The word “Resilience” has 10 letters, so I felt compelled to use 9 of them to outline 9 aspects of Trans Resilience. This is a series of 3 blog posts, detailing these aspects, three at a time. In future blog entries (as well as in workshops, classes and coaching,) you’ll learn a lot about the skills and practices that can help you build these aspects of resilience. There’s a handout which outlines all of them.
Respect your own and other’s gender journeys. Our journeys around how we perceive and identify our genders are often fluid, and are different for different people. No two journeys are alike, and that’s really fine. We don’t have to follow a specific path, and we don’t have to feel judgement about how our paths might be different than others we know. And we shouldn’t judge anyone else’s path.
Depending on where you live, if you wish to go through medical transition or a name change, you have particular hoops you need to jump through, often in a particular order. And that’s unfortunate, but it should not determine for you, what’s important, and what your process looks like. Think of those like you think about registering a car, or paying your taxes – they don’t relate to who you are as a person or your gender journey (even though sometimes they seem to be.)
And don’t “gatekeep.” Don’t determine for anyone else what their particular gender journey “should” be. It makes it so difficult when members of our community pretend they know the “right” way to be trans, or non-binary, or genderqueer. There is no “right” way – there is your way.
Experience your emotions as they come. Emotions are both very powerful, as well as ephemeral. They are designed that way in the brain. I know it seems surprising, but the lifecycle of an emotion in our brains is 90 seconds. We extend that by re-triggering our emotions over and over again with our thoughts. If we allow ourselves to really experience our feelings fully in our bodies, and not get caught up in our thoughts, the feelings will naturally fade pretty quickly. This is definitely something that is simple, but not easy, but it will absolutely build your resilience.
One way to not get caught up in our emotions is to allow ourselves to feel how our emotions feel in our bodies, and focus on the body experience. We might feel a twist in our gut, or a tightening of our throats. Perhaps a shaking of our arms, or a clench in our jaw. Focus on the embodied feeling, not the thoughts happening in the moment. That helps us fully experience the emotion as it’s coming, and helps move us out of our thoughts.
Stand in your own self-worth. You are worthy of love. You are valid, lovable, and belong in this world, right now, no matter what your feelings of dysphoria, or no matter what people around you are saying about your gender. That might be hard to feel at times, or even right now. And intellectually, it might be easier for us to tell a friend that, than tell ourselves that. But an important part of being resilient is knowing that you are valid and worthy and belong.
There are many ways to build your sense of self-worth. One is to build self-compassion. Self-compassion is the moment-by-moment willingness to be compassionate with yourself and your feelings. As you are able to be more compassionate, your sense of yourself, and who you are as you are as being worthy will grow.
Another is to celebrate your successes. They might be as simple as you were able to easily correct a friend or family member on your pronouns. Another might be you were able to talk with a friend about a particular difficult topic. And also, don’t berate yourself for your mistakes. We all make mistakes – it’s part of being human.