35 People Talk About Transitioning And Their Mental Health



mhw2017

Health

“Before, I was completely numb and felt dead inside. After
transitioning, I started feeling things — even being sad was
amazing because it meant I was alive.”

Posted on October 05, 2017, 14:50 GMT

We recently asked members of the
BuzzFeed community to
tell us how the decision to transition, and the steps that
followed, impacted their mental health. Here are some of
their stories.

Transitioning can mean many different things, and it’s a
unique process for each individual. Sometimes, it may be a
social change (changing clothing, pronouns, and names). For
others, transitioning may involve medical interventions
(hormone therapy, surgery). Or it may be a combination of
different things — it really depends on the individual to
decide which changes (if any) to make and when to make them.

A quick note: We included a range of people and experiences,
but the stories below don’t represent everyone who identifies
as transgender, or everyone who struggles with mental health.

And just a heads up, some of these submissions discuss
suicide, self-harm, and eating disorders.

1. “Keeping a secret that big just
wears on you. Coming out and transitioning was like removing
the biggest weight in the world off my back.”

Courtesy of individual

Along with a decade-long drug and alcohol binge with two
attempts along the way, I wasn’t the most mentally stable
person. Keeping a secret that big just wears on you.
Waking up every day just trying to find another excuse
not to transition just made me want to cry.
Coming out and transitioning was like removing the
biggest weight in the world off my back. It was such a
sense of relief.

—Ianna Drew Urquhart, 44, trans femme

2. “Before, I was completely numb and
felt dead inside. After transitioning, I started feeling
things — even being sad was amazing because it meant I was
alive.”

Before transitioning, I was completely numb. I didn’t feel
happiness or joy, nor sadness or sorrow. I felt dead on the
inside
, like I was acting out a script someone else had
written for me.

After deciding to transition, it was as if all my life the
whole world had been a sepia movie, and all of a sudden it
got colors. I started feeling lots of things for the first
time — even being sad was amazing because it meant I was
alive.
I made lots of friends and discovered I’m actually
kind of extroverted, even though I used to think I was rather
aloof. Even my friends say I look noticeably happier this
way. I feel more alive than ever, and I’m loving it.
On the other hand, it was a huge change for my family, but
once they learned I was better off this way, they were fully
supportive.

—Sophie, 22, Woman

3. “Having to present female in public
caused me so much anxiety that I just hid from everyone. Now
I enjoy being out and interacting with people. My mental
health has improved drastically.”

Courtesy of individual

Before transitioning, I was extremely depressed and
couldn’t really figure out why for the longest time. It
took me a while to come to terms with being trans. In
college I joined a sorority in hopes that I would feel
more “feminine”. That 100% did not work, and if anything
it really helped me come to terms with my gender
identity. Wearing female clothes and going by female
pronouns caused me so much stress that I stopped going to
class and speaking to people. I kind of just shut
down.
Having to present female in public caused me so
much anxiety that I just hid from everyone.

Now that I’m about a year and a half into my
transition, my depression no longer consumes my life and
is manageable.
There are days when I still feel
dysphoric, but when I look in the mirror and see the
physical changes, it doesn’t affect me as much as it use
to. I still get anxious whenever I run into people from
high school or from college who haven’t seen me since
I’ve transitioned. But thankfully I have an amazing group
of friends who immediately started using male pronouns
and called me by the name I wanted to be referred to.
Overall, my mental health has improved drastically.
Little things like going out with friends or meeting new
people use to feel unbearable, but now I am more
confident and enjoy being out and interacting with
people.

—Kenneth, 24, Transman

4. “I was a NCAA Division 1 collegiate
runner. I was using running to wither my body away. Two years
later, I can say I eat what I want and I smile when I want.
It truly does get better.”

Courtesy of individual

Right before I transitioned, after graduating college in
2015, my mental health was the lowest it had ever been. I
was a NCAA Division 1 collegiate runner. I was using
running to wither my body away. Anorexia was my way of
getting rid of everything that was feminine on my
body.
I was depressed and spent many nights sitting
at the top of the parking garage on campus wondering if I
should jump. But somewhere deep inside of me was this
feeling that I wouldn’t feel this way forever. And as I
sit here writing this I can definitely say that feeling
saved my life.

