Competing Ideologies

As a Deaf psychologist, I spend a lot of time reflecting upon how best to work with members of marginalized communities of all types.  Some of my clients are Deaf, some identify as trans*, and some are both.  And within both of those communities, similar tension exists around the issue of what it means to claim that particular cultural label. 

For many younger trans* individuals, gender is a fluid, socially constructed idea, not a biological one.  Those who identify as genderqueer or genderfluid often resist any form of binary gendered label.  Men can wear dresses and still be male.  Women can walk around in combat boots and red lipstick.  An individual can be male sometimes and female at other times or even a third gender that consists of a blend of both.  Indeed, turning traditional ideas about gender on end is one of the goals of the movement.  Under this philosophy, those who wish for a complete physical and social transformation are, in essence, supporting the status quo: a status quo that many gender non-conforming people find oppressive and hurtful.  Those who used to be oppressed have, post-transition, joined the enemy camp, so to speak.

On the other hand, many transgender individuals who have suffered silently for years are desperately happy to be able, finally, to walk down the street without fear.  Attracting unwanted attention may have previously resulted in discrimination, harassment, pain, or violence.  For those individuals, being able to access transition services in order to feel at home in their bodies and in the world has been a tremendous blessing.  And so the tension continues, between competing ways of viewing one’s own relationship to the social justice movement at large.

Similarly, within the Deaf community, there has long raged a debate about whether choosing a surgical intervention to improve one’s hearing is simply an accommodation to a world that does not sign, or if it represents victory of the oppressors.  Hearing people, by and large, view deafness as a sensory deficit to be remedied in any way possible.  Deaf culture views deafness as a unique way of existing within the world.  Deaf culture revolves around fluency in American Sign Language and an appreciation for Deaf art, history, and society.  For those who value Deaf culture the way that any other minority group values its own culture, choosing to get a cochlear implant as an adult is considered submitting to the oppressive tyranny of the majority.  Why cut one’s head open when there is nothing inherently wrong with being Deaf?

For other Deaf adults, a cochlear implant is simply a tool, much like a hearing aid.  It improves ones hearing, potentially, but it does not alter identity as a Deaf adult.  And so the tension continues to exist.  For both groups, the stakes feel high, for the opposing choice seeks to negate the one that each individual has made.  I wonder, however, if this is perhaps how movements advance.  All social justice movements thrive on tension and change.  Each subgroup forces the other to articulate their stance more clearly, to explain it to others, and to attempt, at least politically, to find common ground.

Contributed by Dr. Mel Whalen

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You Cannot Do This Alone

It’s all too common for someone struggling with gender identity to hide themselves away and deny the truth about the turmoil inside. That was me once — keeping myself to myself, preferring to hide in my home with my misery rather than confront the world. Only after years of isolation did I allow myself to explore my feelings and to seek out kindred spirits. It was then that I found my gender support group and began, for the first time in my life, to feel like I belonged somewhere.

The group was run by a gender therapist in Ann Arbor, and by the time I attended my first meeting the group had been going on in one form or another for nearly 20 years. Some of the women there had been attending off and on for a decade or more. The group met once a month in the therapist’s office. It was a space that could be called “cozy,” though when more than a few of us showed up “cozy” could quickly become “cramped.” None of us minded.

It was an eclectic gathering. There were women older than me and women younger than me; there were women just starting their hormone treatments and women who had been on hormones for ten years; there were women who were pre-op, women who were post-op, and even one who was non-op. One was a pharmacist; one was a government employee; one was an undertaker; one was a nurse. And there was me, the newbie, just barely out of crossdressing and still presenting as male. I felt a little out-of-place, but was quickly and warmly welcomed regardless.

I left my first group meeting feeling something I hadn’t felt in years: a sense that I wasn’t alone in the world. For better or worse, this was a place where I belonged.

Unfortunately, finding the group was almost too little, too late for me. By the time I found them I was already severely depressed, and a couple of weeks after that first meeting I attempted suicide. But even as I recovered, the group stood out in my mind as the one place in the last few months of turmoil that I hadn’t felt like a confused gender freak. Remembering how I felt among those women helped me set aside my depression and gave me something to look forward to. The thought of returning to the group literally helped save my life.

