This site is called Third Way Trans as it is intended as an exploration of alternative ways to deal with gender dysphoria, sex dysphoria, and transgender issues. The third way is a middle way. It is neither suggests that trans experience is invalid, nor says that transition is the only solution to gender issues. This site is supportive of people that transition, but also suggests the exploration of alternatives which may create less suffering.
I am someone who transitioned MTF at age 19 because I thought there was no other way. However, 20 years later I returned back to male presentation and identity. Through the healing of my trauma, reconnecting to my body, and studying psychology, I discovered that my issues were not founded in an essential identity at all and could have been worked through in a different way.
Through this site I hope to share my story as well as share the map I have gained on my journey in case there are others that are lost and want to find the way home.
When discussing these issues, I adhere to the biopsychosocial model which posits multiple causes for transgenderism. This is a standard model in psychology and it seems most conditions are causes by a mix of biological, psychological and social factors. I don’t think transgenderism is any exception to this. I also believe in the importance of applying systems thinking There is some evidence for biological correlates of gender identity issues. Brain studies show differences between the brains of transgender people and controls. Some in the direction of their identified sex, some similarities with their natal sex, and some differences unique to trans people. This evidence is mixed, and also unsurprising, because most psychological conditions can be seen as brain differences, including depression, schizophrenia, PTSD, and bipolar. In addition social factors, such as group identification play a role.
I also believe that insight can be gained by breaking things down into different brain systems. In particular, contrasting low-level instincts with high-level brain functions. One source of confusion is that the low level impulses that can lead to trangender identity are called “gender identity” while the high-level narratives themselves are also called “gender identity”. High level narratives are cultural specific and constructed, not discovered. Another thing that confuses thinking is often false distinction between real and fake, when it comes to transgender issues.
In particular I divide things into three layers in the three-part model. The low-level instincts, biological factors and sexual imprinting, the mid-level structures such as gender schemas, and the role of trauma, and high-level structures which is what we are talking about when we talk about identities or narratives. I also discuss the controversial theory of autogynephilia (AGP) and how it ties into the rest of what I am saying.
Healing from trauma and dissociation and resolving distorted images of men and masculinity were a key to my healing. It was the opposite of reparative therapy. Reparative therapy holds that you must be conditioned to be a typical man or woman to heal. This was the reverse, instead of trying to jam myself into the man box, I recognized the box in my head was distorted.
I mostly focus on MTF issues, I think another potential source of problems is when ideas of gender that arise from the MTF experience are extrapolated onto the FTM experience or onto children. There is some overlap, particularly around gender schemas, but they also have their own distinct properties.