Guest Post by Reneta Scian: What about me? – Gender Identity Disorder

Reneta Scian

I’d consider self-expression my forte in a manner of speaking being an introspective person. I am not the type to start with demographics because my mind works in a very stream of consciousness manner. It can make me long winded, emotionally motivated in speech, and difficult for many men to understand. For me I realize dynamic in experience that people who experience life as you do often relate to you better than people who don’t. I also realize the disconnects in understanding in our culture to the degree which I have experienced them.

So here I go:
I am a 31 year old woman, whose just a little tall for that demographic at about 5’8” in height. There are two reasons for this: a) I am a transsexual, so I had the benefit of testosterone though my body doesn’t process it as well as it should. b) I was given growth hormones because I was in the 1% of growth percentile even after starting puberty. I am not technically intersexed as I can’t prove what condition caused my problems, but several possibilities exist from heavy doses of certain medication given to my mother during pregnancy (banned for those uses in 1983) to a genetic condition yet to be properly diagnosed. My birth and childhood are all but normal, but my life isn’t normal so this is expected.

Growing up I never felt like the other kids, I felt different though parents and teachers vehemently asserted that I was like other children (as if saying it was abracadabra). I knew I was different by the time I was 3-years-old when I first realized girls and boys weren’t the same, and that was when my conflict arose. The immediate and life long effects of what would unfold inside of me over the next 10 years, and stay with me. I am an “avoidant personality” and it has a lot of commonalities with “borderline personality” and “histrionic personality”, though honestly my transition has made it sub-clinical to a degree. Now, let me be clear on this, I am an honest person so I feel no reservation about describing myself, but do not mistaken symptom with illness. My disorder, often referred to as “Gender Identity Disorder” is a cultural dysfunction between the reality of my body and neurology, and societal expectations. I state that because my honesty about my conditions has made people feel they were honorary psychotherapists entitled to examine, pathologize and tell me what is “really wrong” with me completely ignoring my feelings, identity, and assertions as if they feel “I don’t mind, and you don’t matter”. My disorders and the ones I mentioned suffer a lot of stigma both from the establishments we seek care from, and from society which are unwarranted.

So why was I avoidant, and how does that pertain to who I am now? Well, because my gender and body didn’t match and behaviors along those lines were unacceptable I was punished for them, sometimes rather viciously by my step-father. The contradiction between reality and expectations created an avoidant personality, and a crapload of avoidant behavior. Gender identity disorder was a result of social expectations and restrictions, thus avoidance was a result of negative reinforcement and abuse. I hope that isn’t too personal, but really it is the truth. So avoidance and escapism because my predominant behavior, everything from conflict avoidance, to relationships. So what is different now? Well, obviously this isn’t something that will disappear, but it is greatly diminished because I am no longer hiding the factor responsible for my treatment, that is my gender identity. I am out, open and honest about who and what I am and I am not ashamed of it. Why should I be? But my condition is pathologized by assertions that it isn’t normal, natural, or correct behavior, but who sets that standard anyways? If conformity was the criteria for illness there would be a lot of mental illness out there by that analog. So as a person, I see now that much duress about who I am is diminished by transitioning gender roles, that I am healthier and happier now. But because of that aforementioned mentality, I will forever be labeled as a GID sufferer regardless of how happy I am with my new gender role, and because of the institutionalization of that practice I have to have that label to get treatment (whether I truly need it or not).

A visual representation of my avoidant repressed state. It was the state I reflect to my therapist at our first meeting as my “façade”. (Image by Reneta Scian)

This isn’t the only condition which in society has such a divisive nature about it, to include histrionic, borderline, and avoidant personalities. So as a result I have a very strong opinion about how the psychotherapy establishment treats us as a whole, and have a vested interest in the role our society plays in that as well. So I advocate along those lines. Homosexuality has been treated along those same lines, though it’s no longer in the DSM. But, obviously this speaks more of the nature of society than it does about me, so I’ll move on.

