Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Why I'm Transitioning

I'm writing this post in response to panic attacks I've been having every other night or so for the last week, because I feel like it's an important thing to address.

So far, I've had two kinds of responses to coming out:

"Honestly, I don't know much about that, but I respect the journey you've been through. Thank you for sharing that with me. Is there anything I can do help you in the next little bit?" [I explain pronouns, using Dani, otherwise pretty much still just treating me as a friend, and various other things later on as they come up] They slip up with those things every once and a while, but apologize and sincerely try to do the best they can. There's awkward moments as well of course, but they're walking with me in this journey, and we support each other in life. Often they'll share things they're struggling with too, and we grow closer as a result.

"Okay, but you still believe in the gospel, right? Like you know the savior can help you through anything, right? Please just don't reject the faith, because it is true." [At this point I just laugh and say I appreciate the concern, but yea, I agree it's true, don't worry :)] Sometimes they'll continue though with "I feel like you need to be willing to exercise faith, and put your whole trust in him, and you'll be able to live as male. It might be hard, maybe for the rest of your life, maybe you'll figure this out and be able to help others, but that's definitely the right thing to do. Like there's more feminine guys too. Maybe you're really just one of them. That's totally okay. You can probably eventually marry a girl too, some other guys did it. But I know transition is wrong, and don't feel comfortable with your decision." This basically leads every other topic I try and bring up around gender dysphoria/transition (a reasonably big thing on my mind right now) when seeking for support into an argument of "well you're choosing the wrong thing, and I don't agree with you, so maybe if you choose something else you wouldn't be having these kinds of struggles" instead of actually discussing what I'm struggling with. Or seriously criticizing my every action, thinking maybe I just have depression or asbergers or something that "caused this" (yes and I'm addressing it with meds, no I dated a girl that did and it's a really difficult trial, but not my cross to bear in life)

Obviously this is somewhat dramatized, and most people are on a scale somewhere in-between. And most people I know have been mostly pretty good (in the first category). But I'm saying this to make a point:

There seems to be this unsaid assumption that the gospel is very clear that transition is wrong. It's anything but that.

I've searched hard, putting together a list of everything I could possibly find on this subject. To be blunt: There is nothing on the gospel end of things, for or against transition. The only thing is The Family: A Proclamation to the World - from which I feel it's best to assume I'm spiritually male - and the Bishop's handbook - from which I won't have SRS so I can still attend the temple. I'm okay with presenting as a guy only then. This also means that that what I suspect is some kind of imperfection in my brain will be fixed in the resurrection. That's not really a hopeful thing right now ("Oh boy I can live as a guy forever"), but good to know, because when it happens it will be a beautiful thing that I'll be fully comfortable with, I think. None of that says what I need to present as during this temporary life, however. Neither does I or anyone else have definite revelation to share either way on my "spirit gender", it's just "best to assume" for now.

The only other somewhat related thing is the very clear doctrine of same-sex marriage being immoral. My challenge is I don't know what kind of marriage is okay for me: A marriage to a girl would look like a gay marriage externally once I'm done transitioning, and a marriage to a guy would be a gay marriage "biologically." The only kind that works on all levels is a FtM person, but it's very rare to also find one that's active in the church and I can get along well enough with. And maybe marriage is just going to have to be something that waits until the next life. But not having any answers to these pretty important questions is very stressful. It would be nice to at least have some kind of clarity that transition is definitely wrong to work off of, but I don't even have that.

As a result, I'm just trying to do the best with what information I have - which information is pretty much nothing - a frustration my parents have expressed as well. My understanding is that most trans people are able to handle their GD much better with some kind of cross-sex hormones, of which the Church has no official policy on (for or against). So that's what I pursued. However, because I'm not married or anything, I'm also going for some level of social transition, which for me means wearing more feminine clothes, growing out my hair, wearing makeup, etc. - finding a style that I'm comfortable with. Notice these are all cultural things: though the end goal is to be presenting in a manner that most people perceive me as a normal female, I'm not doing anything that's against even the For the Strength of Youth, like say piercing my ears.

For example, it's mostly perfectly fine for a female to wear more "tomboy" clothes and cut her hair short, but apparently it's very wrong for males to wear female clothes and use makeup in a female way. The point I want to make is this is a one sided, cultural thing: for those that say my transition is obviously wrong, their reasons eventually trace back to "I don't feel okay with it." Nothing gospel related, because there's nothing there.

PS: To be clear I don't mean to be criticizing the brethren: I'm sure the Lord has his reasons, which I'd speculate range from "This issue is so rare Church leaders don't have too much of an understanding of it yet" to "The members aren't ready for a more general revelation so most change if any goes somewhat silently through changes to the handbook" to "It's such an individual thing that revelation for specific treatment options [like transition and/or hormones and/or therapy] is where revelation occurs (on the Bishop and SP levels), and a general revelation really isn't that relevant to anyone." I don't know, but that's because I'm not in a position where I should know, which is fine. I just want it to be clear that other members don't know either, because "obvious" things like "transition is always wrong" simply isn't there.

PS: This was inspired from a similar rebuttal to these misconceptions you can find here.


  1. Oh wow, we are on the same wavelength lately, Dani! I've been really stressed out about transition-related stuff this week too, because even though I'm not fully transitioning, I am on HRT and aiming for a more androgynous presentation, which I thought my sweetheart was learning to accept. But lately it seems we're back at square one, because it makes her uncomfortable. :(

    I mean, I love her and her comfort matters to me, but don't my feelings matter too? We can't live our entire lives just based on making others happy if it makes us unhappy as a result. And when people we love and respect just try to hand-wave away our struggles by telling us we just need to have more faith / pray more / etc, well, that just makes things worse sometimes. :-S

  2. I agree. I think unfortunately family/long time friends is where transition is most difficult, especially I imagine for a spouse. Might it be possible to do some shopping with her, with the goal of finding something that you feel more comfortable in, but she also feels okay about? I know finding more androgynous clothes was a very big step for me, because I know I'm wearing female clothes, but people that don't know otherwise perceive them as male clothes because they're pretty in-between.

  3. I actually wear pretty androgynous clothes these days, for the most part (my jeans are all women's jeans, a lot of my work shirts are more colorful / of a flattering cut, etc), and she's okay with mostly everything, but the fact that HRT is giving me curves is a little unnerving to her, I think. The problem is, I know what going off HRT would be like, because one day I missed a dose even though I made it up that evening, my dysphoria and anxiety were off the charts for the next 48 hours. So I really get where you're coming from, and wish you luck in whatever decision you end up making with the Spirit's guidance.