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What if I'm not?

Discussion in 'Gender Identity and Expression' started by Katelyn93, Sep 14, 2020.

  1. Katelyn93

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    Hi there,

    I recently got told by my therapist that while it's not impossible, it's unlikely that I'm transgender as his experience with most trans individuals has been that they had some form of self identification in their very young years (explaining the depelopment of the brain and features in a way that made complete sense) and that it normally resurfaces around puberty or teenage years. Add to this that I don't have anything I'm confident enough to call disohoria, or that causes me massive distress, but do struggle with horrible body image and confidence and depression. He said we'd explore it some more so maybe I'm just obsessing over it too early.

    Now I mean I've been struggling with this for almost 8 years consciously and 11 years in total that I'm aware of and came to find some form of peace even if it's uncertain at times, in being trans. The cross dressing, the jealousy of girls bodies, the dislike in body hair and body build and lack of most stereotypical manly activities or interests, I've experimented with pronouns and names and expression with some friends and felt happier with it but is that maybe more excitement and escapism than anything else?

    If not trans, what's going on with me? Why do I keep coming back to this and feeling like I want to be a woman if that's not it? Is the lack of massive crippling dysphoria or signs in my childhood and teens a valid observation that I'm not trans? I've thought about this before myself before he mentioned it since I don't fit the trans narrative as such. I feel like I've put pressure on myself to transition, that I want to start before I'm too old as I already feel like it's too late even if I know it's not true but then I worry that maybe it'd be a mistake and it just further fuels this argument.

    I guess I just don't know how to process the events that happened. I mean on the one side of I am not trans then maybe I could save my relationship and it doesn't have to impact my life majorly which should be good and yet... It troubles me as I found reason where I had uncertainty and now its just uncertain again.

    Sorry, guess I just need to rant somewhere.
     
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  2. QuietPeace

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    Your therapist has a very old view on gender and transitioning.

    I have met a number of people who did not know until well into adulthood (some as late as retirement age) but who found that transitioning made their lives so much more comfortable. I have also known a number who did not experience crippling dysphoria. My husband (a nonbinary trans guy) is uncomfortable with their body but is pretty nonchalant about not medically transitioning.

    I am not a professional nor could I be considered any sort of an expert on this but your description here sounds like at least mild dysphoria.

    As far as not having stereotypical interests I don't believe that should be a consideration. The most masculine person I know with very stereotypically masculine interests is a cis woman and I know a number of cis men with stereotypically feminine interests. In my not so humble opinion, what you like to do has nothing to do with who you really are and should not be a determining factor in how you are allowed to express your gender.

    I think that you and only you should determine what gender expression you should live in, anyone who invalidates your opinion of yourself is gaslighting you and should be cut out of your life.
     
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  3. Katelyn93

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    Thank you for the reply.

    He did say we'd explore it and when I asked him if I could through his behavioral therapy get rid of it maybe he did say no. In his view it's unethical. He'd want to work on accepting myself, whoever that would be. Yesterday was our first session and he did say one of his other patients is a trans women who, after a year still came to the conclusion that they had to medically transition. It's just his first prize to accept without needing anything else so I don't think he's invalidating it intentionally but I am. I do not pic at this often.

    The thing is, while I don't know if I'd want any surgeries, I do find that I'd like some medical intervention to change some physical features, enough to be seen as a girl. But is it maybe for the wrong reason? I don't know if that makes sense. Does the reasoning make a difference if you want what you want?

    I'm not quite sure what counts as dysphoria and doesn't. It's not so extreme as that I can't live with it but not happily? Is that the discomfort?

    I mean, I sell motorcycles and motorcycle parts for a living and I've seen loads of girls ride more hardcore and serious than some guys, it helped me find some peace in the idea that hobbies and interests don't mean much. I guess I'm looking for validating factors. Proof. Evidence. Whatever you want to call it. I want queues that give me answers. The confusion and uncertainty drives me crazy. I mean life is a lot more than gender and yet I get so caught up and obsessed on this that I don't properly live the rest of my life. I don't want that but I don't know how to move past it.

    I feel crazy.
     
