How to help my trans girlfriend with dysphoria?

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How to help my trans girlfriend with dysphoria?

Postby dumbiee » Wed Jan 10, 2018 3:06 pm

Hello! I'm sorry if this is the wrong board, but I'm looking for some help. I hope I can explain this well enough!

I'm a cis lesbian; my partner of over a year ( and my best friend for several years more ) is a trans woman. I love her to death!! She is pre-transition, still goes by her birth name, and is not out to anyone but me. To the rest of her friends, she still identifies as non-binary, but I'm hoping she'll open up to her closer friends ( who are also trans women! ) soon. She has a very long work day, and spends her M-F evenings with her family who misgender her; we don't live together, but are planning on moving out within a month or two, and we spend every weekend together. We are both in our very early 20's, by the way.

Recently, she's been experiencing some extreme dysphoria. And I mean /extreme/ -- she /hates/ her body. She's told me her dysphoria has gotten pretty bad in the past couple years, and I think that's because that's when she came to terms with being a trans woman -- so, a good news / bad news type of situation. She also has depression and anxiety, and all of these things mixing together manifest in some pretty awful ways.

We're also looking to get long-term therapy once we move out ... but ... she's expressed to me how she feels therapy might be hopeless for her: she feels she's too masc to transition, or that she'll never love the things she hates about herself, or that she'll "never be a good enough woman" for me. It breaks my heart to hear her say that. I know with time, patience, and hard work, she'll come to love herself, no matter what, but at the moment, it's hard for her to see any hope in the situation.

I'm cis, and I'll never truly understand what she's going through ... but I can sympathize and empathize as best I can, and do whatever I can to help her through this.

SO ...

I'm looking for advice, particularly from trans women ( pre- or post-transition, idc ), on how I can be a better partner and ally. As well, I would love some anecdotes of your experiences, and how things have gotten better for you. I'm sure she's seen plenty of "I thought I was too masc to transition, but look at me now!" sorts of posts, as I've seen them as well ... but like, anything will help. If you all have any sort of advice I can give her, or places I can direct her to in order to find hope about this, I would really, really appreciate it. I'm sure she has her own resources, but I love her more than anything, and just want to help convince her she'll get through this! I am certain consistent therapy will help get us into better mental states, but for now, this is all we can do.

Some things I try / have tried doing for her now:

-- ENCOURAGE HER TO TALK. She has problems opening up ( as do I ), but we've slowly gotten better at it. She says talking about how she feels makes her feel worse, but this always ends up with her bottling up her emotions, letting them burst, and then feeling relieved once we've talked through stuff. Ultimately she should do what feels best for her, but sometimes I worry she uses this as an excuse to take the easy route & just not talk!

-- COMPLIMENT HER PHYSIQUE. This can be sort of hit or miss, so I warily do this ... but sometimes telling her how cute she looks can help a bit! When she's particularly depressed, I think this just makes her feel worse, however.

-- SURPRISE HER WITH GIFTS. I've gotten her accessories, sweaters, and dresses that are all pretty fem and fit pretty well! She also wears my clothes whenever we hang out during the weekend ... Sometimes she gets upset because she has broader shoulders than me, but she still looks cute ... She'll feel bad getting gifts sometimes ( saying she doesn't deserve them ), but I think with therapy, and gentle, consistent reassurance, she'll be more comfortable receiving presents like this.

(( That reminds me: IF ANY OF YOU KNOW OF SOME GOOD WEBSITES TO BUY CLOTHES FOR TRANS WOMEN, PLEASE LET ME KNOW!!! Nothing kinky, please!! Just cute casual clothes would be amazing! ))

-- DISTRACT HER WHEN SHE FEELS BAD. During the week this is harder to do -- as I am not a very good conversationalist, and we can only communicate over text, and she is often too exhausted from work to really do anything together -- but on the weekends, it's fun and easy to just sit down and play games or watch movies with her.

Most of these I've discussed with her as to what works best for her when she's feeling bad. Obviously if she knew what to do when she felt like trash, she'd do it, so ... until she transitions / starts therapy, right now we're just doing what we can!

