Friday, May 15, 2015

Things

So I might start writing in here soon. Maybe I dunno I guess I just ate a veggie burger so that is a good reason.

Okay so basically things have been going like things do. My job at a call center kinda exploded as I started having panic attacks and breakdowns and stuff every time I went, so that was sad. But then I started doing better, and finished my class (I was only taking one cause my emotions have issues) with an A! So that is pretty neat

And then I got a programming internship at a secret government place I'm not supposed to mention. That's probably too much already so bye

Also I am in a relationship with someone who is awesome and so it is awesome because it's an awesome thing that's awesome =)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Updated list of LDS Gospel References related to Transgender/Gender Dysphoria and SSA

Though there are no official LDS references specifically addressing Transgender/Gender Dysphoria trials yet I think (unlike Same-Sex Attraction), there are many articles that address the difference between men and women, something that's somewhat relevant. Here are those I've found so far, and I'm open to anyone else's suggestions if they know of a good talk/article.

First, if you are a parent or friend of someone struggling with these feelings, please read this:

A Christ-Centered Gender Identity

Then visit here:

Family Acceptance Project - "The Family Acceptance Project™ is a research, intervention, education and policy initiative that works to decrease health and mental health risks for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) children and youth, including suicide, homelessness and HIV – in the context of their families. We use a research-based, culturally grounded approach to help ethnically, socially and religiously diverse families to support their LGBT children."

Official LDS Recources

The Family: A Proclamation to the World - The First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles
ALL HUMAN BEINGS—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose. 
IN THE PREMORTAL REALM, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshiped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life.
See this post for an idea of how our little LDS trans community has sort of come to understand what this means with respect to us.

The Joy of Living the Great Plan of Happiness - Elder Richard G. Scott

Strengthening the Family: Created in the Image of God, Male and Female

Gender Is an Essential Characteristic of Eternal Identity and Purpose - Visiting Teaching Message

"Gender Is An Essential Characteristic" - A short film

A Voice Said "I Am Not A Son" - Also a short film. Though it's on family history, it helps clarify the idea that gender is very essential, even after this life.

Chapter 3: Teaching Infants and Toddlers: from Birth to Approximately Three Years - A Parent’s Guide, (1985), 18–21

Chapter 4: Teaching Children: from Four to Eleven Years - A Parent’s Guide, (1985), 22–33

To quote from this:
There is nearly as much variation within each gender as there is between the genders. Each human being is unique. There is no one model except the Redeemer of all mankind. Development of a person’s gifts or interests is one of life’s most enjoyable experiences. No one should be denied such growth.

You should provide opportunities for your children to develop talents in various directions unhindered by improper stereotypes. But you should respect the divinely mandated roles special to the respective sexes. Teach your children that they will grow and be happy by accepting these roles and magnifying them.
The Father and the Family - Boyd K. Packer

To Young Men Only - Boyd K. Packer on October 2, 1976 at the priesthood session. This talk is really depressing. It encourages gay bashing/suggests violence may be necessary, and also says that:
"There is a falsehood that some are born with an attraction to their own kind, with nothing they can do about it. They are just 'that way' and can only yield to those desires. That is a malicious and destructive lie. While it is a convincing idea to some, it is of the devil. No one is locked into that kind of life. From our premortal life we were directed into a physical body. There is no mismatching of bodies and spirits. Boys are to become men—masculine, manly men—ultimately to become husbands and fathers. No one is predestined to a perverted use of these powers."
It's clear this is no longer the church's stance on homosexuality, and they recognize that it's something many people experience that they did not choose. Also, even if there is "no mismatching of bodies and spirit," in the case of someone having a gender identity (brain) not matching their biological sex, there is legitimate male and female parts of the body.  so either way the spirit gender went it would line up with some portion of the body, so it wouldn't totally be a "mismatch of body and spirit."

The Doctrinal Importance of Marriage and Children - Russel M Nelson
Brothers and sisters, I am very grateful for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It provides light to guide us in this world darkened by immorality, iniquity, and infidelity. It teaches us to love all of God’s children, some of whom struggle with gender issues or other conditions that may not be fully understood. We need to help and encourage them and their family members without, of course, condoning sinful behavior.
mormonsandgays.org/ - A Church Website that "Strives to address, through interviews and videos from Church leaders and members, the issue of same-sex attraction as it relates to individuals and affected family members. The statements and stories emphasize the importance of Christ’s commandment to love one another and reaffirm the Church’s position." Though this is mostly about SSA, many of the things said there are relevant to gender dysphoria/transgender issues as well.

Bishops Handbook

There are also many biologically male transgender people that are married to females in the temple after returning from a mission but still struggle with Gender Dysphoria. For them, it seems like often a good consensus is to start on a low dosage of female hormones and male hormone blockers, and otherwise continue presenting as male and living a relatively normal life. Quoting from here:

"For some the relief of HRT is significant enough to completely manage their GD. Why this is has not been proven, but it is hypothesized that the sexually dimorphic brain of a person with GD responds positively to the cross sexed hormones."

It seems to make everything less pertinent and severe, meaning they have more ability to fulfill their male roles in family and elsewhere. It's still a very difficult trial for them to go through though, for them and their wives. See some of the blogs below, especially A Purple Picket Fence and this North Star blog post, both by wives of males that deal with Gender Dysphoria. There is even a confidential gospel centered email group for those who deal with/are close to someone with GD and a gospel centered email group for their spouses, if you feel like either of these may be helpful for you.

