Thank you for addressing my letter.
I have had problems with gender and sexuality for as long as I can remember, and they escalated during my adolescence. I was diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and have since tried my best to cure it. I have sought help from one of the specialists in my country, and the disease seems mostly controlled now, at the age of 24.
However, thoughts about gender and sexuality continue to plague my mind even today. I never had a relationship with a woman, despite the fact that I tried many times to have a stable and lasting relationship (though most of the times the women I was interested said they already had a boyfriend when I asked them on a date), but I have had experiences with men, though none of them lasting relationships.
Not all of these experiences were pleasant, because although I did not mind oral sex, I have a immense fear of penetration and its consequences.
But back to gender, the main problem.
It seems like I am particularly sensitive to transgender-related topics. There are no transgender news that I won't read about, or transgender characters that I won't take an interest in, or transgender videos that I won't watch.
When I come into contact with this topic, I start to wonder and ruminate about being female, how would I feel, what it would take, and if I wouldn't regret it. I have tried female clothing in the past and I have liked it. I often fantasize about being female (or at least feminine). I am a bit scared of the implications of being female in society, however.
For some time, I joined a transgender help group, but left because I felt like I was going down a path that I would regret, that would destroy my relationship with my family. I was always their 'golden boy', and they have always supported me. But telling them about this, or having Sex Reassignment Surgery would be my ruin.
I tried talking about my therapist about this, but I feel like she is a bit transphobic herself. I once talked to her about a MtF that was my friend, and she insisted that she was a man. Seemingly shoving it down my throat at every possible opportunity. Still, I can't search for another therapist because my parents like the progress regarding OCD I made with this one. They insist I remain with this one, and if I don't, they start arguments with me.
Last year I decided to burry this 'transgender business' as I called it, and tried to move forward. Most days, I am happy with being male, and even acknowledge that being a man has it's advantages. Other days, I feel an unavoidable need to be feminine.
These cycles come and go: Some days I discard it as being ridiculous, about not passing as or even wanting to be female (I wonder if it has something to do with having a conservative and transphobic family). Even consider wether or not this fixation on femininity is part of my OCD. Other days, like today, it's so strongly present in my mind that it leaves me depressed. I look at my body and feel discomfort. I lack breasts, and looking down I can't see a vagina.
I can't get it out. I can't get any closure. And I am always so confused.
Can you please help me?
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Please forgive my late reply. I had to take a month off from my column for personal and work reasons. I hope it is not too late to reply.
This is a difficult letter to address because you have already taken a number of recommended steps and have not found satisfaction. You have sought therapy and you a help group to no avail. I agree with you that if you are not comfortable with your current therapist you should look for another one, and then we run into the parents issue. Evidently, they are paying for your therapy. While that is great that they are trying to support you, it's not so great that they won't let you switch therapists. Noting that you are 24, though, one has to wonder why you are not out on your own by now and managing your own life. Are you still in college and living with your parents? Is there any way you can pay for a therapist yourself and, thus, make your own choice as to whom you should see?
While your OCD is not directly related to your transgender issues, it might, indeed, be making it more difficult for you. But even if you didn't have OCD, you probably would still be thinking about your gender and sex a lot. Understandable. I don't believe your desire to be female is going to go away if you ignore it, so it is something you will, at some point, have to hit head on.
One step at a time, though.
It is clear that your parents and your therapist are holding you back. Therefore, the first thing you must do is become an independent adult who is in charge of his own income and medical care. You are 24 and it is time that you do this (unless there is something you aren't telling me that is preventing you from being independent?)
I'm sorry to say that I am not familiar with health care coverage in Portugal other than that there is a National Health Service there that helps cover many, but not all, expenses. Perhaps you have already researched this, but if not, you should find out whether and by how much MtF surgery is covered. (By the way, if you are really considering surgery, this is better defined as being transsexual.)
Another thing you can do is look for another transgender/transsexual support group. Since your English is excellent, you don't have to limit yourself to groups in Portugal. As you might imagine, there are many that are based in the USA.
Finally, you need to get over the fear of disappointing your parents. You don't have to be "the Golden Boy" all your life. That's too much pressure and it's not realistic. It is much more important that you just be yourself, and your parents need to accept that. And here's where your OCD is also probably kicking in: you are obsessing that being transgender (or transsexual) is going to "ruin" you and your whole life. You run through it over and over in your head until this fear paralyzes you.
Fear of judgment from others is, in my view, the number one reason most human beings in the world do not reach their full potential or find happiness. Once you let go of that fear, you will be liberated. Sure, it is easy for me to write that down, and I realize that is a difficult road to travel, but it is one you must travel.
Accept yourself for what you are. Don't blame it on OCD. Don't avoid it because of your parents. Seek support from people like yourself. If you are on Facebook, you might try the Transgender Support Circle. There are literally thousands of people there for you to talk to.
I hope this helps you some. Please feel free to write again if I am missing something that needs to be addressed.
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