Approximately every two weeks I have my scheduled appointment with my Veteran’s Administration therapist. Over the years I have drastically changed my expectations of therapy.

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

Many years ago when I visited my first therapists I thought they would be some sort of a mind reader or on the other hand, I would be paying another person to talk about me for an hour. My very first visit to a therapist is difficult to remember.  It was so long ago in the 1980’s. What I do recall is he seemingly refused to take me seriously about any desires I may have to dress or act in a feminine nature. The only thing I got from him were my first mind altering meds, without much explanation of why I was supposed to take them. Needless to say, it was one and done with him.

Several years later when my wife and I lived in Southeastern Ohio (near the Ohio River) I was compelled to seek out the services of another therapist. At the time I had learned of her from other attendees at several of the transvestite and/or crossdresser mixers I went to in Columbus, Ohio. An example of how rare the therapist was she was known as one of the only psychiatrists in the state who knew anything at all about gender issues. 

As it turned out, I decided to make an appointment for all the wrong reasons. At the time I was really dealing with my gender dysphoria and it was winning the battle. I bounced between extreme depression and euphoria. Of course the only way I thought I had to cope was to cross dress as a woman, ignore the deal I made with my wife not to be seen in public and go out anyway. Predictably I was eventually caught sneaking out and yet another bad fight broke out between us. So, getting caught motivated me to seek help and supposedly save our relationship.

The gender therapist’s office as I wrote took me an hour to drive one way, was expensive but was very worth it. After I described my terrible mood swings and cross dressing she told me there was nothing she could do to change my desire to dress as a woman but there was something she could do about my mood. For the first time in my life I was diagnosed as being bi-polar. At least part of my life made sense and again I was prescribed medications that actually worked. Armed with this knowledge I felt better and headed home. 

Unfortunately, similar to so many other times in my life and even though my moods had evened out, I couldn’t stay true to my word and kept leaving the house unattended. The gender therapist was right, she or no one could sway my increasing desire to discover a feminine lifestyle.

By now, many of you know my wife and I actually stayed together for twenty five years until her sudden death from a heart attack. Her passing tragically opened the doors wide open to attempt a final journey over the gender frontier.  

In order to do this, I chose the Veterans Administration health care system. In order to be accepted in the hormone replacement therapy program I had to be seen and approved by a therapist. The potential problem I saw was having my bi-polar status hurt the whole process. After all, being bi-polar didn’t have anything to do with me being transgender but I was paranoid someone else may not think so.

At the time, I didn’t know how fortunate I was to be assigned to the therapist I was. She understood both of my issues were separate and even had knowledge of the gender issues I was experiencing. No education on my end needed! 

The best part of the experience is we still meet after all these years.     


Connie sent me an email at saying her comments to the blog were being rejected by Google. Since then, seemingly the problem has been corrected because her new comment came through just fine. 

Also I received another comment through WordPress  from Mark Earnest Johnson: “It is so much easier to open up anonymously, when the people reading your blog aren’t looking at you as you find the words and try to force them out, when you can’t see their expressions.

Introverts. We are the root of our problem. We want to be helped, loved even. But, we don’t want to be bothered with people, and there are times when we don’t even care if we are really understood and known.

Paying a therapist is like paying a plumber or painter, however. You are plunking down something for a particular service – to be listened to, heard, and counselled (given psychological treatment). When you don’t disclose fully, it’s like giving you doctor only part of the symptoms that forced you to make the medical appointment in the first place. If you feel you need to talk to a therapist for a particular reason, or reasons, the therapist should know exactly what those reasons are and what you really want to talk about. They need all the information they can get – and so do you.

As always, though, thank you for the insight and honesty.”

Thank you Mark. I always have thought personally I communicate more effectively with the written word than the spoken one. 

And here is the new comment from Connie which just happened today: “I think, as with most things in life, you get out of it what you put into it. Part of a therapist’s training is in getting reluctant people to open up. Some are better at it than others. The rest of their job, with the goal of helping people deal with the core problem, cannot be effective without the initial “coming out” stage. All I ever needed was to realize that being trans was never my problem; other challenges were only exasperated by my trans status. Once I took the “fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke” attitude about being a transgender woman (not that it’s a joke to be trans, but it is full of many twists and irony), I was able to relax enough to work on the rest. I was diagnosed bipolar by one psychologist many years ago, but he was approaching it with the gender issue being the main problem. Well, being trans is NOT a problem that needs fixing. I do know, now, that the woman I am handles the ups and downs of my bipolar conditions much better than the man I tried to be was.”

Thanks Connie. My bi polar diagnosis was always treated as a separate entity, fortunately. I always thought it wouldn’t be but my current therapist has always treated me being transgender as a separate but equal issue. 

As you can tell, comments make the blogging world easier to navigate when you attempt to write a daily blog. I really appreciate it!


