The uncomfortable feelings that come with gender dysphoria can really throw a wrench in your day-to-day life, making even simple tasks seem impossible. This type of dysphoria is often defined as a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress because the gender to which they were assigned at birth and their gender identity don’t match up. When your body and mind aren’t seeing eye-to-eye, it’s easy to feel pretty low.
We asked people to tell us what they do to make themselves feel good when they’re stuck in some serious dysphoria blues. Here’s what they said:
1. Escape for a bit into your favorite playlist.
“When my dysphoria gets bad, I take out my guitar and play music. Sometimes I like to play my own music, music I wrote. Mostly I just cover songs. When I play, I feel like I’m in my own world, just my mind, my hands and my guitar. I escape into a little space inside my head and fill it with music.”
2. Take a moment to point out a few positive things you love about your body.
“I am nonbinary, but I was assigned male at birth. Whenever I experience dysphoria, I usually turn on some music and just let my mind clear. I’ve also found that it helps to tell myself, out loud, that my body does not define my gender and to point out things about my body that I do like. Just because I have big hands, doesn’t mean I’m male. And I know I love my eyes. I have to remind myself that there are still positive things about my body.
Something else that works for me is talking to one of my good friends. They know that sometimes I feel awkward in my body, and they can help reassure me that I’m 100% awesome even though my body doesn’t exactly match how I feel that day.”
3. Cuddle the crap out of a furry friend.
‘I’m nonbinary. Some ways I’ve found to help cope with dysphoria [include] wearing an outfit I know I look good in (it boosts my confidence a lot) and listening to songs I can sing along to. I also like repetitive tasks, like putting CDs or books into alphabetical order or making bracelets. It gets me out of my head, helps me focus on other things. Quite often it gets overwhelming, though, in which case sometimes just having a bit of a cry and a sleep helps. Oh, and cuddle a pet. Pets don’t care what gender you are. I’ve never in my life known a transphobic dog.”
4. Pamper yourself with comfy clothes, your favorite makeup, and lots of chocolate.
“I’ve had gender dysphoria long before I knew I was nonbinary but i just didn’t know how to describe it. Some days I can control it; other times it’s impossible to control. it makes me hate myself, but it’s not very strong most the time. To make myself feel better I wear comfy clothes, do my makeup and make myself feel like the person I am inside. Also chocolate is a great quick fix ;)”
5. Find someone you look up to — if not out in the world, then on YouTube!
“My best way to cope with dysphoria is quiet indie music or watching YouTubers like Uppercasechase, a trans guy who is pretty far in his transition. Seeing trans people who are far into their transition gives me hope that everything will be okay. Watching YouTubers who are transgender and talking about it helps to know I’m not alone and gets rid of the feeling that I’m the only one feeling like this. It really is a great feeling knowing you’re not the only one.”
6. Take a peek into the past so you can appreciate how far you’ve come.
“As a trans guy at about 8 months on T, it really helps me to look back at older photos from when I wasn’t so far along on my journey and look at how far I’ve come. Old photos are super cringy to look at but they definitely make me feel better about where I’m at now.”
7. Slow. Everything. Down.
“About a year ago, I would probably not have known what dysphoria even was. Well, now I do, and I’ve come to experience it from time to time. It can lead to self harm and anxiety, so it’s not really fun. Usually I get through my bad days by trying to talk slower and quieter, as that usually makes my voice sound a little deeper. I usually let my mind drift off to my favorite playlist,s or maybe try to talk to friends of mine who might have the same problem.”
8. Surround yourself with people who understand or may be going through the same thing.
“The struggle is absolute hell, especially in mine and many other cases of being in high school, a tough series of years on its own — figuring out your true gender or how to embrace your choice in gender can be really hard. Most of all, avoiding bullying [can be hard]. But what I like to do is surround myself with friends who are typically dealing with similar struggles with sexuality or their gender as well. If things continue to get worse, I highly recommend a warm blanket, a desk to hide under, some sweet movies, books, or rad tunes. Also candy and shizzle come in handy.”
9. Focus on the amazing things your body can do, rather than what it looks like.
“I’m a trans woman but I didn’t have major issues with body dysphoria either before or after transition. I think a big part of the reason for that is because I trained for a long time in modern dance, which focuses so much on what your body can do rather than what it looks like. So I knew that I wanted to be a woman, but I didn’t carry with me a lot of the body image baggage that goes with. I enjoy being a powerful, athletic woman whose body doesn’t conform to idealized beauty standards. Anyway, I know that very few people’s bodies do.”
— Meredith Talusan
10. Take a time-out.
“I’m a trans guy, pre everything, and my name is Emmett. I’m generally very dysphoric, but some days are worse than others. On my bad days, which is usually when I’ve been misgendered a lot or when I’m menstruating, I tell my best friend and she calls me “lad” or “sir” and makes comments about how masculine I am. I also bind every day, and sometimes I pack with a sock pinned to my boxers. I tend to make tea, talk in a deeper voice, and wear all men’s clothes when I’m feeling dysphoric too. One of the best things I do for myself is take breaks and make sure I keep myself safe.”
