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Posts Tagged ‘education’

Question MarkBelow we have two letters having to do with transition issues. The first is about the effects of hormones on mood, and the second deals with changing names and gender markers on transcripts. Here we go:

A reader writes: “I started ‘T’ (testosterone cypionate) one week ago at 100 mg. every two weeks, then will go up to 200 in three months. I started feeling a bit more agitated and quick to anger two days ago. I also feel sort of flat emotionally and a tad depressed.

“The first two days after injecting I felt calm, more peaceful, and good (probably because I was starting the process). I’m older at 53. Do these feelings settle down after a while? It’s becoming sort of a drag.”

They should settle down. Hormones can cause rapid mood changes and other feelings that you are not used to. Testosterone and estrogen can both affect mood, emotion, and feelings of general well-being. Your body is not used to this hormone. It has to adjust.

Testosterone can make some people feel agitated and angry. Strong agitation and anger is what body builders who are on steroids mean when they refer to “roid rage.” Not every trans guy experiences this, but it is not uncommon, and it should either lessen over time or you will adjust over time. It also should fluctuate as your body cycles through each dose (if you are injecting).

I personally think that testosterone suppresses some emotions, which could be why you feel emotionally flat. I am not able to cry as easily on T, and it’s not because I think that guys shouldn’t cry. I know a few guys who have gone off of T just to have a good cry once in a while. I also know a trans women who became very confused about why she was bursting into tears at the smallest provocation, because she had never done that before in her life. She had recently started estrogen. Aha! (more…)

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Question MarkI’m getting a little backed up again, and this week is my “holiday” week, so I put some short questions together with some short answers. For my many question-writers, thank you for your patience. I’m getting there!

I am also working on trying to make the blog a little easier to navigate (I hope) by adding some specific categories so that readers can more easily find old information and posts that might apply to their circumstances. I am trying to redo my Categories, and it’s taking some time, so again, thanks for your patience.

Here are this week’s questions:

A reader writes: “I’m an FTM transgender person. I’ve already picked out a first and a middle name, and I chose to stick with my last name. The problem is I like the first and middle names that I picked, but I also like the first name given to me at birth. I just can’t seem to find a way to add my birth name in there. I need a bit of help or advice.”

I answered a very similar question recently, so I am going to link to that post, Choosing a Middle Name, because I think it could be helpful. I would also recommend reading the comments. A reader suggested something that I didn’t even think of when I was answering the question, which is that the writer could have two middle names.

If you have a first and middle name picked out that you really like, but your birth name is special to you, use it as another middle name. You can even decide to go by one name in a professional setting and another in a personal setting. So don’t feel limited. Changing your name is an opportunity to have exactly the name that you want, so go for it!

A reader writes: “Do you know anything about the connection (or lack thereof) between testosterone and cancer? And any thoughts on how this might affect one’s decision to go on T?

“My second issue is, I am thinking about going on T to transition from female to male, but I have a really bad needle phobia. If I don’t miraculously overcome it, I won’t transition. The thought of giving myself shots for the rest of my life is too overwhelming. Do you have any advice or know anyone who has been in a similar situation?” (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “My 17-year-old daughter wants to be my son. I fully support him in every way I know possible, and am currently looking into family therapy so that he can have a place to vent, receive validation, and navigate the difficulties of extended family and their varied reactions. I definitely need support as well, in that I want to understand and support what he’s going through.

“My question is about the actual transition. Ben would love to start college as a male, but knowing that it will most likely take more than a year, and lots of money, neither of which we’ll have before college, I just don’t think it’s going to happen. Where do we begin? Does insurance cover any of it? I have lots of other questions, but I’ve already downloaded your Kindle books, so chances are, I’ll find some of my answers there.”

First of all, thanks for being such a supportive parent (and thanks for buying my books). Now, let’s start by looking at some things that might be involved in a transition. I say “might” because everyone’s transition is different, and what each person desires and/or needs to survive is different. Here are some possibilities:

Legal: Name change; gender marker change on driver’s license, ID, other paperwork; change of birth certificate; change of school records/transcripts/diplomas; sex/gender change with Social Security; passport change

Mental Health: Evaluation and/or individual therapy; family therapy; “official” diagnosis

Medical: “Opposite-sex” hormones; chest surgery (implants, reduction, or chest reconstruction); hysterectomy/oophorectomy; genital surgery of some type; vocal cord surgery (generally for male-to-female transition); facial feminization or masculinization surgery; electrolysis; other body modifications as necessary/desired

Social: Coming out; adopting new gender expression/presentation, including clothing, hairstyle, mannerisms, and behaviors; restroom change; entering new gendered spaces and other social spaces; losing/gaining friends; family issues; workplace/school issues

Checking out family therapy is a good start. I would also recommend individual therapy for Ben, for a couple of reasons: If he is considering medical transition, which it sounds as if he might be, most doctors still require a letter from a therapist in order to prescribe hormones (ask your family physician what he/she requires in order to prescribe hormones for transition). In addition, therapy can be very helpful in planning and setting time frames, as well as in navigating some of the social difficulties that can occur, such as entering “men’s spaces,” coming out, and dealing with friends and loved ones. (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “I am a junior at a socially conservative high school in Atlanta, GA. I have a transgender girlfriend, two of my closest friends are genderqueer, and I identify as a pansexual, so I am much more aware of gender issues than the vast majority of my peers (my girlfriend/friends are in college, and I am one of only two openly queer students in the entire school).

“I have debated using singular ‘they’ pronouns for multiple reasons: I want people at my school to be aware of genders outside of the binary, I personally don’t want to be part of the binary system, and I want to be judged by my self, not by my gender.

