Sunday, December 29, 2013

Attractions

I just wanted to say that I feel like a large part of sexuality, at least for me, has almost nothing to do with physical attraction, and almost everything to do with the capacity to develop emotional dependence. The desire to be with someone like 24/7, to explain your heart's hopes and fears and dreams and worries and everything that makes you who you are, and for them to reciprocate that.

As an explanation that's wholly inadequate.

Something that unfortunately I've only experienced with guys so far, which adds another layer of challenge to this/makes transition slightly less painful, depending on which perspective you prefer.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Faith often seems more important in retrospect

I guess I'm the kind of person who learns from experience instead of following what I'm told is correct, for better or for worse. Looking back makes me feel like a rule follower, but living kinda doesn't.

**Trigger Warning**

What I mean is, I struggle with cutting. For those that don't understand, basically the idea is that I take a razor, and cut myself. Then I cover everything in rubbing alcohol, to prevent infection. On my leg first, then I was worried about scars showing so I moved to my hip. Then, on a day I learned beginning meeting with Endo for starting the time frame for hormones was gonna be postponed from next week (would have been two days ago) till Febuary 1 + longer time and some other things like some perceived persecution which is still not a good excuse, I made probably about 10-20 cuts all the way down my left arm. Don't get me wrong, I understand this is bad and am not encouraging this behavior - I even recognize it can be really dangerous if I'm not careful. It's just simply something I struggle with - all tied around the immense shame I feel at times over so many things related to this issue, and the hatred I have for my own male body.

Anyway, so my thoughts was, well first, this. Please watch this if you struggle with cutting, I'm glad I saw it when I did or I'd probably be in a worse condition, cause now at least I'm trying to stop. Laura (and Lorde) are two of my heroes. But once that arm cutting happened, like the time that I shaved my arms and legs (because I'm really hairy, it runs in the family, and I hate it), I thought it would just be there then heal in a few months and no-one would ever have to see or know. I mean I've learned after finally explaining my trans issues to my Bishop/therapist/friends/finally you buddies it's never helpful to hide things like that, and I did explain my struggles with cutting initially to my parents. They didn't understand ("How does that help"), which is understandable, I tried to explain the best I could, but in many ways I don't know if I'm sure myself - I mean it does help in the short term, don't get me wrong. But not in a good way. I mean, much of the shame and anger are relieved for a time, and I feel more sincerely myself, but tonight my family went to the temple.

Well, for anyone that's been there, at the temple I go to we change into white clothes that have short sleeves, then do blessings and baptize (for the dead) - I don't know much about other things we do since I'm not endowed yet, that happens once I go on a mission or get married in the temple/I'm not sure when else. The things for older people aren't really secret, they're just really sacred so we don't openly talk about them. So when changing into the white clothes, I looked down at my arm and there were the scars, covering the majority of the underside of my wrist. I think I mostly avoided people seeing them, but that involved folding my arms all the time/holding my arm akwardly against my side, and it really just ruined the whole experience for me. Instead of having a great opportunity to spend time in the lords house ("we get there through love", as a temple administrator explained well after asking me and my little bro and sis if we loved our dad - we all responded yes enthusiastically (he's amazing) and he said he could see it in our eyes. Same with our mom. Me and my peeps are so lucky.), I was terrified of people seeing my scars and judging me, not understanding the full situation. Especially my little bro and sis - I want to be a good example for them, or at least be the best loving sibling I can be to them while minimally embarrassing their friends, since that's the parent's job.

But there were times I was sitting there stressing about my arm scars, and I just wanted to break down in tears and go hug my dad. Gender Dysphoria is disrupting so much of my life. Me and my dad were talking a few days ago after spending one last meeting with a therapist (long story), and after quite a bit of discussion he just started crying, saying "I just feel so bad that such a good spirit like you has to go through this so early in your life. It seems like regardless of what you decide to do your ability to serve will be hampered." I cried freely too (there's been a lot of that the past few days, which is new and different to me, but I think helpful as opposed to painfully holding in my emotions), I mean besides that meaning so much to me, as my cousin said well (since we kinda get it from our grandma), I have a "sacrifical personality." There are times I've felt like I would gladly live through a painful torturous life/die and miss out on all future opportunities if it meant that someone else could be guaranteed to have a much more better life. More specifically, I just like service. It's what drives me, without the opportunity to make a difference in others lives I just think life seems meaningless. And maybe that's normal, but that's where I'm at.

