Nine Years of Transition, “Are we there yet?!”

Today, I am thinking about the last nine years, and the impact of gender transition on my life. Nine years ago today, my marriage effectively ended when I told my former spouse that I needed to transition. A lot has changed for me over the last nine years. I started with the thought that I would have a set timeline, and reach an end-point of transition, within a few years. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I realized that I had started to get sucked into a set way of being trans. That we all had to have the same needs and goals for our transition. Breaking out of this within the first year or two, I discovered much more. I have become much more whole, and have a better understanding of who I am and what my own needs are.

There are occasions when the question of regrets comes up. Do I have some? Yes, I do, and I think that is a normal part of everyone’s life, not just trans people. Do I regret transition? No. I do not think I would be alive today if I had not moved forward with it. Fortunately, my regrets are relatively minor ones and easily examined and put away again when they arise. I am fortunate. They mostly relate to how I approached some aspects of transition.

Would I change some aspects of transition? Yes. These changes are more around how long I waited, and how I dealt with burnout from working in IT. Looking back, I wish I had pushed my therapist harder for the hormone referral, I would have benefitted from starting earlier. Would that have worked? I don’t know. They seemed to be following a fairly rigid approach to medical transition.

Most significantly, however, I regret not having a therapist who was a good therapeutic fit for me. I was not able to examine more than just the bare essentials of transition with them. Thanks to a gatekeeping mentality, and the lack of options for therapists who were working with trans clients in Ottawa, I did not have many options. As it was, my therapy was costing me money I could not afford. Given that we’re supposedly supposed to be supplicating for mental health care, I’m subverting it and calling for real change.

Transition can be brutal, and many trans people would benefit from good counselling, therapy, and/or other mental health care. That said, many do not trust mental health professionals because of the harm professionals have caused, and many continue to do. Without trust there cannot be a good therapeutic relationship.

In my own transition, and in my life, finances prevent me from having a lot of options for counselling or therapy. Given how problematic providers are, my options are fewer than for cisgender neurotypical people. Add in that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is not what I need at this point, options are reduced even further. I am not alone in this.

Getting back to the topic of my transition, and whether or not it is “done,” I do not have a quick and easy answer. In many ways yes, it is done, and I am living my life. In other ways, however, it is not finished and I do not think it ever will be fully finished. It is part of my practice to be examining who I am, and what I need, on a regular basis. What I need now, in 2018, is not the same as what I needed when I began my transition in 2009.

We are all changing, and I encourage everyone to be gentle with themselves. Humans are not perfect. We make mistakes. We can always strive to do better, for ourselves, and for the world. It is constantly reminding myself of this that has helped me the most in my transition, and in my support of others who are exploring their own gender and other identities. It can be messy, and it can be fun, but it is rarely easy.

Go forth, and may your paths through the narrow places in life be as navigable as possible. May you have good companions to be present for you as you travel through life.

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