Hi everyone! This video is going to be about if being transgender is a mental disorder and how it may be perceived as a one. As well as how being transgender can impact one’s mental health and contribute to mental disorders. In addition to my own experience of how my transition impacted my emotions and mental health.
The whole process of transitioning, hormones, and surgery all impact a trans individual’s mental stability. More importantly, being born in the wrong body and living as someone you are not is quite damaging to the psyche. Major depression or body dysmorphic disorder is not uncommon. Additionally, perhaps there is also a correlation between being trans and having bipolar, schizophrenia, or even dissociative identity disorder.
Is it a Mental Illness?
There are many theories that being trans is a mental illness. But, the cure for such a mental illness is only by changing one’s body. If a trans individual has been diagnosed with major depression or body dysmorphic disorder and take medication to combat this, the question is, “Would that cure transsexualism?” The answer is no.
While the individual may feel better about their life, and not be depressed or hate themselves as much, the root of the problem hasn’t been addressed or being treated. The problem is that the individual was born in the wrong body and it doesn’t reflect who they are on the inside, what their brain says they are. In their mind, it is written male or female, but their body and chromosomes is the opposite of that, or a mixture of multiple things such as in intersexed individuals. Not only does this lead to confusion, but also frustration and depression. The genitals we are born with determine what sex we are, but our mind tells a different story.
So, a male to female could say they were born with a penis, which was a birth defect, making them develop masculine characteristic, when in their mind, they have been a female since birth. Similarly, hormones levels in the womb play a big role in development. The brain will develop to that of a female, but the body develops to that of a male. This incongruity causes the individual to be born in the wrong body.
We cannot change the structure of our brain, how we developed, through any safe means, so the next best thing is to change the body. This is where many people think it is a mental illness. Because they do not look at what the treatment is. If you have a female developed brain and male developed body, and there is no way to safely change the structure of the brain, what other option do you have? To change your physical body to match that of your mind. So you can be happy and love and accept yourself.
When a transgender individual transitions there is so much happiness and excitement. Personally, I developed into an all new person. I use to hate myself, never saw anything positive, would look in the mirror and see some foreign person that just wasn’t me and I despised that ugly person I saw in the mirror. Now, I look in the mirror and don’t judge anything. I accept myself 100%. Of course there are things I would like to change about my physical appearance and how my body is structured. Seeing my broad shoulders and back is upsetting to me, but I don’t focus on that anymore because I am so much happier than I could’ve been as a male.
The only ‘cure’ was to transition, no amount of medication or therapy would’ve helped. That should make it clear that being transgender is not a mental illness. However, there are exceptions that I will discuss in the next few sections.
Bipolar & Schizophrenia
Can being bipolar or schizophrenic cause someone to think they are transgender? Additionally, can being transgender contribute to someone being bipolar or schizophrenic. Well, when dealing with a delusional or psychotic disorder such as these two, it has been reported that some individuals have a delusional belief that they are transgender. A delusion is something that they believe 100%. It may even last for a very long period of time, then go away, and come back.
The difference between actually being transgender and have this delusional belief is that the transgender individual may have no mental disorders that could be contributing to the belief that they are born in the wrong body. The individual with bipolar or schizophrenia truly believes they are transgender because of the delusional aspect of the disorder. There may even be some individuals who go through with transitioning because of their belief.
Now, let’s discuss how being transgender could perhaps contribute to being bipolar or schizophrenic. Personally, before I transitioned and before hormones I was quite paranoid, depressed, just plain, flat mood. I’ve heard from some of you that you’ve dealt with similar sort of things which really raises the question about what it means to be transgender. It certainly seems to contribute to much more than just the depression of being born in the wrong body. I’ve even heard from some of you about having grandiose delusions which that really surprised me. Grandiose delusions are a big component of both bipolar and schizophrenia.
Perhaps being transgender leads to a lot of confusion about oneself, leading to a lot of depression and self-loathing, which then can contribute to delusional or psychotic disorders such as bipolar or schizophrenia. So the real question is, can being transgender cause someone to become bipolar or schizophrenic? It was very interesting to me when I heard about several other individuals experiencing characteristics of these disorders, when they are transgender.
Perhaps it isn’t being transgender, but rather the underlying depression that causes someone to become paranoid, delusional, or even psychotic. Of course not everyone would experience this, but it is certainly a possibility I see now.
