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Thread: Dysphoria moments

  1. #1
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    Dysphoria moments

    I'm curious to hear experiences of others who are well into transition and live full time or consider themselves already transitioned (whatever it means to you). Do you have moments of dysphoria and what triggers it for you, and how you cope with that?

    The reason for this thread is that I had two different moments within a day from each other that made me feel insecure and very anxious - I recognized the feeling, even though it has been a while since I had it. For example, due to Covid, I took a pause from electrolysis, waiting for my younger daughter to be eligible for vaccine (the rest of my family is vaccinated). Anyways, I have over 3 years done but still fighting some hair on my upper lip and a bit on my neck. I don't like seeing anything there so every couple of days, I will just quickly shave it off with a dry razer without any shaving cream. Except on Friday, I decided to use shaving cream to get a clean shave and when I saw my face in the mirror, it was like someone hit me in the stomach. I wasn't ready to see that.
    Another time, my daughter was playing with filters on my phone, and stuck a phone in front of my face and it drew a thick mustache. Again, the same feeling. Finally, I found my old voice recording from 2.5 years ago as I needed to send it to my new voice therapist as a baseline sample, and was horrified to hear my old voice. On the other hand, it showed me how far I've come.

    I was wondering if these due to me not being 100% secure with living as a trans woman, or is it normal and everyone has these moments.

    As a background - I did shift a gear in April when I started a new job. I was hired as a trans woman and have been seeing myself more as a trans woman and less as a non-binary person. So even though I am getting close to a 4-year trsnsition anniversary, I feel that only the past 6 months I lived unambiguously as a woman and only woman.
    Last edited by Katya@; 10-17-2021 at 10:58 PM. Reason: Typos

  2. #2
    Member Mirya's Avatar
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    I haven't visited this website in a few years, but I was going through my old bookmarks and thought I'd drop in. I transitioned in my late 30s and by most standards have had an extremely successful transition. I had FFS, SRS, and BA surgeries and for the most part am able to live in stealth. My family knows I'm trans of course, and my boyfriend knows I'm trans, but his friends and family have no idea. We intend to keep it that way. Most of the women I know, even friends who've known me for years, also don't know I'm trans. Actually - I told one of them after a few years and she was blown away. She was in shock and couldn't believe it.

    So you would think that I would be totally happy with my body. But I'm not. I sometimes still see broad shoulders and a male body when I look in the mirror. I still get nervous about my voice, even though I've had voice training and haven't been misgendered on the phone in many years. I still experience dysphoria sometimes.

    It's actually kind of maddening. But overall it's still better than it used to be, and I feel like those moments become fewer and fewer as time goes on. But they never go away completely. It's something I try to accept, but it's hard.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Jeri Ann's Avatar
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    Hey Katya,

    Much of your post deals with facial hair and yes, it was a huge deal for me. It was such a big deal that I completed electrolysis over forty years ago. Facial hair was so troublesome for me that I had to deal with it at all costs. I get a knot in my stomach just recalling those days.

    Dysphoria continued, of course, but attempts to acquire hormones was futile for many years. That changed twenty one years ago.

    Along the way I had blepharoplasty and feminine dental veneers (yep, teeth are often different too).

    Now, after all of the procedures and surgeries, I just do life. The boxes that were necessary for me have been checked. Like Mirya I mostly live in stealth and go about my business without notice. I gave up on the voice thing, however. For me it has not been successful. I still get misgendered on the phone. It used to upset me terribly but not as much anymore. It doesn?t bother me as much if the person on the other end understands and responds appropriately.

    So that?s it for me. Only occasional frustrating phone conversations. I am not sure that it even qualifies as dysphoria.
    Last edited by Jeri Ann; 10-18-2021 at 08:26 AM.

  4. #4
    Little Mrs. Snarky! Nadine Spirit's Avatar
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    Hiya - I changed my hormones 4.5 years ago and went full time 3.5 years ago. I had an orchi about 2.5 years ago and my GCS is planned for June of 22. I have also been in therapy for that entire time with a gender variance specializing therapist. After dealing with hundreds, if not thousands of trans people during her career she feels as though the dysphoria will never leave 100% but it can become so small as to be insignificant to our lives. Personally that is my overall goal.