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  4. QuietPeace

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    I figure that if you are doing something to make yourself more comfortable and/or happy that as long as it is not directly hurting anyone else then you are fine. Sure go ahead and consider all of the consequences and take plenty of time first. It is not easy living outside of a heteronormative life and there are personal costs to be weighed. After you weigh as many of the factors as you can then you can decide whether or not transition will make you happier, you can take it slow and if you decide at any point it is not for you then you can stop.

    As far as proof, I don't think that there are many absolutes in life when it comes to things like this.
     
  5. Katelyn93

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    I suppose that is fair.

    It's just so hard to try and figure something out I can't see any logic in. That has made me dismiss it before and I just ended up there again.

    I don't believe anyone wants to be trans and yet being told I'm likely not somehow upsets me. Is it because I'm not confident in my identity or because I could sort of survive as my gender given at birth? Am I upset because it speaks to my insecurities or because I feel its true?
     
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  6. Mihael

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    It looks like this is your therapist’s interpretation.

    I think I see what he means. I see a difference between myself and, say, butch lesbians. Because they identify with being female. It’s really deep seated. If you really identify with being a man or a woman or if it’s something told by the outside world. What you feel as the truth. Some butch women feel like it is the world telling then that they’re masculine or that they are men. For me, I don’t feel it as something the world made up. Or like I’m being told to be a man.

    Anyway, only you know how you’re feeling and what will make you feel happy. It also sounds that the issue might be you not having much confidence and that the therapist misinterpreting it... which sucks and in which case I would change the therapist. You have only as many darns to give as you have, why waste them?
     
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  7. Chip

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    Your therapist may also be correct.

    This is an area that is really controversial and goes against the dominant narrative in the LGBT community, but there is some emerging data that points to the possibility that what appears to be a perception of self as trans may, for some (certainly not al) individuals be a trauma response.

    There are an increasing number of instances emerging, as visibility for trans individuals and issues have increased, of individuals who initially identify, begin transitiioning, and then realize that their experience does not match what they expected, does not solve the underlying discomfort, and they end up detransitioning. In these cases (which,so far, are mostly anecdotal, but then, so is nearly all of the data on trans individuals), underlying trauma has frequently been at the root of the issue. When the trauma is addressed and treated, the discomfort with self that the individual was feeling goes away, along with the notion of gender variance.

    The problem is, the LGBT community is so hell bent on honoring and accepting everything every person offers up at face value, and is so quick to hurl rocks and firebombs at anyone who suggests perhaps slowing down and looking at these issues more critically, so that we can genuinely ensure that we are helping people, that many therapists are absolutely terrified to even mention it. And that's an enormous disservice to the clients.

    The idea that "anyone who doesn't immediately validate you is gaslighting and should be tossed out of your life" is exactly the problem... if we cannot allow someone we trust to help us compassionately examine and explore how we are feeling, with a level of curiosity and openmindedness... if whatever perception of ourselves is so fragile that it cannot stand even the slightest compassionate exploration... well, then we're pretty fucked. And, unfortunately, that's pretty much the agenda many of the more radical end of the LGBT spectrum are putting forth... and many therapists are so deeply conflict-averse that they simply fold and don't question these perspectives.

    If you find yourself upset and questioning yourself, that would not be unexpected, and, at least to me, serves as a good reason to explore that discomfort and upset you are feeling with compassion and curiosity. What I can tell you is, the more we are learning about trauma, especially attachment trauma in childhood, which can be very subtie at first glance, the more we are realizing how profound and multifaceted its impacts may be.

    I think if I were in your shoes, I'd move forward with the exploration. The body image, confidence, and depression, in the absence of any obvious dysphoria, would certainl be enough for me to point to attachment trauma as a possible source for the issue, and it makes sense that if this has never been addressed, that it would keep showing up as discomfort that you can't put your finger on. I see no harm in going down this path; if it does not end up leading you where you want to go, you can always revisit the trans idea and explore that more deeply.

    A book that might help illuminate this perspective a bit more is Gabor Mate's book "Hold On to Your Kids"/. While it does not address trans issues at all, I think you will see the parallels to how trauma impacts individuals, and how it shows up in multiple ways.
     
    #7 Chip, Sep 15, 2020
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020
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  8. alwaysforever

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    Trauma can also effect the formation of self-identity. It's possible to struggle with identity issues from both complex ptsd *and* be transgender. That was the case for me, and it took a lot of work with specialists to figure things out. In my case, transition made an enormous difference and I don't regret it. I don't think I would be alive had I not transitioned. But that wasn't a cure-all. I still had to work through the trauma as well.

