A Letter to Those Living with Dysphoria
There are many trans and non-binary people who live in an expectant state, as they become casualties of the delays of the system and the impact of the pandemic. I can imagine how frequently your friends encourage you to be patient, or how many times you might have checked your inbox in anticipation for the appointment date. This is a letter for those of you who are tired of waiting.
Today, I would like to ask you a question. If it is not within your power to fast forward the clock to a time when you could live a fully congruent life if this in-between period is unmovable, then what could you make out of it? Are these weeks, months, or years destined to go to waste, or is there an alternative to living with dysphoria yet feeling fulfilled in others ways?
Gender-diverse people often deal with dysphoria, it can sneak into your life while you bind your chest while rolling your eyes at your mother – as she keeps saying ‘he’ rather than ‘she’, while you catch a glimpse of yourself in a shop window, or while you feel observed in public transport. Some of my clients tell me that these experiences can be welcomed – as signs that their gender feelings are valid and real. I am aware that gender-specialist assessments frequently focus on establishing how much distress is derived from your body, but this approach places a misleading doubt in the lives of trans and non-binary people, “If I don’t hate my body, then am I trans enough?”
Well, I am only one person, but if you ask me, suffering is not part of the criteria, incongruence is. Every one of us has different degrees of tolerance to distress, some trans and non-binary people feel unbearably discomforted by their sexed body, whereas others are aware of its incongruence, yet accepting that it’s not going to be this way forever.
So, what if I was to tell you that you can be trans and not hate your body, what if there is an alternative to this in-between period of your life? I want you to sit, to focus on your breath, to close your eyes, and non-judgmentally ask yourself this question…..In my case, what is attainable? Where in this spectrum of distress can I place myself? Could I learn to appreciate myself? After all, I am not only trans or non-binary but I am so many other things as well. Could I accept this body while I have it, rather than fighting every inch of it? Could I even say “Body, I don’t really like you, but thank you for having taking me thus far”?
It is human nature to try and escape difficult emotions, but these challenges are a crucial part of our sense of endurance, our strength, and growth. While there are many things that are outside of our control in life, what we can control is the way we relate to and engage with them.
Laura Scarrone Bonhomme
Gender Specialist Clinical Psychologist