So, that's really why I decided social transition may be necessary for me. It honestly doesn't have much at all to do with the fact that "I feel my personality and character (made of male and female parts as we all are) can be more accurately portrayed through a female medium," or the fact that I want to marry someone and have a family but I'm appalled at the thought of anyone (a girl and for the most part a guy) being attracted to my male self. I mean on that note, as I think I said earlier gender dysphoria has always been the big issue for me, not SSA - I didn't even realize I dealt with that till college. As even if I could marry my "dream guy" in the temple and have biological kids, it'd still be a rather torturous thing if I didn't feel like he perceived me as female. But all of that is just secondary. The main reason I finally decided that transition was necessary, that taking all these steps would be worth it is because I realized how much not taking care of Gender Dyphoria was hampering my ability to serve others, and make a difference in the world.

Depression causes all kinds of issues. Friends, well, any relationship where I wasn't out might have existed for them, but it was missing out on so much depth and meaning, for both of us. Things I've experienced now to some extent after coming out to close friends. Opportunities to build character where there was just intense inner hatred leading to lacking of self-confidence/self-doubt before. School, well, chances are I may not ever be able to marry in this life, so if that's the case career is especially even more important to me - it's one of the greatest opportunities (besides friends and now potentially trans-activism which is very important to) I have to make a positive difference in the life of others. That's why I picked Computer Engineering - I feel like my experience in that area combined with the pervasiveness of technology creates such a capacity to make a positive difference and help people. But dysphoria was getting to the point where I couldn't function in school. Not to mention the C- and B's in the end of 9th grade (otherwise I pretty much get A's - school has never really been a struggle for me), or C- and B's in the end of 12th grade, and the B+ at the start of college - this semester has been terrible. I mean I've missed like half my classes anyway, would break into like near panic attacks in labs and lectures, and focusing/motivation decided to over-microwave itself. So I'll probably end up with around a C average, which with a 4.0 last semester and like a 3.7 the semester before my cumulative GPA won't be too bad - but I've gotta keep a 3.6 between this and next semester to keep my full tuition scholarship, and chances are that won't happen. So I'll see. But so there's that terribly negative impact it's had on my career, friends (more detail could be given here, but that's the jist of it), and marriage. Not to mention the thing I usually feel I want to do most in my life right now is to serve an LDS mission - I committed to doing it about 12 or 13 due to leaders encouragement and such, but really became dedicated myself about 16 or 17, and studied pretty hard for that. Now (due to dysphoria and corresponding depression/bipolar stuff) that's not even an option, at least not yet :)

But yea, when pretty much all of my life goals around school and family and mission and friends have been negatively affected by Gender Dysphoria, I feel like it makes sense to transition - so I can have a something that's extremely lacking before, a better opportunity to serve others. Exactly how this works out in the future I don't know, but the immensity of importance and feelings behind coming out and potentially transition (even just like having a little longer hair and wearing more gender-neutral clothes) is something that I can understand why it would be hard to understand, but is endlessly beautifully significant. So here goes.

I'm still gonna ease into social transition and other things - and feel it out, make sure I'm comfortable with everything to a large extent because the last thing I want to do is cause more dysphoria by presenting as one of the males or females I'm NOT. But it should be a fun journey, I'll keep myself updated as I go, don't worry.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Ups and downs

Recently I'd been doing pretty good - the last couple days I've had quite a bit of energy and motivation to work on completing class assignments, and even got up at like 7:15 yesterday morning and was rather functional for most of that day. Then, last night I took my med and went to sleep, about 1:00AM.

