Part of the standards of care in transitioning is seeing a mental health specialist and getting the “ready to transition” stamp, proving that you are comfortable in your role and ready to make physical and permanent changes to your body. These aren’t required for breast implants or penis enlargements, but that’s a different post, this is about hormone therapy and SRS. As many of my transitioning brothers and sisters know all too well, therapists are pretty expensive, and rarely covered under basic healthcare. I live in an area that has only 1 notable gender therapist, and she lives on the other side of a very big metro area, its easier for me to get to the Bay Area than it is to see this particular therapist, but she’s supposed to be wonderful.
Mental health is a topic many folks have strong opinions on, so I’m going to be delicate with my words. Not to save myself from flaming, but more because many people have found a feeling of great comfort and stability in it, regardless if that’s a lasting feeling or not. I have a strong opinion that the prescription drug mindset is a unhealthy, destructive one, but don’t worry, I’ll look like a hypocrite by the end of this post. My problem with it isn’t that some kids have ADD or ADHD or Aspergers, the problem is that the way we teach children, even at home, isn’t right for everyone. Instead of creating alternate programs for alternate learning, and I don’t mean a “special” class, but letting children make decisions for themselves when it comes to their future, even at a young age. Before starting hormones I personally have never taken any prescription drugs outside of recreation or a bad fever. I’ve taken tons of drugs in my life to alter my mental state, to get high or to not-exist, but I’ve never taken anything to feel normal, that is, until hormones.
I was always expecting to be quickly diagnosed with a laundry list of mental disorders, bi-polar, OCD, depression, gender dysphoria, maybe even sexually compulsive if I ever saw a therapist. I came to the conclusion that most people think they’re crazy, or OCD, or whatever, its just part of the self-doubt we all have in society, perpetrated by heavy media saturation about these conditions and the good old human trait to second guess ourselves. Seems to be 3 ways to actually “lose it”, you can do it by not thinking you’re crazy at all, that you’re totally normal, and then the lack of individuality eventually makes you walk down the street with Kleenex boxes on your feet. A traumatic event could also queue it, I’ve been the least rational after really bad things have happened to me, and just look at all the PTSD homeless folks. In a similar note, I doubt I’d ever lose my mental and emotional stability, I’d just kill myself. Every suicide is likely someone about to lose grip on the world, and every viciously unstable person is a suicide that didn’t make it, or hasn’t had the idea yet. This is starting to get really dark, I guess suicide would also be the end result of insanity, but this is a big topic for myself and any other trans-person, just like sharks are a big topic for seals… yet another horrible analogy.
The 3rd option is getting so caught up in the concept that you have mentally unstable habits, that you play the part. This sounds like a vicious accusation, but its just as bad as any other way to lose it, and its nobodies fault, except drug-profiting Drs and primetime commercials for drugs, banking off the impressionable and slangin’ drugs to many that don’t need it. if a TV commercial says “are you sad? we have a pill to make you happier!” they should be taken down as quickly as a kid selling E. I just wonder if I would have been diagnosed with a mental condition, if I would have just hopped on some Prozac and that would have “cured me” of my gender dysphoria? There was a point in my life where I considered it a sickness, just as someday I’m sure the world will look at different ways of thinking as a gift, not a curse. I’m convinced I will be happier being perceived as a female for the rest of my life, I don’t believe I have a chemical imbalance, my chemicals might just be balanced a little differently, or maybe having a strong single-mother did it, or maybe I just like the attention, or the dresses or something. It doesn’t matter how it happened, I’m this way and I’m happy, and I don’t really think I need to get a stamp of approval to justify my actions.
But what if I wasn’t happy? A man once said, “a lot of people write songs about getting hurt, being broke, losin’ your girl, but no ones ever written a song about REAL PAIN”. I used to feel this real pain, but I would suppress it with chemicals, but the morning did not wash all my sins clean, I’ve been lower than low, suicidal, self-mutilating empty and hopeless. As Rilo Kiley says, “The lows are so extreme that the good feels fucking cheap”, and I felt that, but part of being human is overcoming obstacles, and I eventually got out of that pit. And you know how I did it? I got on the proper medication, Estrogen, and I’m never looking back. Does this mean that taking pills to “make everything better” is healthy? Well, I kinda have extenuating circumstances, but my final conclusion is…
Diff. Strokes, Diff. Folks.
If you have felt the crushing depression or the constant distractions that myself and many like me have experienced and tried everything you can possibly think of, maybe try therapy, be it group or one-on-one, but don’t go in with the magic cure mindset. Nothing can change you more than the power of your own mind, and the easy-answer mindset isn’t going to get you anywhere and might just make you feel more hopeless that ever, or you might be running around in a big field saying “THANKS PAXIL!”
My next post will be about my very limited personal experiences with seeing a therapist, I promise it’ll be lighter, but probably still a little depressing.