Therapy Stories
Therapy Stories

Meet Betsy

Read her story below:

Betsy's Story

"As a radical feminist activist and writer, nowadays I often find myself voicing opposition to what the modern-day transgender movement has largely become. It wasn’t always like this for me. Despite my feelings on the issue now, once, I was caught up in gender ideology, and because of this, I can see that certain factors play a fundamental role in the decision to transition."

"It was only when I sought and found a qualified and experienced therapist that I was able to accept both myself and my issues. Ironically, from the off, my problem could have been prevented with the right professional intervention. Unluckily for me, I received the wrong guidance, which sent me spiralling downwards, and it would take years before I was able to resurface."

"My “coming out” followed years of struggle, with my sexuality, with anorexia, and with the severe body dysmorphia and depression that dogged me ever since I was 13 years old. It’s no wonder that when I was 26, I found myself gravitating to information about transgender identity on the internet, after having my interest piqued when I read an article in a magazine about a trans “man”. “He” seemed so much like me, fairly masculine presenting, into “guy” things, and of course, “he “had a female partner."

"What’s more, he seemed so happy. I thought I had found the answer to my perpetual sadness."

"After telling my doctor the “good news”, I was referred to a psychologist, whose job it was to evaluate me before approving my referral to the Gender Identity Clinic."

"My psychological assessment was carried out over a total of three visits, all to the same therapist, and although I was asked why I had decided to transition, other pertinent questions that should have been asked, were not."

"I told her that I was attracted to women, that I had been married to a man, but now saw myself as a straight man. She never thought to question any of it or ask whether if my decision might have been, at least in part, down to internalised homophobia. Likewise, the years of self-hatred, depression and body dysmorphia were glossed over, all put down to my supposed gender discomfort, not probed deeper like they should have been. The outcome was that after my mandatory three sessions, I was referred to the Gender Identity Clinic where I was seen perfunctorily by a doctor and then given paperwork for a blood test so I could be referred for a prescription of synthetic testosterone."

"Of course, at the time, I too put my depression, and feelings of insecurity about my body down to my so-called transgender identity, ignoring the fact that, as a relatively butch, lesbian female, it was gender stereotypes that made me feel I didn’t fit into society’s expectations of what a woman should be. When it came to my feelings for women, I had been brought up in an extremely traditional household, and I simply didn’t know what to do with them."

"For years, I tried to date boys, then when I grew older, men, but something always felt off. Being a lesbian was a big no in my household, my parent would regularly make slurs about “deviant” homosexuals and I was consistently told that my favoured flannel shirt and jeans combo meant I was “dressing like a dyke”. "

"When I wanted to cut my hair short, my mother refused, so I took a pair of scissors to my own locks and hacked away. On discovering what I’d done, she made me wear the dirndl dresses I hated that my grandmother had bought for me for a whole week."

"Around the age of 13, I developed extreme body dysmorphia, a feeling of shame that covered me, infusing me with a sense that I would never be like the other, more feminine girls. When puberty hit, I received no explanation as to what was happening from my parents, and as a result, suffered trauma and confusion, which manifested itself in a desire to cover up my body. This I did for nearly a year in an oversized sweater and baggy cords."

"When I hit my teens, my mother bought me make up and magazines stuffed with advice on how to use it to attract boys. I tried to fit in and do the “girly” thing, but it always felt wrong, as if I were in drag or something. This feeling of being “in drag” is one I would draw on later, when I erroneously concluded I had been born in the wrong body."

"Despite having a succession of crushes on my female schoolfriends, and falling in love with my female best friend, I never found the courage to properly address my same sex feelings of attraction throughout the whole of my teenage years and beyond. By the age of 15, I was becoming attractive to boys, and so began dating, as an excuse to get out of the house. I had already learned from my parents and society that males were supposed to be my escape route, and back then, I badly wanted to be saved."

"I met the man I married when I was 19 years old and said yes when he asked me two years later. I should have known it was a mistake but at the time my mother’s voice was still firmly in my head, and my mother wanted me to get married. I got married."

"There was nothing wrong with my husband as a person, but I never got the butterflies in my stomach I felt whenever I thought about a girl I like. In short, I felt I had married a good friend."

"We stayed together for 5 years but by the end, I knew something had to give. After suffering from anorexia for two years to try and gain a feeling of control when I felt so wildly out of control, I eventually asked him for a divorce at the age of 25."

"After that, I entered an emotional wilderness. Lost, insecure, and with no real identity of my own, I was extremely vulnerable. I became mildly anorexic again, and considered cosmetic surgery, thinking if I made myself into an entirely new person maybe I could be happy somehow. I fell into a depression, self-harmed, and used drugs, I drank and smoked heavily. I tried to force myself to be attracted to men and embarked on a string of disastrous one-night stands, thinking if I just found the right person perhaps everything would be okay."