“However, I am cisgender and readily identify as female, both outwardly and internally. As much as I want to disassociate myself from gender-binary classifications, I don’t want to appropriate terminology that doesn’t apply to me as strongly as it does to people who really don’t identify with a traditional gender.

“Is ideological justification enough to use gender-neutral pronouns, or does it just become offensive/trivialization if I still self-identify as a female?”

This is an interesting question, and I can see both sides of the issue. There are some people who might see that as appropriation, because as a cisgender person, you have a choice. You don’t have to use a gender-neutral pronoun, and you will get along just fine if you choose not to.

That is part of the “cisgender privilege” that has gotten so much press in our community lately. For you, it would be a choice. For some trans people, or gender diverse people of any kind, it is often not a choice. Having to use a gender-binary pronoun would literally make some people miserable every moment of every day.

I hope that those who see this as appropriation, or as wrong for any reason, will let us know what they think in the Comments section. Because I’m going to say that I think it’s okay. (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “I do not identify specifically as trans, but I present as gender-queer. Basically, I wear a suit and tie most of the time. I am a lesbian and have many friends on the trans spectrum.

“The fact that I am rather out and dress the way I do at work has encouraged students who are seeking help to turn to me. Recently, I was asked by a student to help my colleagues understand transgender student issues. In response to that request I made two presentations at our annual teaching conference, despite that this is not really my area of expertise.

“Well, there was a good response, and now I am the go-to person and I feel very out of my depth. I need some general advice. I want to help my trans students be who they are in safety, help educate other students, intervene where necessary on campus, and help set up a wider support network on campus for those who have recently expressed an interest in helping me.

“I know this is a very broad question, but what are your opinions and thoughts about this? What advice can you give me?”

I’m thinking that you want an opinion on whether or not a non-trans person can be a resource for information and education both about and for trans people. My answer is yes, I think that you can. However, it takes some finesse to do it right.

The problem is that you really can’t speak for trans people, because this is not how you identify. But what you can do is speak to the broad range of diverse gender identities and expressions that are out there, because you embody that diversity. And what you can do is enlist the help of trans students (and faculty?) who are willing to speak out and aid you in your presentations and with collecting resources. (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “My daughter’s best friend is a young male who is now living as a female. It is a relatively new change, and my daughter isn’t sure how to support her. She has known that he feels that he is in the wrong body ever since they became friends, and has been very understanding of this. She recently changed schools, and is worried that her friend will have difficulty with people accepting this change.

“She is asking for advice on how to support her. I don’t really know what to say. I’m fine with the change, and I think that it is important for my daughter to support her friend, but I am at a loss of words to give her any advice or guidance. I should also mention that the children are in second grade, which means that they are both very young, and there is no real info that I could find for such a young age.

“I was hoping that you might have some insight on how I should respond to the question ‘How can I help her through this change?’ Please keep in mind that both are seven. I don’t want to say the wrong thing. I would ask her friend’s mom, but as supporting of her child as she is, she is obviously mourning the loss of her son. She is accepting of her new daughter, but is also very overwhelmed. I can’t really ask her. Thank you for any advice you may have.”

First of all, thank you for being so supportive of your daughter and of her friend. Also, kudos for raising such a caring child. I would first like to suggest that you contact TransYouth Family Allies. They might have some good suggestions and help for you. If you are in Colorado, you can also contact Trans-Youth Education and Support of Colorado. These are also good resources to give to the child’s mother.

I am also not completely convinced that talking to the child’s mother is a bad idea. It sounds as if your daughter and her daughter are close friends. If that is the case, she might appreciate the support from one of her daughter’s friends. You can always approach her with the idea that your daughter wants to be as helpful and supportive as possible, and you would like some ideas to give to your daughter. You can say, “If and when you might want to talk about this, just let me know. If not, I understand, and that’s fine.”

In response to your daughter’s question about how she can help, I would say that she can just be there for her friend and hold on to the friendship. Other things that your daughter can do to be supportive include: (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “I am a 16-year-old transman. According to my mom, I am much too young to consider myself a transman, and that this isn’t something I can figure out until I am more ‘sexually mature.’

“For as long as I can remember I have not exactly considered myself a girl. When I was little I was the one people called the ‘tomboy.’ It wasn’t until I was about twelve that I really began to become uncomfortable with being female. I was physically female, but my brain didn’t seem to think so.

“Last year I went to a summer camp out of state, where I got to meet people of different backgrounds. It was there that I met a young woman who told me to do some research on the term ‘transgender,’ which I had never heard of.

“The relief I felt when I realized that I was not a random, lonely freak of nature was immense. When I started my sophomore year in high school I started referring to myself as ‘he’ on the Internet. I went through a short time where I simply considered myself genderqueer, but at this point I am certain I am transsexual.

“Last year at some point I came out to my mom as being transsexual. My mom refuses to accept that I actually could be a transman. My mom is getting better slowly. She does get very angry when I try to bring it up a little bit, when I mention that I’d like to tell our family doctor, or that I’d like to talk to a therapist about it. She does buy me boy’s clothing now, and after a heck of a lot of pestering on my part she agreed to buy me a breast binder (if only to get me to shut up).

“My first concern is trying to explain to my mother that gender identity and sexuality have very little, if anything, to do with one another. I am pansexual. Then there is the problem with trying to explain that I am not too young to know my gender identity. I have asked my mom is she would just do research, or let me show her articles about transsexuality and gender identity, but she won’t have any of it. (more…)

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