As the months passed, the group meeting became my favorite day of the month. I rearranged work, therapy, and family commitments to free up Tuesday nights. Some months I would talk a lot and hear a lot of feedback; other months I would mostly listen to others and lend advice whenever I had it to give. But always, I was there to support them as they were there to support me, be it with a bit of guidance, a shared story, or just a sympathetic ear.

I am in a very different place today because of the group. The comfort of that space allowed me to feel better, feel bolder. My first public outings presenting female came because I was encouraged by the group, and from that day forward I never attended any other way. It was also one of the only places where I was addressed by my real name. Group was a place where I could be myself.

Sadly, just recently our incredible group leader was forced to discontinue the group therapy sessions for health reasons. It has been a harsh blow to my heart, but it is not entirely bad. The women I met in that group are still a part of my life. Some of them have become acquaintances; still others, friends. We have promised to stay in touch with one another, and I have no doubt that we will keep that promise. We all know the truth: we cannot do this alone.

It is so easy to do nothing, to hide away, to suffer by yourself. But trust me: find a support group. Reach out to your local trans community, or a local LGBT center, or even the general-purpose support groups in your area. But please, reach out. If you don’t find anyone the first place you look, then look somewhere else. If you’re desperate, you can even e-mail me — I’ll be glad to listen, glad to support. Because there’s not a man or woman out there who deserves to do this alone.

A Letter to Family & Friends from Parents of a Transgender Child

My name is Steve.  I am a 60 year old, long hair, tattooed outlaw biker (and successful business owner).  Besides being a recovering bigot, I’m also an unequivocal believer in the power of unconditional love.  My transgender child has gifted me the opportunity to transition to a better place.  The least I can do is help others find their way there, too.  This is the letter my wife and I sent to our family and friends to help them start that process….

When a child is born the universe is affected. We may not notice the change as its order of magnitude is comparatively small. However, it is there, nevertheless.

As parents, the effect is profound. Elation, joy, concern, and exhaustion often describe a new parent’s immediate outlook on their life. Most often, the inescapable responsibility to nurture and protect although overwhelming is offset by a commitment to unconditional love. We move forward devoted to an ideal that includes our vision of happiness for our child. We remain convinced that through our love and commitment this child will actualize their potential and will do so according to the ideal we formed for them at their birth. The years go by and are filled with memories that perhaps, modify our ideal but leave it mainly whole in our minds. Then, one day this child rejects our ideal for their own.

In some cases we may fight for our ideal particularly if we are convinced that our child’s change of direction is unhealthy or self-destructive. On the other hand, if our adult child has made a thoughtful decision that must replace our ideal with their own and their happiness is genuinely dependant upon the change we will now have to accept, then what choice is left to us? We are bound by our commitment to unconditional love. To be clear, some choices are not really choices at all. It is the way we handle the inevitability of the directions we are blessed with even before we are born or those that are subsequently presented to us that best defines us.

Lately, we have faced a confusion of emotions including sadness and anger. We have resented the upset of the position we assumed our lives to be. We have had to deal with an extraordinary change to the ideal life outcome we set our hearts on for our son and eldest child.

More importantly than anything else we have recently experienced, we have validated the unconditional love we committed ourselves to before he was born. That has sustained us as we recover from the shock of something we never saw coming.

During his internship in Germany over the summer, he had time to contemplate who he really is. He told us that he has struggled with that question for most of his life but never had the vocabulary to address it. With time on his hands, he researched for answers in the solitude of his apartment overseas. In September, as the first semester of his graduating year at University of Michigan began, he told us he is transgender. Our son believes in his heart that he is actually female in spirit. For those that are unfamiliar with the term transgender please understand…there is a lot to learn. We will address some of that later and will refer you to some materials that proved helpful to us.

As parents, and particularly as the loving parents of a close knit family, we immediately expressed our unequivocal support. There were lots of tears that were initially impossible to define. We felt profound sadness but struggled to understand exactly what it meant or where it came from. We were startled, shocked and deeply confused. We struck out to find help right away so we could be certain that the outcome of this would be as positive as possible.

After our initial shock came a combination of anger, sadness and guilt. We began a retrospective analysis of our parenting to see if there was some clue we had missed or something we could have done differently that would have effected another outcome. It is impossible to imagine the guilt we felt when our boy told us he had struggled with this for so many years…alone and concerned that he was some sort of monster. He told us he worked hard each and every day to be a perfect son so God would forgive him and lift away this burden. He kept this secret to himself for most of the time we have known him. He has endured so much emotional pain alone and without ever acting out or tipping his hand to anyone. We were absolutely stunned when we realized the gravity of his isolation. Statistically, more than 30 percent of transgender children successfully commit suicide.

God blessed our child with an extraordinary intellect and emotional stability that allowed him to prevail against the pressure of unknown and indefinable forces that haunted him for so long. For those of you who know him well, you will recall that he was a 4.0+ GPA student who graduated high school at the top of his class. He was president of the National Honors Society and competed for the varsity ski team in addition to playing violin for the orchestra. He recently graduated magna cum laude at University of Michigan’s Aerospace Engineering program and has been accepted into their accelerated Master’s Aerospace Engineering program. He has never been in trouble for any reason. We have never received a phone call from an authority of any kind. He has never tried drugs, alcohol or smoked cigarettes. He has always been the “perfect son”. He later admitted avoiding situations that would have possibly or inadvertently exposed his secret. That would have included drinking. It explains why he would be so quiet…withdrawn…so often. While we noticed that behavior, it had become so normal that we learned to accept it.

Webster defines “transgender” thusly, : of, relating to, or being a person (as a transsexual or transvestite) who identifies with or expresses a gender identity that differs from the one which corresponds to the person’s sex at birth

Our son was born with male genitalia but his “spirit” is female. His condition is one of gender identity. Fundamentally, he does not identify with the sex he was born with. People who have this condition often start out cross-dressing and assuming the identity of the sex they more comfortably relate to. Sometimes, depending on the individual and their commitment to their gender identity, they will ultimately transition to their preferred gender with gender reassignment surgery. In any case, it is important to note that the individual is compelled to have these feelings and to act upon them, accordingly. In other words, they cannot help it. There is no “cure” or therapy or prayer or medical treatment. There is only the person that has always been and now needs the understanding and support of their friends and loved ones. In this case, he is still who he has always been…a loving, intelligent and compassionate person who would generously give you the shirt off his back. He deserves our love and support.

Going forward, we will be changing pronouns here at home. That will likely be a challenge at first. We have been requested to refer to “her” as Kaitlyn. That was the name we picked out before he was born just in case our first born was a girl. We loved the name we gave our son but we love our Kaitlyn just as much. Please help with this. We understand that this may be difficult for you, too. We’re here to help you in any way we can. We would be happy to recommend some books that we read that have been very helpful to us and substantially improved our understanding of this subject. Specifically, “She’s Not There” by Jennifer Finney Boylan was very insightful and was also entertaining. We experienced chuckles and tears as we read it.

As our friends and family we must expect your help and support. If you feel that isn’t possible, we understand. Please just let us know and we will adjust our understanding of our relationship with you. Otherwise, we welcome the opportunity to hear about your feelings and we look forward to sharing our new daughter and her hopes, dreams, and accomplishments.

The Sound of One Hand Clapping

I am reminded of this ancient Zen koan when speaking to a person who doesn’t fit neatly into our binary ‘gender’ boxes.  And I try to keep it at the forefront of all that I do to serve the needs of gender variant people and their families.

As you’ll recall, the sound of one hand clapping is silence.  That is, the absence of sound.  Why the absence?  Because there is no resistance, no other hand to create a barrier against which the sound is created.

Gender variance is like this.

The ‘sound’ of feeling something other than ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ is only created because outsiders create a barrier.  That is, a child just feels how they feel.  We label it as appropriate, or not, depending upon how neatly the child’s feelings fit into our expectations, i.e. whether the child’s behaviors hit the ‘barrier’ of what we expect to see.

Confused yet?

Indulge me for a minute here, and consider a 3-year-old child.

The child feels feminine, loves activities we associate with little girls, colors we associate with female, the frilliness that Madison Avenue has taught us is ‘girly’.  This is one happy little kid, waking up each morning with energy and enthusiasm and readiness for whatever the day will bring—and for a 3-year-old, just being alive is a very exciting adventure.  Few 3-year-olds worry, or are anxious or depressed (thank goodness).

Enter Stage Right: Adult

The adult looks at this happy child, judges the child to be male or female (female, in this case), and treats the child accordingly.  Unless, of course, the adult is one who is intimately connected with the child, like a parent, or a doctor.  Then the adult might note the child’s physical body, and be concerned if there are body parts we associate with masculinity.