Unfortunately, this morning (if you can call it that) I didn't wake up till 4:00 PM. I had some pretty interesting dreams too. Once I finally got up, I didn't feel like talking or doing much of anything besides eating a little, so I had some waffles then a burger with my family, hardly talking at all which is pretty abnormal for me. Then I came back into my room and felt no real motivation for anything, so am laying here now, and will probably fall asleep again fairly soon. Luckily I don't feel much desire to hurt myself or anything which is good, just don't really want to do anything. So yea sadly what I thought was medicine working might have just been one of the highs in the up and down cycle, and now I'm getting probably one of the most extreme lows I've had in a while. Hopefully it doesn't last too long, and who knows, maybe It'll just take more time to kick in.

On a related note I met with my Stake President yesterday. He was pretty cool about it all, and just really wanted to understand, so I told him more of my story - what's been happening recently. I probably should have followed the spirit more in our meeting and will work on doing that better meeting with my bishop later on, because it probably was just a little long in going off on tangents that we discussed that weren't necessarily that pertinent - also because I was just kinda reciting some of the stuff I told him from memory instead of being sincere about it I think since I've told my story so many times, but either way my Bishop and Stake President are awesome. I hope it was helpful too.

Luckily I have an appointment with an Endocrinologist December 27th, but I'd agree with them that I shouldn't try anything too severe (like hormones) until I'm in a stable state mentally, which I'm not right now. Still, it will be nice to start taking steps towards HRT.

As a sidenote, normally I had tons of anger related to the Gender Dysphoria, but I never expressed it externally and just always took it out on myself, which made for many insecurities. Recently I just haven't had any desire to take it out on myself, so instead I've had lots of anger that I kinda want to express externally. I've still never expressed it - I just don't express my anger, I've never seen that as helpful - but I don't know if that shift in how I feel is necessarily a positive or negative thing, it just is. Also I recognize it's never helpful to hold in my emotions, and I try and express them when I can in acceptable ways to friends and such, but anger's just always been a difficult one for me because it's hard to find acceptable ways to express that, and self harm/anger directed towards myself isn't helpful nor healthful.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Sad Day

Tonight, I took my antidepressant that you have to let dissolve on your tounge (Mirtazapine), and after that, took my evening 50mg of spironolactone. Yet I'm supposed to eat some food with my sprio, so I went down to go make my standard 4 pieces of buttered toast, and I couldn't taste it! After a few minutes a bit of taste started coming back, and I could slightly taste things like orange juice or strawberry waffles, but only on the sides of my tongue. Was a very sad day. I guess for some reason the Mirtazapine numbed my taste buds, it'd probably have something to do with my bigger appetite too that I need to watch closer (because even though I weigh 150 and am 5'7 and 3/4 and have a high metabolism, I'd like to stay about there, being overweight is a hassle).

Also, not having a functional tongue would be hard.

I remember I've had the discussion at times of, if you could lose one sense (Sight, Touch, Hearing, Smell/Taste), which would you lose? If I could only lose smell, definitely that, but if I had to lose smell and taste (As opposed to any other single option), I'm starting to think that'd be a really difficult decision. Luckily I'm certainly *cough cough* not on one of those shows where they actually implement my decision and see what the results are to my psychological well being.

No.

That would be silly.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Accepting the entirety, not the pieces

Today I had an odd experience: I was sifting through the blog layouts, trying to find one that I really liked. There was this really cool blue one that I was pretty happy with and felt like described me, but then I figured that, this being a transgender blog, I should pick something more feminine. So I decided on a purple frilly one. Never. Again.

For some reason, after applying that, the thought that I was this frilly flowery purple person was appalling to me. Like the same kinda of appalling that I have when I consider kissing a girl as male or something - it just seemed horribly wrong. Like it was a type of the farthest away from me I would ever want to be, like it was this horrible facade of more, yea that was really it. I was putting on another facade. A frilly, girly-girly person, and that's NOT me. I even started having quivers and such for a little bit, just this huge repulsion to anything like that describing me, the exact same kind of quivers I have when I feel I need to do something very masculine - because that's not me either. Really, as I said before, I identify as this tomboy person as I explained in my story - for example I think Kat Dennings, especially her role in Darcy in Thor, is so much closer to the person I feel like than any stereotypically girly-girl. Like when I left that movie, I was just torn with dysphoria wishing I could be just some small portion of that kind of life (personality and social wise, traveling through the galaxy and saving the earth is a little much for me). But yea, when I meet or see a girl that I identify with more than I identify with myself, it's a really hard thing to handle. And (I hope this isn't weird) Kat Dennings is one of those people.

