Alternative Treatments For Gender Identity Disorder

Practical Suggestions for those seeking Alternatives

Art Blog-Journal Home


Artist-Philosopher Chriss L. Pagani, statement and biography
Artist's Statement & Bio


        Okay, so what's with the alternative treatment stuff? It's an option for those with gender dysphoria that may fall a bit short of full-blown Gender Identity Disorder. I'm not saying any of this will WORK, only that it has worked for SOME in ghe gender community.

        If  you are interested in receiving alternative treatment for  gender dysphoria, you will need to seek out a therapist who is willing to try new and aggressive approaches to treatment. You may have to try more than one.

        My suggestion -- this is only one possible option --  is that you present yourself to a psychiatrist for the purpose of discussing depression and/or OCD. If your gender issues come up early on, we suggest that you steer your therapist back onto the subject of Depression/OCD.

        You may also need to deal with false gender role stereotypes. You have this right as a patient. Be aware also that in addition to the reluctance of some to use alternative treatments, such therapy can be very difficult, and the results may be less than satisfactory. AGAIN, this is assuming you need to  try alternatives. You don't have to use this approach. Use this ONLY if you are trying to find a way out of the situation short of surgery/transition.

        Your spouse or significant other may be guilty of reinforcing false stereotypes regarding gender - especially negative stereotypes of your birth gender. This has to stop. Therefore, your spouse/significant other may  need therapy, too.

        I cannot provide medical advice  but I suggest that, if you want to avoid the transition/hormones/surgery route, you ask to be tested for depression and OCD. A test that does an excellent job of ferreting out OCD with non-standard symptoms is the Minnesota Multi-Phasic Personality Inventory (MMPPI). If the test confirms that you have OCD and/or a mood disorder, try to get medical treatment for that. Remember, it isn't a behavior problem, it is an organic condition: You need medicine. 

       Coincidentally, relieving OCD through medicine MAY reduce or even eliminate gender dysphoria ...this is based on the experiences to date as related by patients of late Doctor Huntley. Now, here is Doctor Huntley's approach:

  1. Medication to deal with the underlying biological condition. Dr. Huntley's treatment program started with Prozac. Although Prozac is an antidepressant, it has been shown to help reduce the symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and I know of more than one person who has achieved at least some relief from compulsive crossdressing through its use. In the case with which I am most familiar, the patient achieved total remission of gender dysphoria within 3 weeks of being put on Prozac, and is today in his 15th year of full remission with no signs of relapse. Prozac is usually the first choice because it has no noteworthy side-effects and is totally non-addictive. If the underlying cause of your gender discomfort is depression, relief should come fairly quickly (within 6 weeks). If the underlying problem is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, the dosage needed is typically higher than for depression and will take longer to work. You will need to remain on the effective dosage for the rest of your life. For those who are unresponsive to Prozac after several weeks, the therapist may consider switching medications. Not everyone responds equally to every drug, so some experimentation is to be expected. LUVOX is a drug specifically for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Another acceptable drug is Paxil. New drugs are also being developed, and you should rely on your therapist for guidance. It is worth noting here that PhDs, MSW's and other counselors cannot prescribe medication. They will need to refer you to a psychiatrist, who is an MD, in order for you to receive treatment.
    • NOTE: The idea of a lifetime of medication may bother some. The fact is, however, it may be far easier to take Prozac or Luvox for life than to transition, have gender reassignment surgery, and take hormones (which are also taken for life). It depends on what works best for you.
    • REMEMBER: This medicine will not cure Gender Identity Disorder. No way... GID is its own biological condition. But if your main problem with gender dysphoria stems from another condition like OCD, this treatment might really help you.
    • NOTE 2: This is also ten or more years out of date at this point. There are new and possibly better medications. I'm only addressing what Dr. Huntley did.
  2. Therapy for the negative triggers of gender dysphoria. Medication may control the organic basis for gender dysphoria if it comes from OCD or depression, but it will not effectively relieve the symptoms unless one unlearns pathological beliefs and stereotypes regarding gender behavior and role expectations. This isn't as difficult as it sounds, but it does require some effort and directed therapy. During the course of such therapy, the following areas should be addressed:
    • Issues of negative gender stereotyping. In our current society, male-bashing is popular. Unfortunately, more sensitive souls sometimes internalize such negative and unrealistic stereotypes. As a result, they come to believe that being a man is evil. This belief is provably false, but it will tend to remain unchecked until exposed in therapy. Intense therapy should focus on debunking false negative gender stereotypes, while building new, positive ones. Negative and rigid gender stereotyping is the most common malady in the so-called "gender community" today. Male to Female transsexuals often assign all positive human attributes (compassion, love, caring, sensitivity) to the role of females, while negative human attributes (violence, aggression, insensitivity) are assigned to the male stereotype. Female to Male transsexuals often suffer from unrealistic ideas of womanhood and over-glorification of maleness. It isn't surprising, therefore, that the desire for transition is often little more than a sublimated form of self-hatred. One "kills" their personal identity, in effect, by transitioning. Any self-destructive thoughts need to be ferreted out and dealt with. If you have a problem with self-hatred, then you need to realize that if you hate yourself as a man, you will still hate yourself as a woman. Self-hatred is an internal issue, not a gender issue.
    • No course of treatment will be totally successful until personality integration is achieved. When a person separates their male and female personalities - which is likely to happen when one has rigid stereotypical notions of male and female behavior - a personality dichotomy develops. Personality Dichotomy allows the person to assign behaviors to the alleged "good personality" (the chosen gender - positive stereotypes & behaviors) and the "bad personality" (the birth gender - negative behaviors/stereotypes). Integration is the process by which male and female personal identities are brought together to form a synthesis... a whole person.

