Journey Into Darkness

Recently, while conversing online, I became friends with two very special people. They are neither rich and famous, nor in celebrity headlines. They both travel a path of personal completion, however, and the obstacles they face are tremendous. They battle a dark foe – a condition difficult to put into words – and these are their stories.

 

Clothing was a major focus when each began her journey of gender expression. As trans women, lacy garments, bright colors and makeup set them on a road of self-discovery, their feminine spirits slowly growing stronger over time. Suffering from gender dysphoria, they continue to take selfies and struggle to see the women they dream to be.

 

Jordan and Katie both live as females.  Katie has been on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for several months, while Jordan hopes to start soon. Jordan is married; Katie, divorced. However, they both share a path into a crippling darkness: depression.

 

In an article published in Psychology Today, Kathleen Schreiber notes that nearly half of transgender women and men experience anxiety and depression. That compares to the 6.7 percent of others in the general population who report to be anxious and 18 percent who are depressed.

 

Jordan describes the depression in her life. “I can function when I’m in a downswing,” she states, “but it’s just absurdly difficult. It’s like trying to crawl to complete a marathon after someone breaks your knees. You don’t want to do anything – even things you would normally enjoy. The only thing that seems to have any substance is the depression. You’re left laying there, wishing you were dead for no good reason at all.”

 

What brings depression so easily into the lives of trans women in particular? In part, it’s due to the gap between the image we have of ourselves, tucked deeply in our minds for so long, and the sense that we will never quite measure up to that image.

 

“I am impatient with my transition,” Katie admits. “I suppose that’s a good way to put it. I have seen so many beautiful trans women, and had plenty of people tell me how pretty they think I am, but I have such a hard time believing it. But it’s barely been a year since my first time really dressing in full as Katie, so why should I expect to be seen as a woman already?

 

“It’s a long process, and patience is the single most important thing to have when going through something like this. It takes time for your body to get that feminine shape, it takes time for your features to soften, your hair to grow (if you’re lucky enough that it still does), and for you to accept that you are who you are, a growing, changing woman.”

 

Depression is the result of more than just internal struggles and our acceptance of reality. It is also caused – or certainly deepened – by external influences and society’s lack of acceptance of a reality it doesn’t often understand. This inability to understand us too often leads to discrimination. Schreiber writes that nearly two of three transgender women or men report experiencing discrimination in hospitals, health centers, public transportation. and shopping centers. In health care, she states, discrimination is “linked with up to an 81 percent increased risk of adverse emotional and physical symptoms and a 2-fold to 3-fold increased risk of postponement of needed care when sick or injured and of preventive or routine health care.”

 

Discrimination is rampant for transgender women, men and children. It comes from employers who discriminate against qualified candidates and guardians who won’t tolerate gender non-conforming young adults. “Though depriving a dependent under age 18 of shelter or food constitutes child abuse” Schreiber points out, “there is currently no federal law protecting transgender individuals from discrimination in the workplace.”

 

Despite all of this, Katie and Jordan are facing those challenges. They both recently celebrated a shared milestone. Each has won her court battle to change her name and gender marker. These were large steps in their quest to become the women they dream of being. They face daily obstacles, but they embrace each day as a new opportunity to affirm their status as females.

 

“Long story short,” Katie concludes, “it’s been a long, emotionally draining, difficult, terrifying journey that I have been tempted to give up on soooo many times. But you know what? It’s worth it.”

 

To follow Katie and Jordan on their journeys, you may follow them at:

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Joanna R

Hello. I’m originally from CDH and am living the journey as a M to F multi dimensional being I love writing and telling my stories and adventures. I look forward to working with many of you to help you tell yours.

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13 Comments
  1. J G 1 month ago

    I thought to add my therapist in transition was LYNN Fraser,something of a pioneer in dealing with transgender issues,

    See her site here,she was VERY helpful in my personal transition.

    http://linfraser.com/gender-identity/

    I had my SRS in San Francisco in 1992 if you wondered

    I am hoping for an easy transition to all who are beginning your passage.