After starting testosterone in June 2015 my mental health
changed for the better. A few months into my transition,
my depression was almost gone. I was passing in public
and it was the most genuine happiness I had felt in a
long time. After undergoing top surgery in November of
2015, I felt that it was okay for my body to put on
weight. The anorexic thoughts began to slowly
disappear. Two years later and I can say I eat what I
want and I smile when I want. It truly does get
better.

—Jeffrey Rubel

5. “Before, I had panic attacks when I
had to say my name or state my gender… now the progress in my
mental health is amazing.”

Before, I struggled with depression and anxiety, as well as
self harm and suicidal tendencies. I was constantly
nervous and uncomfortable, shaking and fidgeting all the
time, and had regular panic attacks when I had to say my name
or state my gender.
I stopped eating and sleeping at a
certain point, lost 15kg in two months, and ended up at a
psychiatrist, who prescribed me antidepressants.

So far, my transition has been only social — changing my
haircut and clothes. However, I noticed that I can’t help
but smile and feel happy every time a friend or family member
uses my correct name or pronouns. I’m smiling a lot, laughing
with my friends, and eating normally.
I still fidget a
lot when out in public, out of fear of strangers who can get
hostile and start asking me questions. Toilets are also a
very unpleasant situation that gives me way too much anxiety,
and I occasionally still get panic attacks when I have to use
them. However, given that my transition has mostly been
social so far, I think the progress in my mental health is
amazing.

—Oliver, 18, male

6. “I am the happiest I have ever been
in my adult life.”

Courtesy of individual

Before deciding to transition, I had suicidal depression
and anxiety, and a strong tendency to sabotage myself.
I was very successful professionally, but always felt
I was an impostor.
Now, my depression is gone, and
anxiety is greatly reduced. I am the happiest I have ever
been in my adult life. I’ve changed from being very
introverted to being an extrovert, and an activist.

—Michelle Paquette, 63, female

7. “I still have clinical depression —
I knew testosterone wouldn’t cure me — but my depressive
episodes are significantly less severe, and few and far
between.”

I’ve suffered from severe clinical depression and anxiety for
as long as I can remember. I spent half my life in denial
about my gender identity, which exacerbated my depression. I
self-injured for several years and attempted suicide.
I
hated every aspect of myself, especially my outward
appearance, no matter how hard to tried to just accept the
body I was born with.

I spent a year socially transitioning before beginning my
medical transition. Every time friends called me by my new
name, it made me feel great. I started testosterone in
February 2017. I’m now 2 days shy of my 7 months on
testosterone and I continue to feel wonderful. I still have
clinical depression — I knew testosterone wouldn’t cure me —
but my depressive episodes are significantly less severe and
few and far between.
The only thing that ever really gets
me down these days is how out of reach top surgery feels. But
otherwise, I’m so much happier since beginning my medical
transition. I feel incredibly lucky to be where I am and
to have such an amazing support system.

—Aiden Quinn P., 31, trans man

8. “I had no idea how it felt to be
happy or in love. Hormones drastically improved my entire
experience with life.”

Courtesy of individual

Before, I was anxious, depressed, suicidal, miserable,
and scared. I didn’t experience much emotional range.
I had no idea how it felt to be happy or in love.
My life has undergone a hugely substantial shift since
transitioning. I’ve had euphoric highs and dark lows.
Mostly I’ve been happy with my life.
Starting
hormones drastically improved my entire outlook and
experience with life.

—Deanna Atkinson, 55, female

9. “I am much more laid back and not as
riddled with anxiety as I used to be… I even cut back on my
meds.”

Before transitioning, I had a lot of social anxiety and very
low self-confidence. In addition to these, I had
“therapy-resistant” chronic migraines ever since first
puberty. Every step of the way — coming out, socially
transitioning, medically transitioning, and even just the
steps to start a medical transition — has made me more
comfortable with myself. Suddenly I find myself being okay
with, and almost anxiety-free, when meeting new people. I
am much more laid back and not as riddled with anxiety as I
used to be. My chronic migraines have gotten better. I even
cut back on my meds a couple of weeks ago. I have good hopes
to be able to get off (almost) all of them.