For me, because I don't have any major family obligations yet (not being married or anything), I feel comfortable transitioning to presenting as female. Personally I probably don't want SRS though, because the handbook would then prevent me from being able to attend the temple, so I'm going for a hormonal and social transition instead. Some others in a similar situation as me have come to the same conclusion, and some are already fully transitioned. This (transition) is not the path most people I know with GD take though, because it's very difficult, can be dangerous, and often they have other commitments like marriage.

Not Official LDS Resources

North Star: Resources for Transgender & Intersexed - North Star has been very helpful for me in learning more about this issue and ways to treat it while living the standards of the Gospel.

The following two categories aren't necessarily related to the Gospel, but have quite a bit to do with addressing the legitimacy of this situation, and how that affects members and leaders' reactions to the topic of Gender Dysphoria as a whole.

Formal Reading on The Current Situation of Transgender People

Injustice at Every Turn - A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. I made a post about this here. Very depressing, but an important reality we need to address.

The Gender Variant Phenomenon: A Developmental Review or a friend's blog post relating her specific story to the research there. This covers what people go through as they face being transgender at various stages in their life, written by a researcher that has worked with hundreds of transgender people going through that process of trying to figure out how to best address/treat their GD themselves.

Transgender - The Wikipedia page. Self-explanatory (I doubt you needed this page to find it), but also references to other helpful academic articles.

Links and Other Recommended Reading - A similar list to this one, by a fellow Neuter Trans-Person. I link to zis' blog below as well.

One of my favorite links from there:

Two-Spirits Map - "A global inventory of human cultures which recognize genders outside the male-female binary."

Transgender rights are very important. I can't emphasize this enough. Even if you disagree with transition/SRS from a moral standpoint, no-one morally agrees with a 31% attempted suicide rate of those that are accepted by their families, and a 51% attempted suicide rate from those that aren't.

Formal Reading on The Cause of Being Transgender/Having Gender Dysphoria

Expression Deprivation - The Real Problem With Being Trans

Do Your Homework, Dr. Ablow - Though none of these reference DNA (as they claimed to respond to), they all still show some level of a biological origin to Gender Dysphoria.

What causes transgender? - Though it's Yahoo Answers, the first response links to 10 academic articles related to this.

Much of this research goes off the idea that the brain and genitalia develop at different stages, so it's possible for some kind of hormone imbalance to create a male brain and female genitalia, or vice versa. This is thought to cause Gender Dysphoria, as many of these studies examine portions of the brain that don't change after birth.

Specifically many of these study different portions of the brain that are different between genders, and find that MtF transgender people typically have more female proportions, and FtM people typically have more male proportions, like they claim. It can sometimes be caused by the mom taking some kind of drug to "prevent miscarriages," or sometimes happen through no one's fault just like any other birth defect.

That being said, there's still not that much known about what causes this unpleasant situation. My opinion is just that what causes it isn't nearly as important as what we can do to treat it. Since even if we perfectly understood what caused it and could prevent all future cases, which would probably be ideal, I imagine for those that already struggle with Gender Dysphoria (like myself) we'd still have a problem that we need to do something about.

Still, with all of this, God isn't "making a mistake." Again, just like any other birth defect, he knows what he's doing and has a plan for us, just the spirit he puts into the bodies may match the brain, or it may match the body. We haven't been given any more specific revelation, since probably more generally we don't know when the spirit enters the body. However we do know God loves each of his children, and will support them through whatever earthly trial they are given though the Atonement if they turn to him for his help.

Most likely if the spirit gender matches the body, the brain will be fixed in the Resurrection, essentially "curing" them of their GD feelings. On the other hand, if the spirit matches the brain, the body will probably be fixed to match the correct brain, also "curing" them of their GD except instead through transition. Most likely neither the first or the second happens for everyone, so instead it varies from person to person. But yea most of this is just speculation, we don't know anything beyond that our bodies will be made perfect in the Resurrection through Christ's atonement, which is why personal revelation is important here. Even moreso on how best to treat GD in this life regardless of your "spirit gender," because it's perfectly possible that someone that has a spirit gender that doesn't line up with their brain may still need transition as a temporary thing for this life, and that someone that has a spirit gender that does line up with their brain might not be able to have any level of transition until the next life. What we do know is that Christ can help us each day through this trial as we learn to deepen our relationship with him.

It's important to note this doesn't always mean "getting over these feelings," however. My bishop often liked to use the analogy of "acting out," where, say when you're married, being physically intimate with someone other than your spouse (hugging, kissing, etc.) is "acting out" on your feelings and wrong. This is also typically true for those that desire to be in a same-sex relationship: Any kind of physical intimacy is probably "acting out" on same-sex feelings. However, me and my Bishop have kinda come to understand that the same thing isn't exactly true for transgender feelings, IE: What level of behavior constitutes "acting out" isn't really a relevant way to look at GD as a whole.

