Am I Going Nuts?

While the church was looking the other way, gender issues became much more complex. The simple arguments based on Deuteronomy 22:5 don’t begin to touch the reality of what transgendered individuals deal with. The state of frustration with ones body that a cross-dresser may feel is not natural or Biblically normal.

In Ephesians 5:29, we read, “…no one ever hated his own flesh but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body…”

As we see in scripture, the normal way to think about our bodies is to cherish them. At what point in our lives did we deviate away from this positive and thankful view of our bodies? We need to reverse this downward slide by pursuing real health and this includes an honest look at how our bodies are changing.

“No, but you may be going through Andropause.”

In a nutshell, when a man (usually between the ages of 35 and 60) goes through the change of life called andropause, his testosterone level decreases while the estrogen percentage increases. He becomes less aggressive and more gender neutral or softer in his actions and interests. This happens to all males to varying degrees.

Much has been discussed in terms of female menopause, and many books have been written on how to cope with this condition. However, the male counterpart to menopause – andropause – has not been discussed much. Most men have never even heard the term andropause. Although this affects every male to some extent, the medical community is just now beginning to address this condition. Of course, their information is more clinical and scientific, however there is a profound psychological aspect to andropause that still needs to be unpacked.

Most have heard the term mid-life crisis. The man goes out and buys the red sports car or takes up with a woman half his age. Even if there is no outward manifestation, all men deal with growing older and the questions that inevitably follow. Who am I? What have I done with my life? Is this the life that I want? These questions come out of a sense that time is running out, but are heightened by a change in body chemistry. That change in body chemistry is now known as andropause.

Most men are taught to be self-reliant and to “ask for directions” is often viewed as a last resort. However, consider for a moment the teen going through puberty. This would not be a good time to leave a person alone in their thoughts, nor ask them to go through that period of their life without a road map, nor any idea on why they feel the way they do. It would not be the best time for the teen to make life-changing important decisions. A teen going through puberty needs the advice, comfort and protection of family and friends to ease the transition into adulthood.

Unfortunately, an adult male going through andropause is almost always left on their own without any clue as to what is happening to their bodies. They know that something is different, but the support systems are not in place to help them through this significant change of life. Rather than embracing this time as another natural experience and honesty dealing with who they are becoming, men will try to stay it off by using drugs like Viagra, or will seek out testosterone injections. Most men however, are unaware that their bodies are naturally changing and will look outside of themselves for answers to why they feel the way they do.

For those men who have struggled with gender all their lives, during andropause these feelings of confusion can come back with a vengeance. Many men (dealing with gender identity) when they were younger joined the military, pursued the macho job or got married believing that those choices would help them fit into society and that over time the feelings and desires for the feminine would lessen and be more manageable. For some, it is a rude awakening to find out that those feelings actually increase rather than decrease. This often creates frustration and despair. This condition is sometimes referred to as “mid-life crisis.”

Usually about the time when andropause starts, the children (if they have any) are grown up and gone, and there is more time to ponder the big questions:   Who am I? What have I done with my life? What am I missing? Is this who I want to be? The issue of gender identity at this time often comes back with great force and takes center stage in a person’s mind. These individuals are not driven to buy the little red sports car but rather the little red pumps. They may even begin to rewrite their life making a case for extreme change declaring that they never felt “OK” in their male persona, and that they have no choice but to make a profound change in their gender.

Fueled by hormonal change and a conviction that time is running out, they cross dress in more earnest. The release and excitement of this sort of feminine exploration may be very intoxicating and feel like a genuine choice or solution to their mid-life struggles. For some, this will lead to pursuing the feminine role full-time through hormones, prolonged periods of cross dressing and even sexual reassignment surgery (SRS). The latter is sometime prescribed as a remedy for GID. In offering choices, the medical community does not factor in as much as it should the reality of andropause (mid-life crisis). Often an older man will be asked to make life altering choices in regards to relationships, job, or self-identity when they are biologically in the worst place to do so. Some who make significant changes at this time in their life go on to live very good lives, while others when their hormones level off, see those choices as profoundly wrong in hindsight. It is always best to take it slow through these transitions and not rush into like altering change. Seek good professional, psychological and medical support before pursuing any life changing alterations.

As with most choices in life, there are many paths. Some choices are under your control while others are overwhelmingly compelling or completely out of your control.

What is key to good mental health, and to making the best long-term choice possible, is to look at your options and desires in an honest and open manner. Face the reality of what is happening now and be patient for change. Find a trusted person to walk through this time of life with and do not attempt to go through this alone.

For more information: 

Andropause is marked by a decrease in testosterone, so naturally the medical community prescribes increasing artificially the testosterone levels as a treatment. The Harry Benjamin Standard of Care prescribes the female hormone, estrogen, as a treatment for gender identity disorder. Light in the Closet does not advocate either of these treatments as an across-the-board remedy for all who are dealing with gender identity issues. There are significant health risks associated with both and still a lot of questions around their use. Our bodies change over time and some of that change is natural and should be embraced for what it is. However, there are psychological considerations as well, and for some the potential benefits are worth the physical risks. Many who have received either testosterone or estrogen treatments report that those treatments have worked well for them – others have had problems. This link is presented here so you may be informed as to the nature of andropause and treatment options available.