Being transgender while in a partial hospitalization programPosted: May 13, 2015
This post is in tandem with a post from back in February, Being transgender while hospitalized.
For the past two weeks, I was attending a partial hospitalization program every day from 9:30 – 3:15. Our day was broken up into 5 workshops / activities, and we pretty much stayed with the same group and the same social worker / teacher. Every day we had new people arrive and people finish their 10 days and leaving.
The first session was always “process group,” where we talked about our previous evening and if we used any of the skills we were learning about. Right off the bat, while introducing myself, I let everyone know my name is Kameron and I’m transgender and use male pronouns. The social worker replied, saying “thank you for letting us know – sometimes we have people who don’t say anything about it. I really appreciate it.”
They had to use my legal name for paperwork and official stuff, but it seemed like they could use my chosen name for the daily roster, and I asked the social worker about that. She said, “yes let’s change it – I’ll make a note and you can mention it to the administrative assistant.” During break, I went up to talk to her, and surprisingly she said, “No, it has to be your legal name.” The next day, my legal name was on the roster, and next to it, “Kameron.” Like that, with quotation marks. It felt weird but I guess it was a compromise. Other than that though, everyone always called me Kameron.
During a break one day, someone shared their People magazine with me – a recent one with an article about Bruce Jenner. It felt good she wanted to point that out to me, like she was connecting with me. I read the article, which was actually well done. They referred to Bruce with male pronouns, but made it a point to explain that at this time, Bruce and his family are using male pronouns, so People magazine is too. Seemed logical.
When new people joined our group, I continued to say I’m trans and I use male pronouns. On one occasion, I got into it a lot more, saying that I feel somewhere in the middle and don’t plan to live my life as a man. That strangers almost always see me as female, and it’s difficult to navigate in the world. Later on, I got the best feedback ever. A new person came up to me and said that if I’m going for in between genders, I’ve got it down. They could not tell which gender I am, and when I spoke and gave my name, they still couldn’t tell. They had no idea, but if they absolutely had to guess, they would have said “male.” They gave me a thumbs up. That really brightened my day (for a short time because I’m depressed and am having a hard time absorbing the good things.)
One person told me that they worked with a lot of transgender people in the past. They asked me, “Have you had any surgeries.” I quickly and calmly steered them away from this, saying, “I’d rather not talk about that; that’s personal. What I am interested in talking about though is the social stigma and daily struggles.” That then turned into a discussion about stigmas surrounding mental illness, and everything was fine.
Other than that, everyone was respectful and consistent. This was the first time I was trying out the name “Kameron,” and it felt good. No one knew I’m not using that name in my life yet, and it didn’t matter. I’ve since been telling more friends about my name, and when my partner leaves notes for me, she writes, “Kameron.” This is really starting to have some forward momentum. It feels scary right now, but also it feels affirming, so I’m going to keep going.