For example: Someone that has a sex addiction is asked to "overcome their feelings through the atonement" by working with their Bishop and by going through the appropriate steps, however that isn't thought to mean overcoming their heterosexual feelings entirely. Instead the goal would be for them to learn to overcome their addictive behavior, and possibly eventually find a proper outlet for those feelings through a temple marriage. With gender identity it's similar (just instead not really an addiction for many people and instead just a "normal" trial some people face). For everyone gender identity is important, for example in straight people the differences between men and women are a pretty important aspect of their relationship. For people that have gender dysphoria, it's certainly a difficult situation, with no easy answers. As explained above, for some hormones may just be necessary as a temporary solution for this life, for some some level of transition may be necessary. The key is that Christ's Atonement can help us make it through any of these paths, none of which are better than others. It simply depends on the situation, which is why individual revelation is so important.

These topics were also discussed in depth here.

On Transgender Children

Transcendent Transgender - "Reflections on raising a transgender child," a wonderful mom's blog about her experience raising a transgender daughter, including negative reactions at her LDS church that eventually drove them away, unfortunately.

Creating A Safe School Environment For Transgender Children - Clinical Psychologist, Diane Ehrensaft PhD, shares advice for parents on how to create a safe and accepting environment in school for transgender children.

Transgender teens become happy, healthy young adults - Explains some of the research showing that puberty blockers for transgender kids is a very effective treatment for transgender children until they mature enough to make the decision regarding transition for themselves (without going through the harmful effects of puberty that has irreversible effects that often make transition way less convincing).

As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl - A really depressing story about a boy that had a circumcision accident that removed most of his male genitilia, so his parents raised him as a girl instead. Or tried to, he transitioned back to male in his teens, and him and his identical twin brother eventually both committed suicide. I made a post about this here.

San Diego parents reveal story of transgender son who became boy at 5 - This was all over in the news, and you've probably seen it. Matt Walsh posted a criticism of this story, and Brynn Tannehill posted a rebuttal - I'd recommend watching/reading all 3 of these because they cover quite a bit of the discussion that's typically brought up when talking about transgender people.

‘I am a girl’: Transgender children face a society slow to accept them

Trapped in the Wrong Body: Growing Up Transgender - "What do you do if your child feels like he or she was born in the wrong body?"

3-year-old trans kid wonders when she will get her ‘girl parts’

Transgender Teen Update - Following the story of a FtM transgender kid named Jake that came on Oprah and began transition at 14.


Led by The Child Who Simply Knew - "The twin boys were identical in every way but one. Wyatt was a girl to the core, and now lives as one, with the help of a brave, loving family and a path-breaking doctor’s care."

Documentaries/Videos/News Articles

Equality Utah: A Mormon mom's story of unconditional love for her transgender son - I met Grayson at a college singles ward before I even came out to myself, and had no idea he was trans, because he's a few years into transition now and started pretty young. He's an awesome kid too, and I really respect that he's still active in the LDS church as well - before him I didn't know personally anyone out there like me that was transitioned and still trying to attend church.

Transmormon -A documentary about Eri, a trans-female raised in Utah in the LDS church.

Eri Is Ready: A Mormon Woman On Being Transgendered And Getting A Sex Change - Another article about her experience.

Lessons Learned: Going Back To Church After Transition - An article written by a MtF trans person that transitioned to female and left the church, and is now attending again (while still staying transitioned).

Sara: Transgender and Mormon - An interview of an active LDS transitioned trans-female.

I'll Walk With You - Neca & Grayson - LDS Parents of a transgender female-to-male son.

LDS Trans Member in the News - Though not all good, Leah did help in bring some publicity and public awareness to the issue of active transgender individuals.

John Dehlin at TEDxUSU - He explains how he came to be an LGBT advocate, while still being active in the Church. In retrospect, the statistics here are pretty off, though he still makes a valid point I think.

Just Because He Breathes: Learning to Truly Love Our Gay Son - This powerful blog deals with SSA of a child, but applies to parenting a transgender child.

Blogs

LDS Gender: For those seeking understanding of gender identity issues from an LDS perspective - Especially the "Resources and Links" (many of which have been copied here)

A Purple Picket Fence - "Thoughts and Experiences from a Mormon Girl Married to a Transgender Spouse"

Sweet is the Peace: A Mormon with a Christ-Centered Perspective on GID - A blog by a biological male that struggles with Gender Dysphoria but also strives to live the Gospel and is married (to a female) with kids.

Floundering Parents: Gender Identity - Though just a Mommy Blog, there were a lot of very relevant (and hurtful) comments made here, especially in the comments section.

A.K.A. Arcee - "Married, transgender, and Mormon. Trying to figure myself out, one day at a time."

Darkness7Light - "LDS, gender-neutral, and out."

GID Inter alia - A powerful blog by a biologically male member that joined the LDS church, then transitioned (to presenting as female), then de-transitioned, and is now presenting as male again.

Just Kate - Without the opportunity to take Hormones (due to blood issues), she's striving to find other ways of addressing her Gender Dysphoria without full transition.

TG Ultra Runner - A personal perspective on hormonally transitioning later in life, among other things.

Transgender Awareness Month at North Star

Many LDS members struggling with Gender Dysphoria had the opportunity of submitting short articles (essays, personal stories, and poems) to the North Star blog for a month. Here is the full list:

Announcing November 2013 as our first annual North Star Transgender Awareness Month

Featuring Voices of Hope Project Participants John Alden and Jamie Dutson

North Star Venues for Community and Support

Definitions

In the Eyes of a Friend - Julie Coulton

Children and Adolescents: “Summarizing What We Know and What We Have Yet to Learn”

My Watershed Moment - Katelyn Marsh

Treatment options for those who experience gender dysphoria

The Spaces In Between - Arcee Mann

The Actor - Katelyn Marsh

My Conversion Story - Sam Corbin

Saturday Morning Session - Justine

My Husband is Transgender—A Spouse’s Perspective - Kathryn Peterson

Hopes and Fears - Arcee Mann

Discovery, Pain, Peace, Fish, and Understanding - Me :) The updated story is here.

The Ones Left Behind - Michelle

How I Know - Sam Corbin

Voices of Hope Project

This is a wonderful compilation of stories of members that are striving to live the gospel while struggling with SSA/Gender Dysphoria.

Specificallly:

Jamie Dutson - She struggles with SSA and Bigender feelings. I highly recommend watching the full interview, it's very touching, and there's a lot of things I've learned from her.

The Lord Has Prepared a Way - An essay by an active LDS parent (who served as Bishop for a time) of a transgender MtF child.

A Christ Centered Gender Identity - And essay by an active LDS member that struggles personally with Gender Dysphoria.

Same Sex Attraction Gospel Resources

Since I deal with this too, I feel like many of these are very relevant to me. For some the term gay/lesbian works better, for others those are references to a "lifestyle" they don't desire to live, so SSA works better and is what I'll use here. I don't mind either term personally though, as long as they're seen as an adjective that describes a condition, not a noun that is central to a person. Because we're all made equal under Christ. There are probably better lists elsewhere, but if anything this'll be a nice reference for my own personal use.

Same-Sex Attraction - A Gospel Topic

First Presidency Statement on Same-Gender Marriage

The Divine Institution of Marriage - An LDS Commentary on issues regarding SSA

Helping Those Who Struggle with Same-Gender Attraction -  Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Elder Bruce C. Hafen Speaks on Same-Sex Attraction - A member of the Church's First Quorum of the Seventy

Church Instructs Leaders on Same-Sex Marriage - The First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles

Not-official LDS SSA resources:

Gays & Mormons - A pun on the Mormons and Gays website, this is one of the most comprehensive sites I've seen with regards to living the Gospel while struggling with SSA. Much of it is also focused from a parent's perspective ("My child just came out as gay...") , which I think is a positive thing.

Can Mormons back same-sex marriage and still get in the temple? - A (SL Tribune) article describing that supporting marriage equality doesn't really affect temple-worthiness, since it's more of a political question.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

This blog

This blog used to be a good place for me to write to sort out things I was feeling. It was also a good journal, to document my transition, and also allowed people to keep up on where I was at.

I'm at the point now though that writing here isn't helpful for me anymore though. Mostly cause, I feel like I'm at a point where I don't really want to share what I'm feeling to the world anymore. Most of my life is composed of time spent with friends or school, and neither of those two I feel I really need to share here. There's probably things I could still explain, but I am mostly just ready to move on. I'm still transitioning, but it's more passive now - basically I'm just a girl that's learning how to look better. So writing about that works, and I could make one of those college girl blogs, but this isn't the place to do it, because it's primarily about my transition. And I mean I suppose I have started a nerdy version of such a blog at Computational Bubblegum, but I don't expect anyone to read that, I mean it's more just documentation for me of nerdy things I've done.

And right now I'm doing really bad around things related to transition. I was having breakdowns and such and almost had to drop out of school and just wanted to die so I tried to die. But turns out that was mostly a med issue, and then we changed meds and I am doing sorta better. At least I can do things - I'm still depressed so I don't really want to talk to people very much, but at least I can work on school things and such. So hopefully we'll get that figured out more in the future, but we'll see. But point is I've learned that I really need to avoid triggers, because they make me less stable. Avoid people that insist on calling me a guy, not do things that require me to present as male, and generally not be involved in circles that remind me of the fact that I'm transgender. So that's what I'm doing.

I wish there was a better option, because being transgender is a big part of me, and ideally I would like to help other people that are struggling with similar things, because I have empathy and experience around this situation that could help them. But that becomes too much of a trigger that it's not a sacrifice I can make right now, sadly. So then the idea is that I need to make triggers empowering instead of harmful, because they are affirming who I am and who I am is okay. But I don't know how to do that, so I'm taking the different approach of simply avoiding most trans things, and focusing on the things I can do in life. School, work, spending time with/personal projects with friends, dating, etc. While still just being female and going through life as that, and working on better presentation, self care, and just being a better person.

But the thing is like I was saying, a part of that is that I'm not gonna write in this blog. Because it's now a thing that reminds me that I'm transgender, and thus makes me more unstable.

So until I find a better option, goodbye awesome readers. It really means a lot that people are willing to read this, so thanks.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Update

I haven't written in here for a while, but I wrote up my current story elsewhere so I figured I would share it here as well.

My name is Danielle Ensign (I go by Dani or Danielle), and I'm biologically male, and identify as androgynous female, which is under the genderqueer spectrum. This is super long, so I get if you don't read it, but it will make my day if you do ^ - ^.