  2. J G 1 month ago

    Good to read about others experiences,and for me depression was a VERY dark passage post op,due in part to what is called post op depressive effect due mainly to mainly hormone change reaction. I was warned about it,but with that and a rejection by a lover and friends,it sent me into a dive into the dark abyss, over time I clawed my way back to sanity. That experience brought me to becoming a Pagan in beliefs,and I am a practicing Strega Witch to this day. Even though I am happy with my personal place in my presentation as male now mainly due to social concerns( I mentioned in my introduction post that some of my trans sisters in San Francisco were murdered,and that instilled a personal paranoid approach to being out about my status, Even though I am now legally female,I have still run into negative reactions even from medical professionals at times. I had a lot of hope with Obama being more pro gay and trans,but trump makes me worry for our inclusion in freedoms others take for granted

    To my sisters and brothers in transition on the journey,may your passage be positive and safe. Stay strong.!

  3. Rachel 3 months ago

    Thank you Joanna for the article. I am only beginning to travel the road which I believe is meant for me but am already conflicted and often question myself whether or not it is okay to be who I am meant to be as opposed to who I should be. Reading about brave women such as yourself, Jordan and Katie gives me courage to take the next small step. Once again thank you so much and my best wishes to Katie and Jordan.

  4. Shannyn Ford 4 months ago

    This story hits close to home even to me who has not been brave enough yet to face any of the situations the ladies in the story have, as well as all the commenters. I’m just now at the point where my marriage is crumbled to the point of seoaration. Shannyn is real and shouldn’t be denied. I hope to have great courage as I take steps forward medically, professionally, etc.

    I hope to get to know the wonderful folks at this great new site as time goes on. I hope to afford a membership soon so I can use the features like chat. I love to chat! Especially about the trans journey. It’s how I cope against the depression so accurately described by Jordan. This has SO been me, recently: “You don’t want to do anything – even things you would normally enjoy. The only thing that seems to have any substance is the depression. You’re left laying there, wishing you were dead for no good reason at all.”

    I have a blog I have started as well, and I’m not sure if its kosher to promote here, so forgive me if I shouldn’t have. I want to connect with more people like me, and that’s been difficult so far. I would love to have even one person read some of what I’ve written and comment. I tremble as I write this, but it would mean THE WORLD to me. The site is https://shannyncomesalive.blogspot.com. God bless all of you!

    • Cloe (CC) Webb 4 months ago

      Hi Shannyn. I’m just coming to the end stage of a separation. It’s been rough, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. I had to make some choices that were tough , but I had to be able to sleep easy with the decisions I made and doing the right thing has helped me keep my head above water.

      • Shannyn Ford 4 months ago

        Thank you for reaching out, Chloe. I am glad to hear that you are starting to get along better after such difficulties. It’s important that we support each other, and I appreciate you supporting me as I will you.

  5. April King 4 months ago

    I know all too well the mantle of depression. IT has enveloped me at times, but I learn to cope. I hope they can too.

    Hugs,
    April

  6. Patricia Allen 4 months ago

    Depression is a tricky thing. It can sneak up on you. You don’t realize you’re in a downward spiral until you’re in so deep it seems there is no way out.

    I think I’ve conquered the discrimination in medical care and in stores. I did it by facing it head on and creating a plan for dealing with it. The first step is to decide that, no matter who you are or how you present yourself, not everyone will like you or accept you and that it’s OK if they don’t. The next step is to decide what to do when they don’t.

    I spent years, worrying that my doctor would somehow discover I was Trans. I always kept that on pair of male undies for when I had to go to the doctor and would be sure to wear them then. Trans is a deceptively progressive condition. We try to assuage the situation with little steps which quickly become too little. When I found myself needing a bra 24/7 to counter the need, I did get caught by my doctor. I went in to get her to sign off on return to work after gall bladder surgery, never expecting any more than an examination of my incision and a demonstration of my fitness. To my surprise she wanted to check my lungs and heart with her stethoscope. Lifting my polo shirt she reached up under it and placed the instrument just above my bra, just missing touching it. (Dodged a bullet there, I thought.) She then went around back and lifted my shirt higher to listen to my breathing. This time plenty high enough to expose my bra strap. She hesitated a beat before continuing. She said nothing about the bra and cleared me to return to work.

