What is Dysphoria | Dysphoria DefinitionBY AARON CAPENER
First thing first: Trigger Warning. If you’re trans* and you’re having a particularly bad day, whether that be with your self-esteem or you’ve been feeling some gender dysphoria, you may want to bookmark this article and circle back to it. We’re going to talk about a tough emotion felt by many of the millions of people that identify as transgender. We just wanted to offer this word of caution as we continue on. But for those that want to know, let’s go over the question “What is dysphoria?”
Gender dysphoria, according to doctors at the Mayo Clinic, is defined as “is the feeling of discomfort or distress that might occur in people whose gender identity differs from their sex assigned at birth or sex-related physical characteristics.” It’s important to note dictionary definitions for these terms and diagnoses because there are still many people who come against those in the LGBTQ+ community saying they need ‘treatment’ and to ‘be cured’. (But that’s a conversation for another day!)
Dysphoria for me is the feeling of being considered a “Freak” or “Frankenstein”. Many kids like me grew up in a sheltered, conservative, and often religious, environment. I was not around anyone who was lesbian, gay, bisexual, and especially not transgender. Though I overheard some stories, I was not taught anything about the LGBTQ+ community. When I did hear the words “gay” or “sex-change”, it was always in a negative way. So, I learned from my own experiences that these words were “bad”.
As I got older and discovered my attraction to women, and inevitably my gender identity, this gender dysphoria was amplified to where I could no longer suppress the feelings. I felt like a puppet dressing up in a costume to make others be so surprised at how “beautiful” I looked. I experienced gender dysphoria constantly, I just didn’t know what it was called or why I had these feelings. Once I was old enough to have the questions for myself I relied on asking my friends or the trusty Google search bar and that’s when I found out the most shocking realization I’ve ever had.
There were MORE people like me? So, these other people try to pray this away too?
I realized I wasn’t alone.
Because I didn’t align mentally with this assigned female body, I just felt like a freak and not normal.
This, in one man’s experience, is gender dysphoria.
How To Fight Back
While LGBTQ education is being offered more in the classroom, it’s important to have these tough conversations. And not just for the sake of a safe space for us but so there is a safe space for these feelings to be talked about for the generations we leave behind us. I spent a lot of time educating those as I transitioned with hormone replacement therapy and watched my body transform from one of feminine appearance to the man I always knew inside me.
If I had to give one tip to those struggling with gender dysphoria, it would be to keep an eye on your thoughts. Although it may be one of the hardest parts of being transgender for me, my own mind has been the challenge. I’m my own worst enemy and I’ve closely monitored myself the past five years to see what I can notice about my experience with gender dysphoria and how I could battle against it. Negative thinking was always the icy bump in the road that caused me to spin out.
It can be a rabbit trail that you unknowingly go down, and by the time you realize it, you’ve become your own worst enemy thinking negativity about yourself on a regular basis. This is the opposite of where we want to take our gender dysphoria. We want to find ways to talk about these thoughts and feelings. While some people experience this more intensely than others, this is a mental battle that needs to be addressed.
Prosthetics and products that help you safely bind your chest can great ways to battle back against your top dysphoria (above the waist) and bottom dysphoria (below the waist). Axolom offers quite a few different below-the-belt prosthetics not only to have something there as a packer (phallic object to fill what some feel is a void) but for it to be multi-functional and help you stand to pee. Being able to use something as simple as the restroom as your authentic self is gender-affirming and makes a big difference in the lives of trans* people.
Call in the pros
Sometimes these negative thoughts need to be altered to more positive outlooks towards our self and our self-esteem with repetition and time. We’re talking about rewiring your immediate reaction to triggers. Because of its sensitive nature, and often lack of support, it may be necessary to talk to someone who has pro-experience with that. Whether that be a licensed therapist or your regular doctor. If you don’t have access to afford those options, check within FB support groups to see what programs might be available for you to find someone to talk over these feelings with.
Ex: You’re looking in the mirror:
Thinking to yourself: “Ugh, I look fat today.”
Instead, try: “I am not feeling it today but everyone has bad days.”
As minuscule as it sounds, it makes a difference.
Everyone has a weight limit for the mind. There’s no shame in it. You are not alone.
If you are struggling with mental health or trans-related issues and need to speak with someone, check out these support helplines:
Trans Lifeline is a trans-led organization that connects trans people to the community, support, and resources they need to survive and thrive.