So growing up Gender Dysphoria was never too big of a deal for me. I did kinda struggle with fitting in but was otherwise okay, except about 5th or 6th grade I started getting way depressed. I was like looking back at some poetry I wrote and it was like "my soul is filled with impending doom." Or like in I think 5th grade I didn't shower for a week, then eventually came into my parents and cried explaining that I wasn't showering and they were just like "it's fine just go shower now" and I was like "okay" because I didn't really understand the reason that I didn't want to shower (looking back it's because I hated what was down there). And then I almost flunked out of 6th grade.

So 7th grade came, and I started to get even more depressed, and didn't understand why. So I found that, just seeing myself as female going through normal life felt right to me. Yet I was like "this is obviously not right" so I tried to convince myself I was male, doing things like saying to myself in my head "I'm male I'm male I'm male" and stuff. But this didn't work, and instead made me more suicidal, and I tried to drown myself in the bathtub in 7th grade.

Luckily I wasn't successful, but sadly this also meant noone ever found out that I was struggling with anything. So I kinda got over it with the hope that I could get over these feelings combined with goals for my future life and worrying about how it would hurt those I loved, and basically chugged along like that all throughout junior high and high school. I was still struggling with it daily, sometimes having to just go sit down in the bathroom just so I could pray desperately asking for the strength to manage this better cause I couldn't really do that myself.

That didn't work, and I kept getting really frustrated towards the end of school years, and especially towards the end of junior high and high school, because I was like "how am I not over this yet." I also dated girls throughout high school, and even dated this one girl rather often, but to me it was just spending good times with friends. And I did have some really fun dates, but mostly dating was really triggering for me because I knew they saw me as a guy. Basically my heart wasn't really in it, and I was dating for the wrong reasons. I didn't understand why this was at the time, other than I knew that I didn't understand myself well enough to really feel comfortable in any serious relationship.

So finally college came and I was like "okay this is a new environment so hopefully I can put this all behind me now" and living up there I had awesome roomates and really enjoyed my ward, and believed that I really could get over GD for about a week or two. But then it started to really come back hard, and I really wanted to fight it so I did. But finally a few months later I was getting ready to put in my mission papers and such we're told to be honest about everything so I met with my bishop and broke down in tears again just explaining that I basically "wanted to be a girl," as I understood it. I also tried to explain it to my Bishop when I was in 8th grade but I guess I just wasn't to the point of understanding it well enough myself that I could adequately express it, or something. I dunno.

So my Singles Ward Bishop at the University of Utah referred me to a lds family services therapist who referred me to an awesome therapist, that helped me learn that being transgender aka having gender dysphoria wasn't something to be ashamed of, wasn't something I caused, and a perfectly "normal" trial for some people. So I should just learn to accept it, while still focusing on achieving the goals I want to achieve in life.

This was awesome for a while, and I was probably the most outgoing I had ever been, and got a 4.0 that semester, because I was finally beginning to be okay with myself. I also like slept through half my classes though and was really struggling internally as I went through trying to understand all this, but overall I felt like things were improving.

I also came out to my parents at this time, which was terrifying, but my Bishop gave me a blessing beforehand, and it went okay. I was figuring all this out because I wanted to have it addressed as best I could before I went on my mission (because I felt so depressed over it) so eventually we just decided that a mission wasn't for me, which was really hard for me and my parents because I came out to them and explained that I wasn't able to go on a mission at the same time. Frustrating too because I'd been going to mission prep for like 2 years and been preparing since a little kid and really wanted to go. But such is life. This was all in the fall/spring semester of 2012/2013. At this point a year or so later my parents are relatively supportitive but generally we just don't talk about GD, because they disagree with my decision to transition so we get in arguments when we try and talk about this, which is meh. But they are using female pronouns and calling me Dani so I can't complain too much.

But eventually I reached the point where I was like "okay, I understand myself good enough, and I'm not really struggling with shame anymore, but I'm still really struggling with just gender dysphoria, so what do I do about that?" And at this point I discovered the North Star Transgender/Intersex mailing list, which was way way helpful for me just to understand better how this fits into the gospel.

After working that summer in Cali, I came back to school, except I was living at home now because it's cheaper. At this time we started trying meds, but they all seemed to just give me the manic side of bipolar like symptoms (Type II) which was worse so I kinda gave up with those about august. Over that summer I had also decided that I was probably comfortable with the decision to transition, because I didn't see any reason to think that it was wrong in the context of the gospel, and met many people that had decided to not transition. For all of them GD had never gone away, and they were still really struggling, but doing things about it was really complicated because they now had a family and such. So I didn't want to be in that position, so I figured transition seemed like a good alternative because it was possible to have pretty good results at my age. I also met a person (on this group) that had transitioned, then detransitioned because of religious reasons. They were also still (somewhat) active in the gospel and they were mostly very helpful for me to just understand what to expect out of transition, to get a real perspective from someone that's been there.

