How can I deal with gender dysphoria in a positive way?
I'm transgender, I know I am, but I've only told a few friends. I know I can't tell my family because of previous conversations we've had. They just wouldn't accept it.
My gender dysphoria is getting really difficult to deal with on my own. I need some strategies for dealing with it. What should I do?
Hi. It can be difficult to handle such a transition on your own. I work with clients to understand their needs and wants. This can involve how to communicate effectively with friends, family, and other loved ones; or, learning how to have self-acceptance. I strongly recommend speaking with a licensed clinician one on one to help facilitate the change you are looking for.
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Hello, and thank you for your question. I am so glad that you reached out for help. I know that the dysphoria can feel nearly impossible to handle, especially since you have limited support from people who accept who you are. You may already know some of these resources, but I am going to share a few.
1. The website www.letsqueerthingsup.com is a blog from a very good writer that I know. His name is Sam Dylan Finch, and he is transgender. He writes about mental health, transgender issues, and many other topics. I know he has frequently written about gender dysphoria and ways to manage it. You may want to check out his site and do a search on there.
2. The website www.everydayfeminism.com employs many transgender writers and several have written about gender dysphoria and have given ideas for managing it. If you search for gender dysphoria on their site, many articles pop up. It may be a good resource for you, especially if you ever feel lonely and start to forget that there are others out there who are like you and have your back.
3. I am not sure where you live, but there are counselors who specialize in affirmative therapy, which is what is recommended for folks who are part of the LGBTQ community. So, if you decide to see a counselor about the dysphoria, try to find one that specifically says they have been trained in the affirmative approach. In addition, feel free to ask questions of the counselor before agreeing to see them for counseling. An ethical counselor would have no problem answering them before having you come in.
4. If there are some LGBTQ resource centers in your area, try to reach out to them and see if there are support groups. Gaining more support from others would be helpful. Sometimes LGBTQ-friendly counselors leave their contact information for people in resource centers.
5. Finally, I know you have not mentioned being depressed or suicidal, but I also know that it is very common for people to consider suicide when they are struggling with dysphoria, dealing with transphobia, etc. If this ever happens to you, please call 911 or the Trans Lifeline. It's free at 877-565-8860. Visit their site at www.translifeline.org.
I hope some of these ideas help. Feel free to send another message if you have a follow-up question.
Be well....be YOU.
Robin J. Landwehr, DBH, LPC, NCC
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This is a difficult situation to be in, as it sounds like you are feeling very isolated from both your family and your friends. I don't know your age or gender so please excuse any incorrect assumptions about you being under 18 and use what is useful from the ideas if you are older. One idea is to research online to find a therapist or a local clinic that has a therapist who is a "Gender Therapist" or a "Gender Specialist." Most therapists who are transgender affirmative also have other specialties and do general therapy. Though I don't think lying to your parents is a good idea, if you feel you truly can't talk to them about your gender, then perhaps you can find a therapist with a specialization in gender identity who can help you cope with your gender dysphoria. You can let your parents know that you would like to see that particular therapist for other reasons, such as anxiety/worry, and that you researched them and liked their website. Work to find a therapist who takes your parents insurance if you can. You can also talk to the therapist on the phone first, before you talk to your parents about scheduling the first therapy visit. Therapists can help you learn some ways to manage feelings of worry, shame, and fear related to gender dysphoria. Depending on your family situation, many therapists will work to help you learn skills to safely communicate with your parents about what is troubling you. Your parents may actually surprise you and be more accepting than you think. Usually when parents learn that you are suffering, they want to be open to learning how they can help you, even if awkwardly at first.
Reframing is a tool that helps you think about your situation from other perspectives. It's kind of how you can look at the same picture with a different picture frame and it makes the same picture look a little different. Keep in mind your situation is probably temporary and think about in the context of your whole long life (can you tolerate another 2 to 4 years living like you are if you have another X number of years to live?). If you are living at home, you will eventually be more independent and be able to make more of your decisions about your gender expression. Keep the idea in mind the concept that is popular in mindfulness classes I teach, that "This too shall pass" or "This is only for now" when you start to feel hopeless. If you start to over focus on your gender or body issues, try to distract yourself with things that make you feel happy (your pet, music, art, sports etc) or stay busy.
If you can, find any GSA or LGBTIQQ youth group that you can attend confidentially, further away from home, to get some support. Work to find an ally, one person, that you can talk to about what you are feeling. Making new friends online through social media can sometimes be a start in breaking down the isolation you feel.
Another idea, if you are under 24 years old, there is a phone line (866-488-7386) to call in case you are ever feeling you are in crisis. You can also text chat! Trevor Project: http://www.thetrevorproject.org/
There is also a trans teen online chat group if you are 12-19 http://www.glbthotline.org/transteens.html
If you are an adult you can get numbers to call in your state if you start to feel suicidal:http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
Day to day, can you creatively work on your gender dysphoria? Yes! Are there ways you can focus on parts of your body you love? Can you focus on that when you look in the mirror? Are you a writer? Can you write stories or poetry about the life you imagine for yourself in the future? Can you do small things that help you get more in touch with your gender day to day like making small choices about your clothing, like wearing clothes that are more unisex, that only you know are gender related but others won't notice? You cannot force others to accept you but you can work on your self-acceptance and self-compassion. That work is something that is best done in the company of others like you as well as with at least another person who gets you and whom you can trust. Good luck to you!
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Hi! I am so glad you're reaching out! Sounds like you have some solid support in some areas of your life but are still dealing with some difficult dysphoria. I think it can depend on what kind of dysphoria you have - sometimes it's physical, social or mental. Sometimes physical dysphoria means less time around mirrors or plans to make showering less stressful (music, audio books, distraction). Sometimes online support networks can be a great source of ideas in this way (for social and mental dysphoria as well). Some of my clients do things that help them feel better in their bodies that don't require anyone to know (hair removal, binders, packing, hormones,) and other things. I recommend stopping by a website called Conversations with a Gender Therapist. There are some awesome videos there that might help you! I hope this helps some! Don't forget to try to connect with other trans folks (even online) - it can be a great relief to know you're not alone in how you're feeling! Best of luck!!
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