On Monday I have the first appointment with the gender team since July. Do you remember? Back when I was still planning on adapting my wishes to the official procedure, undergo psychiatric screening, and go through six months of talks with a gender therapist. Before I realized that this process would plunge me deeper into depression.
It´s almost six months later. During these months, I´ve sent numerous letters to the gender team addressing my grievances, of which none were met with a reply. Desperate, I finally told the gender therapist that I would exit the entire process unless they arranged for a meeting in which these letters and my situation were addressed.
To this I finally received a reply. Two of the gender therapists would meet with me and an “independent party”, an online friend who offered to come along and who has experience in these tedious, strategic affairs between transgender clients and institutions of gender transition. She´ll be there for support and to help steer the discussion.
In the almost half a year that has passed, one thing becomes apparent. My entire life, I´ve received some form of therapeutic help for the constant (mental) instability that I experienced. There were the mood-swings, extreme emotions, and injuries due to these extreme emotions. Nobody questioned the psychological nature of these problems.
Now, almost five months on testosterone, I´ve realized how hormones can influence your brain and how a lack of a certain hormones can have serious side-effects. For example, progesterone, a hormone that both men and women produce, helps counteract the tremendous negative effect that estrogen has on our emotional well-being.*
It´s strange how something this big could have ever been overlooked. It´s strange how my mother, who suffered from the exact same symptoms as I did (yet did not have the same background), never thought to look further into this. As a result, I am about thirty years old and lived most of my life under the umbrella of psychiatric labels.
It pains me that I did not investigate further and that I accepted both the idea of mental illness and the social stigma that does come along with it, yet remains mostly in visible in mainstream society. My situation goes to show that distinguishing between mental and psychological disease might actually compound problems in health care.
* Too much estrogen in either men and woman can cause depression, anxiety, agitation and mood-swings, among other physical problems.