—Jerome Abalone, 23, male, FTM

10. “Transitioning is a slow process and
takes lots of patience… it’s been a roller coaster of
feelings from happiness, euphoria to anxiety and very
emotional moments.”

Courtesy of individual

Transitioning is a slow process and takes lots of
patience. I have been transitioning for 26 months and
it’s been a roller coaster of feelings from happiness,
euphoria to anxiety and very emotional moments.
For
the most part, my mental health has improved.

—London Lumbi , 33, Transgender Woman

11. “A major part of my transitioning
has been getting a great therapist who has helped me deal
with my mental health.”

Before, I was incredibly depressed and angry at all times. I
honestly don’t know how I was able to function. It felt
like I was in a dark pit I couldn’t see the end of. I felt
completely alone and powerless.

A major part of my transitioning has been getting a great
therapist who has helped me deal with my mental health
in
general. Once I got on HRT [hormone replacement therapy] and
got top surgery, it was like I suddenly could see the end of
that pit I was in. My self confidence was boosted and I
was able to function with a clearer and happier mindset.

I still get depressed on occasion, but whereas before when
I’d be depressed I’d hyper-focus on that fact I was trans,
now I am able to love myself for who I am and not fall down
into a really dark place again.

—Toby, 21, Trans Man

12. “Before, I was in a deep depression,
which brought about severe seclusion… My confidence has
increased and I reclaimed my social butterfly status.”

Courtesy of individual

Before, I was in a deep depression, which brought
about severe seclusion. It was as if the skin I was born
in did not match who I saw myself as.
I attempted
suicide twice, before I knew I needed to transition fully
one day. Coming from a very conservative religious
family, I learned at a very young age to fake it till I
make it.

Now, my confidence has increased and I have reclaimed my
social butterfly status. I deal with negativity in a
very, “hey why do you feel that way?” attitude now. I
have an increased mental focus on fully transitioning and
complete this portrait I call my body.

—Tera, 27, Transwoman

13. “I still deal with a lot of anxiety
about my identity and the way people perceive me, but I feel
much less trapped than I used to.”

Before deciding to transition, I struggled so much to
understand myself. I clung onto every new label I found,
hoping that it would be the definitive answer I was seeking,
but was always left unsatisfied. In high school I had a
serious problem with isolating myself, since I didn’t know
where to fit in with my peer groups. It was very lonely
and I struggled with a lot of suicidal thoughts and
anxiety.

I’m still in the midst of transitioning socially as a
sophomore in college, and still trying to discern what lies
in my future as far as medical transition. However, since
I’ve changed the way I present I’ve never felt more like
myself. I still deal with a lot of anxiety about my identity
and the way people perceive me, but I feel much less trapped
than I used to. The more that I move forward in my
transition, the more confident I feel in myself and my
identity.
Dysphoria is a big struggle for me, but that’s
only because I’ve finally realized what was “wrong” with me
and can now see a path forward.

—Anonymous, trans male/nonbinary

14. “My anxiety will always be there,
but it’s almost better because I don’t have to be someone I’m
not anymore.”

Courtesy of individual

Before deciding to transition, my mental health was
terrible. I was extremely uncomfortable with myself and I
really didn’t know what to do with myself nor did I care
how my life ended up. Now I’m more in tune with my
emotions and am more confident than I ever was
before.
My anxiety will always be there but it’s
almost better because I don’t have to be someone I’m not
anymore.

—Allison

15. “I struggle most in dealing with my
family and their poor reactions to my transition. But
overall, I’m so much happier.”

Before, I had chronic depression, dysphoria-induced low mood,
and I avoided looking at myself in mirrors. Now that I’m
seeing changes from the hormones, I actually want to look at
myself in the mirror again. I don’t get those random ‘bad
days’ anymore. My self confidence is growing and I feel so
much more comfortable and at ease. I struggle most in
dealing with my family, and their poor reactions to my
transition have led to a few minor depressive episodes on my
end. But overall, I’m so much happier
and I’m looking
forward to seeing where my transition takes me.

