Copied below are my answers to a researcher’s questions regarding my detransition. If the researcher finds this post and wishes me to reference them, I will. Until then, their questions are anonymous and in bold.
How do you presently identify?
In short, I do not “identify” as anything in the neoliberalist sense of the word. The modern meaning of “identify” is closer in alignment with “how I wish to be seen” rather than “an honest description of my physical, cultural, and environmental reality in relation to other people.” I am male by virtue of fact. All else that follows from that fact is included in this.
How have you identified in the past?
I once identified myself as a woman. I remember mansplaining to women that there was little difference between myself and an infertile woman – an experience which I realized was not something I had any right to co-opt for my personal gratification.
What did you do to transition? (socially, medically, legally, psychologically)
I socially transitioned for five months prior to medical transition. By “social transition” I mean that I claimed to others that I was a woman and allowed myself to adopt the traditionally feminine accoutrements that are currently associated with the sex-role forced upon actual female humans. After these five months of attempting to use a combination of isoflavones (phytoestrogens, reishi mushroom extracts (a natural 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor), and large amounts of alcohol (a natural aromatase upregulator), I decided that my desire to self-mutilate in order to escape from the influence of androgens was severe enough to capitulate to the medical industrial complex, foregoing my decade-long abstinence from any contact with allopathic medical practitioners.
What have you done to detransition? Do you use “detransition” to describe yourself now?
“Detransition” meant that I desisted hormonal replacement therapy (cross-sex hormones), and made an effort to communicate to others that I no longer identified as a woman. I wear skirts infrequently now and have stopped using makeup, but aside from that I do not limit my clothing choices or mannerism based on society’s preconceived notions of what is “appropriate” for individuals of a particular sex. My current “status” can be defined in many ways – but considering that both the terms “trans” and “detransition” lack any official or consistent definition even within those respective groups, I am hesitant to say that any particular word to describe my condition is either inaccurate or fully incompatible with my reality.
Was there a trajectory or path that you were on originally, from which you deviated? Using that parlance, what “path” are you on now?
This is a more difficult question to answer. The original plan was to follow through to the “full” transiton – as in, SRS, hopefully passing full-time, etc. Finding a husband, having a life that others deemed normal. I’ve always been “weird” and even remember gleefully identifying myself as that when I discovered the word at 4/5 years old – also part of that memory is the adult who taught me the meaning of the word “weird” being obviously uncomfortable with my identification with it. Yet, now I realize once again – finding again that childhood approach to honesty – that existing outside the norm is not a bad thing. In fact, it is the font of inspiration, change and creativity. I view transgenderism as a self-defense mechanism that reacts to society’s forceful hand, trying to normalize that which is weird and make it normal. This is not a good thing. My current path is to embrace my strangeness and emphasize the aspects of it which can change society for the better, and not just for some people.
Was there anything that made transition hard for you?
The cognitive dissonance more than anything. Being “misgendered” brought that dissonance to the forefront and increased temporarily my obsession with mutilating my genitals in order to escape what I saw as the pressure of unwanted androgens. Being laughed at while clearly un-passing at the beginning did the same. I wasn’t willing to enter female restrooms until I was confident that I was passing, so the uncomfortable looks from other men were difficult. Yet, when I was mostly passing, entering female restrooms was worse because by that point I had educated myself on the oppression of being female under patriarchy and so was constantly paranoid that I would be clocked, and my presence would induce a (wholly rational) fear within the women in the restroom. Towards the end, prior to detransition, I started using men’s restrooms again and had no problems, since by that point I was fully aware the only danger I faced was realizing that I made other men uncomfortable. Which was preferable to making women feel afraid.
Did any part of your past identity or transition decisions stem from outside pressure, internal conflict, and/or other factors?
I felt pressure most of my childhood and adult life to simply admit that I was attracted to other men. This was something I wanted to deny, especially once I was in a relationship with a woman who I later married. By that point, I was too invested in my identity as a normal, heterosexual man who wanted children to simply give it up in favor of the truth. It involved hurting too many people, though I realized later that by avoiding these hard decisions I was hurting the ones I loved even more. So I ended up oscillating between identities, claiming that I was gay for a few months, then bisexual, then stating that it was all a lie and I was really just a straight guy. This must have been unresolvably difficult for those individuals close to me, but the damage is in the past and is irrevocable at this point. I realize now that my hatred/distaste for my male body stemmed from many factors, namely: childhood sexual abuse, internalized homophobia, pornography addiction (alcoholism intersected with this), autogynephilia and my hatred of having those feelings (childhood sexual abuse, shame at my male-socialized attraction to women, and internalized homophobia intersect to lead to this result), and a desire to just be a normal human of any sort.
Do different people in different spheres of your life refer to you or know you as different things, names, pronouns, experience?
By this point I have a multitude of names that people call me, and I don’t really care to be honest. Some people still call me Natalie, although most call me Nat. Other names I am known by: NatNat, Mir/Miriam, Nate/Nathan, Nash, etc etc. I have a close friend who I have repeatedly told that I go by “he/him” now, yet who still mostly refers to me using female pronouns. I do not make an issue of this once I know I have informed them that I recognize I am male and do not mind male pronouns. Other friends, who themselves are transgender, sometimes feel more comfortable using “they/them” pronouns, despite me having told them I am fine with male pronouns. I understand that these issues are difficult, and my presentation often elicits such responses depending upon the circumstance.
