watching this video two and a half months after making it, I realise that there is indeed a kind of mental transition that goes on, and I was rather misunderstanding what the folks were referring to in the group. I will say that right now, I am having some difficulty with some aspects of transitioning that I was not feeling before now. No matter how much one KNOWS they are male (in my case), and looks male, there are complicated feelings that can come up and undermine confidence. Transitioning IS NOT EASY
Not sure if you’ll remember me or not. We dated briefly, maybe 15 years ago I think. I am a redhead and had on a green sweater on our first date and you made a reference to “Tippi Hedron green.” 😉
Anyway, a friend sent me a link today with the Huff Post article and when I scrolled down I saw your story about the upcoming documentary. Am so happy for you Kim! I went on to become a psychotherapist and a Gender Specialist as well as an advocate and activist for the Trans* community. My clients are all Trans* individuals and their family members. I also run a group for Trans* Allies and one for Trans*-Masculine individuals in Sarasota, FL. Anyway, I wish you much luck on your brave journey. Hope the documentary does well. Looking forward to seeing it when it comes out.
I’m so glad you ask this question. I think I can explain it; at least, I hope so. There is a mental transition that takes place, it’s tied—in part—to the neurons configurations in the brain. From what I understand, mileage may vary from person to person. The brain, like other any other organ in the body has some degree of plasticity, the medical community refers to this as Neuroplasticity. Once you change the environment the brain (Estrogen to Testosterone) some brain structure can be impacted like the amygdala and the bed nucleus of the stria terminali for example (google post-mortem studies on transgender people). Other brains region/structures also may change, some of it depends on genetics and others depends on the social environment and hormone levels. The term “Mental change” probably refers to the effects of these potential physical changes in the brain. I can’t help but think that you are trying to insinuate that there is a real/false transgender category but it’s much more complicated and messy. We all know from life experiences that our social environment/life events can alter brain chemistry. I suppose this is why people in the psychological community use to feel that you had to live (dress) as a man/or woman for a period of time before hormone therapy eligibility. But research in autism and Alzheimer’s has demonstrated that neuroplasticity is influenced by much more than genetics alone. Things get even more complicated when a closer inspection is done with serotonin, cortisone, Oxycontin and other hormones that can cross the blood brain barrier to impact the configuration of the brain. There are many articles regarding anxiety and depressive disorders you can research that show how these hormones impact brain development. Once the sex hormones(Estrogen, progesterone, testosterone) are switch the production of other hormones are also changed. A friend to help with that “Mental Transition” is good to have around.
On another note I’m very interested in the female to male transition in regards to aggression. I mainly want to know the changes in aggression that females to males experience. When you suddenly become a protector or at least expected to be – how does this impact aggressive thoughts. I know it’s a stereotype and a hard question to get people to talk about. Cis men often feel uncomfortable talking about their own aggression so I imagine it’s the same for transgender men. Not all men are violent and not all women are non-violent but there is a predictable trend. I would hope it’s a benchmark of some sort in the female to male transition, certainly I do not think it’s a requirement. Most women tend to abhor violence while most men take a keen interest in the subject, there is no doubt an underlying reason for it. We tend to be interested in things that we find stimulating. I’m not saying men act on their aggression but are interested in aggressive subject matter more than women are. This should fall under the “Mental Changes” category, I suppose.