Kinda. Just I'm a little more awkward and emotional, for better or for worse.

Anyway, my point is that there are certainly kinds of females and kinds of males that I know aren't me. And there are certainly maleish and femaleish parts of me, and if I don't come to accept both sides of them, regardless of where I'm at with transition and otherwise I'm gonna be in a world of hurt and stuff. But there's also so much potential for happiness through self discovery and development here, which is the beauty of it.

Long story short, I need to accept myself. I need to find where on the scale I identify, come to terms with being okay with that, and come to terms with being more comfortable with letting these feelings ebb and flow as they feel is needed. As Leo Tolstoy (insert whatever medium he used to expulge this here cause I'm not sure if wrote or said is fitting):

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself."

And I can't do that if I have no idea who I am.

As my bishop said well:

"Who you are now is perfectly okay, and just as important as who you are trying to become."

Monday, December 2, 2013

My Story

I’m 19, and struggle with Gender Dysphoria.

So first, I recognize this story is long and somewhat serious. It's intention was to describe how I've come to my understanding of Gender Dysphoria, and where I’m going from here, and that just kinda exploded. So my thanks goes to you, dear reader, if you make it to the end, and I hope it can in some way help bring greater insight and empathy for you towards those that struggle with such an often misunderstood issue. Or I just hope I can provide a time-wasting story with juicy details, whatever melts your cake.

To first give a background, I grew up in a very LDS community, and was born into the Church within a faithful LDS family. As a 90's kid, besides being a little sensitive I wasn't that different from most other boys my age: I liked biking and rollerblading, traded Pokémon cards, played board or video games with friends and siblings, and was into soccer and even tee-ball for a time (until I ran to third base first).

I was also sometimes depressed as a kid though – my mom tells me there were times (when I was like 5 or 6) that I’d come home and be so tired that all I wanted to do was play Nintendo. If given an option I always chose the female characters – it just felt better – but I never really thought much more into that. It’s not like I was anti-social or anything either, I spent almost all my time either with my younger siblings or my friends across the street. That aspect of depression was just there, I think, and in my family history as well (my parents both struggle with depression and I have a few blood relatives with bipolar disorder).

Once I got into 6th grade, I started getting really introspective and even more depressed. I had a close school friend move away and a few other stressful events like friends not getting along with each other, but nothing more than what I’d imagine many people go through at this time, and nothing particularly tragic. I started to recognize there was something different about me from other boys my age too, but couldn't point out what it was, just something felt off. I eventually recognized that, for some reason, when I thought of myself as a female, either randomly in a tall hallway, or looking in the mirror and thinking my female self was looking back at me, or just imagining myself going throughout life as female, a feeling of strong self-understanding began to emerge. I began to realize that the thought that I could actually be a female and then just go about my normal life as one brought one of the most powerfully relieving, natural, and right feelings I’d ever felt in my life. And the thought of me continuing to live as male brought quite the opposite.

As would be expected, this brought a world of confusion. On one hand, I realized there was this extremely strong internal identification as a girl, an extremely strong desire to begin presenting in a manner consistent with this – feelings I didn’t understand and didn't want, but were there nonetheless. On the other hand, I remember asking as a little kid (when my mom was pregnant with my lil’ sis) how they knew if the baby was a boy or a girl, and she explained genitalia to me, explaining that I was a boy. Obviously I had a few other things (my life) reinforcing that idea that I was male as well. Being the obedient kid I was, I accepted and tried to follow this, tried to figure out how to be the best male I could be.

I went back and forth here for a time, but eventually decided in 7th grade (the beginning of middle school for me) that that was enough of these feelings. I was biologically male, so I needed to accept that. I told myself “I’m male, I’m male, I’m male” over and over in my head, thinking that would somehow solve things.