I also at this time I also came to terms with the fact that I was attracted to guys, and after figuring out that the "perfect girl" that I was always looking for was actually a set of traits that described a lot of guys I knew better than it did any girls I knew. So that was really hard at first and added to my depression, because I was pretty sure I couldn't date guys since I was LDS. I also thought that this meant I was "straight" though in the context of being a female, so that seemed kinda nice because it seemed like transition could work better I guess maybe. I really didn't know at that point, and I tried to figure out exactly how this all works out and eventually later figured out that basically we have no idea but it's probably okay to date girls or trans-men, even after transition. But that's getting ahead of myself, I didn't learn that till 2014. At this point I was just like "okay I'm attracted to guys but I can't date them and that's just how it goes, either way I still wanna figure my trans stuff out first"

So once I was comfortable with my decision to transition, I wanted to really practice the mannerisms and voice needed for transition and grow out my hair and get the right clothes and start on male hormone blockers and female hormones. With that last piece, at this time my therapist of about a year decided that I needed to be "referred to someone else" but we couldn't find anyone else and so this basically just meant that I was left without a therapist. We hunted hard trying to find one that specialized in GD, but the first was kinda repairitive oriented and ended up being moderately helpful but sorta not helpful, since his focus was on "accepting that I'm a male that has all the personality characteristics and traits that I have." We then found Colette Malan, who is a registered sexologist and would have been fantastic, but she was really expensive and my parents felt she was too liberal, and so since they were helping pay for therapy they kinda had say in that regard.

The final one ended up being very repairitive and thinking that this arose out of "fanties as a child as a means of escape from being bullied as a kid," which after pouring out my heart to him and trusting him like my other therapists, this turned into a really traumatic experience for me. So at this point eventually my sessions ended with him once he was like "look this isn't helpful for you" which was cool of him I guess but so yea then I was like "I'm done with therapy."

So the problem was I knew hormones were a pretty important part of transition (and addressing GD in general), and that if anything they would stop my body from going in a direction I didn't want. But I thought that I needed 6 months of therapy and a referral to get hormones, so that's why I was searching so hard for a therapist. I did talk to my family doctor though and he was willing to prescribe sprio (a testosterone blocker) which put me a little more at ease. Kinda. Around the time things were going poorly with my final therapist I started getting really suicidal and depressed, and ended up in the psych ward towards the end of 2013. I got out and they tried a med that hypothetically seemed to be working, and I was hoping I could find hormones by just contacting the doctors directly since therapy was failing. The first endo I called and set up an apointment a few months in advance, and was very excited and counting down the days but then a week or so before the appointment they called and asked what it was for and we said hormones for gender dysphoria and they said that they didn't do that and canceled the appointment.

So this put me into a really dark time. Also my med that seemed to be working that I started on in the psych ward actually caused a different kind of panicky moments type thing, where I would be filled with this massive desire to harm myself, and start having panic attacks where I would start like violently shaking for a few minutes. And so for a time because I hated my body so much I did start cutting myself and harmed my genitalia a little as well. Also, I had this one time where I had missed a med, and got in an even worse panicky irrational state than is normal where I was I don't even know and so randomly decided to shave my head. After trying to grow my hair out and conditioning it like daily for like a half a year or so that was really depressing. Basically I was just doing really bad in general.

But finally in Feburary we found an endo that was willing to work with prescribing estradiol and so I started on 0.5mg, and then upped the dosage to 1.0mg in 3 months after I gave him my documentation from when I was in the hospital, since I explained everything to the staff while I was there. Starting on this pretty much stopped those really panicky states from happening, and I stopped harming myself (physically) in about march.

Then I found a wig that I wore with a beanie (because it looked real besides the part at the top) to school, and it helped but basically people just thought I was a guy with long hair. I also came out to all my friends around this time, and was blessed with really supportive friends so that helped. I asked that they use female pronouns at least when it was just us, and it was hard but they started to get it down and that started really helping make my dysphoria more manageable. I also came out to my little brother and sister that I've been close to all my life (they were in junior high at the time), and they were super supportive, and like "that makes so much sense". Which was a huge relief, and our relationship hasn't changed at all since, and probably is even better. Alongside all this I introduced myself as "Dani" to everyone new I met, because it's not my biological name but a name I like because long story. But still most people just thought I was a guy named dani since I wasn't really comfortable with wearing female clothes or anything like that yet, so typically people that I didn't know that well/didn't have a chance to come out to still used male pronouns since I basically hadn't transitioned at all, but at least I was working on it.

However I was still depressed during spring of 2014 partially because after getting on hormones my antidepressant still didn't really work, and mostly it just left me with little to no motivation, so I failed like half of my classes. Summer came and I figured it was a good time to kinda recuperate, but all I really managed to do was complete a project to make up an incomplete for a class, and get a very part-time job as a substitute janitor towards the end of the summer. So I was pretty dysfunctional. I eventually decided that that med wasn't working that I had been on since the end of 2012 and I wasn't willing to put up with it anymore, so we took me off that and just figured since nothing was working we would see how things work on my own. The bipoloar symptoms weren't really there anymore since I had gotten used to them about june, but I was still having panic attacks at times and mostly had no motivation so I figured it was worth a try.

Going off meds actually did help me do a little better, and (after the horrid withdrawals) I started to get some motivation back which was really my drive that has kept me going all my life. Like I'd be social, then get tired, then work on personal projects to heal, then go back and be social, and etc. But then I got depressed and didn't want to do either of the two, and that was really the problem that so far meds hadn't addressed, and meds just created more problems instead.

So then school was starting and I was feeling hopeful it would go good, and I had learned makeup over the summer and found more feminine clothes so I figured that would help as well so I could hopefully present as female to school. Right at that time though it was also time to increase my estradiol to 2.0mg, and this started causing those really bad panicky epsidoes where I was filled with this massive desire to harm myself and starting having panic attacks and stuff, basically the manic epsodes of the bipolar that my anti-depressants had given me before. Which sucked because the very thing that was supposed to help some of my distress (at least the gender-based portion) was making it worse. It also caused some other things that are the more normal experiences that most people describe (like having way stronger emotional reactions to things or breast growth or issues with heat regulation/etc.), but this was different.

