This morning I braved a winter weather advisory to make my appointment with the doctor. It was my three months follow-up since I started HRT. As much as I didn’t want to go out in the weather I needed to keep my appointment so I could get a new prescription for my T – especially since I would be running out in three days. The plus side – the waiting room was nearly empty and I didn’t have to wait to be called back to the exam room!
The furthest thing from my mind when I was finally ready to
transition was that I would need a therapist. I had had plenty of time to think
things through – decades, actually. There was not one ounce of uncertainty on
my part. But, protocol is protocol and I wasn’t about to do anything that might
jeopardize getting my top surgery. So I began the hunt for a therapist.
Recently I had the honor of being asked to create a finished piece of art live as part of the TEDx RitenourRoad event in St. Louis. I chose transgender and transition as the focus of the mixed media painting. Raffle tickets were sold during the event and at the end of the night a ticket was drawn and the painting presented to the winning ticket holder. Funds from the ticket sales were donated to support TransParentStl and the good work they do working with trans youth.
I recently attended a storytelling workshop at a transgender conference. I’d received an email from my therapist suggesting that the workshop might hold some interest to me. I’d grown accustomed to at least trying whatever suggestions my therapist threw at me. Even though there was never a specific directive, I figured when she mentioned something, she must have a reason, right? So, I spent the afternoon in the workshop. And I wrote. Joan Lipkin, from That Uppity Theatre Company, co-facilitated the workshop with Kage Fox, a transgender man. I’d known Joan for many years and Kage only months, and they created an inviting environment that easily encouraged putting pen to paper. Their assigned writer’s prompt was an open door to telling my story – albeit a story I never intended telling. That story is included in these words. That first story was the beginning and begat other stories – it was the jumping off point to explicate the year of my transition from female to male, to revisit some of the messages from the past that perpetuated the process, and reflect on the unlikely and unexpected partnership that has been my immersion and exploration into therapy.
Let me begin by saying that not much of what I will be
telling you about my transition mirrors the stories other people have shared
with me or with groups where I’d heard others reveal experiences. For starters, when I’d finally made my
decision to transition, I didn’t even know that I would need a therapist. I’d never considered therapy as an option for
me – for any reason whatsoever. If
anyone I knew was or had ever seen a therapist, they’d not shared this with
me. Therapy was just “not something we
did.” Therapy was for people who struggled
with keeping their life together.
Therapy was for people who couldn’t take responsibility for their
actions. Admittedly, I didn’t even believe in therapy.