Managed Dysphoria

Growing up in the closet, even when you don’t know you’re in the closet, becomes an existence built on top of coping mechanisms intended to alleviate dysphoria. The following are ways a closeted trans person may find to alleviate the dysphoria they experience in their day to day lives:

  • When a video game gives you the option of choosing your gender, you tend to choose differently than your assigned gender. This may be accompanied with excuses to defend that choice. “It defaulted to male and I didn’t care.” “I don’t want to stare at a guy’s butt for hours.”

  • A preference for literature and film with characters of your true gender, or with characters who break gender norms (Mulan, Little Women).

  • Pornographic outlets which satisfy strong desires or feel more relatable, such as a draw towards gay/lesbian porn, bridal kink, or transformation sequences.

  • Crossdressing or performing drag.

  • Finding excuses to cut hair short, or to grow it out.

  • Shaving of body hair, or a refusal to shave hair you’re expected to.

  • Wearing loose and baggy clothing that hides the shape of your body.

  • Avoiding social gatherings whenever possible, seeking isolation.

  • Becoming intimately educated about some gender-associated topic, such as men’s or women’s clothing design.

  • Obsessively working out (AFABs).

  • Helping cis partners to shop in order to live vicariously through their presentation.

Nightling Bug 🗝️ @NightlingBug

You're worried that you might be homophobic, even though you believe in gay rights, because "LGBT+ stuff" fills you with a deep discomfort. It all seems so flamboyant and overtly sexual. It makes you want to shrink down and disappear, before you die of secondhand embarrassment.

Nightling Bug 🗝️ @NightlingBug

Later, when you meet real queer people, or your friends come out of the closet, you start to idolize them. But you're also jealous. They're *free* and *real* in a way that seems impossible for straight people, like you. They have huge, *real person* worries and desires and lives.

Because so much abuse is handed down onto gender non-conforming children, many trans people grow up learning to hide their natural personalities out of sheer necessity. Many trans people speak about having a phase of life where they attempted to “buy-in” on their assigned gender, performing masculinity or femininity to extremes in order to try to “fix” themselves. This leads to repression tendencies which may even superficially appear toxic, but are simply the results of trying to hide every scrap of their true selves.

  • Growing and meticulously grooming facial hair (the so-called “denial beard”).

  • Taking up makeup artistry in order to perfect a high femme look.

  • Presenting extremely masculine or hyper feminine.

  • Avoiding any conversation about fashion for any gender. Dissociating whenever fashion conversations or activities occur.

  • Obsessively working out (AMABs).

  • Assuming a strongly stereotyped gender role in a relationship (e.g. the dutifully modest housewife).

  • Marrying and having kids in anticipation that it will “fix” what’s wrong with you.

  • Buying in to ultra-conservative attitudes towards gender and sexuality.

  • Expressing homophobia and transphobia in self-defense to ward off suspicion.

  • Aggressively-passive engagement in anything connected to one’s true gender.

Finally, another very common coping mechanism is to find means of escape or mental engagement in order to forget your own feelings.

  • Intensely investing large amounts of time into hobbies.

  • Long hours spent at work.

  • Chain-binging movies, TV shows, or books.

  • Spending all idle time playing video games or on social media.

  • Obsessively cleaning one’s living space.

  • Sleeping. Lots and lots of sleeping.