However, in school, I actually had people generally using female pronouns when they referred to me even if like they didn't even know me (or that I was trans) and such, and all of my friends were much better at using them too so that was really nice. But I just got overwhelmed with those (like nightly) panicky moments that I ended up having to take a medical leave from school that semester.

At this point I also started to realize that I was a little genderqueer. What this means is that, well, my dysphoria is social dysphoria, so if I feel like people are percieving me as female then it's a non-issue, but if I feel like people are perceiving me as male than that's what creates all the typically symptoms of gender dysphoria that many other members of the group here experience. So I've had times where I was like "I'm okay how I look" even when I looked like a guy, but then I go out and people treat me like a guy and then I get really depressed and starting hating my body as a result.

So I knew all this, but I was thinking about, honestly, if I could look however I wanted, I would prefer to look unambigiously like a girl, since being perceived as female is what's important to me. And would be comfortable in a female body, though to some extent I'm still greatful I mostly avoided periods. However beyond that, I would probably have more inbetween mannerisms, and generally wear guys clothes and not spend that much time getting ready or anything. I'd also probably be in CS and still be attracted primarily to girls, which would be a factor as well.

The biggest thing though is that, in dating, I've found that I prefer to be the person that asks the girl out and holds the door open for her and puts my arm around her in movies or etc., and when I tried going on a date with a guy I was really akward trying to let him do all that. But the thing is I also would like to be seen as a female when doing all that, so yea it's weird. But I mean some people just say "oh you're just a tomboy," but I'm like no this is different, I mean when I first came out as trans people were like "oh you're a feminine guy," and I was like no, I'm not a guy, and not even that feminine. So yea that's why I like androgyne/androgynous as my gender identity, because it's pretty consistently in the middle, just learning a little more towards the feminine side. But the difficulty about this is that just presenting as female will then give me some gender dysphoria because I still won't be comfortable how I look, so I'll sorta be perpetually transitioning in terms of pretty much always being in that middle zone.

So the combination of stress from all of this caused me to be doing so bad that I ended up in the hospital again for suicidal intent, this was at the end of 2014.

In the hospital they decided that since I already had some bipolar now they might as well further cause it with an anti-depressant, then treat that biploar with a mood stabilizer. So they did that, and I started actually doing really well. I managed to get a part-time job at Caption Call (basically a call center), started to work on a personal project with a friend and started studying computational complexity and started learning to sight read piano and play the guitar. I was also going to a choir thing with Brea and Grayson and Rachel and that was awesome and you should all go too. These meds were also a nice option because it allowed me to stay on my current dose of hormones, and we actually were able to then increase it to 2.5mg and I was still doing good.

The downside though was that at night I still had those panicky moments, some of which were worse than the ones that sent me to the hospital, but I was doing so much better otherwise I figured it was worth sticking through. The mood stabilizer also knocked me out for on average about 12 hours a night, which was inconvenient, but not that bad of a side-effect and manageable as long as I planned my schedule around it and planned when to take it.

I also started dating (lesbian or bi) girls, and there were two girls that seemed cool but then were actually people that went clubbing every weekend and then got drunk and passed out and etc. (sorry but I can't relate to that) Then there was another girl that seemed awesome but then after like 4 or 5 months of talking she just randomly stopped talking and blocked me on facebook and stuff, and I went on a date with this other girl and then she randomly didn't show up to the next date and then apologized and invited me out to another date as an apology and then also stopped responding. So I guess I'm just learning that dating sucks and is awesome and sucks. There were also 4 guys and one MtF person that all really wanted to start dating and that I thought were pretty awesome too, and I even went on a date with one of them, but so far I just feel too much guilt over thinking that it's probably wrong on a religious level so that's generally why I'm trying to date gay/bi females. I'm open to dating trans-men as well, but truth is my strongest crushes have been on vary masculine girls or very feminine guys (usually gay guys which doesn't really help since I'm a girl), so since finding a trans-man that I'm personality wise compatible with is hard enough, finding a feminine trans-men is even harder, so I figure my chances are better going for gay females.

I also have been really starting to try to get into religious things again, because I know the church is true (and grew up in it), but for the last year I keep running into the problem of whenever I read my scriptures or pray or go to church or etc., I feel this massive amount of anxiety that makes me more unstable than I already am. Which is weird because throughout high school I read the scriptures and prayed pretty much daily, and took notes in seminary and etc., but my guess is probably that it has to do with, well, the reason I was always so active in religion was that I saw it as a way to cure me of gender dysphoria. So whenever I was reading scriptures or praying or etc., it was always an attempt to learn how to overcome/bury these feelings, and that always felt "right" to me. Which really frustrates me looking back, because I'm like "it was not right why didn't you tell me." Also when it failed to help me get over these feelings, I felt kinda annoyed, but then I was able to go through all that process mentioned above and start working to coming to terms with GD, which seemed good. But then suddenly whenever I started reading scriptures or praying I was filled with that massive anxiety so I just stopped. So I don't really know what to do about that, which is frustrating, because I know the church is true without a doubt, just don't know how to live it in the typical way we're supposed to live it. My guess is it has to do with I still associate spiritual things with buring my gender dysphoria, so it's a trigger of some sort, but whatever it is I don't what to do about it. I've tried presenting as female at church, tried meeting with my Bishop often, tried meeting with my ward mission leader each week instead of normal meetings, etc., but still haven't figured it out and it's still as much of a problem, which is frustrating to me. So generally I've just decided that I'm unstable enough as is that I'll wait until I'm doing a little better to try and figure out all this again.