Is there something you wish you could have, or would have, done differently?
I don’t know. In general I try not to look at the past as something which I desire to change, since I feel this prevents me from learning from my mistakes. What I can say is that if there had been role-models in my life of men who stepped outside of the norm of gender expression without transitioning, or engaging in self-sexualization as part of their expression of femininity, I may not have felt the need to transition. This is difficult to surmise in retrospect, however. The place that I am currently at, psychologically, is in large part a result of what I learned through the process of transition.
If there is one true regret, though, it is that I wish I had discovered the radical feminist analysis of gender long ago, before I transitioned.
What factors influenced your decision(s), negative, positive, neutral? For example, health, pressure, access, other life plans, uncertainty about the effects, results, and so forth?
The major influence to undergo medical transition was the consistent desire over multiple years to physically sever myself from my male genitalia. This fear resulted in me excising multiple ethical standpoints in favor of the possibility of a lifetime dependency upon cross-sex hormonal treatment. At the time, I lacked the theoretical and intellectual basis for analyzing this desire. For that, I blame those who have attacked radical feminist ideas as “bigoted” without providing anything other than knee-jerk emotional arguments. The diminishment of the homosexual/bisexual experience – both by those conservatives who label it as being “given over to lust,” as well as those within the male community of gay/bi individuals who react to this accusation by applying a pornified, lust-driven ideology to their so-called “queerness,” as well as those who rally around “marriage equality” by trying to squeeze the homosexual experience into traditional notions of a “normal relationship” as some sort of parallel to heterosexuality – is at fault. The cessation of true radicalism by the neoliberalist majority is at fault.
What’s been the reaction from people in trans/gender-diverse communities? How has your family (however you define family – by blood, by choice, etc.) reacted to your transition(s) and detransition?
Male trans (transwomen, male-bodied genderqueer people, etc) have had generally negative reactions to my perspectives and to my detransition. With some few exceptions, male trans in general have attempted to either convince me that my decision to detransition is the result of coercion, or that I was never “truly” trans to begin with. Given the cliqueishness that I saw from my own community during my transition, this was altogether unsurprising. Female trans (trans men, female-bodied genderqueer people, etc) have been largely supportive of both my detransition, and of my perspectives which are influenced by radical feminist analysis. Based upon the conversations I have had with them, this is probably in large part due to them having an intimate understanding of the dangers that females face under patriarchy, and of the unique challenges presented by having a female body, which male-bodied people can never truly empathize with or understand. In short, it is easy for men (however they identify) to deny the existence of a sex-based oppression, whereas even females who deny their own sex seem unable to easily dismiss the importance of recognizing that their own experiences growing up as female (or as some of them may describe it, “being perceived as female”) represent a distinct set of dangers and challenges that cannot be understood by men who identify as women (regardless of their transition status).
“If ___________________________________ had not happened in my life, I probably would not have transitioned.”
I don’t know that I can answer this question in the format presented. Factors leading to my transition, and importantly the way I feel/felt about my genitalia, include: childhood sexual abuse, hatred of self for being attracted to men and how that attraction was disruptive to my desired life goals, living in a society that forces men and women into different social roles based upon our sex, a sexualization of self as “female” that is derived from a combination of the previous factors and which could be described as autogynephilia, a religious upbringing that emphasized hatred of self for my sexual desires and expression of personality, etc etc. I cannot say which of these factors, if removed from the equation, would equal me never having transitioned. One or some of them? All of them? I simply cannot say.
“If _________________________________ had not happened, I probably would not have detransitioned.”
If I had not made the deliberate choice to tell myself, with regards to radical feminist analysis, “hey, just re-read this article and try to understand what they are saying, from their perspective, and keep an open mind,” I would likely not have detransitioned. There was a specific article that started me down that path of analysis, written by Elizabeth Hungerford, titled “A feminist critique of cisgender”, linked here: https://liberationcollective.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/a-feminist-critique-of-cisgender/
I’ve noticed that medical and mental health providers feature heavily in a lot of people’s stories, and usually in a negative way. If you haven’t already addressed this, how have providers affected your decision(s) to transition and/or detransition?
I work in customer service, and it is something I excel at. When I want to be, I can be charismatic and convincing, and seem to have an ability to present a version of the truth that is most acceptable to the person I am trying to convince. This is not something which requires a great deal of effort on my part. My therapist gave me a letter of recommendation to transition after our first session. My physician prescribed me hormones after my first visit. Overall, health care practitioners have been overwhelmingly pliant with regards to my transition. If I have any criticism, it is that they were too supportive and did not encourage critical thought about my motives. Given the political and legislative climate surrounding transgender issues, this is not something I hold against them.
I’ve also noticed that abuse, in some form or other, presents itself in many narratives of the people with whom I’ve spoken. Note: I do NOT want to draw any artificial correlations between abuse and transition/detransition. I remain curious, and if abuse is part of your story that you would like to share, I would like to hear.
Abuse is part of my history. I cannot offer specifics on this, but I can say that it is not unreasonable to assume that sexual abuse has an impact on negative feelings one may have towards their genitalia, and/or their sexuality.