Once the dichotomy is noticed, it is usually not ‘unnoticed’ and the child begins to be treated differently.  In some families, the child continues to grow up happy and content and comfortable. In other families, the child is taken for evaluation to a doctor or psychotherapist to figure out what is ‘wrong’.

Incongruent Are Us

We might say the child is ‘gender incongruent’. Incongruence, as defined by Collins, is ‘the quality of being surprising because out-of-place; oddness’. But remember our story so far—the child isn’t surprised, nor feels odd.  The child just has feelings. Any incongruence is caused by adults who are uneasy with the mismatch between how the child feels and what expectations adults have for the child based upon the child’s body parts.

Wow, This Sounds Familiar

Who among us—having grown to a height out of range as ‘expected’ for our sex—hasn’t been asked many times “Do you play basketball?”  If I had collected spare change every time I’d been asked that growing up I might have been able to retire by now.

Remember the really bad old days, when your athletic ability was expected to correlate with your race? Or your cooking and cleaning ability was expected to correlate with your reproductive organs?  Sure, it sounds wrong and even silly now.  And may it ever be so.

What I’m suggesting is that the ‘wrongness’ of gender identity is external to an individual’s experience.  Any ‘wrongness’ is in our society, in our staunch determination to fit people into neat little boxes, and our unwillingness or discomfort when we can’t.

Here at the gender program, I’m watching the trends. Hang on to your hats, friends.  The world is changing, because we now know the truth.

It isn’t about them.  It’s about us.

And society needs to transition.  Right here.  Right now.

Moment of Discovery and a Gordian Knot

-Blue_Trefoil_KnotI offer this experience because it might help someone else with the same issue scratching their head. It took me forever to get to the bottom of it and I’d like to hopefully spare someone else the time lost in looking for it.

 

I was on the floor playing with one of the neighbor girls. She was a teenager and her family was friends of ours. Equally, both she and her sister were sort of play pals to me, though I was maybe three, three and half at the time. Both of them were fun and I liked them a lot. Anyway, while messing around on the floor one day, I recall somehow getting into a conversation about how I was going to grow up and be a sassy “you can’t touch this” young lady just like the neighbor girl! In fact, in my little mind, I had us more or less tag-teaming the whole world with our grace and style. Oh yeah, my sense of self was flying pretty high. Except that after I had made that rather fanciful declaration, she turned, smiled and while gently waving a finger said, “But you’re not a girl!”

Now if you have ever heard that brief but loud flat hum when someone plugs a microphone into a PA system, then you know the sudden flat uncomprehending hum I just then heard. Before she said that, I was a happy little girl. I felt flowing, curvy, and graceful and, I dare say, even effervescent! But when she plugged that little verbal jack into my sense of self, I suddenly felt all that flowing grace being sent to ground with an internal hum that left a sudden feeling of now being thick, square and angular. Thunky I called it. I briefly felt a sense of panic wash over me, wondering what was going on, but then I sort of did the math and hit on…“Oh no, I’m one of those.” “Those,” of course, being boys.

I felt defeated, deflated, and downright fatalistically doomed. I could only assume that I just wasn’t lucky enough to have been selected for that extra step that would have elevated me to feminine status. I was left a boy. Looking ahead, the rest of my life suddenly seemed pretty glum. As I write this in my late 50’s, that moment still remains bar none, the most hapless and hopeless that I have ever felt. Something must have shown on my face too because I vaguely recall that girl and my mother having something of a “mission accomplished” air about them. I’ve termed this event “The Moment of Discovery” by the way.

But, before we go any further, let’s clear the air. I know that girl and my mother were doing what seemed the obviously right thing to do and that my mother loves me to death and would have tossed herself in front of a freight train if it would save me from harm. She still would! It’s all in the interpretation, as we shall see. After all, I too gave myself the masculine brand albeit in an indirect fashion. At that time though, the only apparent difference was that they were happy about my boyhood, while I was just resigned to it.

Compass_roseA Point of Departure

It’s an interesting point to note. I called myself a boy. To everyone it seemed simple enough. Masculine tool kit = masculine child = boy. Yet if that is true, then why was I displeased? A big hint was actually reflected in the two different attitudes regarding the afore-mentioned masculine toolbox; Mom saying “yay” and me saying “ugh”. But I wasn’t asking questions then. The toolbox was an accomplished fact and so I had my hands full learning my place as a man-child.

