Being transgender is different and unique for all of us.
Some of us have experiences with gender dysphoria, a sense of distress when we feeling invalid in our gender (often in regard to the gender we were assigned at birth), while many of us don’t. We are just as valid whether or not dysphoria is something we come across in our lives.
Dysphoria was never something I thought I would experience. While I knew on some level that it wasn’t necessary to have felt dysphoria in order to be trans, I never really accepted that for myself until recently. It applied to others, but on some level, I unconsciously invalidated my own experience as a trans person. It was part of the internalized transphobia I was yet to deprogram and I didn’t even know it was there. Eventually though, I came to accept myself as a valid and real trans person, even if I hadn’t experienced dysphoria. But that didn’t last long.
A couple months ago, I had my first dysphoric episode. Over the summer holidays, I had ordered many clothes and accessories that are traditionally seen as feminine in an attempt to better express myself as someone who is gender-fluid and more generally my feminine side. However, this was the first time I’d ever really ordered clothes online and of course I got many sizes wrong. That specific night, one of the t-shirts I was most excited for had arrived, but it didn’t fit my body type in a conventionally attractive or feminine way. It was a far cry from the cute, graceful look that I had imagined when purchasing the top.
A mix of shame, horror and utter despair rose up within me as I flung the t-shirt onto the floor and fled to my room. In my mind, I knew that I was being irrational. I had other ‘feminine’ clothes that I could wear and a few more were still in the mail. On a purely intellectual level, I was fine. But I wasn’t fine emotionally.
Since that night, I haven’t really had a dysphoric episode to that same extent, but I still have slight moments of dysphoria in my every day life. While I’m lucky that my pronouns include he/him (and traditionally match that of the gender I was assigned at birth), misgendering me as a man or enforcing the gender binary tends to cause some dysphoria.
While I am still discovering my gender and am somewhat new to experiencing dysphoria, I’ve gathered some tips and tricks from my personal life as well as from other trans people in order to best cope with dysphoria. These have all done me some good at one time or another.
Going for a walk.
Living in a transphobic and cis-normative world can be overwhelming, even at the best of times. For me, especially if I’m feeling dysphoric, being able to go for a walk by myself sounds so simple yet is so effective. In particular, I find walking around in the city to be really helpful, as I’m surrounded by people going about their lives and it’s easy to just blend in. I’ve also never seen these people before, nor will I ever see them again, allowing me to not feel obligated to act a certain way or be someone I’m not.
Taking a break.
We are all busy people with lots to do and get through, but sometimes taking a break from it all and indulging in some Netflix or a good book can really be therapeutic. Whenever I’m feeling dysphoric and I find myself unable to get through any work, I take a short break and watch an episode from one of my favorite shows. Even if I’ve seen it one hundred times before, engaging with a familiar and beloved pastime always seems to do the trick.
Listening to music.
As a huge music nerd, I might be coming from a biased perspective, but listening to music has helped me in so many ways. Even something as simple as creating a new playlist of music can calm me and allow me to focus on something else. I have even made a specific playlist of songs that help me deal with dysphoria, there whenever I need it.
These are my main tips for coping with dysphoria. Other things I recommend are taking a hot shower or bath, coloring and writing; really anything which is relaxing and allows your mind to concentrate on something else.
Dysphoria is not something that will likely ever go away. But as we grow older and we experience it more and more, it becomes more manageable. I hope that these tips offer some comfort and can assist you whenever you need it.