This post will cover a bit the idea and reasons that TSI started and why it can hopefully help people who are trans and gender non conforming manage dysphoria.
To really get an idea behind the mentality behind this project check out the post about the founder Alex (Hi-I’ll post that later).
But! Until then- here we go.
The Ideology behind TSI is that regular exercise and general good physical health are some of the best ways I have found with dealing with Gender Dysphoria, along with a few other things.
This project kind of came about by accident.
I was working on generally getting a bit healthier and ended up getting in a good gym routine. After a while I found that as my body started to change with cardio and weight training that my dysphoria started to lessen.
After years and years of trying to conform to “normal female body standards” I was finally out and able to just do what i wanted. Which included doing the sort of sports and exercise that I enjoy. The slow loss of body fat and the increase in muscle gave me a more stereotypical masculine outline.
This helped me realize that I didn’t just have to just sit around and wait for however many months I had left before I could start HRT. There was something I could do now.
The Current model for Trans healthcare (TH) in the UK: The Interim Protocol and Service Guideline for Gender Identity Services, commissioned by NHS England, (differs in Scotland).
1: Patient attends GP
2: Referral to gender Identity Clinic (GIC)
4: If yes. GIC and patient agree on Individual Care Plan (ICP)
5: Completion of agreed upon period living in gender role that they identify with.
6: Further appointments to discuss possible surgical options.
It can take over 12 months from your initial GP appointment (or self referral in Scotland) till you get to see a Gender Specialist (stage 3).
In my opinion, this is one of the most crucial times in the whole “transition” period, as we are aware enough about our gender identity to seek out medical intervention, but have no access to professional help for over a year!
While i was going though this, i was able to reflect on my 2 main causes of dysphoria. The Physical and the Social.
Social wise, I was lucky that I had a strong friend group and the university LGBT+ society to rely on and to help guide me though the process and help me get the information I needed. (For context, I’m 5 months on T, I still don’t pass, but I am in a much better mental place about this, as i have friends and co workers who know that i am a guy and treat me as such).
For the physical side, there is something that you can.
This is a chance to reclaim your bodily autonomy.
Get rid of this idea what we are born in the wrong body. This body is my own, it is the only one I will ever have, or ever will have.
You have to have a BMI below 30 to be eligible for HRT. (debate around this).
If you want to get top surgery, then the more pectoral muscles you have, the better the results will be.
Even just the simple thing of having a routine, that regular exercise , the regular endorphin’s, all of this has benefits to your mental health. It will not stop your dysphoria. But it will help manage you manage it.
Based on this ideology. I tried to get more of my friends who were going though similar situations to join me in the gym.
Recurring issues we faced were:
- Financial cost of the gym
- Exercise hurts
From here TSI was born.
Any individual who signs up can get 4 trail at the Dundee University Gym (ISE) , an introduction session to get a look around, and 2 sessions with a personal trainer to help show you around and help you get the work out that will work with you, whether you are a beginner pr a pro. All for free. This way you can see if this is a technique / coping mechanism that will work for you, without having to spend all your money on a gym membership you then never use.
As said earlier, this will hopefully help manage dysphoria. But…that does little to help right now when you have days when leaving the house without a binder is just not an option. All the Personal trainers that you will work with have received Trans awareness training from the Scottish Trans Alliance. They understand the importance of pronouns and the gym has a policy that you can use whichever changing rooms you feel comfortable in . (As well as a gender neutral / disabled bathroom and locker options).
And finally …exercise hurts….
It will be tough at first. But personally, I feel that the personal confidence i have gained that now allows me to go to uni without a binder is worth the muscle ache after a session than the pain and sheer impractically and dangers of binding every day.
Everyone starts off as a beginner. This is not about getting six packs and looking like the covers of Mens health magazine. (Although if I can look like Aiden Dowling then omg yes).
This is about getting comfortable with your own body and getting healthy. Both mentally and physically.
If interested, check out our Facebook page.
 Interim Gender Dysphoria Protocol and Service Guideline (2013/14). https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/int-gend-proto.pdf
 The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People, 7th version, September 2011 (page 5), http://www.wpath.org/
 NHS, (2016), Gender Dysphoria, http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Gender-dysphoria/Pages/Introduction.aspx.