    Right now my dysphoria often flairs up when I am aware of my current genital status. In order for me to be able to understand that I need to have GCS I had to remove the mental walls I built around my genital dysphoria. Now that those have been torn down, and I am in the waiting and electrolysis phase of the procedure, I can't stand having that thing down there! Ugh! So that's really messing with my head currently.

    The other time my dysphoria flares is when I am having fluctuations in my estrogen levels. I have used E pellet implants for the past 2.5 years. I love them, however as they degrade over time they will deliver less estrogen towards the end of their usefulness. When my E gets too low I tend to experience more dysphoria. I have lots of doubts about my appearance, my hair, my boobs, my voice, etc, you know the usual, lol!

    I think it important to say that while I still occasionally have dysphoria moments, I am SO much happier and better adjusted to living than I ever have been and my dysphoria is at the lowest it has ever been.

  5. #5
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    Mirya - it is good seeing you. Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my thread and sharing your experiences. I actually recall some of our exchanges from 4+ years ago. You were one of those folks who knew exactly what you wanted (at least by that point) and I was still struggling to find my own path forward as it wasn't a binary choice for me and the concept of non-binary was still new to me. But then you mentioned that you knew different trans people, with different experiences and needs, and knowing this was very helpful for me. I am getting to the same conclusion that some dysphoria and insecurities will linger for the rest of my life. It does sound like that maybe living stealth presents its own challenges, which could be a subject of another thread in and of itself. In any case, I hope everything will continue to look up for you and stress will go down with time!

    Jeri Ann,
    The felling of having a knot in my stomach is exactly how I felt it. It's very sad to read about all the difficulties you folks had in early days with trans healthcare. I can't imaging loosing access to hormones at this point. It is literally lifesaving for me at this point. I can't see life without them. And thank you for sharing about your early frustrations with being misgendered on a phone. My voice therapists always told me it is THE hardest thing as the person on the other line has only your voice to go by, and within first 20 words they form an opinion about your gender. It does give me a LOT of grief these days and is a big motivator for me to keep going with lessons. But if I won't succeed in this endeavor I will learn to accept it and not let interfere with my life, like you did. Thanks for that!

    Nadine, my long time friend - I feel sometimes that you are one of those few people who walk waist deep in the snow ahead of me, making it so much easier for me to move forward by taking advantage of the footsteps in the snow you made. Thank you for sharing your experience. Agree, occasional flares up are nothing like the feeling of crippling dysphoria I had from before!

    I had my weekly call with a therapist today and brought this up. As I talked it out loud and thought it through, I realized that some of these dysphoria experiences were part of other signals I have been getting recently, all together reinforcing the idea that I am really ready to put my male past behind me and move forward with as little reminders of my old male self as possible. I noticed recently that I am not neutral seeing handful of my old photos that are here and there around the house. We don't have many of photos to begin with, and nothing newer that 5-6 years old. Even seeing my weeding photo, where I was wearing a white tuxedo, makes me sad for my old self, remembering how envious I was of my partner wearing a beautiful dress. I was truly happy for her and kind of accepted my own fate and be as happy as I can be.

    I feel that I am growing as a trans woman and this is just part of my transition process.

    Thanks again girls,

    Katya

  6. #6
    If only you could see me sarahcsc's Avatar
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    Dear Katya,

    Unfortunately, dysphoric moments never go away completely, even for folks who pass very well - they still hyperfocus on gender-specific aspects of their bodies from time to time although this tends to get better with time. I'm a psychiatrist who sees many gender-diverse individuals in my clinic, and this is often one of the first things I tell them before they decide to have HRT or surgery of any kind so they can establish realistic expectations for themselves.

    However, we do establish a new norm for ourselves with time and this can be both a curse and a blessing. Norms can help people feel more at ease with what is obviously dysphoric, but they can also make people complacent and fearful of the unknown. Older trans folks have vastly different norms to the younger ones - the latter are often less willing to settle for less while the former are very settled in their norms which is very hard to shift.

