Invalidating stories of de-transition

I’ve read a number of articles about de-transition recently. My heart goes out to every person who has gone through this experience. It must have been an especially shattering and difficult experience. Your voice is important and I value it and respect it enormously.

Every transgender experience is different, difficult and uncertain. None of us can know how we will feel at the end of our transition or lived experience. We can only follow what our hearts and souls tell us is right. Sometimes we misread or even mislead ourselves.

We should always consider all outcomes when deciding on our own transition. That’s why the voices of people who have de-transitioned are so valuable.

But to use the example of transgender people who have decided to de-transition as an invalidation of all transgender transition is simply absurd. We could use the same argument to invalidate marriage.

As is always the case in almost anything, there will be a wide distribution of experiences felt by trans people going through transition. Ranging from very happy with transition right through to very unhappy.

The very unhappy people will most likely de-transition. But that doesn’t mean they determine the efficacy of transition for everyone else.

In my view, transition in whatever form works for you, does seem to be an effective way for many transgender people to find some peace and begin to live their lives.

People who detransition aren’t our enemies but equally they don’t speak for us or predict our outcomes.

We are beautiful unique individuals striving to find happiness. We are not all the same.

I wish she could have helped me

My six months of therapy led me to suspect that my Mum knew I was trans whilst I was growing up.

She used to let me grow my hair longer than most boys. She styled it in, what I can now see in old photos were feminine styles.

Growing up I was forever being mistaken as a girl when I was supposed to be being a boy. I used to find it embarrassing but also reassuring. It was next to impossible to use the Men’s bathroom without being stopped so I used to avoid it just to avoid the embarrassment.

My Mum also kept my older sister’s old clothes in the spare room in a wardrobe. I used to wear them whenever I could. I know lots of Mum’s did this with old clothes. But when I grew bigger than my sister, clothes and shoes appeared in the wardrobe that were larger than would ever fit her or my sister. They were amazing, beautiful grown up clothes. I adored them and with makeup I looked perfect in them. My heart aches just remembering the joy I used to feel. I could see with my own eyes that it wasn’t too late. I could still be me if only I could find someone to help me go through the changes I so desperately needed.

Ok so now I’m crying. It’s just so awful. I remember feeling totally alone and sure I was a vile disgusting freak. I remember the feeling of terror at what more puberty would do to me. I felt my time was running out. It was. There wasn’t going to be a miracle.

I am so glad children today face a more open and accepting society. Although there are still many bigots playing gender politics to mask their bigotry.

I always wince when I read people saying that trans kids don’t know what they want until they are older. I knew from almost my first memories. My feelings have stayed exactly the same my whole life. I believe gender identity is like sexual orientation, it is fixed and doesn’t change.

I just wish, if my Mum did know about me, that she would have found the courage to help and support me more. Maybe she helped me as much as she could at that time.

Let’s let our children be themselves, whatever that means and let’s not worry what other people think. As long as it’s not directly harmful to your child or others it’s fine just let it be. They will find their own path safe in the knowledge you love them and support them.

I saw her standing there

I was chatting with a friend online recently. She was telling me about the moment she looked in the mirror and accepted herself as a woman for the first time.

She had been dressing for a long time but this was the moment she looked in the mirror in that casual way we all do but instead of just seeing herself in women’s clothes, now, for the first time, she saw herself as the person, the woman she was to be for the rest of her life. It was the pivotal moment in her transition and she never looked back from it.

Having now read a little more about this, I now understand it’s quite a common moment in transition and by no means unique to her.

Many of us spend years dealing with doubt and skepticism. Self acceptance can be the most difficult obstacle. But this sounds like a wonderful moment to experience and it gives me hope. I would love to, one day, look in the mirror and see her (me) standing there.

If you, as I do, feel stuck, in the closet, unable to be the person you feel yourself to be, reaching this goal, this moment can seem like climbing Everest. We hide so much of our true selves scared of discovery and the outside world. Terrified what the consequences might be.

But if you can find the courage, if you can summon the words then you owe it to yourself to take the next step.

