a priest. Talking to an outsider or professional can help with giving perspective and you can talk freely about any problems you might have without having to take their feelings into consideration.




Learn how to combat an extreme dysphoria attack by grounding yourself.

Learn how to combat an extreme dysphoria attack by grounding yourself.

When you are having raging thoughts and extreme emotions, a high level anxiety attack or feel suddenly hopeless and really depressed, these techniques can calm you down at the moment and help to regulate your thoughts and mood.

Stimulate your senses! Smell something (perfume, a flower, deodorant), taste something (something strong-flavored or something you really like), listen to something (nature sounds or music), touch something (a fabric, a teddy bear), stimulate your vision (by looking at beautiful photographs or pics you were happy in or pics of baby animals). Keep something at hand all the time! Using your senses will reduce anxiety in a heartbeat. Keep doing it until you are calmed down.
Schedule worry time. Set up a time for each day (5-10 minutes) when you will tackle your worries and anxiety. During that time you will only concentrate on your worries, nothing else, until the time is up. During the whole day you will not let yourself worry – each time you think of a worrisome or negative thought, you will firmly state to yourself, ‘I don’t have time for this right now.’ Instead write that thing down to be dealt with during the actual worry time. This exercise frees up lots of mental energy usually spent on worrying and teaches you to control your mind and anxiety. You can decide to do a self-care activity right before and after the worry time. That will make you feel even better.

Try out meditation or deep breathing exercises.
Come up with things that will make you instantly feel better when you do them (such as being with friends, listening to music, dancing, going outside, playing with your pet, reading, watching comedy, exercising etc.) Keep a list at hand and when you feel anxiety building up, refer to this list and start doing those things. Soon you’ll forget about your anxiety.

You are able to control your mind and your thoughts if you just practice enough! Learning how to successfully cope with extreme dysphoria and anxiety can prevent you from harming yourself or others or doing something rash that you can regret later.

Create distance between the situation and your reaction.

Create distance between the situation and your reaction.

You can’t always control everything that happens around you and you will inevitably find yourself in situations that can cause you to feel dysphoric or anxious because of your gender. What you can always control though, is your reaction to the situation. Your feelings are always valid but you can decide whether you let this event ruin your whole day or not.

You can’t control other people and what they say to you or think of you, but you can control your own response. You don’t need to lash out or let them ruin your day. Don’t give the power over your well-being to others like that. Ultimately you have the power over yourself, your emotions, your reactions, and your happiness. It will make you feel good about yourself if you are able to manage your day well after all.
If necessary, channel your negative energy into exercising or ground yourself until you’ve calmed down. Always try to find a healthy outlet for your emotions.
Take many deep breaths and possibly close your eyes before responding or letting your feelings take over. Try to observe the situation more objectively. Are you sure the other people meant exactly that? Are you perceiving the situation worse than it actually is? When you are self-conscious about your body, you are prone to overreacting a little. Sometimes your anxiety can take over and you expect people to see stuff they aren’t supposed to be seeing or to look at you in a way that makes you uncomfortable, but in reality they may be totally oblivious to all that and actually see you as the gender you are trying to present as.

Avoid the triggers.

Avoid the triggers.

You have every right to avoid situations or people that make you feel bad or who put you down. You do not need to deal with this. You can always affect your reaction, but you don’t need to put up with behavior that makes you feel mentally unwell.

You may need to reduce your time with family members who don’t respect your identity, as hard as that can be. Your own well-being always comes first.
You also have the right to stay inside if you just don’t feel like it today. Learn to make a difference between feeling a bit anxious and downright dysphoric about something. Don’t let your social anxiety make excuses to stay away from seeing your friends or attending a support group. But if you know that swimming with your classmates or exercising with other people is actually making you feel emotionally worse and affects your mental health, stay away from it.
You may need to endure deadnaming, misgendering, or feeling dysphoric in certain situations in order to function in life even if that makes you feel bad. But you have every right to avoid those type of situations where those things are very likely to happen, or happen frequently. Being deadnamed at a bank is different to your mother constantly deadnaming you despite being told otherwise.
Give people a chance, though. Many cis people are completely unaware of how gender dysphoria affects your life. It is best to explain to them how different things make you feel. You can say for example, ‘Being called Susan makes me feel very depressed and being told I’m a girl though I’m not makes me not want to attend social gatherings anymore. Instead being called Jake and treated as a boy makes me feel ecstatic and comfortable around people. So I’m asking you to call me Jake after this and not misgender me anymore.’ If after that people are still ignoring your requests, the best thing is to reduce contact to a level you can comfortably deal with without it having a great effect on your mood.
If your friends and family are generally unsupportive, instead of completely isolating yourself contact new people and attend support groups where you can find new friends. You may have bad luck with your family but there are others out there who will support you with this! Reaching out is especially important if you don’t have solid support and people to turn to in your life. In worst case scenario getting no support can hinder your progress with your transition and in life. Find people who support your aspirations and are delighted to hear when you are improving your life. Yes, people like that do exist!

