In the past the practice of wearing the clothing of the opposite sex, especially among men, was referred to as transvestism. By the general, and frequently crass, straight community such persons were called “queers” or “fags” or any other number of derogatory words. There are even books written about such individuals. For example, Transgender History by Susan Stryker.
However, in these days, terms for both men and women have become more accurate and sophisticated. Terms such as “gender identity” and “gender dysphoria” are in common daily language. The process of appropriating characteristics, both physical and psychological, of the opposite sex is called transitioning. One transitions from male-to-female (MTF, MtF) or from female-to-male (FTM, FtM). There are medical “remedies” that can be utilized to assist persons in transitioning.
I have been seeing the same psychotherapist every week for over a decade. To say the least, she may well know me better than I know myself! A couple of years ago, having worked hard through my unconscious life with PTSD, anxiety, and depression utilizing both talk therapy and medications, I was diagnosed with “gender dysphoria.” This was something I always knew but could not admit to myself, let alone out loud. When I was finally able to say it out loud, the relief was tremendous. Yes! I am identified as male but I really am female.
The question then became, “So what?” Do I, at my age, do anything about it? Or, do I just continue on as always? I knew one thing for certain. I was mainly interested in a psychological transition, not a physical transition, although I had previously grown out my hair and asked the stylist to make it nice enough to make other women jealous. (It really is true that hair stylist, like bartenders, are the first to know.)
So, in coordination with my therapist and my primary care physician, I began to transition. I wanted to feel female. I began hormone therapy. Now, when my hormone levels are checked, I am much more female than male. I take estrogen to up my female characteristics and spironolactone to reduce my testosterone. Prior to this, when I reported not feeling right, I was given testosterone. That made me feel awful, more aggressive. Now I feel much more at peace with myself.
I will not have facial feminization surgery nor will I have laser hair removal nor will I have gender confirmation surgery. I believe I am too old for that AND I do not want to cause the disruption to my family relationships that such “radical” measures may well raise. I am not a “Caitlyn Jenner.” I do not have the courage for that nor do I have the money that such a transition would cost. Think of it. One would have to have voice coaching, work on mannerisms, even have make-up lessons!
Transition means something different to each of us. Anything from changing hair styles to a full deal as with Caitlyn Jenner.