Part of the autobiography of a transsexual psychology graduate student.

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Gender Identity Disorder (GID) Case Study: an Autobiography of a Transsexual Psychology Graduate Student

Repressing Emotions

None of my solutions had worked and I felt like I had nothing to live for. Suicide sounded like a good option. I was going to on many occasions. There was a time when I carefully took one extra pill from various prescriptions in my parent's medicine cabinet. I never found out if it was enough to kill me. It wasn't because of religion because by then I hated God for doing this to me. Eventual I just didn't believe in a God. Maybe it was for my parents, but I really don't know?

All I knew by high school was something needed to stop. I was constantly being teased and bullied to the point where socially I was devastated, puberty was destroying me physically, and my school classes were so easy but yet I was unable to concentrate on something more intellectually stimulating. The possibility of actually living as a woman didn't merely seem like an utterly ridiculous solution. It just wasn't even within the realm of possibility. And, even though I knew gender was part of my struggles, I didn't realize how central gender was. I know I'm going on and on to you now. But, in retrospect, my solution seems so silly that I feel like I need to make it clear why it wasn't so absurd for me then.

Once after being beaten up, again, I was in the vice-principals office. I couldn't stop crying. The vice-principal told me to stop crying. But I still couldn't stop. Eventually the frustrated vice-principal told me to quit crying, be a man, and this wouldn't happen, blah, blah, blah. And that's where I found my solution because I found a way to frame my problem. Emotions! They were to blame! If I could just not be so emotional and sensitive, then everything would be okay.

So I began being as "Spock-like" as possible. I focused all my attention on analytical things. I was always very introspective and analytical so this wasn't too hard. Every time I felt something I just pushed the feelings down inside me. I was never giddily happy and never sad. I just was. It actually worked! I wasn't much fun for bullies when I didn't react. Socially, I was at least stable enough to have a few friends. And intellectual I blossomed! I went from B's and C's to A's and B's with almost no effort. But more importantly I started learning all sorts of things on my own. I developed lots of concentration to the extent that I read philosophy and science and history.

Though I didn't see gender as the issue then, it was my analytical thinking, my most stereotypically male-gendered trait, that fixed me. But, of course, it didn't really work. I needed some sort of escape from myself or at least an escape from the self I portrayed. I started cross-dressing to look like a girl, or at least as close as I could. I cross-dressed all the time when I was little. I played dress-up with my grandmother's old clothes that my sister and I had in our play area. But I never felt like I was doing something wrong back then. Now I felt like I was doing something incredibly wrong.

The first time I cross-dressed (not including that childhood pretend) was one afternoon when my parents went to something for my sister. I sneaked into my sisters room and took some cute clothes. I went out to a playground not very far away and changed in the woods. Then I played for hours on the swings and other stuff. It was so much fun! More fun than I'd had in a long time. And it seemed so utterly bizarre that dressing like a girl should make it possible to have fun doing things I could do anyway. I guess I was just finally relaxing after always trying to control my behaviors: rather than worry about walking or throwing or whatever like a girl, I could just look like a girl and be me!

But time continued to pass and I needed to be home before my parents. I threw my boy clothes over the girl clothes and raced home. I was completely out-of-breath but safely early. So I got the boy clothes off but I still had some time so why take the girl clothes off? But then, as I skipped about the house, I started having this overwhelming sense of guilt about what I was doing. I ignored my sisters privacy which is something I still feel incredibly guilty about. But my sister isn't talking to me now so I still haven't apologized. And I was cross-dressing. What kind of completely horrible person was I? I started slapping my genitals. This wasn't actually the first time I tried to punish myself this way but it was by far the hardest I've ever done that. And then ... yuck!!! ... everywhere!!

I don't know if I've ever been more confused by my emotions than at that moment. I couldn't hold down my feelings and I had so many all at once: pain, pleasure, guilt, and fear. I had fear because I was still wearing my sisters clothes and I need to clean them! So I ran over to the bathroom and splashed water on the hem line when ... click. Oh my gosh! The front door! My parents were home! I was in a wet dress and I left my boy clothes in a pile on the floor upstairs so far away I couldn't run pass the door fast enough to avoid being caught! So I slammed the bathroom door shut and just stayed in their awhile. "Hi Mitchell, we're home." "Oh, hi" I called out nonchalantly from behind the locked bathroom door. I hid the clothes under the sink and somehow got to my bedroom without being seen. That night, after everyone was asleep, I cleaned my sister's clothes and the next day put them back. It was finally over. But not really because it wasn't the last time I cross-dressed. Though my mom noticed clothing moved and once searched my drawers and found girl clothes, I was never caught cross-dressing. That's probably because I rarely cross-dressed in the house. Over time I got much more careful. I would bike ride far away and play in the park and sit on park bench reading for hours: all while dressed like a girl.

I once nearly got caught in a completely different way. One of my few friends was Barley. Yes, that really was his name. His lived with his mom, a psychologist who was once a hippie, and that's what happens sometimes to the children of hippies. Anyway, we played in the woods by a creek. We both loved creating imaginary worlds so we used the creek as a landscape and created our own world that happened upon it. Barley was mostly interested in biological things so he created all sorts of plants and animals. They were really creative! And I was most fascinated by people and relationships so I designed all these very different elaborate cultures. But maybe all the cultures I created weren't so different. How many cultures could I invent where gender roles are completely turned around? I'm not sure but I did that enough where Barley showed his mom my creations. He told me his mom offered to see me as a client! Oh my gosh! By this time I had been reading Freud and I knew what was happening: I let my id out!! Oh no! Now everybody is going to find out how crazy I am and they'll tell my parents and lock me in an insane asylum! I was completely over-reacting but I had no idea at the time.

I never did talk to Barley's mom even though, despite knowing what a terrible person I was, she was always incredibly nice to me. I wish I had because maybe she could have helped me recognize how to deal with my gender issues years earlier? But I guess everybody's life story is filled with what "could have been?"

Suppressing all my emotions helped me deal with other people. And cross-dressing helped me deal with myself. But neither was really a solution. Suppressing emotions was just some awkward patchwork to avoid my gender and cross-dressing was just some awkward patchwork to deal with suppressing my emotions. I desperately needed a solution. But if I couldn't have a solution at least I needed some answers.

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