Thursday, October 13, 2016

I Think There Is Some Truth To This

When you are trans and you have been harassed in a store or some other place you are on edge when you go back there again, we fear the worst.

In the August issue of Transgender Health they have an article,
Expecting Rejection: Understanding the Minority Stress Experiences of Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming Individuals
Brian Rood, et al
Published in Volume: 1 Issue 1: August 1, 2016

Purpose: Transgender and gender-nonconforming (TGNC) individuals often are the target of enacted or external (i.e., distal) experiences of stigma, discrimination, and violence, which are linked to adverse health, particularly psychological distress. There is limited research, however, examining felt or internal (i.e., proximal) stressors faced by TGNC individuals. This study sought to examine one type of internal stressor, expecting rejection, and aimed to (1) identify how and to what extent rejection expectations operate day-to-day for TGNC individuals and (2) explore how TGNC individuals respond to expectations of rejection.
[…]
Conclusion: Findings from this study suggest that expecting rejection is a frequent and salient internal stressor for TGNC individuals. We discuss the psychological and cumulative potential health impact of minority stress, and the applicability of Meyer's Minority Stress Model. Therapeutic interventions are needed to address the specific cognitive, emotional, and behavioral responses TGNC individuals experience as a result of the stress associated with expecting rejection, including fear, anxiety, and situational avoidance.
One of the topics the article mentioned is,
Could happen if or when I do not “pass” or “blend.”
Although representing a small proportion of the sample, several participants reported that they might expect rejection based on how well (or poorly) they “passed” or “blended” while in public. In presenting earlier in their gender affirmation process, or without the benefits of masculinizing or feminizing hormone therapy, participants perceived that others might react negatively more frequently.

When I first transitioned and didn't quite pass as well, I was worried about it [expecting rejection]. (25, Latino, MTF)

Anybody who's going through the transition, especially during the early phases, when you're getting “ma'am” half the time and “sir” half the time, you definitely notice stares… I don't deal with it so much anymore. I've been on hormones for the better part of a decade, so normally I don't have to worry about it too much. (31, White, MTF)
I think how well you integrate into society has a lot to do with the anxiety that we face, if no one can tell you’re trans you are going to have a look anxiety then someone who blend into society.

So how do we fight this every day?

The article lists, “Avoidance or escape,” and “Substance use,” along with how race and ethnicity affect a trans person. Another topic they discuss is coping skills as a way of avoiding the stress,
Cognitive or emotional coping strategies
A small proportion of participants detailed that they responded to the stress of expecting rejection by ruminating on what could occur, or what had already happened in the past.

I might think there's this tiny chance someone would react violently if they found out. So, I guess that's kind of in the back of my head sometimes… I guess the most unhealthy thing I did about that was ruminate on it. (25, Latino, MTF)

In addition to rumination, other participants noted that they might respond by becoming even more infuriated with the situation.

Whenever I get stressed out [about expecting rejection], I let go of my stress by being angry. I tend to lash out. …It always ends up being more harmful right? You always regret that. (28, multiracial, male/man)
I remember when I was doing an independent studies class in grad school to develop a 16 week class on working with trans clients and my professor suggested having a class on coping skill. He gave me a book to read on the subject and I found that I was using many of the suggested tactics such a distractions. When I first started going out in public I hate standing in-line at a checkout counter, I felt trapped. The tactic that I developed on my own was to read the magazine covers in the line to distract me. Another was watching the floor numbers in an elevator.

Stress and anxiety takes a toll on our health, it can cause a number of medical conditions including heart problems and substance abuse. One way to avoid the stress and anxiety is to develop coping skills.

You can use distraction as I did, others strategies are list on the website
GROUNDING: A COPING SKILL FOR CLIENTS (PEOPLE) WITH EMOTIONAL PAIN

Mental Grounding
  • Describe your environment in detail using all your senses. For example, “The walls are white, there are five pink chairs, there is a wooden bookshelf against the wall…” Describe objects, sounds, textures, colors, smells, shapes, numbers, and temperature. You can do this anywhere. For example, on the subways: “I’m on the subway. I’ll see the river soon. Those are windows. This is the bench. The metal bar is silver. The subway map has four colors…”
  • Play a “categories” game with yourself. Try to name “types of dogs,” “Jazz musicians,” “States that begin with “A”,” “cars,” “TV shows,” “writers,” “sports,” “songs,” or “cities.”
[…]
  • Describe an everyday activity in great detail. For example, describe a meal that you cook (e.g., “First I peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters, then I boil the water; I make an herb marinade of oregano, basil, garlic, and olive oil…”).
  • Imagine. Use an image: Glide along on skates away from your pain; change the TV channel to get a better show; think of a wall as a buffer between you and your pain.
[…]
  • Read something saying each word to yourself. Or read each letter backwards so that you focus on the letters and not on the meaning of the words.
They all list,
Physical Grounding
  • Run cool or warm water over your hands.
  • Grab onto your chair as hard as your can.
  • Touch various objects around you: a pen, keys, your clothing, the table, the walls. Notice textures, colors, materials, weight, temperature. Compare objects you touch: Is one colder? Lighter?
  • Dig your heels into the floor-literally “grounding” them. Notice the tension centered in your heels as you do this. Remind yourself that you are connected to the ground.
  • Carry a grounding object in your pocket-a small object (a small rock, clay or silly puddy, ring, piece of cloth or yarn, a stress ball) that you can touch whenever you feel triggered (anxious, panicky, etc.)
I went to a wake for a doctor’s family and they handed out these small smooth pebbles as a remind on them, you know something… it works. So find yourself a small good luck pebble that you can carry around with you and when you get stressed out take out that pebble and explore its feel with your fingers.

The webpage goes on,
Physical Grounding
  • Run cool or warm water over your hands.
  • Grab onto your chair as hard as your can.
  • Touch various objects around you: a pen, keys, your clothing, the table, the walls. Notice textures, colors, materials, weight, temperature. Compare objects you touch: Is one colder? Lighter?
  • Dig your heels into the floor-literally “grounding” them. Notice the tension centered in your heels as you do this. Remind yourself that you are connected to the ground.
  • Carry a grounding object in your pocket-a small object ( a small rock, clay or silly puddy, ring, piece of cloth or yarn, a stress ball) that you can touch whenever you feel triggered (anxious, panicky, etc.)
For me my safe place is to picture a tiny cabin in the woods next to a waterfall and I imagine all the things I want in the cabin, where I would place a hammock overlooking the waterfall.

So if you are anxious about going out in public try using some of these skills and also realize that we all have felt the way you do about going out in public and over time was overcame these anxieties.

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