Serious therapist listening to her talking patient

Since my fairly recent post concerning my therapist, I have received several comments, including a lengthy one from my partner Liz. Among others things, she was concerned with me wasting my time essentially hiding myself from my therapist. 

Through my WordPress platform I received this comment from GirlieBoy:  “I know you are not asking for advice, but if you can’t open up to your therapist perhaps you should find a different one or just stop going…that is the one place it should be safe to open up. If you aren’t getting that, at least you should talk about that.”

Thanks! Liz mentioned that also. After all these years, I think I owe it to my therapist to at least bring up the subject of my expectations for her input.

Another comment came from Connie: “Well, I happen to be so cheap, ehr, thrifty that I have been completely open with any therapist I’ve seen. I don’t like to pay for something I already know, and I want to give all the info I can about myself, so that the therapists can use their knowledge of how to make my life better. Of course, I’ve also had to educate them on what a trans person really is about most of the time. Unfortunately, I’ve had no luck with therapists making my life better – except for the one I saw for grievance counseling after my mom died my mom my mom’s insurance covered it). He was from The Bronx, and had been a standup comedian before going into Psychology. The one thing he said, in his New York accent, that summed it all up was, “Fuck ’em, if they can’t take a joke.” I followed that with, “You mean that life is too serious to be taken too seriously?” He didn’t even bother to ask if I wanted to make an appointment for another session. 🙂

Thanks Connie, unfortunately I seemingly have lost the idea of free VA therapy somehow not being as important. When in fact it is. I had several different therapists I had to pay for out of my pocket and I expected more. Truthfully I didn’t get more, I just didn’t know what to expect. 


Every time I finish an appointment with my long time therapist, my partner Liz always digs deep to discover if I have told her (or anyone) of my deepest secrets.   Yesterday, I finally told her (Liz) no I don’t go that deep with my therapist. I have a tendency to dance around any subject which pertains to me. We have been having sessions now for nearly a decade now so her familiarity with me allows me to dance away and rarely does she (therapist) catch me. 

I’m sure the reason I do it is goes back to the majority of my life when I struggled to hide my gender  dysphoria totally along with the inability to even understand what was going on with being bi-polar. Needless to say the entire process was very difficult and I became very good at hiding my true self from others. 

Even though Liz still has to take a pry bar to me to get me to show emotions, I am trying in my own backward way to be more outgoing. 

As far as my therapist goes though, maybe I should pull down the barriers and let her have it. Then again maybe not. My Dad was very emotionally withdrawn. It’s just so difficult to overcome. 

Naked Therapy?

Yesterday was time for my bi-weekly appointment with my long time therapist from the Veterans Administration. 

Football is getting closer! Go Buckeyes!

The session started with the usual questions. How is everything going and have I had any thoughts of harming myself. I answered truthfully. Everything is moving along fine and no I haven’t had any thoughts of self harm since the last time we talked. 

Since it was a video appointment I did do my beauty routine, pulled my hair back and was ready. I chose a short sleeved tank top which happened to be a beige patterned fabric. I guess on my old lap top camera it looked as if I wasn’t wearing anything at all because not too far into the session, she asked was I wearing any clothes? 

After the laughter died down, I assured her it was warm in our house but not that warm. 

We finished the session with me telling her maybe naked therapy was the wave of the future. She said I would be surprised all the things she sees since the VA started video visits.

Actually, from my experiences when I used to show up in person for my appointments, nothing would surprise me.

Virtual Action

 Yesterday it seems I spent the day doing virtual meetups. 

The first was with my therapist. We discussed, among other things, my recent dual bout with gender dysphoria coupled with bi-polar issues. As always, it was triggered by an off the wall instance. When I returned from the dentist to have impressions taken, it seemed I had left a bit of the residue on my face. Liz wanted to show me and held up her cell phone to provide video proof. When I saw myself, I immediately went into shock after I saw my image. All I saw was an old guy with very long hair and my gender dysphoria along with the accompanied despair set in. It took me several days to climb out of the mental funk I was in.

I am fortunate to have such a strong support system with my partner Liz. She helped me climb out of my ditch. She is so good, my therapist and I call her “Dr. Liz.” After a couple days, my depression started to lift and I used the time honored phrase “It is what is is” to accept my state of mind and move on. Whatever I have managed to use to feminize my male body will have to suffice. 

While I am on the subject, I was able to obtain my blood lab results from the weekend yesterday. The important results came back good. My iron was low, so I don’t have to go back up to the Dayton, Ohio VA  for a blood removal phlebotomy. They take a pint out to keep my iron levels in line. Also my hormone levels remained about the same. Slightly below level for a normal non pregnant cis woman. What that means is, it’s a possibility my endocrinologist will let me add another estradiol patch to our routine. We shall see.

