Contd. from The picking up of socks.
Personally, this is the time that my family (mother and sister) started addressing me by my chosen name and with male pronouns. With my father, it wasn't as easy. He needed to see my psychiatrist twice himself and was still not convinced. He was under the impression that because I was 'anatomically and functionally a perfect woman' if I was administered female hormones, I would begin to 'feel like a woman' (yeah, I know!).
I went back to the psychiatrist a few times, taking him, on his instructions, literature from WPATH and various letter templates. Then, I began to get frustrated - it seemed like I was just going around in circles. All the 'homework' he was giving me, and that I was religiously doing, was going nowhere. My visits to him were very infrequent - not from lack of fervour but simply because I am a major procrastinator (Emperor of Procrastination, an ex-girlfriend once called me) - and he didn't call me for follow-ups, either; I'd just randomly get up and go. I was worried that my being inconsistent would give him the idea that I was suffering from psychosis and that every time I had an 'attack' I would get up thinking 'I want a sex change'. If he ever had that idea, he never let on. He didn't give me any tests or ask me any probing questions about my emotional well-being and, instead, kept conversations casual and brief. Don't get me wrong - he's not a bad guy, and is a good therapist - I'm just telling you the approach he took. I think he may have been trying to to test my patience and resilience for clinical purposes.
During one of these visits, he suggested I go to a government hospital and have the psychiatry department there give me a 'GID diagnosis' to tread on the side of safety, legally speaking. Since my mother wasn't in the country, my father accompanied me (I must have been 22). At this stage, my father had perfunctorily accepted my identity and gender expression, addressing me by my chosen name and using male pronouns though slipping up all the time.
We went; the head of department wasn't in - he's a famous psychiatrist in Mumbai. The senior psychiatrist present instructed the intern to take my case history. On realizing that I was a 'GID patient' they asked me if I would mind other psychiatrists from the department sitting in on the session as they didn't get that many 'GID cases'- they made a visible effort to not give offence. As a science student, I understand academic curiosity and the interest in studying new or rare phenomena; and I understood it then. I was, am and always will be generous about being used as a trans-textbook; if some good can come out of relevant people interacting with me, I will do it - for science and for the transpersons out there. I gave my permission and explained my reasons. They sent word out to a few associates; then suddenly it was decided against. I asked what happened and assured them I had no objections to being studied but they seemed to want not to implicate themselves.
So began the painful task of giving the intern my case history. This was a story I had repeated so often to therapists in the past that I was beyond sick of it. I laboured through. At one point I was asked how I felt about myself (why I wanted SRS) to which the expected answer I saw as so clichéd and overused that I could just not bring my self to articulate it. The intern tried to nudge me on, "Would it be correct to say that you feel like a man trapped in a woman's body?"
"No, no, if that is the case, you must say it. I can't write it down if you don't say the words yourself; and if I don't write it down, we can't supply the diagnosis as GID."
The poor girl. She could see from my appearance that I was definitely gender incongruent. She wanted genuinely to help. And she was crossing a few boundaries in trying to do so. I steeled myself and tried my level best to keep the sarcasm out of my voice, "I feel like a man in a woman's body." She finished taking my case history and we went to the senior psychiatrist.
Now, the senior, the intern and I were sitting together. The intern was supposed to narrate the case history to the senior and then the session was to begin.
The girl began, "blah blah blah...she feels like a .."
Grr. "Sorry to interrupt, but please use male pronouns."
"I understand your need, but I can't; by protocol, we have to use the pronouns of the gender you were assigned at birth."
Bristling mildly, "The gender I was assigned at birth was male. My sex is female. Don't get the two confused."
"Yes, but I still can't.."
Senior psychiatrist, "It's ok, it's ok. Whatever makes the patient comfortable."
The patient. Right. Deeeeep breath; it doesn't matter.
So the case history was given. Questions were asked. I can't remember very many. One, however, stuck.
"Are you attracted to men or women and do you have a girlfriend?"
RELEVANCE!?! With superficial calm, "Since you asked, I am attracted to women; I don't currently have a girlfriend but I have had two in the past. But, there are transpersons out there who identify as homosexual - they are attracted to members of their desired sex."
"No, patients with those characters are not considered GID; they are pseudo(something I can't remember)."
Grr. But it was not for me to attempt to correct whatever Devonian textbook they were referring to - it wouldn't work, and it would hinder my getting a GID diagnosis on paper. I let it pass.
The diagnosis was given, the paperwork filed. Time to leave. I went to the waiting area where my father was sitting, visibly agitated. Apparently, while I was busy trying to reason with nincompoops (albeit well-intentioned ones), my father had spoken with an associate nincompoop - well, maybe not so bad, but I really want to vent some spleen here. Will get back to telling the unbiased truth now. So my father spoke with an associate who told him all about Gender Identity Disorder. But my father, with his unparalleled selective-listening skills, was only ever able to register the word 'disorder'. Then followed a long argument over why when bipolar disorder can be controlled by medication, gender identity 'disorder' cannot. The point about female hormones came up again. My father also took offence to the fact that the whole department was buzzing about the 'GID case that has come in' - like the response to a circus freak. Attempting to reason with him at this juncture was pointless; he would not understand 'academic curiosity'. We went home.
I followed up with my psychiatrist after a while and reported the task complete. He said we could now take the next step and referred me to an endocrinologist. I met the man but I seemed to know more than he did about cross-sex HRT. He also didn't seem to be in solidarity with transpersons. He agreed to 'treat' me but I wouldn't have been surprised to know I was his first trans patient. I made my decision. Attempting to commence androgen therapy with him would have been like asking local club cricketers to play for the national team and expect them to bring home the cup. I thanked him and left.
During my next appointment with my psychiatrist, he asked for a protocol to follow for transition. I reminded him about the WPATH literature I had given him but he said he needed a protocol that had been followed by doctors in India. He said that if we were unable to find any protocol, we would then go about formulating our own, based on the WPATH Standards of Care. I tried to tell him that each person is master of his or her own transition but try telling a medical professional or a scientist (myself included) to attempt a procedure without a protocol!
Thus began my unsuccessful and stagnating search for people who have undergone transition in India or resources for gender clinics or doctors here.