    There is also an unhelpful expectation that trans folks and their families place on themselves - that is, they expect gender dysphoria to go away completely following the transition process, when in fact it rarely does. Hormones will take months if not years to render physical changes, and surgery too has its limitations. People like to think that they are the 'exception' - as though they will be the one in a thousand whose transition will remove all their dysphoria and everything they do will meet their expectations. This is of course a fantasy. 99% of trans people that I know either personally or professionally struggle with dysphoria sometimes no matter their leg of the journey.

    So how do you deal with it? (a common question my patients ask)

    First, dealing with dysphoria doesn't mean you find ways to rid yourself of it completely, it simply means you learn to be more equanimous about it. Second, we (trans folks) should remind themselves that they are by no means alone and unique in this. There are tons of people with chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma, hypertension, who go about living life without thinking too much about their bodies. Dysphoria is a little like that although the strategies we employ are different from that of physical disorders. And lastly, there is no magic potion or secret weapon against dysphoria except for the slow passing of time.

    The experience of time is the integration of the past and future to guide the present. With the passing of time, a person accumulates memories but sacrifices possibilities. That is why a younger person with dysphoria often experiences a lot more conflict because they don't have enough memories to guide them, but have a thousand possibilities to choose from. Thus, we acquire a kind of maturity and tranquility that is somewhat bittersweet as we age. The same applies to gender dysphoria and everything else.

    I hope this helps you understand that you are not alone, and your experience is completely within the realm of normal. Although sometimes, even I wished that I was that one in a thousand who never regrets anything. Alas, I'm not that lucky. Lol.

    Yours,
    S
    "The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me" - Ayn Rand

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by sarahcsc View Post
    I hope this helps you understand that you are not alone, and your experience is completely within the realm of normal. Although sometimes, even I wished that I was that one in a thousand who never regrets anything. Alas, I'm not that lucky. Lol.
    Yours,
    S
    Hi Sarah,
    Thank you so much for offering your personal and professional opinion here. It is invaluable and is very helpful.

    I guess what worked for me so far is an analytical approach to analyze the source of the dysphoria first, then figuring out if there are ways to eliminate it or avoid the trigger in a first place, and if not, then I guess to treat it as one of those long term chronic issues you mentioned.

    Knowing what triggers my dysphoria, gives me at least some idea what steps I can take to not trigger it. Doesn't mean something else won't trigger it, but this is the part of managing the dysphoria. So I think I will just keep an open mind about it and will try to add more positive, affirming experiences.

    BTW, I think I know why my old voice recording has triggered dysphoria. I think it is is because when I listened to the new and old voice recordings, even though I know that there are 2 years apart, my brain still thinks it is just how I sound now, not then. We're most accustomed to look at our old photographs, and know they are different from what we look at present. I think for my brain, it is different when I hear a recording. It doesn't think it is old but rather new, and it makes me really anxious.
    Last edited by Katya@; 10-23-2021 at 10:32 PM.

  8. #8
    Gold Member Lana Mae's Avatar
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    Sarah, thanks for that! It helped me sort out a few things and confirm some others! Best wishes! Hugs Lana Mae
    Life is worth living!
    "Foxy lady! You look so good!!" Jimi Hendrix

  9. #9
    New Member AndrogynousBandy's Avatar
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    Dysphoria is something that I will have to deal with until death. I accept the reality of it more now. Even if I dislike it, I shouldn't hate myself so much, to what wasn't in my control to begin with.

  10. #10
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    @Bandy- it can get better. much better. brene brown’s work on shame really helped me, as did coming out of the closet and living openly. someone around here had a quote akin to “being trans isn’t a choice, but what you do about it is”. i also don’t spend any processing power any longer on desiring to be a woman, or being envious of other women’s gender or “womanhood”. both that and losing my shame were worth the cost of transition


    peace on your journey…
    Last edited by Nikki.; 12-19-2021 at 09:28 AM.

  11. #11
    New Member AndrogynousBandy's Avatar
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    Brene Brown, huh? I've never really known peace nor positivity in life. Perhaps I should read about this one day.

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