Personally for me, after I began to transition, the paranoia subsided, as did the delusions. I guess because of the immeasurable stress that was lifted by transitioning. But, I still continue to have these issues. Furthermore, my mood, thanks to estrogen, is much more unpredictable and rapid now. Estrogen makes one very moody and emotional. I am much more emotional than I was when living as a male.
Of course, the mood swings and depressive and manic episodes I experience are beyond what is considered normal. Yet, the hormones definitely contributed to it, especially in the first few months. Before hormones it was not as bad, but I did experience some depressive and manic episodes. Now, it is easier to set off these moods. But, also a lot of it is learning to control these emotions and cope with the rapid mood swings was a very big thing.
Trauma, Dissociation, & Multiple Personalities
Some people believe being transgender has to do with trauma. If someone was physically, emotionally, and/or sexually abused as a child, they will develop differently than someone who wasn’t. That is a fact and can be proven based on certain areas of the brain developing in a much different manner than a normal, untraumatized brain would. Similarly, individuals that are gay, lesbian, transgender, are bullied more in school because they are different. Perhaps all this leads to someone becoming confused and wanting to be the opposite sex.
I believe this very well could’ve been the case for me. My childhood and even my teenage years were very traumatizing and I blocked a lot of it out, unintentionally. There is a video I did that is dedicated to my past for anyone who is interested. [My Past] Anyway, I said that perhaps the trauma and abuse I went through made me want to dissociate from it. The only way my mind came up with was to create a new personality, physically, mentally, emotionally, sexually, all different. So, I became transgender and needed to transition to escape and dissociate from my past. I question if I would still be transgender if I didn’t experience trauma in my past. I certainly wouldn’t be the same person I am today, but would I still have been transgender? Maybe yes, maybe no. I don’t know. I think for some individuals this can very well be the case.
Being transgender leads to a lot of dissociation. For me personally, I didn’t want to be a male. I wanted to deny it and block it out. I kept saying, “I am a female.” So, I detached myself from what my body was at the time. Additionally, I’ve heard of other individuals that realize they want to be a female when they are born male and they try and block that out. They think that they can ‘man up’ in a sense by getting involved in masculine roles and activities. They are denying the part of themselves that wants to be a female because they don’t want to acknowledge it because they feel it is wrong.
Either way, dissociation occurs. And, repressing thoughts or emotions are very disastrous. This can lead to dissociative disorders including multiple personalities because the trans individual denies a part of them and wishes to be someone else. I know that is how it was for me at least.
It is interesting to note that there certainly are individuals out there that have dissociative identity disorder and one of their alters is transgender or the opposite gender of their birth sex. This can create a lot of confusion for that individual since they may not know if they are transgender or not. Part of them is and the other parts are not.
And it could be very bad if one of those alters takes over and transitions and years later they come out of the dissociation and are like, “What happened to my body?” This is a very serious thing and there certainly is a strong correlation between being transgender and dissociating, or having multiple personalities. In a sense a trans individual may have at least a split personality since one identity is their birth sex, the other is who they feel they are on the inside, or their true self.
The fact that many trans individuals deny part of themselves prior to transitioning leads me to believe that perhaps some trans individuals do have multiple personalities. Depression and being under extreme stress can cause someone to dissociate so this should come as no surprise. However, perhaps some individuals with DID have an alter that is trans and they become dominate and transition the body. This can be very confusing for some individuals since they may not even know if they are transgender or have dissociative identity disorder. Honestly that’s not one I could answer either since having DID can cause one to have a blurred sense of identity. Making them not even know if the are trans or not.
I guess my best advice would be to see a therapist trained in transgender related issues to discuss what you are feeling to see if you want to go through with transitioning. Ultimately it is your decision and you shouldn’t let anyone tell you otherwise or stop you from doing what you want to do.
In the end, I do not believe being transgender / transsexual is a mental illness, but for some it may be. There are certainly many exceptions, perhaps even in my case, since no two trans individuals are exactly alike and experience the same things in life. But, in the end it is all irrelevant since all that matters is the happiness of the individual after transitioning.
If they had a delusion they were transgender, or wanted to escape or dissociate from trauma they experienced, does it really matter what mental disorders they have, if any, as long as they are happy with their life after transitioning? Not at all. Long term happiness is the key and if they are happy, then they did the right thing.
I hope this video was informative. Thanks for watching!
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After hearing from so many trans people about how they could relate to the mental health topics I covered, and most importantly, what I experienced myself, I knew I had to do a video about if being trans was a mental disorder. Many people think it is, and I think one can have many different views on the matter.