But so otherwise I was doing so well I figured it was worth trying school again (spring 2015), but unfortunately after some recent breakdowns where I would just like sit there and cry for about an hour I decided that I should probably go back to just one or two classes alongside 15 hours a week with work. So that's what I'm doing, and then continuing to transition as best I can as well. I might even just have to put off school for another semester if necessary, and simply work and save up money, but it's nice that my scholarship at the U accommodates all this because I have legitimate medical (mental health) reasons.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

How I'm doing

I'm writing this post in the midst of a panic attack so it might be a little biased.

Basically I have depression. However when we tried to treat said depression it gave me bipolar. Then when we got my hormones to a normal level it also gave me bipolar so that's why I was in the hospital a bit ago, cause the very thing that was supposed to help at least some of my distress made things worse and I couldn't handle that. However they started me on some meds there, and they've kinda sorta helped.

The induce some kind of rapid-cycling bipolar, which means that in the mornings/afternoon I'm hyper motivated and doing very very good (I mean I managed to get a consistent part time job and am back in school right now and think I will be able to do well), however at night things get really bad - I have panic attacks, am filled with this massive desire to harm myself, and feel very very depressed. Also, a lesser thing is that the mood stabilizer that keeps these ups and downs from being too extreme knocks me out for 12 hours, but that's just more of an inconvenience than anything else, and is manageable as long as I plan my schedule accordingly.

So I've had dark times where I've been in a worse state then what sent me to the hospital, but I've gotten better at managing that now. I also found that if I take my anti-depressant at 3 or 4 in the afternoon instead of in the morning those times at night aren't as bad. Sometimes. So yea it's a sorta hacky solution that mostly works, but at times really still sucks. Maybe we'll get it figured out with changing the dosages a little but I don't know. We've been trying meds for like a year and a half now and this has worked the best of anything so far so I might just stick with it.

So that's basically my life.



On a brighter note, I finally came out to everyone on Facebook. Here is the post I made, copied here for those that aren't Facebook friends with my pre-transition profile:



So I came out to lots of people so far (on Facebook or in person) but now that I'm finally out to everyone I thought seemed good to come out to in person, I felt I should probably come out to all my Facebook peeps next cause it seems honest. I would have liked to come out to more people in person, but it's just not practical with most people that I consider friends but don't hang out with much anymore, and kinda hard to explain it well when I just casually run into them, so this seemed like a good compromise.

Basically I'm transgender, which means I was born a guy but identify as a girl. Umm the best way to explain this is probably via Eri's story or Grayson's story, or even Nick Gregory's story in the Voices of Hope if you want though my situation is a little different than his I think it still might be helpful to give a little different perspective since he's not transitioning himself but still experiences Gender Dysphoria aka is Transgender. Also cause like Grayson I've met him in person and he's really awesome.

I'm transitioning to female as of the end of 2013, being on hormones and going through female puberty (yay...) and stuff, but it's just a long process. I'm also still attracted to girls (and kinda guys but not that much) and still believe the church is true so that all complicates stuff but in talking with my Bishop over the last two years or so it seems like it'll all work out so we'll see. I'm also kinda genderqueer (not really very male or female, and more in-between, but learning more towards female) so that complicates things as well, but I think I'm finally at a place where I'm pretty cool with who I am which is what counts.

I also really struggle with mental health cause living as a guy but identifying as a girl for most your life is kinda a traumatic experience, so for a while it was depression and more recently bipolar, which because of these (and being trans in general) I was in the hospital towards the end of 2013 and again at the end 2014 after being really suicidal. So that all sucks but it looks like we've finally got it pretty figured out with meds so I'm doing a lot better, and start working part-time today at Caption Call and might be starting back up in my 3rd year of college at the U as well. Or if it's overwhelming doing both I can just work and then start in the fall since most important is for me to kinda stay healthy. Luckily my scholarship people are understanding so that's nice.

You can friend me on Facebook as Dani Phye you want (a pseudoname till I was out to everyone), but I'll probably be merging that profile and this one eventually. *shrug.* I don't actually know yet lol. I'm basically just taking things as they come, and figuring this out as I go, which is fun and stuff but also really scary but such is life.

So there's a my brief story, you can read more about it at daniphye.blogspot.com if you want or you can not I really don't care either way just figured I'd let y'all know.



Also it's fun to share this here because it gets really meta since I'm saying you can read more about it at daniphye.blogspot.com if you want which tells you that you can read more about it at daniphye.blogspot.com if you want which tells you that you can read more about it at daniphye.blogspot.com which etc. Yay recursion

Friday, January 2, 2015

Done coming out

I just wanted to make a quick post in that I'm finally done coming out :) The last person that I wanted to come out to in person I met with today, and she reacted very well so that's nice. It's a good way to start the new year.