Taking the easy way

Suicide is never the answer to any problem we face. Impossibile problems and fears might fill our mind right now. They can drive us to the depths of despair, today, but that won’t always be the case. Problems don’t age well and they usually fade with time.

How you feel right now isn’t how you will always feel. There will come a time when what seems an insurmountable problem now will just be a memory later on.

Problems can also be agents of change. Sometimes the challenges we face are outside of our control. But sometimes they are in our control. If there are things you can do, steps you can take to improve, alleviate or even solve the problem then start taking those steps. No matter how small or individually insignificant they may seem. They are one step closer to solved or resolved.

“Worry only about those things you can change”

You are not the sole owner of you because you belong to all of us and especially to your friends and family who love you and need you to be there. Even if you have fallen out with some or all them.

“Every day is another chance to turn it all around”

Every hour, day, week, month is another opportunity to stop and turn it all around. So stop. Give it another day, and then another and keep doing that until the sun begins to rise again in your life. Because it will. It did for me.

I know how it feels. I know how the pain hurts and I know how comforting it is to think of it all going away.

But remember, we all get one chance at life on this earth. It’s a brief moment in time and then it’s over for eternity. We owe it most of all to ourselves to live a life that is true to us and to enjoy as much of it as is possible.

Transgender Suicide

Transgender people in particular are especially prone to feelings of depression and suicide. If you ever feel like this you must try to reach out to friends, family, therapists and to our community and talk through your feelings. We have a diverse, strongly opinioned but hugely knowledgeable community. There is a lot of advice and help to be sought and given. You are not alone.

I am also a hypocrite

I tried to take my own life when I was still a teenager. I had nowhere to turn, I felt I had reached the end and I wanted to be at peace. I am here now because I failed. I’m glad I failed because although my life has been as difficult and as challenging as I feared it has also been filled with moments of sheer joy, laughter and happiness. They may not have lasted that long but oh were they worth it. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world …

Not asking much

I often wonder why some feel so threatened by transgender people. They seem to set themselves up as biological purists, as chromosomal absolutists. Unless your DNA, biochemistry and lived experience matches their standards then you don’t qualify for their classification. You will never belong and that’s final.

We all present an image to the world and that image to some extent affects the way society perceives us, treats us and reacts to our presence.

Present a masculine image and people will give you space and will be more cautious in their approach and interaction. A feminine image will usually appear as more approachable and less threatening.

Your phenotype, which is the visible form you actually present, is not necessarily the same as your genotype which is the form your genetics encodes you to present.

If we choose to suppress the Y chromosome or artificially express it we alter the image we present to the world. And we do it so that we can interact with the world and be at peace with ourselves.

Your biological sex doesn’t necessarily determine which image you present. You decide that.

At no point do the face to face interactions we have with others involve a chromosomal or biochemical test of our biological gender. And so what we present and perceive is all that matters.

As transgender people we feel uncomfortable presenting our raw genotype and in common with many other species in nature we present a different shell.

Some transgender people are able to present a phenotype entirely indistinguishable from their desired genotype. Genetic males present as beautiful women and genetic females as handsome men.

If your goal is to create an exclusionary environment/space then you will have to police it on phenotype alone. That’s because you won’t have access to genetic testing which means you can never truly guarantee the integrity of your exclusionary space.

Transphobics and TERFS can therefore never hope to achieve their stated aims. Unless those they seek to exclude don’t pass easily or convincingly. They will be their targets, their prey.

Transphobics and TERFS only seek to exclude. Their motives are based purely on hate, bigotry and prejudice.

I take comfort in knowing that history will view them as the bigots they are. I am also certain, when the time comes, they will deny ever promoting their vile prejudice.

My true heroes

My heroes aren’t sports stars or actors, I respect, admire and am grateful to our military. But my lifelong heroes are and will always simply be all of you.

Over the years it is transgender men and women like you who have given me hope. Your stories of transition, your determination to overcome problems, your fight, has made me feel that I at least could have a chance.

Through everything you have endured, through documenting your stories, your struggles to a skeptical world you have helped us all become increasingly accepted in many more spheres of life. And although there are still many bigots, there are many more supporters too.