11. Pour your feelings into a notebook or blog.
“I write. I have to stop the hollering in my head so I put it all down on paper. Then it isn’t as real, they stop being consuming emotions and they’re just words.” — Kaleb
12. Find out what clothing makes you feel good and own your outfits.
“As a gender-nonconforming person, my body image fluctuates on a regular basis. Sometimes I feel femme and sometimes I feel butch. There are times when I feel a little trapped, like on social occasions when I’m expected to be femme when I don’t feel like it, like for weddings or formal interviews. On those occasions, I usually try to wear at least one item of clothing that I feel like doesn’t conform to standard binary gender norms, like a necklace I identify with masculinity, or boxers under my dress. It makes me feel like I’m still genderqueer even if there are times when I don’t feel comfortable being seen that way.”
13. Escape into a long and luxurious shower.
“I’m genderqueer and experience a lot of dysphoria around my monthly cycle […] but I like to get as cold as I impossibly can (open a window, take off all my clothes) and get into a really hot shower or bath and wash away the cold.
I also live in my hoodie when I’m feeling nasty and it feels good to be toasty and wrapped up. ”
14. And make sure that shower is nice and toasty!
“Whenever I’m feeling dysphoric, it can be hard to do simple things like shower… so what I do is, before taking any clothes off, I turn on the water really hot so that all the mirrors in the bathroom and fogged up and I can shower and get dressed without seeing my reflection.”
15. Remember to be easy on yourself and on your personal image of yourself.
“On days when I’m feeling particularly dysphoric I tend to look at pictures that show the diversity of cis peoples’ bodies so I can recognize that although to me some parts of my body feel out of place, to a bystander I wouldn’t stick out at all. I think anyone that experiences dysphoria needs to realize that our perception of ourselves is quite often very skewed.”
— Evander Ribton-Turner
16. Write these steps down and repeat as often as needed.
“If you are dealing with dysphoria right now..
1. Take a deep breath.
Relax, allow yourself to think straight.
2. Have hope.
One day this will be all over. We feel depression because we see no future, but I promise there is one.
3. Express how you feel.
If you need to draw, write, play sports: Do it! Find something that you like, and express your full emotions while doing so.
Talk about how you feel, whether it’s to a friend or even to yourself! ( No, you’re not crazy. ) Talk: You need to say how you feel, and what you feel, and make goals for yourself.
5. Understand what you’re feeling.
Listen to yourself and understand exactly what you’re feeling. We all as humans have goals and have places in our lives we would like to be. Don’t feel alone.
6. Remember you are important.
Your trials and struggles in life are here to make you stronger. You’ve made it to this point. You’ve done it be proud of yourself. Love yourself. You are bold, you are beautiful, and you are important.”
17. Make a goddamn kingdom of blankets and rule the land of cozy!
‘When I get bogged down with gender dysphoria I tend to hide in my room under blankets and hope it goes away. Or, I will wear baggy jeans and sweatshirts to hide my shape — which admittedly isn’t the smartest idea when one lives in California. But in all reality you need to be kind to yourself during this time. You are still you, you are valid. Just because your body doesn’t look like what you or society expects it to, it is still beautiful, and it is still yours.”
18. Sweat it all out at the gym.
“I’ve been overweight most of my life, but especially after puberty. It’s been hard, because society is not kind to people who don’t fit into their beauty standards. I often struggle with feeling good enough, attractive enough, and just… enough, on top of this dysphoria. This year, I started taking care of myself. Investing in me is investing in my work! I’ve found that good nutrition and exercise has helped tremendously. My mood is better, I feel healthier, and it’s something I never really believed I could do, but now I know I can.”
19. Avoid spaces or people that will bring you down.
“If you’ve been feeling really dysphoric for a while, spend a day dressed as your stereotypical biological sex. You’ll feel awful for the day, but the day after when you dress as your actual gender will be awesome. Avoid transphobic places and people as much as possible (certain friends, YouTube comments in general) and go to places that understand and affirm how you feel (Tumblr, safe spaces). If there’s a certain activity that makes you feel less dysphoric (shaving, using hair gel), do it!”
20. Remember that you are allowed to feel this pain, but don’t let it get the best of you.
“I have experienced gender dysphoria for years, and it is far from fun. But there are many ways I make myself feel better! Sometimes, I put on that one outfit that I know looks flawless. I write down a list of all of the things that I love about myself. Maybe I watch that new episode I have been meaning to see! I always do something that I love doing: This small distraction can take away from the pain of gender dysphoria. The most important thing? Know that you are allowed to feel this pain, and that you are beautiful and amazing.”