Yet, my toddler logic didn’t quite follow the “masculine tool kit = masculine child = boy” per se. I had something running in parallel with it, “people with femininity are girls and those that don’t have it are boys”. Now a casual reading of the two statements might seem like just different words articulating the same idea, but let’s look a little closer.

In the first statement, we have boy expressed by having a definite tangible something. A masculine toolbox. In the second statement, we have boy defined by NOT having feminine tools. See, to my mind, I didn’t have femininity so therefore I was a boy. I wasn’t a boy because I had masculinity. Indeed, even though I had it, I was totally oblivious to the whole notion of masculinity as a tangible anything. Believe it or not, to my mind there really was no such thing. The only commodity that existed was the feminine one. What we know as masculinity, to my toddler mind, was simply the upshot of denied femininity. Nothing more.

A Brief Sidebar to Make the Point

I recall an event somewhere in that same general time frame, but after that moment of discovery. Living right across the street from us were an older couple who were included as a part of our circle. One day while talking with the elderly man, I made a remark about what a shame it was that we just weren’t lucky enough to be girls and had to live like this. I meant it with complete honesty and said it with duty bound resignation. And you know…. somehow I didn’t get the heart-felt agreement I thought for sure was coming. Equally I had no idea that a mouth could open that wide nor eyes could get that bugged out! Gee, and coincidently, it seems like right around then, for some reason, I found myself getting extra time with the men in our group while it became nearly impossible to join with the women. Huh… go figure…..

Back to the Main Point but with an Analogy

Before the side bar, we had left off with one concept (boy) and two seemingly similar definitions for it, i.e. masculinity being a positive component piece of boy verses masculinity as a component piece of boy but interpreted as negative femininity. Confusing? Maybe this will help. Let’s say that you want to spray paint some lawn furniture maybe green. You go to the store, buy a can of green spray paint, take it home, shake it up, pop the top, point, shoot and out comes RED paint. Now, what is the more relevant, and thus correct, fact here? The fact that it is red or the fact that it is not green? Both views arise from the same scene and all of the neighbors are just assuming that you intend to use red paint. That’s how the different views of masculinity worked. If it’s there, (masculine paint) it’s just assumed to be correct. But since you (actually I) assumed green paint (feminine paint) anything but green is irrelevant, other than serving as a vehicle through which green is denied. Would it have mattered if it had come out blue or yellow? It is the expectation of the owner that determines the more relevant and thus correct logic. Not the neighbors view, however imposing their numbers.

Well, my expectation was that I was going to grow up to be an adult woman. It wasn’t my desire, it was simply an assumed destiny. But when that got taken off the table, I found myself with two competing and incompatible realities. On the one hand, now that I couldn’t be a girl, I was left with a desire to be one. At the same time, I felt duty-bound to identify myself as actually being a boy and so I threw myself into that task. And that dear reader was the start of a duality that shadowed me through most of my life. It was reflected in my having two wardrobes and no understanding as to why! I spent decades trying to understand it. Oh I had read that people can have brains and bodies of different sexes and as badly as I wanted to commit to that to explain my incongruous, I just couldn’t find a cause and effect reason that would let me override the given.

Then one day, after retirement, lightning finally struck. Just suppose that my girl parts had been there all along….well? That above mentioned Moment of Discovery would have never happened. I’d have been just another little girl on a floor somewhere having kid fun with a neighbor girl. I would have been a complete and normal female and thus the duality would never have been created. Equally, that whole masculine odyssey that consumed the greater part of my life would have never existed either. Sure wish I had understood all this way back when.

Thanks for bearing with,

Martha C.

Great Expectations

Parents are often referred to as ‘expecting’ when a baby is on the way. Plenty of meaning in that phrase! So as we head into the season honoring those who raised us with their own expectations (Mother’s Day and Father’s Day) it makes me ponder what expectations are all about and how they influence us.

What do we expect of ourselves and others? What do we hope to accomplish as we move forward through life? And for transitioning people, what is expected before, during, and after transition?

Flower_reflectionMirror, Mirror

I am often told by a gender variant client that what they see in the mirror is not how they feel inside…or conversely, that what they see in the mirror is not what others see when they look at them.

Both viewpoints can be a double-edged sword. It can be very positive to see beyond an ‘imperfect’ self. On the other hand, the converse of this is what eating disorders and other body dysmorphic disorders are rooted in—an inability to see accurately what is reflected.