"Still unable to admit my same sex attraction, I was the ideal candidate for any ideology which would offer me any kind of way out of the depressing existence I continuously found myself living."

"Transgender ideology offered me the kind of acceptance I desperately craved. If I were a man, I would no longer be a tomboy, or that dreaded word “dyke”, but would instead just be a normal straight guy. If I transitioned, I thought, then nothing about me would be wrong."

"When I finally got on to testosterone, or “T” as it’s called in trans speak, I thought I had found the answer to my mess of a life, in one compact syringe. But though T made me feel better initially, as I was still stuffed full of hope that my life would be magically fixed if I were seen as a man, the health problems soon kicked in, not to mention an awful, stifling feeling that I was somehow smothering myself alive. After two years on T culminated in me almost blacking out as I awaited the results of my journalism exam and I had to be referred to a specialist cardiology unit to get checked out, I knew I had to stop."

"Not only was T not the answer to my prayers I had hoped it would be, but identifying as a man wasn’t making me happy, and it hadn’t changed anything either. If anything, my situation had worsened. Since I got close but never quite got to the stage where I was consistently “passing” I was getting more aggro than I ever had before, as now I was a very visibly masculine, albeit slightly odd looking, female."

"Coming off T was traumatic, even more than I had expected it to be. Not only did my natural hormones take time to kick back in, leaving me feeling like I was on an emotional seesaw, but psychologically I had to deal with the guilt, shame, and tsunami of repressed emotions that on T I had managed to keep bottled up."

"I had reached rock bottom and my depression now returned full force, pulling me down into what was undoubtedly the blackest period of my life. I attempted to turn to the internet once again, this time looking for help for de-transitioners like me, but back then, there was only sporadic information and when I reached out to trans groups, they never responded."

"After breaking down on the kitchen floor of my one bedroom flat when my friend came over, I agreed to let her help me find a therapist."

"The therapist we found specialised in LGBT issues, and from the moment we met she immediately put me at ease."

"She didn’t make me feel ashamed and gave me the time I needed to confide in her about how I had arrived at the point where I felt the need to seek therapy. Over the course of a year, I worked with her intensively to explore all the issues that had led me to make the decision to transition. We covered everything, from my repressed sexuality, to the bodily self-esteem issues I had suffered, right through to my depression and oppressive childhood."

"I had known about the radical feminist theory of gender years before I ever met my therapist. Back when I was 12 years old, I’d read Germaine Greer’s The Whole Woman. Yet despite being a relatively intelligent adolescent, my juvenile brain just wasn’t equipped to put the information in its proper context. Even if I had, the repressive environment I was surrounded by back then would have challenged me at every turn. It was only sitting in my therapist’s office, hearing her speak about gender stereotypes and the feelings of shame they can cause, that I began to see the link between my own feelings of shame at not fitting in, and my decision to identify as male."

"By then, I had accepted the fact I liked women, but had still spent the past three years seeing myself as a straight guy. Embracing myself as a lesbian took work, particularly as I had so much pent up shame regarding the label. With my therapists help, I slowly started to accept myself for what I was, a woman, a lesbian, a person who had trauma, but who now wanted to get well."

"More than this, I began to see how incredibly self-obsessed I had been, and how lucky I was, in so many ways. I had my health, a roof over my head, friends, and a skillset that meant I wouldn’t ever have to work a menial job for minimum wage. I hadn’t had traumatic relationships, even though they had been wrong for me. I had much to live for."

"The battle scars of my flirtation with transgender identity still are with me, but much of the trauma is now gone, thanks to my friend’s intervention and my therapist’s guidance and support. My voice is permanently deepened, I grow more body hair than I ever did before, and my face is much more masculine than it ever was pre-T, even though my body has now returned to a more female shape."

"But I am now a happy, proud, out lesbian, free of addiction, self-obsession, and depression. Without professional help though, I would never have arrived at this point. For anyone still caught up in the web of gender ideology, I would advise that before making the life-altering decision to go onto hormones or get surgery, they undergo a number of intensive sessions with a therapist who is trained to probe the deeper reasons that may lay behind any decision to transition. The number of de-transitioners is growing ever-higher, particularly among the female population. In my case, a therapist’s intervention was crucial, and I suspect this will hold true in many other cases too. For me at least, working through my issues with a therapist meant finally shedding my past trauma, and being able to accept myself, as I am, without the need to adopt a trans identity."

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