I am once again realizing that if I am going to get myself testosterone and top surgery, I have to do it myself, and I have to do it now. No one else is going to do it for me. One issue is that the counselor I am seeing has not written many transition approval letters before. She said that the last time she did, she had another counselor who was helping her out, another professor at the university. That counselor has moved away now. I am going to get together some 101 resources for her. I have a pretty good novel called F2M: The Boy Within about an Australian little punk transboy. He’s a little younger than me. The reason I think a novel would be a good resource is that everyone’s story, everyone’s experience is different. (And everyone’s experience is a story, but I’ll talk more about Life of Pi later.) It is pretty difficult to write anything nearly comprehensive on transgender people because it is difficult to be general. So many things have to be qualified. This is something that I know that my counselor understands. The first day I met with her, last summer, I was talking about how my impression of psychology was bullshit, because there is no way that you can generalize that much and put a sticker on someone’s forehead that says “bipolar” or “depressed.” Real life doesn’t work that way. “All bipolar people are like this. These are signs of the disease.” That’s the impression I was getting from AP Psych, anyway. She agreed with me that it was bullshit. She said that there is usefulness to those labels and groupings, however. There is a group of people who have similar problems. Maybe treatment that worked for them might work for you, who has problems similar to that group. But each individual has a different story. The idea of psychology is to help people, not to just describe them. I think she’ll be able to help me, but I need to help her understand how to help me. She is certainly very smart and is a good listener.
I did a search on TransBucket to find surgeons in Minnesota, since that would be as convenient, if not more, than a surgeon in California. I called up the first one, Marie-Claire Buckley. She was extremely helpful, and really nice on the phone. She was considerate and seemed to genuinely want to help me out. She was informative and answered questions well. Good communication with patients is a quality I value highly in doctors. It was the first time that I did research on this and actually felt good about it. She works and the University of Minnesota, which is a plus, and she went to medical school at Mayo Medical School. This is where my dad went, and so maybe I’m biased, but it is the best and turns out some of the best doctors. And Mayo values communication with patients. This is why I am attempting to get a psychiatrist at the Mayo Clinic, so I can work with someone who will actually listen to me and wants to help me.
I just thought of something. Dr. Buckley and my dad are nearly the same age. Maybe they knew each other in medical school! I did a few google searches and I couldn’t find anything though. I guess they don’t have records of graduates and when they graduated. That’s annoying. The only way to find this out would be to ask, which means I actually have to talk to my parents about my desire to transition.
On Dr. Buckley’s webpage, I found a link to the WPATH Standards of Care, which is what she follows (meaning that I need to get a letter in order to get surgery). My counselor said that she just recently found the Harry Benjamin Standards of Care, which are really old, and are a source of gatekeeping. If you don’t meet this, this, and this requirement, you are not a “true transsexual.” I looked through the WPATH Standards of Care, and they are pretty good. There is a lot of history, and information about what sorts of transition options are available. They even point out that choosing to not medically transition does not mean that the person is not transgender and shouldn’t be treated with respect, and that there are other cultures out there with different perspectives on gender. I am going to print this out to give to my counselor, as well.
I was thinking about the requirements for medical transition. You have to be “mentally stable.” I figure the intention of this is that crazy people might delude themselves into thinking they’re trans. If I had more serious mental problems, I’d be pretty fucked. However, in order to get insurance to pay for it, it has to be “medically necessary.” I take this to mean that surgery would relieve some serious psychological distress that could not be relieved by cheaper, less invasive means. Therein lies the catch-22. If I am experiencing serious psychological distress as a result of my cognitive-somatic dissonance, then I am not mentally stable. This is a separate question from my own personal requirements for transition. I want to make sure that I am emotionally capable of handling a big change, and I want to make sure that I am doing this for the right reasons, which I haven’t quite decided what are yet. These are similar to “mentally stable” and “medically necessary,” but definitely distinct.