We know that transitioning usually has a very positive effect on trans people’s mental health. Providing care appropriate to their transition is the single most effective thing at reducing the rate of suicide attempts amongst trans people. However, some aspects of transitioning may have a negative impact on mental health, as well as being made more difficult by existing mental health problems.
A big part of this is related to how difficult it is to navigate medical care without your mental health declining. Medical professionals are poorly educated when it comes to trans people and mental illness even when the topics are completely separate, so when the two intersect it’s often impossible to find a doctor who is understanding of this and all it entails. The pathologising of trans people’s experiences makes it often dangerous to “admit” you’re mentally ill in a trans healthcare context – mental illness and trans status are often conflated and used as an excuse to not treat one or the other, which makes it hard to be open about how both are affecting you. A doctor who acts insensitively is often the best case scenario, with some people (especially those with “unstable” disorders like borderline personality disorder, bipolar or schizophrenia) being denied care altogether because their self-evaluation isn’t trusted.
Even in the best case, the interrogation and long waiting times involved in GIC care have a negative impact on most people’s mental health. We believe that people with mental illnesses are valid narrators of their own experience and that they deserve help in navigating a system hostile to everyone, but especially to them. A helpful thing in these scenarios is hearing about what those who went before you did, whether or not they deemed it successful, and learning how this affected their experience. If you’ve dealt with the trans healthcare system while mentally ill, we’d like to hear how you navigated it, what you encountered and what wisdom, encouragement or solidarity you have for others in your position.
We’re interested in hearing things about:
Self care tips
How you accessed counselling without it reaching GIC services or your GP
How you dealt with hormonal changes affecting your mental health
How you dealt with invasive questioning regarding your mental illness affecting your trans experience
Anything that helped you get through the adverse effects of doctors’ treatment of you
Intersections of mental health, trans, and other oppressions such as race, transmisogyny, sexuality, disability, drug use, survivorship
If you write something up and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org we can collate them and present them as a resource. Feel free to email us submissions for our blog/website at anytime, but we are setting a deadline for inclusion in the print volume for 1st March 2015. Please share!