In my life, there’s been heartache and pain, and the same can be said for every human being. However, not every human being is born into a situation with the tools to manage and process their pain.
I recently have embarked on a journey of self-examination and healing. No true journey is undergone alone, and my companion is a student in their final semester of a master’s degree in clinical counseling, which is the very reason I can afford their invaluable, if limited, services. I have neither the latent funds nor the insurance to pursue treatment from credentialed, mental health professionals, and I have long thought that it was a journey I would never be able to afford to take.
Thankfully, there are resources that I would like to illuminate for you, my beloved readers, sliding scales and psychology students foremost among them. The Chrysalis House was something I was totally unaware of, until my dear friend Olivia Lux referred me to them. It is a self-described “sex-positive holistic healing cooperative with the goal of transformation.” When I first heard, I was ecstatic. A sex-positive cooperative with the goal of transformation headed by queer, black folx!!?! It felt like a waking dream.
Their ”Beauty, Cosmetic, & Personal Care” work supports the queer, the trans, the indigenous and people of color, and, very importantly, even the sex worker community in Denver. And, they are not limited to being a therapeutic resource; they also offer co-membership and co-working opportunities to businesses that and individuals who support their public mention of sex-positive, holistic healing, which is wonderful. Sex positivity is certainly on the rise, but not fast enough, in my opinion.
When I contacted them on Instagram, they messaged me back with a reference in the first message, and thus I began my first adult foray into self-analysis with a partner, albeit one who is still in school and therefore cannot diagnose or prescribe medications. I believe that it is still a beneficial process despite those handicaps because I personally needed a pressure release valve.
If you suspect you have a mental illness or suicidal thoughts, you definitely should seek help from a medical professional, and in an emergency, always call 911. Otherwise, I think for low-income Denver residents who do not have the access to regular, mental health, it’s a great alternative to nothing at all. I pay $40 every two weeks, and I saved my own life. And for a lot of people, the cost could be even lower, I know for a fact the person I work with offers sliding scale appointments.
But, as the saying goes, it’s easier to say something than it is to do it. Once you are in the office, how do you begin? It is a very awkward and vulnerable space, unfamiliar to most and scary to some. Beginning this relationship is something that will take time, effort, and a common goal.
So, before stepping into this river, ask yourself, where do you want it to take you? If you have trauma, how much trauma do you wanna take on in your first therapy session? You may be asking yourself, “How am I supposed to know what I want out of therapy?” And if all you want is to be able to take hormones, they can go down that river with you.
As a transgender woman, there is an imperative to get into feminizing hormone therapy as soon as you decide you want to, and if you are able to, it usually requires extensive medical history, multiple lab tests ranging from lips to enzymes to hormones, any appropriate screenings determined by biological sex and age, then a different conversation about the use of potentially harmful treatments such as unprescribed hormones, industrial-strength silicone injections, or self-castration, among others.
Depending on your geographical locale and which century the laws you live under were last revised, there might also be a need for a mental health evaluation by a provider with expertise in transgender health. I am of the opinion that if I want to subject myself to all of that, I must be either be crazy or transgender. I knew walking in the door of Chrysalis House that I wanted to be a more functional person, a happier person.
I want to be a woman capable of introspection; I want to have a sense of direction; I want to know how to know what I want and how I feel. I want to know how to know if my fears are real. I want to know if I am processing my stresses correctly; I want to learn how to face problems directly. I want to manage my PTSD and maybe one day not jump or flinch at every unexpected sound. I may want to start taking hormones, which my companion cannot help with, but they can help me figure out the decision, which is important in and of itself.
We’ve been through eight sessions together, and they’ve helped me navigate some major and minor traumas; they know my end goal is a simple, emotional analysis. I don’t know if I want to transition hormonally yet. It is quite a process and no small feat. It requires many years of persistent dedication, financial stability, and security that I do not possess and requires undergoing many invasive processes, not to mention surgeries, and, as the recipient of two lung surgeries beside multiple others, I am not eager to get back under the knife.
But, if I do, it will be as a woman in therapy, with her mental problems under control. All of us have problems; some of those problems are mental, and a few of those problems require help; there is no shame in that. You can’t fix a problem when you won’t admit there is one. So please try. You owe it to your beautiful self.