Dealing with gender dysphoria can be a difficult and isolating journey, but there are ways to cope. Gender dysphoria, which is the feeling that your body doesn’t belong to you or feel right, can be an unsettling experience. If there’s anything I’ve learned about dysphoria, it’s that dysphoria comes at the randomest of times and can be one of the hardest feelings to move through.

Gender-affirming hormone therapy (GAHT, sometimes also called hormone replacement therapy or HRT) can support folks who struggle with gender dysphoria. However, these feelings can affect people who are using GAHT too! Gender dysphoria is a common experience for trans and nonbinary people. Since hormones aren’t part of everyone’s gender journey, it’s important to have plenty of non-hormonal options to help yourself cope.

Seeking out supportive people and communities, practicing self-care activities, and accepting yourself for who you are can help you manage your gender dysphoria in a healthy way. It’s so important for your overall mindset while you’re experiencing dysphoria to find what brings you joy. Dealing with gender dysphoria can be a difficult experience, but with the right support, self-care, and understanding, it is possible to get through it. Here are a few strategies for coping with this new and uncomfortable feeling.


Combating gender dysphoria with creativity

Some people are naturally creative and artistic in nature. It can be discovered through the toughest of times as an outlet and coping strategy. Writing and painting, making music, and other creative activities can be a healthy outlet for dysphoric feelings. For some folks, writing things out on a page makes it easier to find the words than sharing out loud would. Even painting in colors that represent the feelings and emotions. 

Singing can be a good outlet, although it can be quite discouraging if you know you aren’t Alicia Keys. It can be a big help just to sing your favorite songs at the top of your lungs, dancing and singing it out. It’s actually backed by science that processing stress and trauma through sound and movement can lower cortisol levels. Singing helps the thoughts and feelings flow through and out of your body as a huge release.

Validate yourself for better mental health

Another trick I’ve found effective on my own mental health is self validation and affirmation. It’s always been one of my mottos that what you think becomes what you believe, and what you believe is what you become. When healing from dysphoria, it’s more about the journey than the destination, I think. The words we say about ourselves and to ourselves have a massive impact on our mental health. (Your Plume Support Group can help you discover new things to love and validate about yourself, too.)

In some cases, repeating affirmations helps self-love develop without you noticing. You can repeat the affirmation until you don’t need it anymore. Here’s some good starter affirmations I’ve used. Feel free to change it to fit you! You can dress up an affirmation for whatever you need in the moment. 

  • “My gender is not reflected in the body I was born in, and still I am beautiful and handsome.”
  • “My body, and how I choose to adorn it, doesn’t define my gender and how I feel on the inside.”
  • “I don’t have to rise to societal standards of what my gender should look like”
  • “My journey is important. My dysphoria does not mean I am unworthy of love and affirmation”
  • “Being trans is magical. I’m magical by nature and divinely protected”
  • “I am worthy of happiness”
  • “I am a pillar of strength.”
  • “I’m not okay and that’s okay. I will love myself through it”
  • “I am exactly where I’m supposed to be”

Another important step is to make sure you have a strong support system for your mental health. Having friends and chosen family members who are understanding and supportive of your journey can make a big difference in how you feel. Additionally, you can seek out professional help from a therapist who specializes in gender dysphoria, talk about your feelings in a Plume support group, or lean on your community.

Discover what self-care can mean for you

Self care looks different for every human on the planet. If you’re nonbinary and/or trans, self care is a top priority. And it doesn’t have to mean bubble baths and face masks or manicures. It can mean re-reading your favorite book, re-watching your favorite shows or discovering new movies to watch! It can mean engaging in spiritual practices and religion(s) that help you feel safe and seen. 

For some people, self care looks like eating foods that make your body feel good, or exercising. As mentioned above, movement can be very therapeutic and during, releasing endorphins that will affect your mental health in positive ways. Take some time to explore what the term ‘self care’ means for you, and what it looks like. Caring for the body that carries your amazing spirit, and caring for the inner community that circulates throughout your nervous system, and showing up for yourself in new ways might relieve the dysphoria if only for a moment. That’s a win.

Reducing stress and connecting with your inner self

A simple way to get out of your head when you’re feeling dysphoric is healthy distraction. (No, I don’t mean doom-scrolling on Instagram and Facebook. I mean stimulating your senses as a distraction.) Some people find that exercising their senses until they feel calm can be an effective strategy. One way would be to play puzzle games, which has been proven to reduce stress and help people who have experienced trauma find some momentary peace.

Nurture your nervous system

Another way to engage with your senses might be smelling your favorite perfume or herbal mix. Sometimes weighted objects on your chest while you lay down can help calm the panicky feeling of not feeling at home in your body. I personally use a weighted blanket or big books to help regulate my nervous system. Listening to frequencies on YouTube like white noise, and different healing frequencies can also move throughout our subconscious in ways we don’t see but feel. Those can be grounding and calming as well.

Take a deep breath and soothe your senses

I know it’s cliche, but another good stimulating practice might be different breathing patterns. I like to use guided breathing meditations because my mind races in moments of panic, dysphoria, and derealization, when I think too hard about my body or my gender. There’s something about breathing that is so beautifully simple, yet can change the entire outcome of how I think in the moment. 

Gender dysphoria can be hard to cope with, as you’re experiencing it. You might not be able to recall just how to breathe for stress relief, even if you’ve done breathing exercises before. There are tons of apps and free videos available to guide breath exercises. If you’re struggling, sometimes it’s easier having someone else’s voice walk you through the exercise.

From the good to the gritty, write it all out

A tactic that can help in a lot of areas of struggle, not just dysphoria, is journaling. If you struggle to get thoughts out on paper for just a journal entry, try making a gratitude or pride list. Your list might include things that in this moment you can feel grateful for, and things in this moment that you’re proud of. Here are some suggestions:

  • Things that make you smile
  • Memories that affirm your personhood 
  • Remember some of the moments you’ve felt at home in your body. What did that feel like? 

Write on some prompts about gratitude and strength. Remember that, in the moment of heightened dysphoria, you are strong. A lot of people couldn’t imagine how it must feel to walk in a body that doesn’t feel grounding or “normal.” You, as a trans-identifying individual, are a pillar of strength. Sit in those feelings of self-gratitude for making it this far and waking up today to fight off these emotions that can bring you to your knees. Still, you’re here, and you’re more radiant than ever because you’re living in your truth like you dreamed you could. That’s something to be proud of. 

Finally, it is important to remember that gender dysphoria is a valid experience and that it is okay to be yourself. You do not need to conform to gender norms in order to be happy and comfortable in your own skin. Taking steps to be more comfortable in your own body, such as wearing clothes that make you feel good, can help you cope with your gender dysphoria.

While we strive to include a diverse range of voices and expertise, not everything will be for every person. Each individual’s experience is unique, and the information Plume provides is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always first seek the advice of your primary and/or specialist physician, the Plume Care Team, or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, your mental health and emotional needs, or your health care needs regarding gender-affirming hormone therapy. If you are experiencing an emergency, including a mental health crisis, call 911 or reach out to Trans LifeLine.