We're here to help!
We have put together some help, advice and links if you feel like you are struggling with your dysphoria, mental health, or other things related to your transition. Please note that we are only a shop; we have mostly selected resources put together by other people so these are their views and not our own. We have contacted these people to let them know we have included their videos. If there are resources you think would be useful for others, please contact us and we can update the site.
Coming out (or not!)
It is so important to know that just because you have come out to yourself as trans, this doesn’t mean that you NEED to come out to anyone else. If you feel like coming out may cause homelessness, emotional or physical harm, or make life very difficult for you in any other way, it may be best for you not to come out to those people. This doesn’t make you any less valid or any less trans, it just means that you can stay safe until you are in a place or situation that will allow you to show more of who you are. If you feel you cannot come out yet, having online or trusted friends that you can come out to and feel yourself with can be a great way to stay positive and express yourself. There are many people facing some of the same struggles as you. Please see our support groups in the quick links if this would help you!
Being Trans in the Workplace
For an LGBT+ person, the workplace can be difficult at times. If you already have a job it can be scary and uncomfortable to explain to colleagues and bosses things like changing your name and pronouns. As part of the The Equality Act 2010, discrimination, harassment and victimisation are all illegal and as a transgender person in the workplace you have rights against this. If you ever experience any form of discrimination be sure you understand your rights fully and speak up. If you would like more information about your rights while working or applying for jobs as a transgender or non-conforming person please read this article from the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
If you are already in a relationship when you realise that your gender is not the same as the one you were assigned at birth, or that you would like to express it differently, this can be difficult for both of you. It is important to remember that while you may have been coming to terms with this for a while, this information is new to them. They may ask lots of questions- this is your partner trying to understand. It may help your partner to understand by explaining everything in depth. If you are worried you might explain things wrong you could try writing it all in a letter.
One important factor is that you may be telling them that you are a gender that they are not sexually attracted to and that this is not their fault even though they love you as a person. It is important to also explain that while this is difficult for them they need to respect your gender identity and pronouns.
Every relationship is different, your partner may be shocked or may have be expecting it.They may be relieved that you have confided in them. We have added some videos we feel are useful to help you in relationships.
Passing can be a controversial term but is a recognised term to refer to people who “Pass” as a cis person. This would mean that you wouldn’t be able to tell that they are trans from looking at them or speaking and interacting with them. Some people have “Passing Privilege” which means they find it easier to be seen as the gender they identify as. Some people develop this as their transition goes along and some people never feel that other people see them as their gender. Some people have certain areas that “pass” better than others. Everyone is different and it is important to never place too much value on this or to feel less valid if you feel you don’t ‘pass’. We have uploaded some links to videos on steps you could take to lessen your worries about not passing. We believe that comparing our bodies to Cis bodies is not helpful as they are not “ideal”.
What is Dysphoria?
The Mirriam Webster Dictionary defines Gender Dysphoria as: “A distressed state arising from conflict between a person's gender identity and the sex the person has or was identified as having at birth.” The key part of this definition being that it causes the person distress. Everyone is different and people have varying levels of dysphoria, which can also change over time; some people have no dysphoria at all.
Dysphoria is associated with the waiting that many trans people experience, be that for hormones or medical treatments such as chest surgery. While we are very lucky in the UK to have a National Health Service which allows us to access medical care on an (almost) free basis, there are extensive waiting times for transgender people. Dysphoria can also be particularly difficult to deal with as you have to take it with you wherever you go. For this reason we understand the importance of developing healthy coping mechanisms and distracting yourself while you wait so that you don’t have to feel that distress all the time.
Coping with Dysphoria.
Firstly, we would like to recommend a really useful site, Gender Construction Kit. They have a range of information available and offer a number of methods to help cope with gender related dysphoria.
We have also rounded up some suggestions for the best ways to distract yourself if dysphoria is getting you down.
It may make you feel good to take the time to make your body feel more like your own in the little ways that you can! You could cut or dye your hair. If you can't do that, it may help to put your hair under a hat that you like. You could shave (carefully!) or not shave your body hair and face. Even if you can't grow facial hair it's nice to feel that you are taking the time to look after your appearance and to be in control of the way that you look, even a little bit. Some people find using make up to contour their face or to fill in their beard/eyebrows can help make you look more masculine/feminine as desired.
Using products that are gender affirming can also help tackle dysphoria, like strong smelling shower gels, aftershave, soaps etc. Being comfortable and confident at home when you are alone is important. It is ok to avoid or cover mirrors, keep underwear on while washing or use bath bombs or products to cloud water etc. As long as you are able to maintain bodily hygiene, do what works for you!
You could wear clothes which you feel are gender affirming. This doesn't always mean baggy clothes, though some people find it helpful as it changes their silhouette. Feeling confident in your clothes is important for engaging in activities that you might find you don't enjoy due to your body image.
Other activities could include physical activity. Some people find it helpful to work out (at home or at the gym) as it can make you feel like you are constructively working on your body towards your own aesthetic and health goals.
A lot of people feel dysphoric about their voice, it can help to do voice training exercises (there are lots on YouTube) and also to sing along to songs that are in the vocal range you aspire to, and try to match their pitch! It is also important to try to remember that speaking from your chest (it may take practice) can give you a lower sounding and louder voice.
