Due to pressure and society, life as a transgender person can be very stressful. Not only do transgender people face societal and workplace discrimination, they also have to cope with incapability of their body with their gender identity. For this reason, many transgender people experience gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria refers to the anxiety felt due to conflict between internal gender identity versus the sex assigned to you at birth. Having to experience life in a body that doesn’t fit your own internal perception of yourself can cause a lot of stress and anxiety.


While some people are able to alter their appearance to match their gender identity, not all people can. Sometimes, due to work, an unwillingness to jeopardize a personal relationships, or many other reasons, a transgender person is unable to express themselves. Even if they can, it also can be difficult without the proper resources or a certain physique to “pass,” or, as defined by TSER,  “be perceived by others as a particular identity/gender or cisgender regardless how the individual in question identifies.” This is, of course, a horrible way of looking at it as regardless of physical appearance we should respect someone’s gender identity. Still, when a person does not look the way they want to look, or is harassed or misidentifies as the wrong gender, it can cause significant stress and harm to self-esteem.


Naturally, it is important to know about gender dysphoria if you are transgender. Being able to identify the reasoning behind what you may be feeling can sometimes help you cope with the symptoms it causes. As a transgender person myself, I have been asked over and over what it “feels” like and when I realized and began to identify as trans. I believe gender dysphoria plays a large role in the lives of most transgender people. To put it simply, I began to identify as trans when I realized how unhappy I was with myself looking into the mirror. After I could finally identify what was making me so unhappy with myself and my appearance, I realized what I could do to make myself happier. Even things that may seem minor, such as wearing boxers or panties, skirts or ties, can go along way in making ‘you’ feel more comfortable with ‘you’, simply by countering dysphoria by wearing what makes you feel more confident and more like yourself.


Even if you are not transgender, and have never experienced gender dysphoria, knowing what your transgender friends and family may be feeling helps you be a better friend, ally, family member, and all-around person. If you have the tiniest glimpse of what a transgender person may be feeling, you can begin to emphasize and provide support.


For tips on how to be a good ally to the trans* community, visit GLAAD.

For a general FAQ on what it means to be transgender, visit the Human Rights Campaign: http://www.hrc.org/resources/transgender-faq

Sable Liggera - 2016