Many situations and people can bring in transgender stress to trans individuals
By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw */TRT Columnist—
It’s not easy being a transgender person. There are various processes that are important to follow, frankly. First, the trans person needs to realize and accept that they are a transgender. This may take a while because of fear from rejection and disapproval from family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc. As a result, some may stay in the closet forever, some need a little more time, and some can’t wait any longer. Those who stay in the closet forever may be too afraid to make their move. This is sad. However, remember that there are too many people who are going through this. My heart goes out to those of you in that specific predicament.
Before a person makes a move towards transitioning, they should seek a therapist’s assistance. I believe that there are many fine therapists out there today who understand the issues most trans people face. Back in the early and mid 2000s, it was very hard finding trans competent therapists. The first therapist I went to wanted me to join a sex addicts group to overcome my “desire” to be female. He had no idea what being a trans person means. I stopped seeing him.
After working with a therapist who understands and treats transgender people and how they need to come out, the next step is to tell family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc. Sometimes, this doesn’t go very well. Many times there are people who will not accept your transitioning. They may refuse to use your new name and they may continue to use the incorrect pronouns when referring to you. They may write you off as crazy, foolish, or narcissistic as they try to erase your existence. These people may cause you great stress and, often times, they may not seem to care at all about it.
Some trans people seek out trans support groups for help. This is a great idea and resource because you can meet others trans people there and you can get information, and support from these groups. Sometimes, though, some of the support group members may try to erase your existence too. I remember attending trans support groups in the early 2000s and running into folks who plainly told me that I was not a woman because I rejected bottom surgery. This was fairly prevalent in the 2000s but nowadays this has greatly lessened. However, I still see evidence on the internet that this is still happening today. These naysayers also cause you great stress.
Your place of employment may cause you stress as some folks will not recognize you in your authentic living. When I transitioned at work at first there were a handful of people who did not support me. As time went on, nonetheless, they accepted me. They may not have supported me, but they accepted me. Nowadays, many places of employment will accept your authentic self, although not all of them will. There is still work to be done in this area.
Many folks try to “blend” with the mainstream cisgender community. The ones who look like their new gender may “pass,” but many trans people cannot. The ones who don’t blend in may very well be misgendered. Imagine being misgendered several times a day, every day. It feels like bullets ravaging your spirit. Once again, this causes great stress.
Many trans people attempt dating outside of the trans community and have a very hard time finding someone who will want to be with them. I know of many, many trans women who want to date cis women but, at this point in time, most of the time it just doesn’t work out. Trans women who want to date cis men can find such folks although many times, as I have explained in previous columns, the relationship has to be kept on the down low because the cis man doesn’t want to be seen with the trans woman for the fear that his friends and family will disapprove. These cis men are in their own closet, indeed. So, as far as finding that special one, many trans people have little to no success. This is also another cause of excessive stress on trans individuals.
Another great stressor is lack of money. Some trans people are unable to work and have to rely on government assistance. They have little to no hope of bettering themselves financially. They will most likely be poor for the rest of their lives.
Some trans folk may also have to deal with depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc. and this keeps them in their homes, unable or afraid to go out and enjoy this great big world. As social creatures, many yearn that social interaction with others. Some trans folks hardly ever leave their homes and they never get their need for social interaction filled.
In retrospect, you can see that being a trans person is very stressful and the stress comes from many places. But truly, others in the mainstream world cause most of the stress we encounter. We need to work on educating these people.
*Deja Nicole Greenlaw is retired from 3M and has 3 children and two grandchildren. She can be contacted at email@example.com.
I co-facilitate a support group in Charleston, SC. We welcome all, no matter where they are in their journey or how they decide to transition. They may also bring a friend or family member with them. Some are out, some are not. Some on HRT some not. Some have had surgery and for some surgery is an impossible dream. For others it is not something they want. Why does any of this matter? There is no right or wrong way to transition. Just the way that works foe them.