Sorry if that was too wordy. I tried to give as much context as I could. I've read some other support forums, but the advice seemed too generic ... I'm hoping to get more help here.

Thank you so much for your time ... It really means a lot. Let me know if you need clarification on anything, or if I've been at all insensitive / problematic with my language / behavior. Thank you!!
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Re: How to help my trans girlfriend with dysphoria?

Postby AbbyGray » Wed Jan 10, 2018 3:42 pm

I am only at the start of things, but one thing I have found which helps bring the edge off a bad moment is some photos I have of me in girl mode. It reminds me that I am just presenting male until the time is ready to go full time. (even though the photos are terrible, I really need to learn to pose better!)

Buying cloths for her can help, my wife does that from charity shops for me, it does help although on a really bad day, when things don't fit it makes me feel thrumpy. But knowing that she cares for and loves me is what really helps at the end of the day. I just need to work out what I can do for her to help her with the stress I am putting her though how.
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Re: How to help my trans girlfriend with dysphoria?

Postby dumbiee » Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:32 pm

@AbbyGray:
Aww ... what a positive idea! Next time we hang out, I'll be sure to ask my girlfriend if she'd be okay with me taking some cute pics of her. :~) Thank you so much for sharing! Good luck to you during your transition!!
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Re: How to help my trans girlfriend with dysphoria?

Postby Lesley Niyori » Wed Jan 10, 2018 5:52 pm

Hmm, your friend is transgender female, loves you, you love her.

Hmm, I am having trouble seeing a problem :)

Well, that is me saying, say you were a cis male, and you said you loved me, and I loved you, I sure wouldn't have a problem either.

The hardest part of being transgender is so many simply don't accept us for who we are. Too many can't see that we aren't the gender society insists we are.

So your friend is very lucky. If they are essentially lesbian and being female and liking females tends to make you lesbian :) then they are very fortunate indeed.

All you need do dear, is be there for her, help her to become the woman she desperately needs to be, and everything else will be ok.
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If you attempt to chastise me for verbally biting someone who was verbally mean to me, I'll verbally bite you too. Don't be quoting me rules either.
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Re: How to help my trans girlfriend with dysphoria?

Postby dumbiee » Wed Jan 10, 2018 8:48 pm

@Lesley:
I just feel a little helpless sometimes, I suppose! I'm hoping things get easier for her once she's out to more people, and presenting herself more honestly in public. :) We live in a pretty open minded area, but you are very right, unfortunately ... so many places still treat trans folks poorly. Here's hoping things get better in the future!!
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Re: How to help my trans girlfriend with dysphoria?

Postby SophieCantDance » Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:02 pm

Dumbiee,

First and foremost, +1 for the proper use of sympathize/empathize.

The hard truth is that what you are doing already is probably the best support you could give. Dysphoria is hard, it creeps into every moment, just waiting. I can be having the best day, feel beautiful inside and out, then I catch my reflection at a bad angle and it all comes crashing down.

I present male, and every day when I get ready for work I look in the mirror and I want to die. People ask me my name, and I freeze; I want to cry and scream at the unfairness of it all. When I tie my shoes, and see my hands and my feet I want to just curl up into a ball and never see another human being again. Every day for the as long as I can remember I have fantasized about just ripping off my genitals (bad call for living more than five minutes, and would make bottom surgery impossible, but still there every day).

I can tell you that since deciding that I could not live this lie anymore things are harder; it was comparatively so easy when I just pushed down all these feelings, when I told myself that it was too hard, that I could survive on presenting male, and wearing a dress/makeup when my roommates were out of town.

What helps me is the exact kind of support that you seem to be giving. My roommate suffers through me asking if I am pretty, conservatively, thirty-thousand times a day. She uses the correct pronouns (I cannot think of her slipping up even once) and name. She holds me when I am sad, compliments my pretty awful attempts at doing my own makeup.

