“Hold it right there, leather-wearing creepy! Per section 741.B of the Crystal Cove bylaws, there are no monsters or monster-like creatures allowed in public areas.”Sheriff Bronson Stone – Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated
While this intervention isn’t backed up by a lot of research, we’ve found through personal experience and working with trans and gender non-conforming (GNC) youth in clinical settings that distractions can be very powerful in lessening the effects of gender dysphoria. Whether it’s playing video games, reading a book, or watching cartoons, distractions divert the attention of trans and GNC youth away from the feelings of self-loathing, envy, anxiety, and depression that make up gender dysphoria. Unlike meditation and yoga, distractions encourage a disconnect from the mind-body connection. Engaging in activities that consume a person’s complete attention make it possible to return to a state of normal breathing and allow the body time to self-regulate.
Obviously, if you or your loved-one is crying or attempting to hurt themselves, don’t sit them in front of the TV and expect everything to be okay. Distractions, like other intervention strategies, can be preventative or treat mild to moderate symptoms of gender dysphoria, but are not a silver bullet to end all suffering for trans and GNC folx.
For Trans & GNC Kids
Figure out what your flow activities are and do them when you need to. Dysphoria sucks, and if you can in any way distract yourself from it, go for it. This doesn’t mean that you should hide behind gender dysphoria so you can avoid homework and draw all day, it means to be intentional in taking responsibility for your mental health.
Talk to your parents and/or guardians. It’s hard to express everything you’re feeling to somebody who can never fully understand what you’re going through, but try. Develop your language and practice conveying your thoughts to cisgender folx. You’ll only get better with time.
Engage in or learn more about your child’s distractions. For example, if they like to play video games, see if they want to play together. If you notice them engaging in distractions more often, or foregoing their responsibilities to engage in distractions, start a conversation.
VALIDATE YOUR SNAIL AND TELL THEM YOU LOVE THEM. If they don’t want to talk, that’s okay – some of your child’s feelings are too complex to fit into words at the moment. If they could tell you what was going on, they would. Your snail doesn’t know what to say, and if you pester them while they’re trying to beat the boss level, you’ll have a face-full of teenage angst to deal with, and nobody wants that.
Understand that their need to be distracted (probably) has nothing to do with you. It is a coping mechanism to keep them from exploding into a mess of hormones and glitter. Don’t take it personally.
Us: “Oh em gee Laura, you’re so pretty!”