By: Santo Hollon

By 42, Val was extremely depressed. She felt the pain of being born into what felt like an alien body, daily. She felt flawed. As time went by, it drew her grew closer and closer to the realization that she wanted a full sex change.She searched for answers in publications like ‘Tapestry,’ which focused on the transgendered cross-dressers of the LGBT community. She searched for a psychiatrist. A feat that proved extremely challenging in the mid-90’s, when there was so little knowledge or support. She interviewed many psychiatrists and felt jerked around by most as if they had no clue as to what Val’s challenges truly were. It seemed impossible to find a good fit.During this same dark time, she extricated herself from a very toxic, year-long relationship. The woman (newly divorced with her own issues) screamed at Val that she was a weirdo, a faggot and a creep after confiding in her that she liked to cross-dress. She left out the part that she actually felt like a woman.Val blamed herself for the dramatic end to the relationship. She was a lot of pain during this period. And confused. She started cutting herself, as a way to let the pain out.  Studies show that many cutters find the rush of endorphins that flood the body afterward calming.Although Valerie wasn’t trying to commit suicide, a witness alerted the authorities deeming her acts a suicide attempt. At the hospital’s psych ward, she was evaluated by a social worker named Pat, who grew curious about Val. She wanted to know everything.“She noticed I had been cutting myself quite a bit. Eventually I let her in, little by little,” Val said. “I was extremely guarded because of all of the shame and guilt I felt over the years.

I had been so isolated. But there was something about Pat’s tone that gave me the freedom to open up to her.” And disclose her desire for sexual reassignment surgery.In order to get permission to proceed with gender reassignment surgery, one must go through psychoanalysis with a written letter of approval for surgery. Therefore, Val was subjected to a barrage of personal questions designed to determine whether she was mentally ill or truly ready to complete the surgery.She felt a little dismayed by this procedure, as she felt like she knew who she was and knew what she wanted. But started to doubt herself. Was she indeed, mentally ill? A few days later Pat gave Valerie the evaluation.“I’ll never forget it,” said Val.”Pat said, ‘it is clear why you’ve had so many problems. Our tests show that you think, feel and act just like a woman.’”“It felt good,” Val laughed. “I knew I wasn’t going insane. It was an epiphany.”The psychiatrist Pat suggested for Val, to get her letter of approval, died halfway through her evaluation and she wasn’t able to get the letter.A second psychiatrist proved indecisive. A lot of psychiatrists at that time were flaky and unhelpful towards a lot of transsexuals who were considering getting the operation. She found herself wasting days, and months…By: Santo Hollon