Does it help in the moment, when my dysphoria has reared its ugly head? No, not really. But it does help overall. It makes me feel like I am not alone, like this path is one that I can traverse, even if I stumble. So as someone who can, at least on the surface, relate to your girlfriend the best advice I can give is this: Be loving, be supportive, and most of all be patient.
Sophie <3
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Re: How to help my trans girlfriend with dysphoria?

Postby dumbiee » Thu Jan 11, 2018 2:09 pm

@Sofie:
Ahh ... thank you for sharing all that ... it really means so much!! I appreciate the open honesty, but I'm so sorry for your struggles. I'm glad you have someone you can rely on for safety and comfort, until you feel comfortable transitioning full-time. Things will be okay in the end ... you just need to hang in there. ♥ I'll be sure to take this all to heart. Thank you again. :)
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Re: How to help my trans girlfriend with dysphoria?

Postby Ashley@Heart » Tue Jan 23, 2018 4:26 am

I found acceptance the most dangerous phase of my transition. Because it meant facing all of the fears that kept me bottled up. I had good friends to support me and a weekly therapist visit and group. I still needed long walks alone to cry or rage, to get away from the women all around me at work when all I could see was the things about them I would never have. I was actively getting the materials to make my death look like an accident so that my family would get as much money as possible because that is all I felt I was worth.

Actively asserting my identity online, in group, and with my therapist was a good start as well as slowly moving my hair (growing it out), skin (shaving or blasting off as much facial and body hair as I could), and body (loosing as much weight as I could to reduce the size of male pattern fat deposits.)
Because I had no safe spaces I avoided clothes other than skinny girl jeans, girls fitted t-shirts, and stretchy boyshorts for underwear. I also started on hormones at that point.

All through this my boyfriend who lived 3000 miles away was always there listening to me and reminding me I was none of the terrible things I thought about myself or that there are super tall girls just like me, etc.

I am not sure what happened exactly, shortly after my hormone dosage was finally where it should be. I had bought a bunch of nice clothes on sale from longtallsally.com and tried them with Liam present. Something about having clothes that fit, the tiniest start of breast development. And the eyes of a boyfriend who really liked what he saw kind of broke the logjam of anxiety that kept me hidden. As I wore more and more I never went back. And just slowly added to my library of things to wear. Eventually making it hard to use my birth name at all.

For me at least the most important bits was how my boyfriend would accept my feelings, and if they were negative self talk remind me that is not at all how I am seen. Reminding me of my progress, and the depth of his affection for me. More than any compliment my boyfriend's attraction to my developing self was what I needed as I had never felt sexual before but as hormones shifted me and dysphoria was tamped down. I found myself with far more desire under full HRT than I ever had as a man.

These little things, these pieces of self falling into place really helped me. When I started I couldn't even look in the mirror. Now I have mostly see myself this woman far older than she wants to be.

You have a good heart.. and she knows it. This all takes time.
-Carolyn

“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.”
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Re: How to help my trans girlfriend with dysphoria?

Postby MikiSJ » Tue Jan 23, 2018 4:54 am

First of all, welcome to the board. The girls above have offered some good advice. Not everything will work, and only you know what to pick from their lists of things to do.

If this is too personal at the moment, please forgive, but:
    As a cis-woman, are you prettier than your girlfriend
    As a partner, are you the top or bottom, or are you even there right now
    You mentioned she has trans-girlfriends, do you?
    What is the most 'disgusting part of your girlfriend's body that she hates
Sorry for the questions, but it seems you are close to a breakthrough.

You asked about stores that cater to transwoman. With very few exceptions, most of us go to regular women's stores. One issue that I have is the shoulders of a male and butt of a male - mismatched and upside down. So, why not take her to a mall type store (Macy's, Nordies, Bloomies, etc..) and show her how to mix and match outfits, and then buy her one the she likes. Then, when she tries them on at home, offer to take some photos, as Abby suggested, of your new sweetie because she looks sooooooo good.
When writing the next chapter in your life, start with a pencil and eraser - my first page as Miki is full of eraser marks. Doodling is allowed. I have started a new chapter but will still use a pencil.
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