Find items that aid in presentation for trans people.

Find items that aid in presentation for trans people.

There are binders, packers and STPs (stand-to-pee devices) and also prosthetics to use for sex for guys. Women can get breast forms, panty girdles, padded underwear and tuck as well.

While you cannot wear these items 24/7, it can help you with dysphoria in public or other short-term situations.
These can be expensive but a good investment as they can dramatically affect your appearance (and thus self-esteem). You can also buy these second-hand, and people even donate stuff they don’t need anymore for free.

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Make clothes work in your favor.

Learn to know what looks good on your body type. Long shirts can hide your hips and short ones accentuate them. You can find lots of good tips online. Remember that clothes at stores are made for cis bodies. The waist, hips and height can be problem areas, as well as chest and shoulders. Genetic male and female bodies have differences in proportions, so you might need to go up in sizes to fit in men’s pants on the hip section, leaving you with baggy (or too long) pant legs.

Consider custom tailored clothes. They are made according to your exact measurements so they will look good on you! If you can’t afford that, you can always make or adjust clothes yourself, or ask help from family members and friends who are knowledgeable with the sewing machine.
There are tricks you can use such as shoe lifts for guys or breast forms and padded underwear for women.
Think about what parts of your body you’d like to accentuate and what to hide more. Different materials (such as Ts vs. men’s shirts), different patterns, and different cuts and shapes can make a huge difference. Clothes like jackets that accentuate shoulders can make them appear wider – in good and bad.
You don’t have to change your style but paying attention to the cuts and lengths of clothes can make a real difference in your appearance. Try to find clothes that you like and feel comfortable in, but also fit you well and compliment your best features.
As you are transgender, normal tips on choosing clothes might not work for you. You may need to buy clothes that look bad on cis people in general, but good on you!

Train your voice to sound more masculine or feminine.

Train your voice to sound more masculine or feminine.

Oftentimes people find it a real nuisance that they pass fairly well up to the point they open their mouth. Training your voice isn’t easy but it definitely can be done with practice, even pre-hormones! There are lots of videos online that can help you with this, and apps that measure your voice pitch. The actual pitch isn’t the most important thing, also the voice pattern you have can affect your passing positively. Changing the way you speak can seem hard, but once you master it, it can have a huge effect on your self-esteem – and passing.

You can start by practicing on your own, in your home. Reading aloud and singing can help. Try to sound more masculine or feminine while reading and act the scenes out.
Use a voice pitch analyzer app to check your pitch and speaking pattern.
It can take a while until you master this skill. Testosterone will naturally lower your voice to a male range. Unfortunately, estrogen for trans women won’t do the same, so this practice is actually helpful even if you are pre-HRT!

Get feedback from others.

Get feedback from others.

Take lots of selfies to track your progress and your changes on HRT. Share these with others and play with face gender change apps. Remember that you are usually your worst critic yourself. You may see flaws and ‘obvious’ features on your face and in your body that others aren’t aware of at all. You can ask family and friends for honest advice on your appearance, looks, and clothing choices.

Ask feedback from people who are honest with you, but who don’t put you down.
If you are complimented, try to take all that in! Enjoy the feeling that others are able to see you that way. Try to be less hard on yourself as well.
Taking selfies that you look very masculine or feminine in, can really boost your self-esteem too! Ignore the pics you don’t like and cherish the ones you look fabulous in. Take a look at these whenever you are feeling down. They’ll surely cheer you up.

Acknowledge what you can and cannot change realistically.

Acknowledge what you can and cannot change realistically.

HRT can have a huge effect on your face and also on your body. Hormones will also affect people differently; some have instant dramatic changes, others will have the same changes much later on. Everyone is individual in that regard. But the changes will come, yes, even to you. You just need to cultivate patience. Puberty can last up to 5 years.

Your height, bone size, hand and feet size, and some bone structures in the face (especially if you start HRT after going through your first biological puberty) are things you don’t have control over. FFS (facial feminization surgery) is a possibility; but other than that you just need to accept your body the way it is. There is no need to spend mental energy on fretting over things you just can’t change. It is best to just ignore that as best you can and focus on the things you can change.
There are extremely tall cis women and very short cis men; there are large women and small-framed men. Don’t fret over trying to fit the ‘average’. Remind yourself that you could’ve been tall or short even if you were born cis. Body shape is a thing no one has control over, cis or trans.
One way to look at it is this: Being trans is not any worse than having any other medical condition. People can lose their legs in an accident or be born without them. Almost everyone has some type of medical issue during their lives, be it big or small. Being trans affects many areas of your life but isn’t the end of the world. And after all, there’s treatment for it. And even if you are unable to have that treatment, you still have the right to live authentically as your true self, like everyone else.
Everyone comes in many different shapes and sizes. Everyone has their own ways of expressing who they are (walk, dress, voice pitch. etc.). Embrace your uniqueness. Don’t let society define who you are, it is up to you to define who you are.


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