Elliot Page celebrates the end of ‘dysphoria’ in a shirtless photo. Here’s what it means.

Elliot Page sparks conversations about gender dysphoria and how it relates to body image. (instagram)

Elliot Page sparks conversations about gender dysphoria and how it relates to body image. (Photo: Instagram)

In a heartfelt Instagram post, Elliot Page opened up about his ongoing journey as a transgender man, addressing both his gender dysphoria and the “joy” he’s felt since the announcement his transition in December 2020.

“Dysphoria used to be particularly prevalent during the summer,” Page wrote in the May 10 post, which shared a shirtless picture showing the scars on her chest left by the disease top operationa gender-affirming breast removal procedure.

“It feels so damn good laying in the sun now, I never thought I could experience the joy I feel in my body,” the post continues. “I’m so grateful for what gender-affirming care has given me and I look forward to sharing more of my journey soon.”

Page’s post prompted comments from numerous trans people about the emotional and psychological effects gender dysphoria has an impact on their body image – and also on the freedom they think they feel when they receive it gender-equitable carea range of healthcare services that can sometimes include surgery Hormone therapy.

Such conversations are helpful, experts say, because gender dysphoria is a deeply personal and often misunderstood experience. They add that awareness can help us better understand ongoing conversations gender and sex.

Dysphoria: what is it?

As defined by the American Psychiatric AssociationGender dysphoria is the “mental distress resulting from an incongruity between one’s birth-assigned gender, based on one’s external genitalia, and one’s gender identity, that is, one’s psychological sense of one’s gender.

This is not to be confused body dysmorphia, an over-preoccupation with an imagined defect or flaw. On the contrary, notes the California-based gender psychologist Natalie Shikhareva (“Dr. Z”), a trans person who suffers from dysphoria, looks at a part of their body — for example, their chest — and only sees what’s there.

“They clearly see their breasts and express a distance to what they see while acknowledging its existence,” she tells Yahoo Life, defining gender dysphoria as “emotional distress caused by the incongruity between the one assigned at birth.” gender and his authentic gender.”

This experience can manifest itself at any age, adds dr Michelle Forcerier, a professor of pediatrics at Brown University’s Alpert School of Medicine who had trans patients struggling with dysphoria as late as the ’70s. However, it is more common in new patients in the clinical setting “before or around the time of puberty”.

For some, she says, “it can manifest as anxiety and depression and lead to self-harm, suicidality, and other mental health issues.” For others, she adds, “It can manifest as one.” eating disorder – overeating to hide the body or undereating to constrict breasts, muscles, hips, etc.”

How does dysphoria affect body image?

“When you experience gender dysphoria, you almost always have to experience a disconnect from your secondary sex characteristics because society is gendering your body,” Zhikhareva says, leading to a feeling of being disconnected from the present and difficulty “in relationships.” “. , intimate encounters and friendships.”

As a result, she explains, “You may never, I would say, feel whole, grounded, and comfortable.” confirmed in yourself when body dysphoria is severe.”

For this reason, many (but not all) people with gender dysphoria seek treatment gender-equitable carea spectrum of health services that can sometimes encompass Feminization or masculinization surgeries to help trans women (those born biologically male) and trans men (those born biologically female) achieve a more masculine or feminine appearance; or Hormone therapya wide range of treatments that help adjust a person’s physical body to fit their gender identity (through estrogen for trans women or testosterone for trans men).

For many, such care is a crucial step on the way to living a fulfilling life as supported by leading health organizations How the American Psychiatric Association, the American Nurses Association And the World Medical Association. And while these surgeries are “not a must,” Zhikhareva says, many transgender people choose to go down this route because their dysphoria is so severe that it feels like the only option.

That’s why “a lot of people who decide that gender change is something for them feel alive for the first time in their lives,” she says, noting that that’s the feeling conveyed by Page’s latest post.

She adds that understanding the psychological benefits of transition could make a big difference in developing compassion and empathy for trans people.

“I often hear people say, ‘Why can’t you just learn to love your body?’ when it comes to trans and non-binary people,” says Zhikhareva. “And it saddens me that they’re so quick to project their own beliefs, even though they themselves have always taken their gender for granted and have no idea how painful incongruity is.”

For that reason, “access to gender-based care should not be an issue and should be accessible to those who need it,” she adds, citing the onslaught of anti-LGBTQ policies and legislation in some states Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Utah And West Virginia that restrict or prohibit the gender-equitable care of young people.

“There’s so much misinformation out there right now,” she concludes, “and I feel like we’re failing to listen to those who have had gender reassignment surgery and their accounts of how it’s not only changing their relationship with their body, but improved their entire relationship.” Wellbeing.”

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