—Sam, 23, trans man

16. “I still struggle with my mental
health, but I feel confident that my physical transition will
really help me break down those final barriers.”

Courtesy of individual

I always had a lot of social anxiety and depression my
entire life. I was scared of expressing myself and
speaking up. I felt completely disconnected from
myself.
My dysphoria was never bad enough for me to
identify it for what it was.

All that changed when I finally realized the truth about
my gender. My dysphoria has trickled back down to very
manageable levels, though it is still more noticeable
than it was before I recognized it for what it was. But
as I came out to more people, purchased binders, and
people started using male pronouns, I blossomed socially
for the first time in my life.

I have deeper friendships with more people, and a better
relationship with my family who has been much more
accepting than I expected. Now that I’ve cut my hair,
bind my breasts, and wear men’s clothing, I finally feel
a real connection with the person in the mirror and in
photos, whereas before I just saw a stranger.
I still
struggle with my mental health, but I feel confident
physical transition will really help me break down those
final barriers. I can’t wait for my testosterone
consult!”

—Booker M, 22, Queer Trans Male

17. “Being able to voice my true self,
wear a binder, and go by correct pronouns has genuinely saved
my life.”

My mental health was very, very poor. Keeping such a huge
part of myself hidden before starting my transition was not
only mentally straining, but it also made me constantly feel
vulnerable, like at any moment someone might discover my
secret. Being on high alert all the time was detrimental to
my overall wellbeing.

Just coming out made an immense difference. I am
currently pre-hormones or surgeries, so as I have mostly just
come out and started transitioning, that alone has helped.
Being able to voice my true self, wear a binder, and go by
correct pronouns has genuinely saved my life. My constant
depression and anxiety has lessened, making it manageable to
get through the day and stay confident and happy in
myself.

—Malcolm, 21, FTM transgender man

18. “I’m no longer as depressed, I’m not
suicidal, and I’m comfortable with myself. Having a loving
accepting husband has helped.”

Courtesy of individual

I’m no longer as depressed, no more internal anger,
and I’m not suicidal.
I’m comfortable with myself,
and I’m no longer struggling to be who I knew I was.

Having a loving accepting husband has helped.

—Delaney Alysa Anderson

19. “My mental health was very poor. I
was crying everyday, self harming, pushing away people who
cared about me. Since I started transitioning, I have never
felt so happy!”

My mental health was very poor. I was crying every day, self
harming, pushing away people who cared about me and I had
extreme anxiety. I felt hopeless and I had no idea why. My
body was a stranger to me. It seemed as though my life was
coming to an end.

Since I started transitioning, my mental health has
dramatically improved! I feel genuine joy in life now that
I have a future. I’m finally in love with my body.
I’ve
never had so much confidence until now, and I have never felt
so happy!

—Morgan, 18, Trans Male

20. “I’m more comfortable in myself…
but my anxiety worsened after my social transition — I hear
of so many hate crimes against trans people.”

Courtesy of individual

My mental health was terrible. I was diagnosed
with depression and anxiety when I was 10 and have dealt
with abuse most of my life so my mental health has always
been very poor.

Initially, my depression worsened as I was bullied for my
gender identity. I even attempted suicide. After people
began to not have an issue with it, things have been a
lot better. I still experience mental health issues due
to my abuse and it’s something I’ll likely have for the
rest of my life, but my depression has been a lot more
manageable because I’m starting to feel comfortable in
myself due to my social transition.
However, my
anxiety definitely worsened. I hear of so many hate
crimes against trans people that I’m terrified to use a
public bathroom or go to a party and be around drunk
people when they realize I’m trans.
A lot of people
have commented on the fact that I do seem a lot happier
and comfortable now though which is great.

—Isis Jager, 18, Transmasculine

21. “I cried myself to sleep more often
I could count. I remember wanting to die… Now I see a
future for myself and I am happier with who I am.”

Courtesy of individual

My mental health before transitioning was terrible, I
cried myself to sleep more often than I could count. I
remember wanting to die and not seeing any future for
myself. I was very unhappy with who I was and I couldn’t
truly act the way I wanted to in fear of being
misgendered.
I was very shy, not wanting to go
outside at times, and I was often afraid of being judged
too.

