Ways to Cope with Gender Dysphoria

There are many ways to cope with gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is strong discomfort associated with one’s gender and sex characteristics. For some people medical transition helped reduce their gender dysphoria , but for some it did not. Individuals who undergo medical transition and revert back to their natal sex are called “de-transitioners”. Many de-transitioners advocate for a wider range of treatment options for gender dysphoria.

Medical transition is often offered as the only way to deal with gender dysphoria. However many people have found other ways to cope with gender dysphoria and live happy meaningful lives. These coping methods were sourced from the booklet Gender Detransition: A Path Towards Self-Acceptance which was written by two de-transitioners. 

Psychological Treatment

Gender exploratory therapy can be helpful to locate the sources of discomfort and then address them. Commonly reported issues underlying gender dysphoria are Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), trauma from sexual assault, body dysmorphia, psychosis, social anxiety and more. If you or a loved one has gender dysphoria it’s important that any mental health disorders are addressed.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a practice of focusing on the present moment with a non-judgmental stance. Many studies have shown that it mindfullness is helpful in reducing depression and anxiety. All it takes to experience these benefits is 10 minutes per day of mindfulness practice. 

Exercise

Doing things with your body will help you to feel more comfortable in it. Exercise is very effective in reducing stress anxiety and depression, and can also lessen gender dysphoria. Working out, outdoor recreation, yoga or other activities you enjoy doing with your body will increase the positive embodied experiences you have resulting in improved wellness and reduced dysphoria. 

Radical Acceptance

Accepting that it is rationally impossible to change one’s sex has helped many people cope with gender dysphoria. Coming to terms with and accepting their biological body rather than fighting it. Even if you choose to medically transition, acknowledging your natal sex is important in reducing dysphoria and accessing relevant medical care when needed.  

Detaching from external judgment

Learning to stop worrying about the way others perceive and stop fixating on appearance is one way to cope with gender dysphoria. Putting your body and life needs before appearances and how others view you. Social anxiety is the fear of being judged and can be addressed through exposure therapy. Exposure therapy involves doing things that you fear others will judge you for which de-sensitizes you to the anxiety, eventually leading to more comfort in social situations. 

Untangling from stereotypes and internalized homophobia

If you are gender non-conforming there is a chance you could be a cisgender lesbian or gay person, rather than a transgender heterosexual person. Many people who have de-transitioned found that internalizing strict gender roles contributed to their dysphoria. Learning that you don’t have to conform to rigid gender stereotypes around behaviour or dress may help you to feel less dysphoric around your gender. 

Finding Communities and Role Models

Connecting with safe adults with a range experiences whether tans, de-transitioned, lesbian, gay, or non-binary will help give you a wide range of perspectives on how people have lived and coped with gender dysphoria and gender-non-conforming behaviour. The trans community is diverse, and finding people who have gone down different paths can be helpful. 

Thinking of Gender Dysphoria in a Different Way 

The most common thinking about gender dysphoria is that it is evidence of a trans identity, but this isn’t always the case. Perhaps it is because you have shame about your body generally, not because of your sex. Rather than saying “gender dysphoria” you can say “discomfort from being seen as a women”, or “feeling uncomfortable with my breasts”. It is very normal to be uncomfortable with your body at times, especially during puberty. 

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