I began therapy in 2008, I initially had therapy before hand but this was related to my depression and anxiety-issues which wasn’t hitting at the core of my depression, which was the gender dysphoria but I was not aware of it then.
First Therapist: “It’s a sexual identity disorder, not gender identity disorder.”
I first saw a therapist who held the view that I had a sexual identity disorder, which back then, was the outdated view on the then gender identity disorder treatment. He thought I was a misguided little girl who simply had fantasies of being male, which was wrong as it did not fit my sex I was assigned at birth.
One example was where we discussed my choice to view blowjob videos. He asked why I viewed these videos, I said I enjoyed the POV where it looks like the female is sucking the cameraman’s penis. I would envision myself as a man in that situation and easily reach orgasm from it. He did not understand this and asked me, “Shouldn’t you be viewing yourself as the female in that fantasy?”
He was so narrow-minded. He didn’t get it at all.
He thought if I was born a girl, I must be a girl, therefore I must imagine myself as the girl in the porn videos. He couldn’t be more wrong. He was very harmful to my mental state, the therapy sessions caused me to have nervous breakdowns, it was also very violating and uncomfortable as the therapist kept steering the topics back to sexuality and my masturbation habits.
I felt that I had no choice but to go until he clarified that I am my own boss, I can stop going to see him if I want.
So I stopped going. He referred me to a psychiatrist who he says, “deals with transgender patients”.
First Gender Psychiatrist: “You can’t transition until you turn 21.”
I went to see her and the very first session, after explaining my history of how I felt from a child onwards, she told me I sounded like a text-book definition of transgender. Now, you may think this is a good thing, however, it was quite clear in tone and body language that she thought, “You are TOO transgender, therefore, you aren’t real.”
She told me that I would not be allowed to transition until I was 21, when the decision-making part of my brain matures. This was due to recent brain studies back then. Only now, I’ve found out that it’s actually wrong of any mental health professional to use brain studies as justification for delaying transition, as the patient has a right to transition, regardless of what studies say.
She began to treat my depression instead of my dysphoria, even when I explained to her that my dysphoria is the source of my depression.
Having no choice but to go on anti-depressants, after all, this was a psychiatrist, a doctor who knew what was best for me, how could I say no?
All through the course of anti-depressants, I thought, “This isn’t helping, I’m not depressed, I’m dysphoric. I don’t need anti-depressants, I need to transition. This is treating the symptom, not the underlying cause.” I believe this awareness made the effect of anti-depressants null and elevated the side-effects of the tablets. I experienced insomnia, hallucinations and seizures.
I ended up in hospital with seizures brought on from alcohol poisoning. I decided to go off anti-depressants and find somebody else.
Second Gender Psychiatrist: Someone who actually listens!… Sorta.
By this time, I was recommended online to go to a well-known gender psychiatrist who is the only psychiatrist in the area who writes letters to approve top or bottom surgery.
I have been seeing him the past five years and haven’t looked back since. He has been very supportive in regards to me transitioning to male. My parents felt he was “encouraging” me to transition but that was far from it, he made me wait three years, until I turned 21. Perhaps he was under the same misguided assumption as the first gender psychiatrist, that I wasn’t “mature” enough yet or he felt I wasn’t ready, who knows.
It was a very distressing time and being forced to wait was probably more harmful than my gender dysphoria itself. I had complentated suicide many times because it felt like the wait was never-ending, that it would never arrive. It did not help that the psychiatrist kept bringing up hormones, getting my hopes and expectations up that he will write the letter, only to change the subject.
There was also another issue: When I came out as non-binary to him, he couldn’t understand that I was genderless but still wanted a male body because of the body dysphoria. He thought that if I was genderless, I must strive for a gender neutral body, he believed getting phalloplasty would be “pointless” which is insulting. I know many agender and genderqueer folks online who are transitioning to male but do not ID as male. I ended up going back to identifying as FTM because being outright denied bottom surgery would have disastrous effects on my mental state.
It seems to be common for non-binary folks to lie to get what they want. This is awful and shouldn’t be the case.
Second therapist who deals with non-binary folks: BEST therapist EVER!
I also see a non-binary specialised therapist on the side for the past year, she has been immensely helpful, more helpful to me than the five years I’ve been seeing the gender psychiatrist. Which is kind of sad if you think about it.
I have nothing to “prove” to her, yet when I am seeing the 2nd gender psychiatrist, I always feel nervous and filled with anxiety, feeling I have to “prove” to him that I am a male since he believes the gender spectrum as a line (male<->androgynous<->female) rather than vast and endless.