Instead, I became suicidal. The emotional pain of trying to accept my own male gender, something it seemed like everyone else could do so easily, became too much to bear. It’s a pain that’s hard to describe, but I think was partially depression and stress from the typical 7th grade awkwardness, and mostly some strange internal dissonance between feeling female and experiencing life as male. A pain I don’t wish on anyone, a pain based around something so fundamental as identity. It also didn’t help that my body seemed to be betraying me, I felt helpless as I developed facial hair, my voice lowered, and my bone structure became more firm and blocky. Looking very much like a male, even an attractive one as some say. I tried drowning myself in the bathtub, and contemplated having myself be run over or stabbing myself with a kitchen knife. Luckily I wasn’t successful, and eventually “stopped” being suicidal through the hope of someday getting over these feelings of feeling female and someday accepting myself as male, realizing the challenges my suicide would cause for those I love, and having a hope that I could potentially help others in the future through my career and otherwise, partially after hearing a story about a kid that was befriended that was going to commit suicide and ended up doing really well later in high school and such.

Unfortunately, my lack of success also meant nobody really knew I was going through this, so I didn’t get any professional help. I think my parents just thought I was struggling with some self-confidence issues (as most kids do at that age), and I had a good friend that could tell I was going through something and asked me often about it, but I was too afraid to tell what I deemed as my “dark secret”.

So the cycle went on. I treated this identification as female and the associated pain from reminders that I was physically presenting as male and didn’t want to present as that anymore as we’re told to treat all “bad thoughts,” trying to suppress them by saying no, or by singing a hymn in my head or saying a prayer or by focusing on something else. I read my scriptures intently daily, did my best to pray morning and night, and participated actively in seminary and church, hoping my righteousness would somehow “cure” me of this. Sometimes when it got especially bad I would go and sit in a private place and fold my arms and pray my heart out, hoping to be cured and not think of gender related stuff anymore, even though saying I hoped for that was even more painful. I also engulfed myself in school, including extra circular activities like band and debate. I found programming as a side hobby that I enjoyed, something I could do freely as male that could take my mind sorta off of this.

But none of this fixed the problem, indeed, the dysphoric pain (as this gender based pain is formally called) got worse. By the end of my last grade of middle school, I was so upset I still hadn’t got over these feelings that I missed a week of school from being “sick,” really being depressed that they were still there. This resulted in bad grades that last term, which for me was like a C- in one class and B’s or A’s in others, but still I would have liked to do better. The same happened my senior year of High School, and to some extent at the beginning and end of every grade. I made friends, had academic and extra-circular success, even dated some throughout those years, but this issue just kept being there. It was on and off, but on a mostly weekly basis, and the downsides were rather severe.

Eventually, I got to college, and being a young’un I had a year before my mission which I figured I’d use to finally put this behind me. It was a new environment with new people, and hopefully a new life away from gender dysphoria. Instead, after a week or two of putting off these feelings, they came rushing back as painful as ever. I was distraught to say the least, and eventually decided to go explain them to my bishop. To be clear I’d explained them once before to my bishop in 8th grade, but I don’t think my understanding of this at that point was enough for him to feel I should go to therapy, and instead I received some answers that helped for a time, but also led to me thinking I was over this and putting it more in the back of my mind, a state of being that doesn’t help in the long run.

Long story short, my Bishop in the college ward was amazing, just listening sincerely to me through many meetings and showing me tons of compassion, that he cared, even if he didn’t understand this issue (which neither of us did). He eventually thought it would be best to refer me to therapy, where I worked with an LDS therapist (they transferred me from LDS family services to him) for about six months to help me understand that these feelings weren’t wrong, and instead just a perfectly okay trial that I have to deal with.

Unfortunately, during this time I started to associate feeling the spirit with a reminder that I was supposed to accept myself as male, after praying to understand my eternal “spirit gender” and thinking it was probably male. This meant that reading the scriptures or going to church brought more of the painful feelings that I was so frustrated of at this point, so I stopped reading the scriptures for 2 weeks out of fear, something completely foreign to me after reading almost consistently since I was 14 or so. I got so worried about this I came to my Bishop again, and, first confused, he followed the spirit and helped me understand how the world has imperfect labels of, say male and female, but the gospel is about all of us being equal under Christ. That Christ is the perfect example of every characteristic, including being sensitive, compassionate, empathetic, etc. My Bishop’s explanation – that who I am now is perfectly okay and just as important as who I want to become (like Christ) – helped me recognize that the spirit is really just something testifying to me that I’m okay as I am (this was later reinforced after going to the temple and feeling this powerful feeling of okayness with myself feeling female internally), and helping me understand things I can improve on. So I began to read the scriptures again and be active in listening and participating church, which was good.

