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befriending your dysphoria

There is a strong case to be made for befriending your gender dysphoria and, once you have accepted that you are transgender, there is little use in fighting what is a natural born inclination. By coming to the understanding that you need to attend to your feelings you can find ways to be happy while managing their periodic threats to boil over.

I can find no better examples of people who have accomplished this than Stana and Rhonda (who I will soon be meeting in person) who have come to terms with their reality and embrace it rather than reject it. I know I tried the alternative route and it only breeds discontent as you attempt to reject something that is intrinsically hard wired.

Transition is one way to grapple with dysphoria but another way might be to manage its demands by living the way you think you need to. I have said before many times here that this involves a complete disregard for everything you have been taught about how you are supposed to live and what the societal rules are. You must become your own creation because ultimately you have little choice.

Only once I was able to finally let go of what I thought I was obliged to do, did I truly become happy with myself.

I think my friend Emma was right when she said that shame is worse than guilt because we feel we have no right to experience and regale in a femininity that seems to have been naturally accorded but which we learn to conceal once scolded. That shame is rooted in the false concept that a feminine male is weak because somehow women are deemed by society to be inferior. By suppressing our instincts we suffer and potentially mistake that beckoning as a call to convert our bodies. All of you know that I fully support transition for those who need it but it is not necessarily for everyone.

I think the key to befriending dysphoria is really about eliminating all self-consciousness, guilt and shame about expressing ourselves in a way that has always been natural to us and I think it is entirely possible, and even mandatory, to fashion a model of a genetic male that suits our respective realities. This is most especially relevant for those of us who have lived our lives in male stealth and for whom transition late in life becomes an overly complex if not entirely undesirable option.

Much of the angst that transgender people have felt over the millennia has to do with the restrictions put upon them. If freed to be themselves most would lead lives on their terms and be far happier for it.

Don't wait for someone to give you permission to do that.


  1. Excellent post, Joanna. Thank you so much for writing about this.

    For transgender people shame is so much worse than guilt. Brene Brown's definitions:

    Guilt = I did something bad
    Shame = I am bad

    We've all done bad things in our lives, some worse than others of course. But guilt tends to decay over time, lose its sting, both for us and for those we affected.

    But "I am bad" is a constant nagging awareness that Shame reminds us of by repeating experiences, thoughts, and whatever else it needs to keep us in control. And with enough practice it's hard to put that shame in its place even as we know it isn't true.

    We know now that being transgender isn't a choice, it's not a lifestyle, or a self-centered escape. It's a reality that we are born with. I wouldn't have chosen it if I could but then again it's part of what makes me what I am which is a pretty good person overall.

    I agree also with Joanna about the angst that comes from others' restrictions, messaging, and shunning. It's cruel when you think about it, which emphasizes the need for us to accept and love ourselves for what we are, wherever that is on the TG spectrum.


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