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you get to write the manual

Yesterday I went to see Helene Cote and I am glad I did. She has a friendly and relaxed style and the fact that she deals with the transgender on a daily basis helps me to bounce ideas off someone who knows the situation well. I just wanted to verbalize where I am these days with my dysphoria management with someone who understands.

No one knows one bloody reliable thing about what causes gender dysphoria. We are absolutely 100% in the dark. So the entire infrastructure built around the condition has been transgender people making up their own narratives or conversely skeptics inventing reasons for their illegitimacy.

People need to explain their own motives to themselves. It is fundamental fact of life. Why was I born this way? Why do I think I want to be a boy or a girl? Why do I think I need to reflect on transition?

Precisely because we are in the dark is what has invited charlatanism as well as explanations that people hold personally dear to explain why they are this way. If someone transitions and has that motive questioned they are going to get angry with you and for good reason: they have made a dramatic life-changing decision that may have cost them friends, family and maybe their career.

Being in the dark need not be a bad thing because for one thing it means that there is no right or wrong way to proceed. If there is no official handbook for dysphoria, how does one know what the right thing or wrong thing is? The objective then becomes mental stability and happiness because that is all we can measure.

We know for a fact that transgender people are not mentally ill. How do we know this? because the vast majority are high functioning and intelligent. So we are once again left with a situation in which a tiny sliver of the population has a gender identity ambiguity that we cannot explain.

Much of the solution for the treatment of dysphoria may rest in the loosening of the social programming that we have been exposed to. The "boys do this" and "girls do that" is clearly a recipe for enslavement for the gender dysphoric. But the key rests in your hands since no one can force you to conform.

Failing to question these social absolutes we might be tempted to think: I cannot be an abnormal man hence I must be a woman. Well maybe and maybe not since the measuring stick you are using for normal is a set of mostly artificial rules.

Many of us have been living in self-created prisons for perhaps decades. We stayed because we were afraid to buck the trend and stand out. The question you need to ask is what is stopping you from breaking free now? After all, you get to write the manual.

Helene told me that most of her patients stop the process at a point where they are comfortable and the majority do not go on to a full transition. Their goal ultimately is to find peace.


Comments

  1. I really appreciate this post, Joanna. I have lived in my gender prison for almost six decades and it's been quite a struggle to get out but I'm making it now in the free world. I wouldn't call the prison "self-imposed" but I do understand your meaning.

    I agree with your therapist that the ultimate goal is to find peace. I remember as a senior in high school that that was exactly what I wanted and had no concept of how to achieve it. Forty plus years later, it's an amazing feeling. Thank goodness.

    My gender therapist Judy Van Maasdam has said that a useful metaphor for finding ourselves is to think of being on the Transgender Train. We get on, ride it through a few stations, get off, and see how it feels. Maybe continue on to another station or go back on or more. Eventually we find what fits. The hardest part may be simply allowing ourselves to board the train.

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  2. I am at peace having come to the conclusion that my gender issues are simply "A mystery wrapped in an enigma."
    Pax
    Pat

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