Despite my fifty published posts on this blog so far (this is the 50th…!), there is one side of transition I believe I haven´t discussed yet. I might have talked about it… but I´d like to dive a little deeper into the relationship of the gender therapist with their client. As I said in a previous post (Validating Emotion), the organization of transgender healthcare can be quite top-down.
In many cases when you transition, you´ve already got your plan laid out for you, by others. In the Netherlands, this means being required to undergo a series of very personal talks with a gender therapist. Other than turning to transgender care in a different country, there aren´t a whole lot of other options (specifically for transguys, for whom hormones aren´t accesible online).
This makes you dependent on the organization you choose to guide you through the transition process, and to a certain extent, vulnerable. After all, you are asked to share very intimate details about your life, sometimes even about your sex life, so others can determine whether you´re trans enough or not. This position of dependency can lead to a lot of frustration especially in bad situations.*
Dependency can also interfere with dysphoria. I hate to say it, but gender can be tied up with dependency if you think about it in terms of societal clichés: princes rescuing helpless princesses, characterized by their limp handshakes and inability to throw a ball. Even in pornography (thankfully not all) women are often depicted as totally innocent and at the mercy of their “saviors”.
In my case this feeling might be stronger because I grew up in a latin culture where men still dominate. Dependency on itself doesn´t always have to have such a negative connotation. But in the transition environment, I do believe it can be unhealthy to an extent. Which makes you wonder what can be done to minimize the dependency and turn back some of the power to the client themselves.
* By bad situations I mean a situation in which there is a negative relationship with the clinic or therapist, or for example clients who have had bad experiences within the frame of dependency in the past.