      The destruction of false gender role stereotypes is vital to gaining self-acceptance. Many people have made it all the way through transition and surgery, only to find that they are still the same person - a person whom they dislike. Do not underestimate the importance of this step.

      Before a person takes any steps toward transition, he/she must realize that members of his/her birth gender are not pigs (in the case of males) or weak (in the case of females). Likewise, the admired gender is not particularly or uniquely strong, loving, intuitive or compassionate. These stereotypes have no basis in reality. If you have assigned negative human traits to your birth gender and positive human traits to the gender you admire and seek, then your problem is the internalization of false stereotypes, not Gender Identity Disorder.

      Many males presenting themselves for treatment of Gender Identity Disorder (to deal with the example with which we are most familiar) have felt like they are failures as men. They may have been unsuccessful in relating to women, or they may have feelings (love, compassion, caring) which they feel are inappropriate to their birth gender. These are often relatively non-aggressive males -- which may be part of the reason they are experiencing some gender conflict, since we presently live in a society which promotes the false belief that all men are aggressive. They may also feel that women have an unfair advantage over them - that women are the more powerful person in a relationship - and they may harbor deep resentment over this. Another common problem involves the belief that males are to be the exclusive providers and protectors of the family. Having failed to live up to this unrealistic notion causes some men to believe they were born in the wrong gender. Such false stereotypes are deeply ingrained and not easily defeated. Again, I must point out that people with these issues need to deal with their beliefs first and foremost. Chances are, once they realize that the full range of human behavior is found in both genders - that being a non-standard male is NOT the same as being not male - they may find themselves to be much less interested in the torments of transition than they originally thought..

        Finally, you need to make a personal commitment to stick with the course of therapy you have chosen. The medications involved typically take anywhere from several weeks to several months to work. Unlearning of negative gender stereotypes may take years. Still, this is far shorter than the transition/hormone/surgery process, and could be well worth it to you if you find transition to be an unacceptable alternative.

        Remember, it is your life and you must choose how you will live. Don't fall into the trap of seeing yourself as a helpless victim! Avoid letting those with an agenda lead you down any particular path - take control of your life.




Copyright (c) C. Pagani
All Rights Reserved