Personally I (Jack) like to play games when I am feeling dysphoric, lots of games allow you to create a character and edit their appearance. It can help you to take a break from your dysphoria to play as a character that looks the way you would like to look and uses the correct name! You can also create something, art and crafts uses a lot of patience and concentration which can take your mind off things. This can be drawing, painting, collage, photography, woodwork... anything you like! You can also use these art forms to express some of your feelings about dysphoria to help you understand them more.
It is so important that you don't go through it alone. It can be really helpful to educate yourself on others, famous or historical who have gone through similar struggles as it can be really inspiring. Be sure to reach out to close and trusted friends. If you feel like there is no one in your close network that you can confide in that is ok! There are helplines which can be a listening ear 24/7. There are also a number of support groups and initiatives who have members that are also experiencing dysphoria. We have linked these below. If there are any other groups you would like to be added let us know!
Most of all, it is important to remember that you are doing your best! Be nice to yourself! Its so important to keep distracted and occupied doing the things you enjoy, even if that is relaxing on the sofa. It may even be small steps that can make a difference like cuddling a pillow to your chest while you sleep. You shouldn't feel bad for having dysphoria or having to take some steps to cope with it. If anything, you should be proud that you are doing so well while feeling this way.
A lot of non-binary people feel dysphoria. Unfortunately sometimes people find this less easy to understand in comparison to binary trans people. This can add extra pressure on a person as they shouldn't have to prove themselves to be taken seriously for their very valid feelings. For example some non-binary people feel like they need to conform to multiple gender roles so that they feel others will verify their identity. Dysphoria in people who are non-binary may mean having a regularly changing attitude towards all gender related body parts or feeling dysphoric about some but not others. For example a person may feel dysphoric about their chest but like their penis. Remember, you can only be you. Here are a few videos about non-binary dysphoria:
Not Having Dysphoria
Some people do not experience dysphoria but still identify as transgender, non-binary or non gender conforming. Some people believe that you need to have dysphoria to be trans. If you do not experience dysphoria but know in yourself that you are trans, try not to listen to those people even though it can be hard at times. We have added this video about not having dysphoria to explain in more detail:
Doubting yourself or your transition
A lot of people doubt themselves throughout their transition, this is normal! It is also in part a product of the news and other peoples pressures and opinions. Sometimes parents and other important figures in your life (friends, siblings, partners) will question your decisions as they worry that you will be hurt if you make the wrong one. Remember that their concern comes from a place of love, even if it can be hurtful and you know yourself that you are making the right decision. There are also a lot of negative opinions in the media about trans people who "were pressured into it" or that "lots of people detransition”. It is our belief that these are scaremongering tactics written by people who are scared of transgender people, what they stand for and the changes that are happening in society in regards to sex and gender. You do not need to listen to people who are afraid of you and do not understand you.
Online Support Groups
We have a close relationship with the online UK support group TMSA (Trans Masculine Support and Advice). You can find their website here with information to be added to their secret Facebook support groups. We will be adding more online support groups soon!
Supportive UK Charities/ Services
Firstly we would like to address one very UNSUPPORTIVE and DAMAGING organisation which is called "Transgender Trend". Please ignore and avoid any materials published by them as they are at best false and make misleading claims and at worst perpetuate damaging stereotypes that can harm transgender children and the community in general.
One of the most prominent UK Charities is Mermaids, which supports transgender youth and their families. Their website can be found here.
Gendered Intelligence is a registered charity that exists to increase understandings of gender diversity and improve trans people's quality of life.
Stonewall is an international organisation which supports the entire LGBT+ community, their website can be found here.
For transgender people in Northern Ireland, the newly formed charity TransgenderNI may be helpful, their website can be found here.
MindOut is a mental health service run by and for lesbians, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer people. They work to improve the mental health and wellbeing of LGBTQ+ community. Their website can be found here.
The Naz and Matt foundation is a great charity whose mission is to never let any religion come in the way of the unconditional love between parents and their children. Their website can be found here.
Regional UK Support Groups
There are many local support groups that meet on a semi-frequent basis, we will add to this list as we learn of more organisations. Please let us know if you have a regional organisation that you would like us to include!
London Friend: Provides counselling and support service for LGBT+ communities. Runs a range of support groups and social activities for example for lesbians/bisexual women, for black, asian and BME women, a non-scene men’s group.
North West London Lesbian and Gay Group: A social activity group established in 1971 who welcome all members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Opening Doors London: Provides information and support services to and with older (50+) lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people across London.
Birmingham LGBT: Birminghams leading charity advocating for and supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities in Birmingham and beyond
Connect: A relaxed and friendly social group for trans people including non-binary people, aged 18-35 and in Greater Manchester.
Merseyside non-scene LGBT Social Group: A social group, meeting midweek evenings, roughly monthly, in lgbtq-friendly venues in and around Liverpool city centre.
Trans Health Merseyside: Trans Health Merseyside (THM) is a monthly wellbeing peer support space held via Zoom covering a range of health and wellbeing issues. Every 3rd Tuesday of the month, 3pm.
Transgender Sheffield: This group is for transgender, non-binary, gender-queer, and gender-fluid folks (and anyone else who fits under the trans umbrella) who want to get together in a safe space, socialise and swap stories.
Leicester LGBT Centre. -Voluntary organisation offering social and support groups, counselling service, LGBT+ training, consultancy and workshops.