Finally yesterday, I virtually attended the monthly Rainbow Elderly Alliance board meeting. Since I don’t have much coming up in the near future as far as webinars are concerned, I was relatively quiet. It was announced though we would be participating in the upcoming June Dayton, Ohio Pride celebration. It’s going to be a hybrid affair combining drive thru and actual events. Since I live an hour and fifteen minutes away, it’s tough for me to do much. Plus, depending on the planning, I may be going to the Cincinnati Pride this year. It’s the biggest in the area if it happens at all.

All of this amazes me. Before the pandemic I didn’t even know how to attend a virtual meeting at all. Now I have days which doing on line meetings is all I do.  

Peaks and Valleys

Being Bi-Polar myself, I have become used to the ups and downs of my mood reactions to life. Quite possibly, before I was diagnosed with my own version of being “Bi” I did my share of hiding behind a dress to take my mind off the daily stresses of life. 

Of course, I could argue the simplest stresses came from trying my best to live up to male standards as I lived my life. 

The older I got and after I was honorably discharged from the Army, the worse my mental issues became. On occasion it was a struggle to just to get out of bed on certain days. Along the way, I finally resorted to therapy. The first guy I went to was a total waste of time as he didn’t seem to want to discuss my fondness for cross dressing at all. I solved the problem by going to one of the very few therapists in Ohio at the time who had any knowledge at all of cross dressers as this was way before the transgender idea was even discussed. 

Ironically, it was her who diagnosed me being bi-polar and was able to separate it from my gender dysphoria. She was blunt (and truthful) when she said my desire to be a girl would never go away. For the first time in my life I felt a glimmer of hope. 

Even still, it was difficult for me to separate my two main issues and continue to live a reasonably successful life as a cross dresser. Meaning I was a woman cross dressing as a man. Years later when I needed to take advantage of the Veterans Administration health care, I was paranoid if I would find a therapist who would understand my complex problem. Fortunately I did and amazingly nearly ten years later she still is my VA therapist.

She was the “gold standard” for me as she signed off on helping me begin my hormone replacement therapy all the way to providing me documentation to facilitate changing my legal gender markers in the civilian world plus within the VA itself.  I consider her as one of my top three people who assisted in my early Mtf gender transition. 

These days, while I still have the occasional valleys in my life to climb out of, my medications keep my moods relatively stable and I am able to understand when  my gender dysphoria  enters my life. More so than my Bi-Polar condition. 

Most importantly, I have done away with my self harm issues. It took a while to separate all of this out but thanks to a ton of help I have learned to live the peaks and valleys.

Is it Time?

The vaccine has arrived here in Cincinnati, Ohio and they are administering the first doses to front line health care workers and first responders. While I know it still is predicted to be well into the New Year of 2021 before any substantial changes to our lives will return, I can dream of being on the other side.

My dream includes having a few nights out next summer with my partner Liz. In fact, I stare longingly at my wardrobe. Imagining what I would/could wear on a night out. 

At this point in time, I am thinking of actually getting a pedicure for the first time in my life so I can wear sandals again. 

Also I am thinking of having my extremely long hair trimmed back by the time it is relatively safe to go out again.

In the meantime, we are really hunkered down until vaccines are deemed safe and available. I am sure at my age and my breathing issues, I would show up on some sort of a priority list. 

Just thinking about the future seems to help my thought processes.

It is not time yet but perhaps the light at the end of the tunnel is not the train.  

The Mechanic

The trip to get the oil changed at the mechanic was predictably uneventful. First of all, social distancing was being practiced so there weren’t very many customers in the place to start with. Plus the rest of the customers and a few of the employees were all wearing masks. The guys actually doing all of the work weren’t so I hope they were not Covid positive. 
All paranoia aside. since we are regulars in the store, no one paid us much mind. They are always happy to see our money. Of course, with our luck, something as easy as an oil change couldn’t go over without a hitch. It was filter change time too, and the place didn’t have the filters they needed to finish the job. So now we have to go back when the filters get there. 
Now, at the least, we have another excuse to go out somewhere.

In other areas too, life is looking as if it may return to a sense of normalcy for us. Liz received a text from her boss today saying she possibly may be going back to work (from home) next week. 

I am looking forward to going out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants one of these weeks. Most places are reopening with guidelines in place. I guess I am fortunate in my self esteem is not connected with how I dress everyday. I know when I wake up who I am. I am unfortunate in that my depression stems from being bi-polar. I have been under it’s influence for so long, after a few relapses (such as yesterday) I know what to expect. 

On occasion though, I do feel guilty about not being able to write about the frilly feminine aspects for me being transgender. Reality tells me the next time I will possibly get dressed up will be for my youngest grandson’s bar mitzfah which will be coming up on a very limited scale later in June. 

In the meantime, I will have to do with what I have!