No two people’s experiences of gender dysphoria are exactly alike, and so what each person may need to do to work through it best can differ wildly. While there isn’t some catchall checklist to feeling better, there are plenty of things common to enough people dealing with dysphoria that they’re worth discussing in a universal sense.
Mostly the experience involves lots of intense feelings that result from working through deep-seated cognitive patterns and upending relatively stable understandings of identity or social expectations. It can be a lot to handle emotionally, whether or not you’ve known or had a hunch your whole life that you weren’t cisgender, but there are undoubtedly ways to make coping with the effects of dysphoria less of an overall burden.
Cannabis can be a really helpful and rejuvenating tool during a difficult process, even if only to be able to escape from your racing mind every once in awhile. Here are some specific strains that might be useful for dealing with gender dysphoria and ideas of contexts in which you might want to use them.
Coping with Feelings
Since depression and dysphoria so often go hand-in-hand, it helps to have a strain in your stash that’ll give you a euphoric boost so you can get through the day. Blue Dream is a personal favorite of mine (and apparently plenty of people in California, Colorado and Washington); it is mentally relaxing and eases stress and depression in a way that not all sativas can.
Blue Dream gets crossed a lot, but some hybrids lose that euphoric touch: Green Crack-hybrid Blue Crack, for instance, has a high that’s a little too short-lived and mellow for the long-term medication of depression. It helps to keep a little strain diary with notes of what works best for you if you’re looking for a hybrid, but I’m usually just brought back to the original Blue Dream for that coveted “creative” high.
Some people who are experiencing anxiety alongside depression feel that sativas can make the anxiety worse. If that’s the case for you, Pez is a solid indica alternative to the super-heady Blue Dream. Its high is euphoric while also bringing about the sort of chill that isn’t sleepy or couch-locked, which makes it a great strain for dealing with weekday anxiety.
Escaping your Body
Dysphoria can sometimes make physical existence feel unbearable, tight and unfixable like a painful muscular knot you can’t undo, and on those days it’s necessary to just say “fuck it” and tune out. But instead of falling asleep in a confused and crying heap, try my version of self-care: sparking up a moon rock and disconnecting from corporeal nonsense.
There are plenty of DIY recipes online, but if you don’t want to get the oil and kief together, there’s a decent prefab moon rock on the market. Dr. Zodiak’s Moon Rocks (by Kurupt’s Moonrock) are indica nugs rolled in strawberry CO2 oil, and if you can get past the fact that they taste at first like a res bowl when smoked, they’re a really good way to achieve a body high that’ll just let you forget about yourself for a little. They’re also pretty giggly, so you might enjoy the opportunity to be social or laugh at a shitty movie.
I say this as a jaded person who thinks that quartz crystals are for vapes and not for “healing”: Meditating alone is great. Some people are into going to a yoga class and laying down in a room with 20 other people to “relax”—fine, by all means, go for it. I’d rather sit in a quiet corner for 10 or 15 minutes and think with my eyes closed, and sativa-dominant Blue Dream/OB Haze cross Wet Dream is the perfect thing to chill with when you feel like you just need to relax for a few minutes. It’s euphoric enough to set you up with positive vibes for meditating even if you’re not starting out in the best mood.
Asian Fantasy is a great choice of strain if you’re just looking to zone out for a while; it’s a super strong sativa with a nearly hallucinogenic head high alongside a short-lasting but surprisingly strong physical relaxation. You definitely don’t want to smoke this during the day if you’ve got lots of cognitive-heavy work to do, but since it peaks early (and that body high melts away), it won’t leave you listless for long—just enough to get through a solid half-hour of meditation.
Sex can be frustrating when you’re dealing with gender issues, especially when they involve genital dysphoria. Genital and gender dysphoria don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand at all; plenty of people with the latter don’t feel the former, and there are certainly people with genital dysphoria who don’t feel as much of a pressing discomfort with their gender.
Sex, understandably, can become a complicated space to navigate. Every gender dysphoric person is different and every partner-pairing makes things even more so, and while there are fairly universal pieces of advice to deal with the situation (including making sure you know and are able to let your partner know what vocabulary you prefer to use during sex), it’s something for which you’ll largely need to make the roadmap on your own.
But that’s not to say there aren’t things that will help, and cannabis is definitely a tool that can make sex with someone else—or yourself—less stressful. It’s hard to get turned on if your mind is racing, and Kushes are renowned for their ability to calm your thoughts. But if a pure indica like Afghan Kush is likely to make you fall asleep, consider a hybrid with similar Middle Eastern ancestry, like Cheese.
Though pure sativas are traditionally good aphrodisiacs for people for whom imagination or visuals are important, in this situation I’d suggest exercising caution when it comes to strains with a weak or non-existent body high. For some people in this context, a level of physical disconnect can feel freeing or even necessary, but that’s not to say that there aren’t those who are able to get that distance from themselves with (and perhaps only with) a sativa. Try out whatever strains you’re considering and see what works best for you so you know what to expect when a booty call (or bussy call) rolls around.
Getting Out of Town
I can’t overstate the importance of even a brief change of setting, especially one where you can remove yourself from your daily responsibilities for a bit.
Explore one of our treasured national forests with a solid group of people, someone’s pet dog, a handle of whiskey and some God’s Gift. The strain is a high-THC indica, the beautiful, deep purple result of breeding OG Kush and Granddaddy Purple. The high is super relaxing and has strong visuals surrounding color, making it perfect for spending time out in nature during the daytime.
Getting in Touch with What You Like and What You Don’t
Part of the reward of learning what strains work best for you is also seeing what you don’t enjoy. Getting in touch with desire may seem like a little step, but it can be exceptionally rewarding to admit what you do and don’t want, in any context. Take care of yourself in the ways that you can control, and those you can’t will seem a lot smaller and more manageable.
Inline art by Greg Gossel.