    I would recommend seeking multiple opinions with people who have a lot of experience in both areas if you can to unpack everything.
     
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  9. Chip

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    This is an important point. And the problem is, the profession is loathe to rock the boat and consider that there may be more here than meets the eye, or even consider the idea that perhaps there's more than one issue at play. *Especially* because this goes against the dominant narrative of "Let every one do what they want and never question anything; there should be no gatekeepers"... you hardly ever hear anyone speaking publicly about this issue, because they become a target for venomous hatred, accusations that "You're assulting me and committing violence because you don't buy, without qualification, whatever I believe about myself." The community has and continues to do itself an enormous disservice... but it is because people are hurting, don't understand why, and are latching on to whatever seems like it might be effective.

    Yes, trauma impacts *everything* and it is most definitely possible to be gay or trans and, separately, have major trauma issues that are further complicating matters. In my discussions with numerous professionals, it appears that there may be a huge pool of people who identify as some sort of gender variant where the trauma issue is the dominant problem. But no one talks about it for the reasons stated above. And that does make it complicated, and the experience alwaysforever describes, as requiring multiple people and a lot of effort, seems to be common. Unfortuantely, too many therapists don't have the qualfiications or insight to meaningfully help clients explore these things, and so the problems don't get solved.
     
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  10. Katelyn93

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    Hmmmm.
    I appreciate the input I've received here. It actually really helped me a lot today.

    As had been mentioned, when I started questioning there was a lot of help and acceptance from forums and the community via the anonymous Internet, which is great, but it might have negated the fact that I needed to dig deeper and question it more. Or rather that I wasn't asking the right questions regarding the right subjects so to speak.

    My previous therapist and I have, and I have on my own, explored several other facets that still impact me even when I am not always aware of it or thought I had dealt with it. I questioned in the past whether or not this could have an impact on sexuality and gender or the underlying challanges being misinterpreted as signs of either but as I read I was mostly convinced that they are separate and not invalidating. The new therapist likely means to oppose that as we already ran into some discoveries that suggest it might be trauma or otherwise that still troubles me in the very first session.

    He did say he doesn't believe in changing anyone but that sometimes dealing with deeper troubles could help the rest fall in place.

    Unfortunately I did take his initial observation as truth and got upset over being told I'm likely not trans, it opens more questions instead of answering any but it might be good to examine it again while working on the rest.

    Thank you all again for the responses and help.
    It honestly has helped me feel less panicky and look at it more objective.
     
  11. Mihael

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    And this is true. Also, if you are trans, resolving the deeper issues might help you deal with transition easier.

    Glad to hear that you made it clear with your therapist that he doesn’t mean that you are or aren’t trans.
     
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  12. NextEra333

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    Not everyone who is transgender had gender dysphoria when they were children. And not everyone who is transgender gets surgery. Many do not and don't want to. Sometimes, it has more to do with being uncomfortable in the social role of one's birth gender. There may be deeper issues that contribute to this, but that doesn't make your desire to transition any less valid IMO. Our personality is heavily influenced by our past experiences. This goes for every single human being whether they're transgender or not. This does not make your experience any less valid at all.
     
  13. Chip

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    See, that's where I have a hard time arguing that is a biological issue; it sounds a lot more like a psychological adjustment issue, which is a completely different thing. Again, not a popular argument in the ultra-PC "believe absolutely anything anyone says about themselves" narrative that is currently prevalent in the LGBT community, but is not shared by the greater field as a whole.

    I'm not trying to make anyone wrong. I'm just seeing a repeat of what happened in the mid-1980s to late 1990s during the repressed memory of sexual abuse/false memory syndrome era. People believed that one given thing was the basis of all of their problems, and got incredibly angry when the profession as a whole was slow to uptake the issue. And it's good that they were slow, as it turned out to not be as reported. This isn't to say that people don't have sexual abuse, and some don't repress those memories, any more than anyone is saying that trans people don't exist.

    But I think in 5 or 10 or 15 years, we're going to have a very different perspective on these issues than we do now. At least, I hope so.
     
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