Transgendered and Mentally Ill
Yesterday was national coming out day and I saw some amazing stories floating through the archives of social media. I identify as a transgendered male but I don’t show an extreme amount of publicity on my trans status. However, if you ask me about my trans status I will proudly educate you on anything you want to have a deeper understanding of. I suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) which includes several symptoms such as “sexual confusion” and “being on extreme ends” therefore it became hard for me to come to terms with.
Admitting it Personally…
I denied it for years, telling myself that it was all in my head. I mean I’m mentally ill…this was just my disorder messing with me. I kept telling myself that my brain was only thinking this way because it wanted to hurt me, confuse me, and destroy my life. I was “just being extreme” I had already come out as gay so BPD just wanted to take me to a severe side of the spectrum.
I came out as trans about a month after I got together with my current girlfriend, Monika who is pansexual. Monika is in schooling to become a gender-therapist, therefore she takes many courses and is extremely knowledgeable on the subject. Monika knew I was trans and started to slowly educate me that it’s ok to be trans!
Coming from an outside perspective I started to take a deeper look into my life. When people called me “she” I felt a sting right in the centre of my chest in-between my ribcage. It was a physical sensation, almost like a small pin digging into and beneath my surface. I would internally frown and touch my head trying to suppress the disappointment in my face. After I had shaved my head I started having nightmares about my hair growing long. I would wake up sweating, panting, and even sometimes crying. Monika knew I had gender dysmorphia that was highlighted in my height and my breasts. I had been cutting my chest with self-harm intention because I wanted to “cut them off” without having to pay for the surgery. I went into shock and was taken to the hospital by a friend. After the healing was completed I came home from class with a package waiting for me at home with a binder in it. Ever since that day I’ve come to accept the financial component and waiting lists of top-surgery When I went in for my first appointment of the process of Testosterone Hormone Therapy (THT) I was the happiest boy in town…until I saw the doctor.
Within three months I had seen several specialists asking for THT but all had said no because of my past with BPD. When I dropped out of university I moved back home and started talking to a trans-friend who pointed me in the direction of Dr.Goldman. I went into the appointment expecting to be turned down again but to my surprise he said “let’s do it!” It took almost a year before I got my first needle because my mental health had to be monitored. Testosterone contributes to anxiety, rage, acne, and depression so I had to prove that I could cope and be safe on my own. Knowing that my body could start changing, my voice would start dropping, and that I might actually start to feel at least a little “normal” in the body I was given was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. With this motivation I was able to regulate, cope, and become stable within my mental health and in late April of 2017, I received my first THT shot.
Coming out to my family was difficult. I have to give props to my sister who endured most of my anger and/or depression when she used the wrong pronoun. I was getting mad at her but in reality I was mad at everyone else because they weren’t trying and society still saw me as a female. Within a few months I was having my proper pronouns used at work, with my sister and Monika which were the people I spent the most time with.
Coming out to my parents was harder. Since it had been years of hospitals, doctors, medicine, programs, emergency rooms, etc. they were a little worried that it was my BPD, just like I was. After a few months my Dad saw that this is what I truly wanted and it’s who I truly am. He accepted it and became one of the biggest supporters in my life with my transition. My Dad started to make me feel happy, safe, and like one of the guys. This normalization in my life was necessary to help me feel like I almost hadn’t been through the ringer for years about my gender identity.
Another loved one was a little different. She didn’t understand it and was both petrified and convinced it was my BPD. She didn’t use or try the proper pronouns for several months. One night I approached her and told her about how using the wrong pronoun hurt me just as much as someone calling me an “it” We had a few lengthy conversations she started avoiding using pronouns for me. Dr.Goldman pointed out to me that it’s hard because loved ones “lose a loved one (female)” and it’s hard for them at that point to see they’ve gained another loved one (male).
What I learned…
• Being trans is not a mental illness but it’s possible to have a mental illness and be transgendered without correlation.
• Self-acceptance, education, and perseverance are necessary to becoming who you are
• It’s OK to be GAY!
• Our sex is our genitals but our gender is how we identify. Sexuality is a spectrum and gender is a socially made construct.
• I can’t judge someone who doesn’t have the education or tools to understand my trans journey. However, there is a difference between trying to understand verses ignoring the situation all together.
My biggest advice…
Accept yourself first because if you don’t take yourself seriously no one else will either.
Take your time in the journey, things don’t happen overnight.
Instead of shutting out the people who are ignorant about your situation, educate them and provide them with the resources and tools to help them understand.
Happy Belated National Coming Out Day!