I became more relaxed and I didn’t have to worry about
constantly being misgendered. Testosterone really
helped my dysphoria and it made me feel more like myself.
It allowed me to act more feminine without being
perceived as female. My suicidal thoughts left after a
while too.
I could see a future for myself and I am
happier with who I am now.

—Rowan Zwikstra, 18, demiboy

22. “Before, I was a ball of anxiety and
depression. After, it was like waking up after a bad dream. I
felt mentally strong and lucid for the first time in my
life.”

Before transitioning, I was a terrible ball of anxiety and
depression. I was so unhappy all of the time and I didn’t
know what to do about those feelings.
Nothing made me
feel even remotely okay. I tried therapy and antidepressants
with no luck. I dreaded getting out of bed and having to
leave my house. I looked in the mirror and hated everything I
saw. I was so unhappy for so long I didn’t see a way out of
the misery.

Within a few weeks of starting testosterone, I felt
something I had never felt before: happiness. I felt a calm
presence in my life.
I didn’t have the constant anxiety
and fear or dread of something horrible around the corner. It
was like waking up after a bad dream. I felt mentally strong
and really lucid for the first time in my life.
Transitioning and being on testosterone has given me
something to live for.


—Britton, 26, TransMan

23. “After I began my social transition,
I immediately had relief from my suicidal thoughts and
crippling depression.”

Courtesy of individual

I was an absolute mess — depressed and suicidal. I
suffered from frequent panic attacks and a few random
dissociative attacks. After I began my social transition
— changing my name and pronouns — I had immediate relief
from my suicidal thoughts and crippling depression. My
panic and dissociating attacks subsided to a more
manageable frequency. I tossed and turned about starting
testosterone as part of my physical transition, but I
finally took the leap and haven’t had a dissociative
attack since. I’m now a week shy of one year on
testosterone. My panic attacks related to anxiety
about passing or being safe in public have also almost
completely dissipated since I don’t get misgendered
anymore.

—Oliver, 22, transman

24. “Once I felt more comfortable living
in my own skin, I was able to explore the things that hurt me
before transitioning and make peace with them.”

I was a hot, angry, suicidal mess with a lot of explosive
and self harming tendencies.
I would regularly scream at
other drivers or punch holes in walls out of frustration.
Honestly, I was totally out of control. I was suicidal all
the time even at the (then) height of my career, I just
wanted to end my life without hurting my family.

I think when I was further into my transition, it allowed me
to see life from a new perspective. Once I felt more
comfortable living in my own skin, I was able to explore the
things that hurt me before transitioning and make peace with
them.
Transitioning was only a piece of the puzzle for
me but nonetheless the biggest piece.
Going from taking
down mirrors in my home to being proud, happy, and connected
to my body was something I never thought would happen.

—Harper, 25, transfemale

25. “Transitioning didn’t make my
depression go away, but it gave me a better understanding of
myself and allowed me to actually get help.”

Courtesy of individual

I was depressed for years. I felt confused. I knew
something was definitely wrong, but I had no idea what it
was because I had never been exposed to trans people
before.
I went through various mental health
professionals who all dropped me because I couldn’t tell
them what was wrong with me. It made me feel hopeless
and suicidal.

It was a huge relief to finally figure out that I’m
trans.
At the time, it was the only thing that made
sense in my life. When I started testosterone and had
top surgery, I felt relief again. I felt dysphoria I
didn’t even know I had disappear.
Transitioning
didn’t make my depression go away, but it gave me a
better understanding of myself and allowed me to actually
get help.

—Louis Wilkinson, 21, trans man/agender

26. “My depression is more manageable,
but my anxiety has gotten worse. As the only out person in my
office, I feel like I have to be an example for the whole
trans community and I have to have all the answers.”

I’ve had a lot of trouble with my mental health. I’ve
suffered with depression since I was 10 and I’ve had anxiety
since I was 14. They have been constant companions, despite
years and medicine and therapy.

