Right now, if I could, I would just sneak away to a spa for a bit and soak all of my worries and stresses away.
I sometimes wonder, “How much about transitioning do people really care about when they read this blog? Do they really want to know all of the details? The physical changes? The emotional roller coaster it can be at times?” I mean, I always swore I would keep it real here. I always swore I would talk about the good, the bad and the ugly. Sometimes though…I wonder if most people are ready to hear “the truth” about it, whether they are in transition or someone supporting a transitioning individual.
As I have read stories and seen YouTube videos that others post about their transitions, I often find myself shocked at how their personal story is presented. Typically, the story line falls into one of two categories, based upon my reading. Either someone totally glamorizes the process or they plays a victim with how hard they have it in their transition. I honestly believe a lot of how their story is shared comes down to a mixture of personal perspective, like anything else in life, but may be driven by their own mental health.
I don’t bring up their mental health to put anyone down. The statistics show that the rates of anxiety, depression and suicide are much higher in the transgender population than any other group in the United States. Unfortunately, most people assume this is related just to being transgender. Well…it is but it isn’t. It is associated with the transgender population…but is primarily a result of two mitigating factors with each individual. Those two factors are the level of support and/or rejection each person receives and the fact that some transitioning have this obscure belief that once they can present in their identified gender, everything else in their life will be perfect. I think most of us know this is not the case.
I guess that is one advantage to transitioning at my age. First, I am realistic in that I have zero expectation of living my life as the real me without healing my former emotional wounds as much as possible first. Me showing the world the woman I am will never take away the pain and trauma of having lost my brother and father at young ages due to traumatic circumstances. Being the most authentic me will not instantly fix the maladaptive and unhealthy behaviors I developed as a child growing up, following my father’s death, in a home that included neglect, physical abuse and emotional abuse for a brief time and the substance abuse that raged in my family. Being the truest me will not take away the pain of having been bullied for years due to both the more feminine way I carried myself until my teenage years nor the bullying that was inflicted on me because of my father’s death.
As we celebrate Pride Month, I think about all of the people who have found the strength to “come out” and show the world their true selves. I marvel at the strength any individual has who can stand up and say, “This is the real me.” Its not easy. It takes a great deal of fortitude and resilience. We all get bombarded with questions and judgments by those those who neither understand nor believe that what we are doing is “right.”
I will admit, what I am about to say next is often a widely unpopular opinion among the transgender population…especially during a time like Pride Month. But you know me, I typically just tell it like it is. Also know, I say this both as a transitioning woman walking this path AND as a woman who has a Masters in Counseling and worked with multiple transitioning individuals during my four semester of practicum and internship…
Anyone who falls outside of the norms of biological binary gender identity should be in counseling from they time they make the decision to acknowledge their true gender until at least they have transitioned as far long as they want to go.
I know it is widely unpopular in the transitioning community that we have to have letters from mental health professionals deeming us mentally fit to begin HRT. It is even more upsetting for many to find out you need letters from TWO mental health professionals saying the same to have sexual reassignment surgery, if that is your ultimate goal. Most would say that in sharing this view I am supporting taking away another person’s ability to make medical decisions for themselves.
But look at what I have discussed above. Me? My psychologist tells me I am the most emotionally health transitioning client she has ever worked with. I have solid view on life. I have a full time job. I own my home. I just completed school. I am surrounded by a great deal of support. I have excellent insurance that covers most aspects of my transition. I’ve got it pretty good compared to most!
But when members of my family rejected me, I was crushed beyond belief.
When I was preparing for my trip to Baltimore for the jam and my first real life presentation, I almost backed out due to anxiety and fear.
When I am outside of my home, I live my life in this heightened sate of awareness as I am constantly watching everyone around me to ensure I remain safe.
There are days I grieve the fact I can never have a picture of me, the real me, with my brother, mother or father.
No matter what gender I present with, it will not take away the pain of some the darkest hours in my life…or the fact that experiences I have on this path can trigger emotions and unhealthy responses that grew out of those dark hours.
THIS is why counseling throughout this process and the letters saying we are mentally healthy enough to confront the next stages of this journey are so necessary.
I was fortunate in that I started working to heal my wounds many years ago. By the time I accepted myself, I was already living a much healthier life. But even at my stage in life, I still need the extra support of a counselor and I am grateful for it. It helps keep me centered in this process as I move forward, which is very much needed.
I know that anyone transitioning wants to reach the point of being themselves with as few hurdles as possible. They want it to happen right away. They just want to be themselves. I totally get that and I support anyone’s free will to be their true selves.
But just like a doctor will cancel a surgery if you are running a fever because of the risk of infection, all of us transitioning need those mental health checks to make sure we can handle what is about to happen to us next.
This may be the most fulfilling journey of my life…but it certainly isn’t the easiest.
See it on Flickr.
Foxcity – Me Time 7
stack of towels 2
Garden Tree08 – green a
Naugty Appleasy Rez
Rattan Tote Carry, Light Blue
My Sunshine Lounge – ADULT
Palm Springs Pool – Tile Surround
Weimaraner Dog Lying – Mesh – Full Perm