Managing Gender Dysphoria

Photo by Rayne's Avante-Garde
Article By E.S. Wynn

Gender dysphoria is a very personal thing. In my own life, it has been a constant companion, insistent and powerful.

Transitioning to your true gender is one way of dealing with gender dysphoria, but it isn't the only way to move through it. Being unable to transition because of costs, commitments, fears or any other reason can leave trans people feeling trapped, which can in turn intensify existing depression, dysphoria and other such maladies which arise from the stress of one's self image (or soul) not being aligned with the gender of their physical body. Whether you transition or not, if you are trans, you have to take care of yourself, and one important part of that self-care is managing your gender dysphoria.

It's also important to remember that no matter what you may feel in your deepest depressions, you're not alone. You're never really alone, and you don't have to struggle alone. If your feelings of dysphoria are so intense that you have thoughts of suicide, it is important that you seek help and talk to someone immediately. There are professionals out there who understand and who see gender dysphoria as a symptom rather than as a disease (or worse, as something to be ignored.) You might also consider ways that you can begin to transition, even if only partially. Even small adjustments can help ease the discomfort. In my own experience, I have found that even just painting my nails or shaving my arms has helped immensely. Consider changing things up within your wardrobe or your personal aesthetic so that they fit more with the gender that you identify with.

For me, the easiest way to manage gender dysphoria has been to experience life as the highest realization of myself possible as often as possible. Makes sense, doesn't it? If your soul doesn't match your body, then change your body to match your soul and you're golden. For many, that means medical transitioning, but that's not the only way to go about it.

I have a rich fantasy life. There's a reason why I have almost seventy books in print and the vast majority of them feature female main characters. There was a point in my life where I lived within my writing, where I lived as a woman 8-10 hours a day and fell asleep at my keyboard dreaming of being someone other than the man I had to be while at work and in public. Through writing, I sought my highest self and lived within it. In art, there are no limits. If you yearn to experience something completely, one of the easiest ways to do so is to do it through art, whether it be painting, prose, poetry, or any other creative medium. Do not limit yourself—refine your technique, explore and expand. Go beyond your gender. When you envision the highest version of yourself, are you male? Are you female? Are you someone or something else entirely? What kind of individual are you? What are the traits of that ideal self that you resonate with most strongly? What kind of clothes do you wear? What kind of work do you do? What time period do you occupy? What planet? What universe? There are no limits and there are no expectations in art. Even making a list of what comes to mind can help immensely.

Videogames can offer another easy way to mitigate the effects of gender dysphoria. Many games these days offer players the ability to create custom characters with different unique physical characteristics, or at least give players the option to choose the sex of their character. Having the option to play as a female has been a powerful way to keep my own gender dysphoria in check in the past, especially with games that have compelling and gripping storylines which draw the player in completely.

Social interactions with real people while embracing your true gender can help immensely as well. One way that I’ve done this is through crossdressing, then going out with friends to places like the Lavender District, where I can dance and listen to good music in an environment that is (mostly) safe for trans individuals to express themselves openly. Another way that I have experienced social interaction while living as a female was through the anonymity of the internet. In my early twenties, (when I was absolutely terrified of crossdressing and the social implications of being outed for it,) I would spend time with a group of friends I met on Starcraft who knew me only by my gaming handle. To them, I was (and had always been) female. Our group was mixed as far as gender goes, three women and four men in all, if I remember correctly. At that time in my life, the hours that I would spend talking about music, writing and pop culture with the friends who knew me as female were an incredible haven from the gender dysphoria, and one of the few that I knew of at the time.

Certain spontaneous indulgences can help here and there as well. Next time you're feeling pressed by dysphoria (or even just frustrated or depressed,) ask yourself what you really want to do right now. At times, when I have done this, the answers have been conflicting. "I want to take a bath. I want a nice cup of tea. I want to dance in the rain." No problem. Fix yourself a cup of tea, run a hot bath, put on some good music, then turn the shower on lightly so that it sprays a soft rain of lukewarm water over you while you relax. Combining elements like this doesn't always work, but creative solutions can often be playful and fun, breaking the heaviness which comes with depression and dysphoria. Don't think that you have to limit yourself. Make time to be alone and to take care of your mental health in the best ways that you can. Make it fun. Make it simple. Make it relaxing. Feeling good is an important component in battling your gender dysphoria and keeping its impact on your life as minimal as possible.

If you have a story about your own experience with gender dysphoria or have some useful tips that you’ve used to manage it in the past that you’d like to share with the readers of this blog, please feel free to contact me through the contact form here: [link] Make sure you have javascript enabled or the form will just display a blank page. If you’d like to share your experiences living as a trans person (or your experiences of living with someone who identifies as trans) drop me a line through the aforementioned contact form. I’d love to hear from you, and I’d love to share your perspective with our readers. Thank you!

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