All of this increased understanding and decreased shame over this issue (since it was a perfectly okay relatively normal struggle I had that other people struggled with too, not sinful bad feelings unique to me) was immensely relieving at first since I wasn’t beating myself up all the time anymore, and I became the most outgoing and friendly I’ve been in my entire life. I began to finally discover and accept myself, instead of hiding and feeling ashamed about me, even though I wasn’t really out about this, I was out to myself, which was the first step. This lasted for a few months, but then I started to realize something odd: Even though I no longer felt as much internal shame from these feelings (because they were just an okay part of me), I still felt pain because I wasn’t presenting as female, what I identified with internally. The same kind of pain I experienced before, something that can best I guess be described as a depression/cognitive dissonance, returned. The thought of praying to have it be relieved was so painful and scary and never seemed to get anywhere that I even tried praying just asking to be turned into a girl, often for hours. It didn’t get me anywhere though, obviously, so I became pretty depressed again.

About this same time I also learned that, well going back a little for much of my teenage life I had this ideal girl in my mind that I told myself someday I’d be attracted to and marry, and just was hoping to find her. I had had some attractions towards my male friends, but just told myself “this is what I’d feel like if I was gay, which I’m not, instead these feelings are just me trying to understand what gay people would feel like so I can empathize with them but yea I’m not actually gay” and that was that.

But one day while riding back from therapy to college I realized that about 1/3 of the guys I met or knew were more attractive (in terms of personality and temperament more than appearance, really, appearance is like 13 on my list of important qualities) to me to be more attractive than any girl I’ve ever met. That I’ve never been attracted to any girl I’ve ever met, and was certainly attracted to guys. Essentially that I dealt with SSA, something I had been ignoring for a very long time, which just compounded my frustration over everything. Even saying “Why is my life so messed up” kinds of things, just being really distressed. Though Gender Identity stuff still came first, even if I could hypothetically marry my dream guy in the temple and have biological kids, I’d be extremely uncomfortable in that relationship unless I felt like he saw me as female. Again I still don’t quite understand why I feel this way; it’s just how I feel.

I mean I still have sort of an attraction to females in that I just really want to be like some females that I identify with, and the fact that I want kids and that’s only technically possible with most females or adoption, but these attractions are a very negative, almost jealousy type feelings, not the positive more “normal” attractions I feel towards men that I imagine is like the attractions most people feel.

Also, more recently in being around females that I’m out to around this, I’ve been able to develop rather close emotional connections in a way, but no attractions more than an emotional connection ever came up, attractions that I’ve experienced and just haven’t acted on with men. Also the thought of any physical intimacy with a female, even just including say holding hands romantically or kissing is appalling to me, and almost makes me nauseous, for whatever reason. Specifically what I mean is that, for some reason, right now when I see indications that some girl I know is attracted to my male self that I’m presenting as, it’s one of the most triggering and painful experiences I’ve found, something that I’ve heard similarly from some people that struggle with SSA. Going so far that to function well on dates (which I had some fun dates, don’t get me wrong), I had to continually remind myself internally that we were “just friends” having a fun time together, which was probably mostly accurate anyway, but also took out some of the meaning and purpose of dating for myself and especially the girls I dated I imagine. Because anything more than “just friends” hurt. So I wish I was bisexual, and am still trying to have an open mind to it, but everything so far points to that I’m probably not.

