Looking For Help

On a list, someone was asking how to find a good counselor.  I responded:

The truth is that there are at least as many trannys with an agenda to push as therapists with an agenda to push; at least therapists need some sort of accreditation.

For me, the first rule is that I am the “primary contractor” in my own life, the one responsible for the building.  When I look for help, I need to remember that they are sub-contractors, that I can’t just dump my responsibility on them, but rather that they help with specialized work.    That means I can look for what I need across a range of specialists, from beauty, to voice, to movement, to performance, to workshop leaders, to writers, to religious people, to therapists and beyond. 

I often see people raised as men who are unused to sorting out and managing their own feelings, and so they want someone else to transform them, to make it all work.   It may be a lovely fantasy that someone else will know the inner you better than you know yourself and shape you into a perfect new being, but I’d never seen it work that way.  You are the only one who knows your interior landscape, and the only one with responsibility for your choices.

The second rule is that everything is connected.  I can’t just change one part of my life, I have to change all of it.  Most often that means I have to follow the star pattern used when putting the lug nuts on a car, screwing down one and then two, three, four, five, and going back to one and starting over.  Just as doing all of one at one time puts the wheel out of balance, not attending to the range of challenges puts me out of balance.

I can’t become a whole, integrated and actualized person if I just work on how I look or what I say.  All of this and more have to come together, away from the compartmentalization and detachment of defenses I learned as a closeted tranny in the world.

And the third rule is exposure.  I know I need my defenses in the world, but I also need vulnerability.  I need both a shell and a mirror, both assertiveness and doubt.  It’s all too easy to disconnect as a tranny, to stop listening to others say “no” so you can finally listen to the “yes” in your heart, but without some openness, some questioning, some feedback, some engagement, I find people can get lost in their own imaginary world, always a lonely place.

Look for people to help who don’t scare easy, because that means they can listen and respond to you, not just play out their script laced with their own fears.

Learning to be a grown up is hard, especially for those of us shamed into the closet, pounded into the margins.  But in the long run, it’s my sense that growing up is the only thing worth doing, and engaging our trans is part of that process, rather than just following the path to trans and hoping some maturity, wisdom & comfort come along the way.