I don’t know where you have found your strength, your courage, your commitment. But just knowing you are there, just knowing what you can achieve is enough for me to get through a day.

I may feel tearful as I write this but I know one day it will all be OK. We just need to keep getting up in the morning, put one foot in front of the other and face every new day.

Be free, be happy, be loved but most of all … be you.

xxx

I’m not exceptional

I’ve always been pretty average. Average intelligence, average academically, at sports. Same goes for drawing, painting, singing, dancing. The list goes on.

So why am I telling you this? It’s because I have always hated myself for not having the courage to transition. I talk the talk (in my head mostly) but … you can guess the rest.

I’ve realised something that I think kind of lets me off the hook. Transgender men and women who transition are exceptional people. They are not average Joes/Janes they are people of extraordinary courage, determination and fortitude. Whilst I admire and love them, as much as they inspire me, I remain average and sadly way below exceptional.

It got me thinking though. How many hidden transgender people are there out there lacking those exceptional qualities necessary to change their lives for the better?

An inspirational woman

I had a meeting yesterday with a wonderful person. After interacting with her via email for a while, when she was visiting from the US she wanted to meet face to face.

As I met her in reception I realised she was transgender.

She was confident, gregarious, happy and outgoing. She is also very successful. I found her truly inspiring.

Throughout the meeting I just felt so distracted. She must have thought I was a complete dummy.

Sat in front of me was a happy, successful, confident transgender woman just getting on with her life. I think the reason I was so distracted was because, similar to how it would be for me, she didn’t pass that well. But she didn’t let that stop her living her life as herself.

I’m just so happy for her. I admire her courage and strength. I’m so glad I met her.

At home, once everyone had gone to bed that night I stayed up. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep. As I sat there thinking about the day tears rolled down my cheeks but I’m not quite sure why. I think it may have been frustration or even just self pity. I just felt emotional I guess.

More of our transgender brothers and sisters are finding the courage to live their lives their own way. They inspire others to do the same sometimes without even knowing it.

And so it is

I’ve not posted in a while because to be honest I have been feeling much more able to cope and feel less need to vent.

When I get these brief periods of respite it makes me feel like I can make it. Maybe I can get to the end of my life without anyone close to me knowing or me having to do anything

But it is such a waste of life. I wouldn’t try to end my life again but I yearn to be free from all of this. After I took those pills when I was 19 the feeling of relief was so powerful. My awful knawing dread and hate for myself lifted. I felt so free, so calm. Is that how it feels to not suffer this curse?

 

5 things I would say

There are five things I would like to say to myself at eighteen years old.

  1. Don’t feel ashamed of who you are
  2. You are not crazy, worthless, deviant, insignificant or hopeless
  3. No matter how hard you try, no matter what you do, there is nothing that will ever make you a man
  4. You can’t hide from this it will always be there. You will never out run it
  5. Don’t be the person others expect you to be, just be you

A basic sense of self

I have come this far. I think I have worked through a lot of self hatred and denial. I can accept who I am. I think I even understand some of it.

Talking to some of the wonderful, beautiful people who have contacted me has helped me to realise that it’s possible for there to be a life without this awful dysphoria. I smile whenever I think of that. It makes me feel happy to know that many of you will get there. It may be a journey of a thousand miles with bumps along the way but you will, get there.

It’s important for you to know whenever you doubt. Your cause is just. Don’t delay, don’t wait. Summon your courage and pursue what your heart and mind tells you to be true.

What you seek is what everyone else takes for granted, a comfortable basic sense of self identity. We build our lives on this foundation and without it our lives become a maelstrom of doubt, fear and unhappiness.

Everyone has the right to be who they are, live an authentic life and seek happiness.

My name is Beth

Hi. My name is Beth and I am a transgender woman. I didn’t choose to be transgender, I was born this way. I have lived my life so far pretending to be someone I’m not. I have always tried to be a good person but have never once felt comfortable as the man I appeared to be. My life has at times been very difficult to cope with and I have wanted it to end on a number of occasions.

With the help of my therapist and many amazing trans men and women online I now accept and am proud of who I am and I no longer hate myself for being transgender.

I long to free myself of my male life. I need to become the person I am inside. I need to begin my transition.

But where to start … ?

Birth Gender

I’ve never accepted my birth gender. From my first memories at four years old to right now.

Early on my requests to dress as a girl and play with girl’s toys were angrily rejected by my parents leaving me bewildered.

I stopped believing in a benevolent god when I was very young because my desperate nightly prayers were ignored.

I discovered birthday cake wishes never came true and never had the courage to ask Santa what I really wanted for Christmas.

The one thing I could control was my personal identity. They could call me boy, they could make me look like a boy, but couldn’t make me join in. I knew I could resist joining male groups or supporting male causes.

In the absence of any other control even now I will resist the pressure to join the boy’s team.

I never use restrooms unless I am desperate and men’s locker rooms disgust me. Change before and shower at home is my motto.

When a social group fragments by gender I excuse myself.

This is how I rail against my dysphoria. Quiet, under the radar, discreet.

Giving up on Therapy

At times I feel like giving up on therapy. I feel like I am sometimes just talking in circles.

“Yep, still dysphoric, nothing I can do about it”.
In our last session my therapist asked me what it was I really wanted deep down.

The truth is the same as it was when I first discovered that article in my Mum’s magazine about gender confirmation surgery. A transgender woman went through transition and had her surgery. She seemed to me to be a happy and beautiful woman who now enjoyed her life. I was ecstatic when I read it because it meant my dream was possible outside of magic or act of god. I remember how hopeful, sensitive and kind the article was.

The problem was that daring to hope I could also fully transition was what led me to my feeble suicide attempt when my hopes were dashed.

So saying the words out loud, admitting it has always been what I’ve wanted was actually quite hard to do.

I did say the words.

Funny thing is it has made me feel a bit more relaxed about things. I obviously needed to get it out there.

I think I need to forgive myself. I didn’t ask to have gender dysphoria. I’ve had it for as long as I can remember and have been trying to deal with it as best I can.

I also know that I need to fully transition and live the rest of my life as the woman I have always been inside.

Going nowhere

I don’t know how I can make things better. I don’t know how I can move forward. I really want to.

I know I don’t want to die. My family need me and I love them.

I can’t bear living as a man any longer I’m so tired and sick of having to do it every day. The anxiety and stress I am feeling overwhelms me at times. I long for a day when I don’t have to pretend anymore, when I can just be myself.

But how can I impose my transition on my family. I love them so much.

I love my wife and I want us to stay together. We truly are best friends, soul mates. We have been together 17 years and she still sends me “I luv u” texts almost every day”.

I want her to know me, the real me and that’s what would change, the person she thought I was. I feel no strong desire to present as female at the moment which I hope would take the pressure of a little.

But I know in my heart that transition is the only way forward for me. I have always known that even though I have often rejected it and run away from it.

Transgender children

When I was four I knew how I felt. I still felt the same way at eight and nine. At thirteen my feelings hadn’t changed but I was beginning to feel the pressure as puberty meant time was running out for me.

By sixteen I was distraught and stopped dressing because I hated my appearance and by nineteen I attempted suicide. Realising the hurt I would have caused my family I have buried my feelings ever since.

My life has since been painful and it’s been difficult to really take pleasure in anything. It’s now too late for me and I hope to get through what’s left of  it with as little trauma as possible.

If I was a child now though and my parents were of a different generation I am sure my future happiness could have been saved.

I would have jumped at the chance at socially transitioning at 4 and taken blockers when appropriate and estrogen as soon as I could. I would have signed anything to have surgery at sixteen.

My life could have been different. I could have spent it being who I felt I was inside. I could have looked in the mirror and smiled back at myself. I could have related to the world as a different person. I would have had at least a chance at happiness.

Saying transgender children are too young to know what they want is just wrong. I knew at four and I feel the same today as I did then.

I agree it’s difficult and there is a spectrum but we do need to get better at identifying the transgender children and helping their parents make informed choices.

We also need to stop attacking amazing Moms and Dads dealing with very difficult issues they don’t really understand in a desperate attempt to rescue the childhood of their amazing children.

Best friends with Jenny

When I was nine years old I spent one idyllic summer in North Wales with my Mum’s friend and her son James. He was an only child and they owned a cottage in the countryside (a lot of the time we were actually looked after by his Nanny)

During our six week vacation we became friends with the two girls who lived on the farm down the road. Mary was eleven and Jenny was the same age as me. It didn’t take long for Jenny and I to become firm friends. We just seemed to click and would spend every daylight hour together.

We walked and ran through fields, built houses and boats for teddies, wrote funny stories, played schools, farms, hospitals, vets you name it we did it.

Jenny also liked playing football, cricket and was always climbing trees and getting her clothes dusty. She was also embarrassed that her wardrobe had dresses inside it and told me her mum bought them and made her wear them for church. Everybody described her as a tomboy.

I thought she was amazing and she could make me laugh until tears ran down my face.

She would often say things like being a girl was boring and that they can’t play football or be vets or drive tractors. I pointed out that she was better at football than I was and there was a girl called Anne in my class at school who was cleverer than all of the boys put together and she could definitely be a vet.

It upset me that she felt so down about being a girl. To me she had everything. She was pretty, kind, funny and even seemed better at doing boy stuff than me! I would have switched places with her in a heartbeat. It didn’t occur to me that a girl might feel about herself  the way I felt about being a boy.

I don’t know if she was trans but she was unhappy with the limitations and expectations she felt were placed on her.

One day, when we were playing by the stream, I told her I thought being a girl was just as good as being a boy and they can do everything boys can. This broke the “boy code” and I had to motivate myself to say it out loud. I was worried somehow everyone would find out and guess my secret by me saying it.

She just smiled at me.

The rest of the summer was filled with lots of fun activities interspersed with midnight feasts, ghost stories in the fields at 2am and amazing talent shows.

When it was time to go home I was devastated. She was the perfect friend I had always wanted. I could be myself around her in a way I had never been able before. I wish I had told her more about how I felt about myself.

It took a long time to get over losing her.

I do hope Jenny was able to find herself and be happy with who she was. I wouldn’t wish dysphoria on anybody.

I will never forget her.

I never wear female clothes

The thing that causes me to doubt if I am really transgender more than anything else is I don’t wear female clothes. In fact I haven’t done that for many years.

When I was younger I used to wear female clothes a lot. I used to really enjoy it. I was lucky at the time because I was quite an effeminate looking boy and I made quite a passable girl.

It was only as I got older and bigger that things began to change. Puberty and growth made me look less and less passable. Eventually I hated the sight of myself dressed. It was no longer a positive, happy experience.

I suppose it was symbolic of my losing battle with testosterone. I knew my time was running out and the window was closing.

When it closed that was it for me. My goal was always to look as feminine as possible. I am sure if I wore female clothes now I would look awful. I don’t need that on top of everything else.

So there it is. Not sure what it means. If it means I’m not really a transgender person then that’s fine. My journey is to work through and resolve the issues I am having rather than find a label.

If I am really being honest I just want to get through this life with my “secret” kept just between us. My family can live in blissful ignorance. They are beautiful, loving, wonderful, kind people and deserve to be free of the burden.

I don’t want to be transgender 

I’m really sorry if this offends anyone but I don’t want to be transgender. Maybe me saying that means I’m not?

I don’t have the courage or the steely determination that I can see the brave transgender men and women exhibit in countless YouTube videos and blogs. That probably means I don’t want it enough.

I hate feeling the way I do. I’ve had it since I was four years old. Enough!

I want it to go away. I want it to leave me alone. I want it to stop ruining my life.

Does Prozac work, what about other antidepressants? Any other drugs? Has anyone tried some alternatives? I just want to make it stop so I can go on being who I need to be for the people who need me. They have earned their immunity from dealing with this.
How can it be there is only one solution to this. What about the weak, feeble scared people like me.

To all the brave amazing transgender men and women who are or have transitioned you amaze me and inspire me but I don’t have your courage and I mean you no disrespect.

My life as an “under the radar” transgender person

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