Body dysphoria is tough. It leaves you feeling flat and empty, or so full and overflowing with uncomfortable thorns in your side that you have no idea how to make sense of yourself. Imagine yourself, the gender you know you are, and looking down to see the body of another sex. Seeing a penis that you can’t relate to, breasts that aren’t yours, curves in the wrong places. It is the most uncomfortable outfit you have ever worn, but you cannot take it off. On those days, or weeks, I find getting dressed a chore and self care seems the hardest thing to do, but sometimes these are the things that remind us of who we are, to remind us of our worth. Here are some of my top tips:
- Write a list of positive things you like about yourself and that affirm your identity; the way you style your hair and looked super masculine that day, the way your lips look curved and feminine, an outfit that makes you feel awesome. Tape it to a mirror so when you struggle to look at yourself you see the positives.
- Get physical. Run as fast as you can, lift some weights, move your body. Revel in the brilliance of your body for the things it can do.
- Talk to your pet, stroke them, give them kisses. They will forever love you and admire you while respecting your gender identity. Focus on the feeling of their fur, the sound they make. Talk and talk, they won’t judge.
- Call a friend who you know you can have “low key chills” with. Company can help, but the right sort. Find company who will affirm you, whatever you look like or are wearing. Someone who will not ask anything of you except your silent company and maybe a coffee.
- Treat yourself to something that makes you feel valuable. A posh coffee, a meal in your favourite restaurant, a new nail varnish, a massage, a bottle of your favourite wine.
- Make something. It doesn’t matter if you’re good at it or not, keeping your hands busy and seeing your own accomplishments are what it’s about. Cover everything in glitter (it always makes me feel better…) do a page of a scrap book, try customising an old piece of clothing, make a patch, write your own comic.
- Buy yourself a present. You deserve it!
- Build a fort, by yourself or with a friend. Gather your favourite things, make a pot of tea, put a film on and climb in.
- Put on your favourite outfit, whether it’s appropriate or not! However fancy or casual, put on whatever makes you feel most like yourself.
- Breathe. Take long, deep breaths. Count your breaths. Feel your chest rising and falling. Taste the air.
- Read an affirming blog or poem. Bookmark it and keep it handy so you can find it when you need.
- Make a change, dye your hair or get a new piercing or tattoo. Or put on a temporary tattoo. Get a hair cut.
- Have a bath, or a foot bath. Move your body (or feet) in the water and focus on the feeling.
- Go for a drive (if it’s safe to do so.) Wind down the window and blast away the cobwebs in your mind. I love the feeling of the wind on my bare arms.
- Cuddle someone.
And remember this: You are valid. Your gender identity is valid. Trans* men: Your period doesn’t diminish your masculinity, you are manly as f*ck, even if you are curled up with a fluffy hot water bottle. As a very wise Taylor Swift once sang…Haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate…shake it off!