Reflections in the mirror are also based upon the belief that what we look like is who we are—appearance trumping all other characteristics. Given that we live in a society that judges people solely by physical attributes—skin color, height, weight, apparent age, physical abilities, etc.—I think that we’ve all fallen into the same trap to varying degrees, and it can be extremely limiting.

Boy ClothesDenimjeans

Is clothing gendered? Can you tell a boy sock from a girl sock just by looking? While we’re on the topic, why is it that girl’s and boy’s shirts button on opposite sides? Wouldn’t it make more sense to have left-handed clothing and right-handed clothing? And by the way, why don’t the clothing manufacturers ever ask my opinion?

Seriously, what does it mean to buy clothing of the ‘other’ gender? Given that gender is a social construct—academic-speak for ‘we make this stuff up’—how in the world have we come to infuse clothes with feminine or masculine meaning?

All those guys during the Renaissance period wearing tights and tunics—were they transgender? And what about the robes worn by many religious leaders today, not a trouser to be seen—are all those people transgender? What about women who wear jeans found in the men’s department because they fit better—are those women transgender? Or the new style of ‘skinny’ jeans worn by both men and women—are all those people transgender?

Perhaps clothing only takes on gender-meaning if we make it so…using external appearance to announce something about ourselves that has meaning for us, and therefore, everyone else too. Maybe we use clothing to judge others—to try to fit them into the neat categories we develop to make us less anxious about the real, true, ambiguous world.

My Point, and I Do Have One

Working with transitioning people means helping them manage their own expectations. ‘After’ transition (whatever that means for the individual) how will they look to others? How will they look to themselves? If they’ve spent years hiding their birth sex, will they now flaunt their destination sex? If so, will they look as different to those who love them as they think they look, or want to look? What if they don’t? How will they incorporate their destination gender into their real lives, because life doesn’t stop while one is transitioning?

Most importantly, will the life-long hatred of one’s birth sex and all the markers of it, lead to the same self-loathing, but just from the other side—such as, ‘I’m not girly enough’ or ‘I’m not manly enough’.

For all of us, it would be worthwhile to spend some time exploring just what it means to be girly, manly, or in-between…a more gender-fluid culture would expand options for everyone.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think.

For Everything There is a Season

As a psychotherapist and program director assisting gender-variant people, I’m often urged to evaluate and recommend for hormone initiation quickly. Quickly, as in, ‘I can’t wait any longer; I’ve been waiting my whole life’.

Sometimes this pressure comes from other therapists working with clients, making it even more challenging—here I am, slowing down a process which involves two other people without having any first-hand knowledge of the situation myself.

It’s All Relative

Thinking of the various pros and cons of our program’s three-month evaluation period for new patients requesting hormone initiation, I developed the following timeline to illustrate some relative timing for crucial (or at least interesting) life events:

A baby learning to walk 12 months
Replacing 100% cells in human body 11 months
Gestating a human 9 months
One year of public education 7-8 months
Driver’s Education (Michigan) 6 months
One college semester 4 months
Evaluation for Hormones 3 months
Average annual television viewing 2 months
Average annual Internet usage 2 weeks
Slow-cooking a pot roast 8 hours
Watching a televised college game 4 hours

 

Faster Than a Semester in College, Slower Than a Pot Roast

For a gender-variant person, initiating hormones can be a significant event that demonstrates forward motion. It is similar to the experiences of coming out to family and friends, beginning to live as one’s destination gender, looking into legal name changes, and dealing with the inevitable questions. Starting hormones is a moment in time to be marked—it is technically the physical beginning of transition.

To rush the stage prior to hormones is to lose some important transition experiences. There is a unique quality to the social and emotional transition period which will never return once hormones are underway.

Similar to early childhood years, when life is fresh and new and exciting every single day, pre-medical transition is infused with the sweetness of ‘firsts’—the first time one is referred to by correct pronouns…the first time Mom uses one’s newly chosen name…the first trip outside dressed in the right clothes…the first time looking into the mirror and seeing the person one is meant to be.

Simply put, these experiences are not to be missed. They are an important part of one’s transition narrative, and to skip them in a rush to hormones is to lose something very, very precious.

That is why we recommend three months, and that is why I hope all transitioning people and their therapists will agree.

“The longer the waiting the sweeter the kiss”…it is a lovely tune, and an important message.