My experiences in life make me something of an eccentric personality, so to speak. I grew up on a farm in a suburban driven era, and worked (I neither confirm nor deny which occupation) for the government in a trusted position, and I am now a retired disabled veteran and a self-identified transsexual. You won’t find my life story in the text books (until social progress, and possible publishing of my memoirs occurs), of course. I am not eccentric through any sort of illness per say, but for having unique life experiences. So I can be an awkward duck when it comes to many things, as well as pasty white from lack of sunlight. My former occupation makes me a very vigilant and cautious duck as well. I watch my environment, and frequently carry non-lethal weapons when traveling at night. I only get drunk with friends, and I avoid shady bars and dark alleys like the blinkin’ plague. Sometimes I feel my lifestyle is rather “restrictive” and wish I could be free to go where I please, but until I learn how to be invincible and/or immortal I play it safe, rather than sorry. This is also why I am bluntly honest about my gender. I treat all situations involving another person who I don’t know as a potential hate crime. As a You-tube vlogger Laci Green put it, I am hater bait.

A visual representation of what happened when my body nearly stopped making testosterone, and the emotional experience of being female verses being male. Male was a sense of general emotional dullness, which being female was incredible and intense amplification of everything I felt. (Image by Reneta)

I fight for gender equality, and for equitable treatment of all gender and sexual minorities. I am against the tyranny of the majority and against the stigmatization of the human condition unless said condition posses a risk to others. Homicidal tendency should be condemned, as should exploitation, rape, slavery, kidnapping, theft (kleptomania), and all things which truly cause harm to others by direct action. I have no sympathy for those offenders though technically I am ambivalent about the death penalty. Personally I don’t see a point in condemning 2 people to death for the loss of one, but I could see repeat/multiple offenders receiving the death penalty. I am for laws protecting gender identity/gender expression as I feel it’s as likely for a cisgender heterosexual, gay, or lesbian person to be discriminated against for failing to meet gender norms as I am myself. When it comes to politics I am very independent, but not fringe lunatic style for your information. I am an equal opportunity dissenter, as I will express my dissent of any idea regardless of who espouses it. I have very strong opinions but I am not bigoted because I am willing to admit I am wrong where necessary. I choose to equally express my weaknesses as well as my flaws. Example: I have 20/5 vision, meaning I have holy shit good sight. It’s strength in one regard, and a flaw in another. I see very far away with binocular clarity; however, in our society designed for normal people plus astigmatism (mild in left eye) its visual overload often times. AKA: Michael Bay movies make me want to puke. Super fast video games give me eye strain. Reading paper books give me migraines, however slick paper doesn’t do it, like magazines (imagine reading a book with the detail of a magnifying glass, or a book with long pages of über small font.)

I am strange, no denying that. I am opinionated and open, especially now in my life. I am happy, and affirmed which has helped me overcome adversity both inside of me and outside. I love my life, though sometimes it gives me lemons. I wish to see a world were all people could experience the joy of living I feel. I am unique and my perspective is valid proof of the dynamic of the human condition. I am a free spirit, but very cautious and aware of the dangers of the world. I like strong colors, and avoid pastels. I like strong flavors and avoid bland foods, but I can’t stand spicy. I like the sciences (particularly quantum physics), and science fiction. I am a nerd and a geek, an encyclopedia reader, and a conservative feminine dresser. I am an emotionally liberated person, meaning if something touches me I make no reservation in expressing my emotion. If I am sad, I cry, if I am happy I laugh. My emotions and personality are as complex as I am, and sometimes being mixes of. My artistic nature made it possible in therapy to draw for the therapist exactly what I felt in a way the transcended words. I am lucky. I blend in, I am not too tall, and my therapist understands the practical approach to avoiding stigma associated with mental health diagnoses. As such I am not diagnosed as histrionic or avoidant because my therapist understand the nature of my condition, and the amount of relief I have see through transition. Despite being transsexual, I experience life as any woman would with the same emotional complexity, and richness that can be expected. It is my goal to see a world free of prejudice and discrimination, and to stop the demonization of individuality. Uniqueness is not a disease.

Thank you for reading!  If you have enjoyed reading this post please share it with others who may be interested and I always enjoy receiving feedback and comments 🙂


3 comments on “Guest Post by Reneta Scian: What about me? – Gender Identity Disorder

  1. Pingback: Is It Really That Time? | Moving On Up a Little Higher

  2. This was so well written. I have a young friend 15, who is experiencing similar struggles, although his family supports him strongly. I am conservative and I am not agree the majority is a bad thing. I appreciate the heartfelt extension of yourself, because truly, there are millions out there who do not find happiness even when they identify with the gender. It is refreshing to read about the heart of the matter without being accusing, rather taking the anger out and just saying it like it is! Kudos!

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