My depression has been more manageable since beginning
transitioning. However, as I’ve gone through the process, my
anxiety has actually gotten worse. At work, I went from a
relative nobody to someone who’s progress seems to be known
by everyone. As the only out person in my office, I feel like
I have to be an example for the whole trans community and I
have to have all the answers.
There have been times where
I’ve been asked to do talks and interviews for work events
when I really just want to hide away and be anonymous. There
is so much hatred thrown around online that sometimes I’m
afraid to even go outside with my binder on or without
shaving. When I’m finally done with transitioning, I hope to
feel more comfortable being myself out in the world.

—RW, 28, Male

27. “My mental health has improved so
much. I still struggle with anxiety and depression, but I am
no longer in a constant battle of ‘live or die’.”

Courtesy of individual

My mental health was in the toilet. I was severely
depressed 100% of the time and often thought about dying
because of how unbearable it was.
I had very little
self worth and was terrified to start my transition,
which in turn made my depression and anxiety much much
worse.

My mental health has improved so much. I still struggle
with anxiety and depression, but I am no longer in a
constant battle of “live or die” sort of thing. I
value myself so much now and I am no longer afraid to be
who I am.

—Kindra, 23, nonbinary (agender)

28. “I often feel joy in my life, a far
cry from years of anger, depression, not willing to
live.”

Courtesy of individual

For more than fifty years, I ignored and hid who I was
— resulting in years of anger, depression, heavy drinking
and drug use
. It ended in a complete mental break
down around age 55, when I spent weeks in a severe
depression with no will to live.

Once I decided to transition to my true self and started
hormone replacement therapy, my mental started to
improve. The anger went away, I became less depressed,
and over time I even begin to feel periods of happiness.
Today, after living for over 6 years as me, I am
happier and healthier both mentally and physically than I
have ever been.
I often feel joy in my life, a far
cry from years of anger, depression, not willing to live.

—Ginger Victoria Baier, 67, transgender female

29. “I discovered a kind of confidence
in myself I hadn’t felt since childhood, and I finally
started to understand that life was worth living.”

As soon as I hit puberty, my mental health went into rapid
decline. I lost the ability to make friends and communicate
with people because of the weight of my mental dysphoria. I
figured, “if I don’t value myself, no one else ever could.” I
developed extreme anxiety and took part in many self-harming
behaviors, and in the back of my mind I didn’t expect to make
it to my senior year of high school.

As soon as I came out socially and started to make
significant changes, it was as if a black and white filter
had been removed from my vision.
I discovered a kind of
confidence in myself I hadn’t felt since childhood, and I
finally started to understand that life was worth living. My
physical health has improved because I’ve been feeding and
resting my body properly. For the first time in my life, I
began waking up in the morning with the strength to take on
the day. I was disappointed to realize that some parts of
my mental health (phobias, obsessive disorder) would not be
cured by transitioning, but they no longer feel all-
consuming
. I am finally standing on my own two feet.

—Jan, 19, FTM

30. “I was very depressed. I couldn’t
look in a mirror without wanting to smash it. I’m actually
happy with myself now.”

Courtesy of individual

I was very depressed. I couldn’t look in a mirror without
wanting to smash it because I knew that person I was
looking at wasn’t who I really am. I was miserable
before transitioning.
Now, I’m not as depressed as I
was before. I can look in a mirror and actually like
what I see now
— well, for the most part. I’m not as
miserable anymore and I’m actually happy with myself now.

—Kade, 23, he/him

31. “The sense of self peace I felt was
beautiful. I finally felt complete. I haven’t had one
suicidal thought — not one after 40 years of thinking
about it every day.”

Courtesy of individual

I was always sad often suicidal. I was despondent and
terrified to tell a significant other my true feelings
about myself for fear of being laughed at. I was going
through life like I was wearing a costume or mask. My
depression was so profound that I didn’t work for eight
years because of my body dysphoria.

Seven days after my first shot of testosterone, I
awoke feeling a ‘wholeness’ that I had never known. The
sense of self peace I felt was beautiful. I finally felt
complete.
My confidence is still not where I want it
to be but after a year on testosterone, it is a thousand
times better than what it was. I haven’t had one suicidal
thought — not one after a 40 years of thinking
about it every day. The downside is the isolation from my
siblings.

—Parker Dyer, 49

32. “I still get sad or frustrated or
dysphoric sometimes, but I’m happy most of the time now —
actually happy, not ‘fine’ like I was when I was
younger.”

At the time I thought I was fine. But looking back, I was
probably depressed. I would cry over the tiniest things. I
was known for being really quiet. I never participated in
class. And I never wanted to go places or do things in
public. I was so afraid they all somehow knew I wasn’t a
“real girl” or would find out I was trans.

I came out and socially transitioned about three years
ago. It was incredibly relieving to be myself around my
friends.
Suddenly I was able to participate and talk to
my classmates. I started taking testosterone 6 months ago and
at this point, most people assume I’m a cis guy unless I say
otherwise. T has made me feel so much better about myself.
It’s insane to think of how much I’ve changed over the past
few months — it’s like a switch flipped.
I’m
motivated to work on things like my career, my health, and my
relationships. I still get sad or dysphoric sometimes, but
I’m happy most of the time now — actually happy, not
“fine” like I was when I was younger. There’s still a way
to go but I wouldn’t trade this for anything.

—Anonymous, 22, gay trans dude

33. “I felt genuinely in tune with my
emotions and my mental health and my life clicked into place.
I realized I wasn’t mentally ill, just different.”

Courtesy of individual

Before my transition, I struggled to find my place in the
world. I felt disconnected from my job, my spouse, and my
family; it was as though I was going through life in a
numb haze without clear direction. I knew something
was wrong with me but I didn’t know exactly what it
was.

I consider myself fully transitioned to female now. While
there were a lot of milestones during my journey, there
were two key points where I noticed a big change in my
mental health. The first was when I was able to clearly
say to myself, “I am a woman.” That knocked me out of my
haze and I felt like I had a clear purpose for the
first time in life. I felt genuinely in tune with my
emotions and my mental health and my life clicked into
place. I realized I wasn’t mentally ill, just
different.
The second turning point in my mental
health came after my gender confirmation surgery. When
the bandages came off, I looked down at myself and for
the first time in my life I felt truly at home in my
body. The dysphoria was now little but a whisper in my
ear. The burden of living in a body that doesn’t fit
your own perception of who you are is a very real one.
For me, surgery was an amazing psychological therapy that
freed me from that burden.


—Melanie, 34, transwoman

34. “I’m no longer depressed to the
point of suicide, but now there are many more decent and okay
days rather than bad ones”

My mental health was very poor. I had been suicidal on and
off (it seemed to be on for a month or two, and then off for
a week or so) from about 13 until when I began transitioning
last year.

I’m no longer depressed to the point of suicide, although I’m
still struggling with depression and a bit of dysphoria on
and off. It depends on the day, but now there are many more
decent and ok days rather than bad ones. Overall, I’m
definitely happier, and I’m looking forward to feeling more
and more comfortable in my own skin as I continue to
transition.
So far, I haven’t done much beyond cut my
hair, throw out all my skirts, and ask for people to call me
Mike rather than my birth name, but it has definitely lifted
a great weight off of me.

—Mike, 20, FTM

35. “I still get down, but I am happy to
be alive. Which is honestly something that I have never felt
before.”

Courtesy of individual

Before even coming out as a transgender male, my anxiety
and depression were so bad that I had a mental breakdown
freshman year of high school that lasted until junior
year. I was self-harming and suffering from horrible
suicidal urges. I didn’t want to be alive, but I
lacked the knowledge of the words to describe why I felt
that way.

My mental health took such a turn for the better that
sometimes it is actually shocking.
I mean, I still
get down and my anxiety tends to sucker-punch me, but I
am happy to be alive. Which is honestly something that I
have never felt before. But, everything is manageable
now, and it is most definitely because I was able to come
out and begin my medical transition by starting T this
year.

—Boaz Priestly, 20, transgender male

[Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

If you need to talk to someone immediately, you can reach
the Trans Lifeline at
877-565-8860, or any of the resources available through The
Trevor Project here,
including the Trevor Lifeline, TrevorChat, and
TrevorText.

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Caroline Kee is a health writer for BuzzFeed News and is
based in New York.

Contact Caroline Kee at caroline.kee@buzzfeed.com.


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