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So a Trans Woman Walks Into a Therapists Office…

Once a body gets to the point where they are thinking, “wait, I don’t think I’m the gender I, and everyone else, thought I was”, something they typically do is search out a good therapist. Let’s face facts, at that point it’s getting progressively harder to convince ourselves we are not crazy. Actually crazy seems to be the easier of the two options when you think about it. Three hots and a cot, even with the threat of involuntary restraints, somehow sounds less scary then telling the world you are transgender and dealing with the mound of crap that goes along with it.

My spouse and I started seeing a marital counselor to get to the bottom of some fairly significant issues well over a year before. I came clean right away about the cross-dressing and she made a quick stab with a blunt stick to see if something much larger wasn’t hiding under the sand. There was, but the poke failed to rile her enough into coming out. After a good long year of this, all the poking and some mental exercise she had me do on my own time led to my big ‘oh shit’ moment where the truth revealed itself to me. I wasn’t quite ready to fully believe it yet, so I made a very clumsy attempt to try to goad her into telling me. As incredible as she is in almost every other area, trans isn’t her area of expertise and I quickly grew frustrated. Finally I suggested we explore this more. It didn’t take long before I was almost sure.

She referred me to the local guru in this area, Dr. M we’ll call him, and I made an appointment. It was a freezing cold day in February when I came in, dismayed to find his “waiting room” was a chair in a well frequented hallway. “Great. Just great. Everybody is going to know what I’m here for.” Oh, the things I used to be concerned with! As with every subsequent visit, and in spite of the fact that my own sessions always ended early, the preceding appointment dragged painfully into mine as I stared at a finger painted picture of a dog and tried to avoid a major freak out.

My first session was a ‘meet and greet’ that lasted all of 10 minutes as he gave me his background and I tried to avoid nervous giggling because I thought he sounded like Mr Rogers. Later I came to find he keeps it short on purpose because so many never come back after this. In my first real session we began the formal assessment. In ‘Sex in the City’, Charlotte is rebuffed three times trying to convert to Orthodox Judaism, because one better be damn sure they really want what they are signing up for. The assessment is kind of like a cross between that and an 18 round match with Evander Holyfield. I’d come away from one of those not even dead sure of my own phone number much less my gender. This is typical though, at least of him. The other girls and I have talked and concluded that he really comes across as a giant dick. Once he is dead nuts sure about you though, he’s sweet as pie and I can see the Mr Rogers thing going on again.

As usual, when I asked for the results of my assessment, he answered with another question. “What do you think?” Naturally this annoyed me and I told him the same thing I did in my first appointment, that I was there because I thought I was transgender and looking for independent verification. Dr M pronounced me officially transsexual with moderate to severe gender dysphoria. Sounds grim, but I was happy being validated at least. “So, what do you want to do about it? Again, if you can do nothing, that is what I would recommend.” Seriously. If I could do nothing like I had been for 39 years, I would have just continued on my merry way.

And so began my transition and all the fun that lay ahead. Most of my logistics questions he deflected to the local support group and before long I had my head back together, got my ‘this person isn’t crazy letter’, followed a few months later by the long awaited HRT letter. My need for therapy over this dropped to zero and my appointments became spaced out to where I maintain the relationship for forms sake. There is, after all, one more letter I’m going to be looking for soon.

About michellelianna

I'm a transgender woman now in the maintenance stages of transition having all the electrolysis and surgery one can reasonably be expected to undertake. While busy exploring my new world, I took to blogging about it with dubiously popular results. I don't have quite as much to say as I used to, but I'm not quite done yet either.

9 responses »

  1. I was *so* glad I didn’t need to see a therapist for HRT or anything else but SRS. I fell under the new Standards of Care and went to an LGBT clinic using the informed consent model. That said, after over a year on HRT, done with laser and about to start electrolysis follow-up, I started seeing a therapist on my own to help deal with transition issues. After only four sessions, he’s quitting and I’m getting a new one to partly start over (she’ll have read up on me and been briefed, of course). Because my surgeon requires two doctorate-level shrinks, I’ll have three sessions altogether with them for my Letter, but in the meantime, I’m rather enjoying my counseling, even though it won’t result in any kind of referral. I told my therapist that although I’ll be seeing a woman now, I was so glad I was able to overcome my reticence against talking with a man about all this. He said my attitude and body language have just opened up and relaxed so much from my first visit. It probably helps that he’s a flamboyantly gay-acting, self-identified straight guy ally. I’ll miss him but glad I’ll be seeing another woman, because I was *still* a little uncomfortable discussing the sexual aspects of being pre-op, lonely, in the closet right now, and lesbian.

    Anyway, I guess the point to all this is I didn’t want to spend a second more with a shrink with regard to transition than I was forced to and ended up choosing to do so. *eye roll*

    • I really know what you mean about the male shrinks. My guy, at the time the only game in town I knew of, is about as old school as you get. I won’t lie, it was horribly uncomfortable baring my soul to him and being grilled on every big and little thing I spent years being mortally embarrassed of. Not so hot with the counseling, but I did get my letters from him, so the value was pretty much just that. That said, there is nothing wrong with seeing someone to attempt to restore some equilibrium. I was fortunate to do this with our marital counselor who I began seeing one-on-one for a while and who actually helped me get started on this road. Thanks so much for sharing Amy!

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  5. Michelle, I really like this post. As crazy as it sounds your (well written) experience is what I anticipated. Fortunately — for me, my experience was more like slipping into a comfortable easy chair, as my therapist is an amazing, amazing woman allied with the LGBT community. Thanks for sharing your experience. I loved your title/lead in 🙂

    • Thanks so much Trisha! Count yourself lucky. Actually, this seems to be the experience of most people I talk to, but our guy in Buffalo is a tad old school. Crap, I hope he doesn’t read this and with hold my letter or something! Then again, I had to explain to him what Facebook was, so I should be good. 🙂

      Love, Michelle

  6. It was hard just finding a therapist that was qualified to even tall to about my situation. I talked to at least a dozen different ones before my doctor remembered a friend she knew from her college days, a wonderful woman. I talked to her on the first visit non-stop, I wanted her to know everything I could tell her about me in that first visit. I walked in her office on the second one and she said she is faxing my letter to my doctor, I was so surprised that it happen that fast. Two days latter I got a call from my doctor asking me where I want to have my prescription called in at, I started that day. I went to the support group that I was a member of at the time and told them the wonderful news. On the surface they were all so happy for me but I was latter told everyone thought I was lying. I eventually quit going to that support group or any other, no support there for me. I learned to keep some things private because some people are having a much harder time of it than we know and as we know even in the best of situations transitioning isn’t easy. I just want to transition and get along with everyone that wants to. There are so many road blocks out there already none of us need to be shot down any more than necessary, life in the best of circumstances provides enough of this.

  7. Interesting how the therapist changed demeanor from the time he was making sure your were really serious and after that. At least he ended up back at Mr. Rogers.

    So far I’ve been lucky enough to avoid that gauntlet. Hopefully my luck holds out.




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