The Trans Password


The last couple of days – especially since that psychological evaluation I took on Friday – I´ve been mulling over being transgender and the right to privacy. Bearing in mind that I am strictly speaking about the protocol that exists here in the Netherlands, my strong impression is that you must sacrifice your privacy in order to transition.

I agree, naturally, that a certain amount of knowledge can be paramount in helping somebody go on hormones and aid them along the rocky way of emotional and physical change. I do not however think that transition entails unavoidable sacrifice (more about that here). You are the caretaker and thus you sacrifice what you deem appropriate.

That being said, human beings are social beings. What we deem appropriate is influenced by others (think about fashion, for example), and this is exacerbated in relationships of vertical dependency (such as the relationship between psychiatrist and client). But normally if you see a therapist, you do so voluntarily – not out of pressure.

In the case where you are the “transgender”, in this country, you conform to protocol because this is the operating standard. The trouble is that your therapist will subsequently operate in the same exact way he or she would with regular patients who are not in that setting because of their “transgender” label.

Contrary to the regular relationship between therapist and caretaker, the expectations are not mutual. While the goal of the therapist is to get to know you (in depth), your goal might be to simply get a diagnosis, which provides you with practical solutions such as starting hormones and surgery scheduling.

However, you being the “transgender”, the idea is that you submit to expectations that are not in line with your own goal. In my case the idea was that I should surrender my attachment to privacy in exchange for treatment. Couple this with my insecurities about “personality flaws” and it is easy for both parties to neglect boundaries.

I say this, because it is easy to think of my dedication to privacy as an extension of “my problems” – as a symptom, rather than as very basic human right which I should not have to surrender merely because “I am transgender”. Contrary to what experts would have you believe, your label is not a magic password to know everything about you.


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