    It was then I realized I wouldn’t be able to hide it from doctors anymore, though I didn’t flaunt it, I didn’t go out of my way to hide either. When we move I needed to get another doctor. This time, I decided that I would go to my first appointment en femme and let the chips fall where they may. If I had received any kind of negative response I had already decided to just find another doctor. Simple as that. Long story short, I’ve not been to a doctor masquerading as cis-male since. Every doctor from my primary care physician to specialists has treated me while I flaunted my feminine nature and not one has been anything but professional.

    I’ve carried that attitude to the marketplace. Since that same time, I’ve gone shopping for my femme clothes fully dressed. I decided that if any clerk or manager in the establishment acted as if they had a problem with me I would simple put down whatever I intended to buy and go to another shop, walking away from any possible confrontation. I’ve only encountered one such situation. That was in a second hand shop while I wasn’t presenting my feminine nature and the clerk didn’t want to let me try on a pair of pants in the store. I never went back.

    It’s liberating to take control of the situation and let them suffer the consequences of discrimination… that is loss of business. They are there to make money; my money is as good as anyone else’s and if they want to not take it, I’m not going to raise a fuss and try to force them to do it. There are plenty of shops that want my money. I don’t care if they talk about me after I’m gone so long as they treat me right to my face. They don’t have to love me; they just have to accept me.

  7. Satish Chandri 4 months ago

    The article is informative and I wonder if it is so in western part of the earth how will be for people like us.I daily dress up in the femme dress ,have procured jewellery wear it put on the ear rings,nose ring spend hours together at the mirror musing my graceful feminine softess.I thoroughly enjoy and love myself.Its quite gratifying but I don’t move out,confine myself indoors, satisfied.
    Love
    Sati

  8. I agree. This article is very poignant and thought provoking. The problem we all face is: it gets harder, the depression deeper for some. I shop at transgender friendly places and actively look for transgender friendly places to eat, etc. and I get “the look”-cue the depression. I have came to grips with I’m never going to look like a genetic female and I may not pass all of the time but I’m okay with it because I am being true to myself and that truth is ultimately comforting for me.

    XOXO,
    Vanessa-Marie

  9. Vanessa Law 4 months ago

    Thank you for a poignant article dear. I’ve had many dark times on my journey, and many moments of joy and laughter as well.

    May they have more of the latter.

    Hugs

  10. Cloe (CC) Webb 4 months ago

    Thank you for this article Joanna. I had not heard Jordan’s story, but Katie is a dear friend whom I hope to meet again some day.

    The struggle these two face are real and have touched me as well, but not to the depth that they are experiencing. Its these girls lives and others like myself who had repressed my own self expression that drive my need to be a moderator on TGH and CDH.

    Working at an academic medical center as a full-time, fully out trans woman I can say the healthcare community is working at change, but struggling with keeping up with demand. I’ve asked for and been placed on our medical centers transgender advisory committee. This committee is following benchmarks set forth in the Human Rights Campaign’s Healthcare Equality Index. https://www.hrc.org/hei This is a good resource to evaluate your preferred institutions response to diversity issues.

    Cloe

  11. Joanna….thank you for your most interesting story. It give me a lump in my chest but I am not sure why. I guess it is that here are 2 girls whose have faced a long and disturbing life but have battled on thru it all, true masters of their destiny. Yes…you get weary and frustrated at times but the goal is worth all the stress and striving to be who and what you desire so badly to be. Finally, enlightenment is within their grasp….that gold ring of contentment and peace with life. I cheer for them….they deserve it. May we all be so lucky and strong of spirit.

    Dame Veronica

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