There is Hope in Dysphoria
Guest author, Torren Danowski
Please note: Opinions expressed in guest articles are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect positions held by the Gender Dysphoria Alliance. We have published this article as one person’s account of the ROGD phenomenon. It has not been reviewed for evidence-based accuracy.
This article first appeared on the author's own Substack https://tpdanowski.substack.com/p/running-into-circles-to-find-myself
There is a land of enchantment.
If I would just close my eyes
We were walking in slow motion
The Greater Spirit and I
He told me with no words
We're all looking for something
That's already here
Lost mysеlf to find me
Lost myself to find me
Running into circles to find myself
Three months ago, the weekend after July 4, I was starting to make some realizations about my transition.
A year of taking estrogen and nearly 9 months of being publicly out as ‘Audrey’ seemed to be doing wonders in treating my gender dysphoria. I didn’t think much about gender anymore outside of how I would take my next steps in living out my femininity. And make no mistake, I loved it.
For someone truly struggling with gender dysphoria, transition really does treat that dysphoria. It is absolutely vital that those fighting the current gender ideology recognize this. There is medical science and technology that allows an individual to live as, while never becoming, the opposite sex. That is an option in the treatment of gender dysphoria, just as not transitioning is an option.
The fact that there are medical options for people to live as, while never becoming, the opposite sex isn’t really the issue here. Although, I for one, having struggled with dysphoria, wish that temptation wasn’t always before me. The core issue is that the individual struggling with gender is only provided two options- transition or find a way to live with crippling dysphoria. Regardless of whether or not the individual is suffering from some more or less naturally occurring dysphoria or from some sort of social contagion, that individual needs to be met and helped in their suffering. Neither blindly affirming nor simply screeching biology does so. Both simply dig a deeper hole of hopelessness where eventually transitioning becomes seemingly the only way out. Of course, as I found out, there is most certainly another way out.
Leading up to that fateful weekend in early July, I seemingly had it all going for me. I was loving my transition. I had become politically active with the Libertarian Party Mises Caucus. My organization that was active in the fight against Philly’s COVID measures, Don’t Tread on Philly, had won an award for the best issue coalition at the Mises bash during the Libertarian National Convention in May. I was planning on running as the first transwoman candidate for mayor here in Philly. I could taste the meltdowns of the woke left having to deal with running a Democrat against a transwoman who didn’t buy their bullshit. People told me I was a rock star. I had it all in front of me.
That weekend in July, I was supposed to go to an event in Western PA with all my liberty friends. But I was gassed and worn out from all the work we had been doing trying to start getting my name out there for mayor. I stayed home and had a weekend full of misery. For three days straight, I did nothing but binge both food and alcohol. I asked myself, “Why, if I’ve got everything going for myself and am finally living as the woman I always wanted to be, am I still miserable?”
Laying in the bathtub crying, screaming out to God in prayer for help, I made my fateful realization. I hated myself. And I didn’t know why. My wife had loved me before she left. She must have seen something good. My friends seemed to love and care about me. The folks in the Mises Caucus gave me nothing but praise. My job gave me endless respect and praise. But, I was a perfectionist that hated myself for every perceived failure.
It was in the bathtub that Sunday night that I started making a realization. My dysphoria was simply a symptom of self-hatred. Transition was my escape.
The next day I was walking my Saint Bernard through my Philly neighborhood. A neighbor stopped me to chat about the biggest dog he’d ever seen. We got to talking about taking care of such a huge dog and whether or not he missed me when I was at work. I told my neighbor that although I was frustrated that the pandemic forced me to work from home, I was grateful to still have a job and to be able to care for my dog. He looked and me and said, “Grateful? Are you a believer? That’s a word typically used by believers of Jesus.” Given my experience with religion during the previous 10 years, my response was to try to end that conversation as quickly as possible but it stuck with me. I really was starting to feel grateful to God for what I had been given in life.
One more day goes by and I’m driving to take my pup to get his teeth cleaned. One of my favorite bands, Anberlin, had just released a new single called “Circles” that I decided to listen to on my half-hour drive. The lyrics (above) blew me away.
Right then and there on the way to the vet, I had the answer to my questions. I was running in circles, losing myself, just to try to find myself. But the ‘Greater Spirit’ was showing me that I had a ton to be grateful for. I’m 33. I have a great job where I’m well respected. I own my house. I have a cool dog. When I speak, people tend to pay attention. Material or not, I have everything I need to be grateful for the life that I had been given. I was looking for something that I already had- and that was the gift of life, the gift of being myself.
It was in those moments that I knew my dysphoria was nothing more than the outward symptom of self-rejection. I knew that if there was a way I could come to simply love myself just as I am, that there would be no reason to keep trying to somehow escape and live as something I wasn’t.
But that’s easier said than done. I had come close to those conclusions in the past. I had attempted transition and stopped once before.
This time, however, I got a little extra push from psychedelic-assisted therapy. There’s more to say in the future on this topic, but for now I’ll just say this- the therapy session combined with my recent realizations helped to connect my mind and body in ways I hadn’t felt in years. I finally had a tool to defeat my self-rejection. And the minute I defeated my own self-rejection was the minute dysphoria lost it’s grip. I knew I had finally found the answer I was looking for. I was grateful to be a man. I was grateful to be me.
I’m still working through the exact implications of my experience using psychedelics to process through my self-rejection and subsequent dysphoria. At some point, likely with the help of others, I’d love to share what I think might be a framework for combatting and even defeating dysphoria altogether. But for now, let me emphatically say that there is hope. Somewhere beyond the mirage of transition and the emptiness of self-rejection, there is hope in the desert of dysphoria. There is an oasis for the sufferer if the sufferer just keeps going. Don’t believe the lie. There is hope beyond transition.