I also learned that, I asked myself if I do many times, and I don’t feel bigender/genderqueer/neuter/questioning/other. I know many feel that they don’t necessarily identify as either male or female, or identify as one sometimes and another other times, or identify as neither, or just aren’t sure, and that’s fine, I just rather strictly identify as female. This being my own personal experience that doesn’t reflect at all on anyone else’s feelings or how they should go about addressing and understanding and accepting their own self, it’s just what I’ve found about me, to be clear. I recognize that there are male and female parts of me too, and that gender and social stereotypes are rather socially constructed, but also that I feel my rather tomboy like personality is best represented through a female medium. That I would be very comfortable, okay with, and enjoy presenting as female in our society with its current social expectations (if possible) and that a male presentation for me is never something I find even relatively natural or acceptable. Not even a slightly more feminine male (since there’s feminine guys and masculine girls) that has all the personality traits and character as me, I’ve tried that. There are times I can deal with being male, times it’s convenient, and times it’s horribly painful, but never times I’ve found that I actually enjoy being male and it feels like me. If all that makes sense.

Long story short, I feel like a straight female internally, for whatever reason.

My therapist also informed me that, in terms of changeability, gender identity (as this is known) is more difficult to change than sexual identity, to the point that change efforts (unlike SSA which the debate goes both ways) are deemed unethical because of the immense psychological harm they’ve caused to many already suicidal patients. Unfortunately this had the opposite effect for me, my hopes of getting over these gender issues were gone, and without that hope, I began feeling very suicidal again. It was important to have realistic expectations too, I realize that. So this worried me, but at the same time, I learned that some people were able to, through hormones, voice therapy, electrolysis, and other procedures, essentially turn themselves into females for the most part (or males for FtM transgender people), what’s known as “transition.” This got me hugely excited, as there was a possibility that someday I could be presenting as female, living the life I’ve dreamed of (figuratively and literally) as me, actually me. So this hope replaced my hope of getting over these feelings: A hope of being female.

Then lots of nothing happened. College was over for the year (I did great somehow, even getting a 4.0 my second semester studying Engineering despite all this), and I started working during the summer, meeting with my therapist more and still being depressed because I was scared to transition. I had explained my gender issues as best I understood them to my parents too, and though they were as loving and supportive as they could reasonably be, they were also opposed to me transitioning because they didn’t feel it was right, nor did they feel it would be helpful to me due to the social consequences and potential discrimination I might face. I didn’t necessarily agree with this (because I felt like those potential consequences were so much less than the pain I’ve experienced so far and have continued to go through), but could see where they were coming from. So it had been 6 months since I explained this to my Bishop and begun therapy, and I felt like I had made a lot of progress self-discovery wise and mental health wise, but felt like to move any more forward I need to do something specifically related to gender dysphoria.

This gets me to where I am today. It is now more than a year from when I explained this to my Bishop, and I still don’t feel like I’ve made much progress. Specifically now:

I’ve come to understand the concept of spirit gender (as outlined in The Family, A Proclamation to the World) and feel it is best for now to assume my spirit gender is male. I also have a male sex, with normal male chromosomes, and as far as I understand a female gender identity (coming from something in my brain).

Thus I still feel it would be okay for me to potentially present as female as a temporary thing for this life, as a necessary treatment for a medical issue. I haven’t seen anything doctrinally against this either, as far as I can tell. I don’t know how marriage would work though, and most answers I get on the church standpoint are “probably not but it’s a case by case basis” kind of thing, so I’m not sure what to think there. If I were to transition though, I would want it to be a purely social/hormonal thing, as SRS (Sexual Reassignment Surgery) may cause church discipline and will strictly bar me from entering the temple or holding the priesthood, and genitalia isn’t as much of an issue for me as is the social and I’ve learned now also some physical aspects. Basically, the way my identification works is I feel most (if not all) the gender-based pain wouldn’t be there if I was seen as female socially, and after being out (about Gender Dysphoria) in some supportive situations I’ve learned that being out isn’t enough even if they are accepting of me, that I feel I need to look mostly female to really feel I am being authentic to myself as accurately portraying who I feel I am internally, to prevent dysphoric pain. As best as I can, again, explain these feelings I don’t understand but are there nonetheless and have helped me become who I am today.

