“They better not think they can get an operation to change genders on MY dime!”
“It’s not right. You are either born a girl or a boy.”
“It goes against what God wants.”
“My kid wanted to be a puppy when he was five. You think that’s OK, too?”
Sadly, I’ve heard all of these things and more over the last year and a half since Noah came to us with his realization. At that time, he realized he had been dealing with gender dysphoria for many years. Ten years, to be exact. Now, as my 21-year-old trans daughter, I’m proud to say that Noah, who has now chosen the name Natalie, bravely sought help to become the gender with whom she identifies. *Noah came to us after I published this to let us know she has chosen Nat, as in Natalie, as her name.
Through Natalie's journey, I’ve had the privilege to learn about gender in ways I never had before I turned 45.
First, let’s define gender dysphoria as “the psychological distress that many transgender people experience because their assigned gender doesn’t match the way they see themselves.” Dr. Murat Altinay, Cleveland Clinic)
Now, what should you consider if you know little to none about being transgender?
Here are 4 things I've learned that might help you:
1. Gender develops in the brain
From the Cleveland Clinic article, Research on the Transgender Brain: What You Should Know:
“When we look at the transgender brain, we see that the brain resembles the gender that the person identifies as,” Dr. Altinay of Cleveland Clinic says. For example, a person who is born with a penis but ends up identifying as a female often actually has some of the structural characteristics of a “female” brain.
Though these differences in brain structure and function are important markers for gender determination, it isn’t always as simple as male or female.
Some research shows the brains of transgender people are somewhere in between, sharing characteristics of both male and female brains, Dr. Altinay says.
This is consistent with the growing understanding that gender exists on a spectrum, with people identifying not only as male or female but also as genderqueer, genderfluid or nonbinary. These terms refer to gender identities that incorporate a variety of gender characteristics.”
2. Many kids who are transgender experience devastating anxiety and depression starting in puberty.
This was the case with Natalie. Debilitating generalized anxiety, social anxiety, and subsequent depression came on strong at age 10. In fact, we noticed sudden onset stuttering when Noah (now Natalie) was in 2nd grade which was a bi-product of the anxiety. In light of that, we did everything we could to help quell the anxiety, but nothing seemed to really make a dent in it. Some kids figure out they are dealing with gender dysphoria at a young age; others do not until later in life. Neither is right or wrong—it simply is.
3. Anyone considering changing genders, whether they are thinking about surgery or not, has to consult with a doctor in order to get access to hormone therapy. Care and surgery are NOT on anyone else’s dime.
In most cases, you need a “gender dysphoria” diagnosis in order to get insurance coverage for healthcare. In addition, talk therapy is highly recommended as well. There are a lot of hoops to jump through when you recognize you are transgender. Hormone therapy can take roughly two to three years to help change body chemistry to the gender with whom you identify.
4. Just because your religion tells you that being transgender is wrong doesn’t mean that it is true.
As mentioned above in number one, research is showing that gender develops in the brain. This is nothing new; many folks from generations past feared coming out as transgender due to the social climate of the time. Even today, hateful, shaming messages damning the transgender community are commonplace. From a spiritual perspective, as an intuitive medium who works with law enforcement officers helping solve murder and abduction cases, I can personally attest to the fact that those who have passed on are not judging those who change genders. Quite the opposite, actually. Those who are experiencing a transgender journey are highly evolved individuals who are shining a light on the need for more love of self and love of others, regardless of their gender/race/ethnicity, etc.
I sincerely hope what I've shared has given you insight into what to consider when you're pondering gender. I'm extremely grateful to have such an amazing teacher—one whom I'll continue learning from (and loving) for a lifetime, and beyond.
Who has the new The Chicks album, GASLIGHTER, on repeat right now? I do. As a survivor of narcissistic/sociopathic abuse, it feels like it’s written for me. For all of us survivors.
I had never heard the term GASLIGHT until months before the end of my 3-year relationship with a narcissistic predator. Even after I read the explanation of what it meant, it still felt confusing. That's because I was still being gaslit. I was still drowning in a sea of lies and projection. Eventually, I came to understand that all of the times that he called me crazy or sick, or accused me of cheating on him, it was a manipulative way of putting me in my place. And it was the closest thing I’d get to an admission of guilt on HIS part for all of those things. He was projecting everything he was doing onto me.
It took lots of therapy for me to understand that I wasn’t at fault. I wasn’t sick. I had to undo the subconscious conditioning that had been hard-wired inside of me since he and I met that fateful day in 2014. I went from being a strong, independent, confident person to a shell of a woman who couldn’t figure out why it had all gone so pear-shaped.
To better illustrate gaslighting, here’s a specific example from a few years back when I wrote a blog post about the abuse I endured while working on a project with my ex. I spelled out how he screamed at me when I innocently didn’t think to lock the door to the dorm room in which we were staying, and then he screamed at me that the reason I did that was because I wanted men to come in. It was soul crushing, all of it. As a childhood sexual abuse survivor, he pushed the right button, for sure. Anyhow, I wrote openly about it and received this message from him before I eventually secured a restraining order against him:
You are sick Kiersten. And you were sick in Florida. And you're sick from the abuse you suffered as a child not any from me. And the blindness from your parents for their own facade all your life. Being sick does not make you bad. But it sure keeps you blind. And, you've lost the only one with the insight, guts, and the true love enough to tell you. You've surrounded yourself with only enablers. Truth needs NO validation. What happened in Florida got to anger on both sides. And you helped big time! Just as you did all along knowing each button to push, when calm loving truth showed itself, you RAN again to projection and blame....”
With love only, xxx
Do you see what he did there? He turned it all around. In no way was he calm or level headed EVER. He blew up that day just like he did down he road when the cops were called by a concerned person to our apartment for fear of my safety. And unbeknownst to me the whole time, he was the one who was wanting others to come into his bedroom. Latter I learned that he was cheating left and right with women of all ages.
I’m three years healed, now, and it’s all so clear in ways it wasn’t when I was battling the darkness of abuse. If you’re dealing with gaslighting, know that you are NOT in the wrong. You are not the problem.
You are being abused.
Many thanks to The Chicks for writing such a raw, vulnerable, brave album.
Published May 8, 2020
I am incredibly grateful to Bonnie Stevens for crafting such a wonderful write up. I'm used to press regarding my furniture company but Bonnie went a step further: she included an entire section about my other life as a medium who works with detectives around the country.
To read the full article, go to: