What I Needed: An Open Letter to Therapists from a Detransitioner

Originally posted at Youth Trans Critical Professionals

The main thing I wish were different about the therapy I received before and during my transition is I wish my therapists had been trauma competent.

I was in therapy right after my college rape. I was in therapy for the many years I was wondering if I was some kind of trans. I was in therapy when I decided I was trans and needed to get my letters for hormones and surgery.

All three therapists knew about my college rape. All three therapists knew about my stressful childhood in a home with daily violence. The second two therapists knew about me going through an experience of being virally hated on on the internet. Looking back, knowing about dissociative states, it’s crystal clear that was a traumatic experience I had classic trauma reactions to- dissociation, depression, anxiety, avoidance. We talked over my rape. We talked over my childhood. We talked over a pack of strangers hating me on the internet. We talked and talked and talked.

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Shrinking to survive: A former trans man reports on life inside queer youth culture

Originally posted at 4th Wave Now

There is power in naming. It’s how we find each other, how we connect to our histories, how we connect to our futures. Driving us apart from each other is the easiest way to keep us from learning to recognize attempts to redefine our realities.

I didn’t know this then. I subscribed to an incredibly misogynistic set of beliefs for years. “DFAB privilege” was a common phrase in our community – “designated female at birth privilege.” It was accepted fact that being born female gave you a lifelong advantage over a male who transitioned. This included men who used transition only to mean using different pronouns on Tumblr and having an anime girl as their avatar. We believed that, as “dfabs,” we needed to shut up about our petty problems. We could never have it as hard as any “dmab women or non-binary people.” Everyone in the trans community agreed that it was our responsibility to uplift “dmab voices.” None of this seemed outrageous or strange to me; it felt pretty intuitive. Growing up under male domination is a grooming process that leaves many girls and women extremely vulnerable to manipulation.

The first experience that did make me start to feel suspicious of male transition was when I was 18 and a genderqueer-identifying man who had never pursued any kind of transition raped my best friend, a woman unacquainted with insular trans community politics.

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The right way for women to disappear

Originally posted at Glosswatch

For a long time I have felt a parallel can be made between eating disorders and gender confirmation surgery as forms of self-harming body modification. It’s not a comparison I make lightly, just for the hell of it. Indeed, every time I’ve made it, I’ve had to put up with the ritual public Shaming of the TERF, alongside the trivialisation of a condition which led to several long-term hospitalisations against the “realness” of true gender dysphoria. It’s been suggested to me that anorexia is an attempt to “express your feels” as opposed to the real suffering of “having a skin that metaphorically itches all the time” (as if anyone who’s ever had anorexia would not understand that!). A piece I wrote about the inappropriateness of positioning female body hatred within the context of “cis-ness” got me to Level 2 on the Blockbot. According to the official narrative, anorexia is at best mental illness, at worst vanity; transness, on the other hand, is politically radical, unquestionably authentic and quite incomprehensible to “the cis”.

A woman who starves puberty into remission is sick, so sick you can section her, decree her officially incapable of knowing what her own body needs.  One who drugs puberty into remission is not sick; she is, on the contrary, a mystic emissary from Planet Gender. Her – his, their – word is law. A woman who, like me, tries to kill herself because no amount of starvation will make her breasts fully disappear is considered mad. One who merely threatens to kill herself should no surgeon be willing to slice off her breasts for her – well, that person is merely a victim of medical gatekeeping.

Why is this?

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A trans man’s egg retrieval

Originally posted at Purple Sage

This is the story of a trans man being misgendered while getting her eggs retrieved so they can be implanted into her wife for gestation. (And I note that this trans man is biologically female and has a female partner, which, by the way, makes her a lesbian.)

I’m already quite fascinated by this person after the first paragraph. She saw herself carrying a child for most of her life, but not after she came out as a trans man. This tells me that she was in fact living as a woman for most of her life, and was not feeling uncomfortable about using her female biology to create a child. This makes me wonder about the nature of sex dysphoria, if a trans man can spend most of her life feeling comfortable with the idea of carrying a child. Doesn’t that mean that she does NOT hate her female biology? This stuff just doesn’t make sense to me.

The first time she recalls being mistreated at the clinic, this is what happened:

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Two Years

Originally posted at Words by Maria Catt

My sweetie pie gay boy co-worker took a vakay to San Francisco and now is going to move there.  He’s roommates with the bisexual, recently raped, very femme- presenting, identifying as a trans boy person. Who has a beautiful singing voice they are about to wreck with T.

At least the mistakes I’ve made are very popular mistakes to make. I have a knack for making the mistakes everyone else is going to make 2 years later. I got into standup ahead of the boom, I threw myself on the rape joke protest pyre ahead of everyone writing a think piece about that, and now I’m over the trans thing a couple of years ahead of everyone else too.

So the question is, since all this harm is being done, and since in about two years a lot of young people are going to face up to lots of regrets about permanent changes they’ve made to their bodies and a whole lot of additional trauma they’ve taken on in that community, what do we have to build to keep them alive two years from now?

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Restroom Risk: a Patriarchal Reversal

Originally posted at Miriam Afloat

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. That being stated, there is a suspiciously one-sided absence of evidence regarding violence towards trans persons using the restroom. Specifically, there are no documented cases I could find of transwomen or gender non-conforming (GNC) men being assaulted inside the men’s restroom.

(Please, prove me wrong. I actually like it when that happens.)

I am not speaking of physical opposition, or threats, or verbal harassment.  The type of incident I am speaking of is assault and/or rape, such as the assault of a trans boy (EDIT: trans boy recanted claims of assault) in the men’s restroom at Hercules High School in San Francisco, or the trans man who had “it” carved into his chest (EDIT: some debate over whether this was a hoax or not) while using a men’s restroom at Cal State Long Beach. Even if I were only speaking of general abuse sustained by trans persons who choose to use the restroom aligning with their self-identity, the available evidence suggests these incidents occur at a higher rate to trans men (quote, pg 68: “People who were transitioning from female-to-male reported problems at a much higher rate than people who were transitioning from male-to-female”).

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Where did I go?

Originally posted at Third Way Trans

My primary goal for this blog is to help people dealing with dysphoria, and finding better ways to deal with their dysphoria than transition.   I don’t expect those ways to work for everyone, but even if they work for some people that is a good thing.   I don’t have any moral or philosophical objection to transition, hormones or surgery. I just think they are awful experiences that people should not have to undergo unless necessary. I feel that I lost a lot of opportunities as a result of this, from not being able to have a family, to dealing with social stigma, to relationship difficulties, and various mental health issues stemming from untreated trauma and taking too high dosages of estrogen.   On the other hand I recognize that some of the challenges of transition arise directly from stigma, and I don’t want to contribute to the stigma faced by trans people either.

Although, I do have a secondary goal of bringing awareness of these issues to mental health professionals, both the issues of detransitioners, and even more importantly working to find ways to prevent unnecessary transitioning.   Increasingly, at least in the USA, there is no exploration happening at all, and some therapists even find it offensive to explore or question with their clients.

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