I’ve come out to a few friends, my sister and her spouse, and a cousin, and they’ve been wonderfully supportive of whatever I decide to do with this. I haven’t been more out though, it being an irreversible thing that I’m postponing until it feels the right time to do so, when I have a more solid understanding of where I want to go with this.

I also tried three anti-depressants (to help treat the depression to help me be better functioning while we address Gender Dyphoria), and the first gave me mania (bipolar disorder), the second made me emotionally flat lined, and the third gave me anxiety/panic attacks where I was violently shaking daily, and made either my legs or arms shake a little from anxiety constantly. The first two we decided against, but the third I have been taking for three and a half weeks now and the side effects aren’t as severe as they prescribed an non-addictive anti-anxiety pill alongside it. None of this has really seemed to help yet though.

Before all this transition stuff, I know that hormones are known to treat this issue well for people that don’t want to transition (such as those that are married), if feasible not transitioning being something I see as ideal for myself as well. Thus, I’d like to start on hormones to hopefully help me get to a point that I can function well as male (and if not transition to presenting as female from there), but I’ve gone through 6 therapists right now, 5 of which didn’t feel comfortable recommending hormones (as a therapist’s recommendation is required after a 3-month consultation to work with an endocrinologist) because they didn’t feel experienced enough about the side-effects of hormones and don’t feel experienced enough with Gender Dysphoria to make such a recommendation. The one that would feel comfortable making such a recommendation after 3 months my parents were concerned her values weren’t LDS, and pushing too much for transition, so they didn’t feel comfortable helping pay for therapy, and I can’t afford it right now with her.

My doctor was able to prescribe Anti-Androgens (in the not causing permanent infertility range) to help as a temporary thing to keep me from further masculinizing until I figure more stuff out here of exactly what I want to do, giving a psychological benefit of less anxiety and urgency but not much more than that. He’s not comfortable prescribing any more than that, which makes sense.

So unfortunately I still haven’t found a therapist to recommend hormones, and will most likely need to wait three more months (minimum) to even begin taking hormones, after the cost and time (another month) of banking sperm if possible. I have seizure like panic/anxiety attacks rather often, have trouble getting to sleep at night, then once I finally do I wake up multiple times during the night full of the pain of this, then oversleep in the morning because I’m terrified to get up and have another day with Gender Dysphoria. There are so many things throughout my day that trigger a feeling of deep emotional pain related to this issue for some reason now, that I often almost burst out crying in class or have an anxiety attack there (but I’m able to withhold it until I get to a private place, and just can never get the tears to come out anymore for some reason) and I’m having a real difficult time just functioning in school. I can hardly focus on anything, lack motivation for most things. I’ve now missed quite a bit of school too, just having days I feel too overwhelmed to even get out of bed, sickness I think tying into all of this with a weakened immune system due to stress. Also sometimes my lack of desire to live as male overpowers my desire to live as female, and I do feel very suicidal.

I was hospitalized 3 weeks ago for a week in a psych ward because I didn’t feel safe (feeling very suicidal), and partially to begin trying that third anti-depressant to help me get to a little better position mentally. But that simply got me to where I’m at today, wanting to transition, but wanting to try hormones first, and not having the ability to try them, so being stuck in a very depressive state of continually waiting while searching for a therapist. And still having no idea if marriage and a family in the future, something I want so much, would even be possible or right, as a male or female. Honestly I would prefer to go on a mission as male and marry in the temple and raise kids in a loving family and have a hopefully successful career, but instead I’m stuck with dysphoria. It’s frustrating, to say the least, but in the spirit of thanksgiving I will say I’m thankful for Gender Dysphoria: I wouldn’t have such a strong testimony and be as understanding and empathetic of others without it, as a few examples of the many blessings I’ve received from it that have made me the person I am today. I’d just like to be moving forward somehow too.

Finally, if you are struggling with Gender Dysphoria (AKA are transgender or bigender or questioning or ...) yourself, please know I love you and care about you. Anyone can feel free to message me (or post below) if they have further questions (though I'm only semiscient), concerns, comments, or favorite flavors of cheese. Thank you for reading, it means a lot to me.

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So, I'm startin' a blog! Here goes stuff, wish me luck or preferably pie.