Kaitlin Sine Riordan, transgender author of the book “Bondage of Self,” on recovery, masking the pain and finding peace.
BY ORLY LYONNE
As a recovery tech at Desert Palms Treatment Center, Kaitlin Sine Riordan, transgender author of the book “Bondage of Self,” has seen her fair share of ineptitude when it comes to treating a transgender person at recovery facilities.
“It is certainly difficult to find a treatment facility that will accommodate a transgendered individual,” reveals Riordan in an interview with THE FIGHT. “My first own personal experience with treatment was calling a facility located in West Virginia and explaining that I was a male to female transgendered person and needed to know if I would be accepted. I was told it would not be a problem… After my fifth day, I was called into the office and told that the counselor wanted to work on being transgendered first and then my drug and alcohol issue second. This group wanted to tell me that I was not a transsexual.”
“I left that facility and found one in Palm Springs, right here in California, which did work on my substance abuse issues for 90 days. I identified as a female and was subsequently housed with females and female roommate.”
There is a solution to everything. Alcohol and drugs only exacerbate the situation. We do not have to do this alone. We walk through our fears and get to the other side by cleaning up our mess.
“There is fear of harassment for those in the midst of transitioning, especially if gender reassignment has not been performed,” states Riordan. “We worry about housing, ensuring hormones are prescribed, and the overall safety and acceptance from the community. When we reach the point of needing treatment and recovery it is not unusual to bring with us fear, guilt, and shame which is normally escalated by rejection.”
“I only know of a handful of treatment centers in the United States that specify that they are transgender friendly,” reveals Riordan. “So we have to search, ask questions, and reveal that we are transitioning.”
“The need is great for the transgendered community because among those who do not commit suicide (sadly there is a 40% attempt rate) many will mask the pain with substances. This does not mean that all transsexuals mask the pain but many do when rejected by their families… Most treatment facilities do not have policies or procedures when it comes to handling transgendered individuals. Then it becomes a question of ‘what to do’ with these people.”
Desert Palms Treatment Center in Cathedral City, CA, provides a safe environment for transgendered individuals, states Riordan. “I work as a Recover Technician at Desert Palms Treatment Center and have the opportunity to ensure this safety. Having gone through treatment, six years ago, I have some knowledge to offer patients and the organization.”
Riordan’s autobiography “Bondage of Self,” (available at amazon.com) describes her journey in transitioning from male to female. “I discuss the feelings of confusion and rejection by my family. I write about the experience of masking the pain with alcohol and drugs.”
In order to undergo gender reassignment surgery, “I had to stop drinking and using. This was my reason for going to rehab,” reveals Riordan in her book. “It worked and I have had the surgery. I never knew how life could be so wonderful with a drink or a drug.”
“Ultimately,” states Riordan, “there is a solution to everything. Alcohol and drugs only exacerbate the situation. We do not have to do this alone. We walk through our fears and get to the other side by cleaning up our mess. The feeling of not being loved and rejected takes a long time to overcome but it can be done… I know, I had to do it too… Transgendered individuals can live a very happy life. A life in freedom and truth.”
For more on Desert Palm Treatment Center, visit desertpalms.com.