Why don't I have trans friends

Transgender and Depression When the inner turmoil breaks you


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Whether it is an increased risk of suicide or sadness: Those who are trans run the higher risk of becoming depressed. But why is it like that?

From: Lisa Altmeier

Status: 09/08/2016

Jim has a hard time describing how he used to feel. "I kept crying. I couldn't talk about the subject without crying. I was sad, yes. But it was more than sadness." Jim is a trans man, he was born Isabella. Today he's a funny young man who speaks openly about his past. But he had to learn that first. In his small hometown in the Allgäu, parents and teachers were overwhelmed, they didn't understand why he didn't wear skirts and hated his name.

At 15 he looked for help online - and finally found the psychotherapist Michael Bastian, who specializes in transpatients. So he made his way from the Allgäu to Munich: "But I didn't dare to go there alone, so I took a friend with me. And we just passed by without an appointment. I had the feeling that someone was finally there, who understands me and with whom I can talk. Sure, I can also talk to my parents and friends, but it's just something else. "

Depression - an almost classic reaction

The therapist didn't just think Jim's thoughts were in a difficult phase. He confirmed what Jim had known for a long time, but until then nobody in his environment had really understood: Jim is trans.

"In my opinion, almost all transgender people go through a depressive phase during puberty. It is assumed that every second suicide in young people can be traced back to sexual or gender-related backgrounds."

- Michael Bastian, psychotherapist


But why is it like that? Mobbing? Parents and teachers at a loss? No, says therapist Michael Bastian. Sayings like "You can tell that you are really not a boy!" or "OPs don't bring you anything either!" can trigger or worsen the depression, but the reasons are deeper. "The inner conflict is the decisive factor," says the psychologist. Specifically: the contradiction between body and soul. The head has to deal with the fact that the body does not match the rest of the self. And that then leads to depression.

Every week Michael Bastian treats 15 patients who cannot cope with this conflict. The youngest of them don't even go to school - but they already know exactly what gender they feel they belong to.

"I have children with four or five sitting here who can clearly state that they are not a boy or a girl. The gender identity is actually set in the fourth or fifth year, and that is what all research results point to."

- Michael Bastian, psychotherapist

But with many children it is only much later that you discover what is really going on. In the US media in particular, there have recently been more reports of trans young people who killed themselves because they saw no other way out.

There are no official statistics for Germany, but the risk of depression and its consequences is likely to be higher for trans men and women than for a cis person, i.e. someone who identifies with their innate physical gender. Michael Bastian says: "There are studies that show that the risk of suicide is ten times higher among homosexuals than with heterosexuals. From my experience and that of my colleagues, I would estimate that it is even greater among transgender people."

The good thing, however, is that depression can often be treated successfully. "As soon as the young people deal with the issue, the suicidality, that is, the risk of suicide, drops massively," says Michael Bastian. In therapy you learn to cope better with the situation. Most of Michael Bastian's patients have not yet come out and notice what it is like to speak openly about one's own identity. The whole thing is paid for by the health insurance company and if you want, you can bring your parents with you for a few hours. But they too often have to learn to deal with the situation first.

Jim also looked for a trans youth group. In many places there are unfortunately still too few advice centers, but Michael Bastian recommends self-help groups in order to at least exchange ideas with people of the same age who have similar concerns.

Who supports me

Are you trans * and looking for contacts who can support or advise you? Sometimes it's not that easy. In Jim's home in the Allgäu there are senior citizens' meetings, alcoholics anonymous and a traditional costume club - but for a long time there was no contact point for young people who are trans. In the meantime, a self-help group has also been founded there: It is called "Kempten Trans-Ident". At Feli in Bamberg there is a self-help group, but it is more tailored to the needs of the elderly. At least in Munich there are two contact points that you can turn to:

  • Lambda Bayern, the umbrella organization of the LesBiSchwulen and Trans youth groups in Bavaria, has a trans department that you can turn to if you have any questions or problems. The speaker of the project is also a trans man himself.
  • In Diversity Munich there is the youth group frienTS for people up to 27, which meets every second Saturday of the month and also offers leisure trips.

Of course, there can always be setbacks - and depression can come back. For example, when people around you react badly or you are not satisfied with the result of the gender reassignment surgery. In such situations, therapists like Michael Bastian help to process the disappointment: "It is often also about making people clear what they have to accept. Often the expectations, especially when it comes to operations, for example, are very high. Part of the Therapy is then also about jointly considering what is realistic and what is not. "

Today Jim is happy that he looked for help and found it: "I have become much more self-confident through these conversations and can now easily talk to other people about the fact that I am trans without crying."

If you are trans and would like to seek therapeutic help, make sure that you are dealing with a psychotherapist who has experience with trans patients.

If you are in an acute crisis, contact your doctor, the nearest psychiatric clinic or the emergency number as soon as possible.