Detransition and medical theodicy.
A brief discussion of why the hatred directed towards detransitioners relates to the lack of resources for us, and why WPATH doesn’t seem to give a shit.
Detransition and medical theodicy.
A brief discussion of why the hatred directed towards detransitioners relates to the lack of resources for us, and why WPATH doesn’t seem to give a shit.
There is a group of people who have been forgotten, even silenced, by our movement. Our legal victories, though necessary, may clash seriously with their rights. Especially the right to form an effective political movement, with focused activist goals.
They are the Gametes. Myself, I am a tinygamete, and I produce the much smaller gamete which in the right conditions could fertilize the Gamete’s larger gamete. Lucky for people with my anatomy, I’m not the one who grows the new human inside of them, so I’m spared quite a lot, such as…well, death. And pain. Lack of control. And unfair expectations and judgement from society. Or a menstrual cycle, or having to go through menopause, or any of the thousand complications that can arise from having Gamete reproductive anatomy.
Once upon a time, the Gametes were known as “women/females/girls.” The term now has come to include tinygametes as well, so the word “woman/female/girl” is no longer approved for use in activism that focuses only on Gametes. Nor are Gametes permitted to congregate (in order to discuss social issues relevant to their lived experience) if they define the meeting as “for women/females,” but only allow Gametes to attend.
However, the Gametes seem not to know their new name, whether it be “Gamete” or some other word. Strangely, the three or so billion Gametes in the world have not yet arrived at a new word for themselves around which to rally politically.
That a portion of Gametes are “men/male” further complicates this use of language to popularize a much-needed activist effort.
While it is entirely reasonable to ask over half the world’s population to uncover a new name for themselves, it may be advantageous for us to loan them the word “woman/female” for use in certain contexts. Political momentum to secure Gamete body autonomy requires the use of a catchy alternative to “woman” such as (and these are just a few ideas): “Uterus-vagina-vulva-complex People,” “Human Incubators,” “Large Gametes.” Strangely, these alternatives have not caught on in the Gamete community, who continue to use “woman/female” to refer solely to Gametes.
In spite of their grave offense, the Gametes are using the word most commonly associated with them by the vast majority of society. After all, any infant that visually appears to have a vulva will be assigned to the social class of “woman/girl/female,” and recieve socialization to make them compliant with their assigned social role. Part of this assigned role is to give birth, which as previously addressed, is really fucking risky and scary and profound.
So we can see why the Gametes might find it prudent to use the word best able to gain traction for their efforts. They may also be confused by assertions from the trans community that use of the word “woman/female” to refer only to Gametes is offensive. They may be unable to comply with using language that is inclusive of trans people, because there is no word to refer specifically to Gametes aside from “woman/female.” At this point, being inclusive of trans people hinders their own movement against oppression – specifically, the oppression of Gametes by the tinygametes.
Why haven’t we come up with an alternative? I’ve provided what I think is a good one in this letter, “Gametes.” Now we just need to tell all Gametes to start calling themselves Gametes (or some other term) and modify their political slogans and activist goals accordingly.
Alternatively, we could shift our interpretation of the word “woman/female” depending on the context, and stop worrying about Gametes using “woman/female” to refer only to Gametes, stop shutting down Gamete-only meetings that use “woman/female,” and stop trying to derail Gamete activist efforts.
Maybe just let them have this one?
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”).
Additionally, I am not unaware that documented cases exist of transwomen being attacked in, or in the context of, restrooms. However, the restroom in question is not the men’s, it is the women’s (here, here, here, here and here). Theoretically, this could simply be because transwomen are largely careful to avoid the men’s restroom. The paucity in reports of GNC men being attacked in the men’s restroom could be due to the unwillingness of these men to report the incidents out of fear of harassment by police.
But really…no documented cases whatsoever?! This simply cannot be a coincidence, not when documented cases of trans men being attacked in the men’s restroom exists. So far, the evidence suggests that transwomen are more in danger when using the women’s restroom.
So why is there an assumption within the trans community that the individuals most at risk of using the restroom aligning with their reproductive anatomy are transwomen? Michael Hughes, a trans man famous for posting a selfie of himself in the women’s restroom under the hashtag #WeJustNeedToPee, is quite positive that this is the case:
“If these laws were to come to fruition, “I know we’ll see a rise in violence against trans women,” Hughes predicts. “That’s one of my main motivators — I’m not concerned for the safety of myself in a women’s bathroom — but I keep thinking of them trying to force women into the men’s room and how dangerous that is.”
Yet, the available evidence indicates that trans men are the ones most at risk. Why is this not given the same attention as the danger that transwomen are suspected to face? Is it because trans males were assaulted using the restroom that aligns with their declared gender identity, rendering such instances politically unusable by trans activism?
The statement by Hughes, and many trans activists, show that the trans community is aware of at least some of the danger that men pose to women. So why the disparity in reports of restroom violence between trans men and transwomen? What’s missing from the picture?
The viewpoint of the agents of violence. Namely, people who were socialized into the male sex caste by virtue of being born with a penis of “normative” size.
The violent men who attack trans males in men’s restrooms do so because they view trans men as women. They see them as women overstepping their bounds, encroaching on male territory. These same violent men do not attack transwomen because they see them as men. Specifically, they see such transwomen as gay or sexually deviant men. Yet, this still does not answer the question of why no documented cases seem to be available.
Men are weird about restrooms. Other men know what I’m talking about – there is a pervasive aura of homophobia at play in areas where bepenised individuals interact with their own genitalia around other men. A study in 2012 by Moore and Breeze that observed 20 public restrooms posited a theory concerning this weirdness:
“The theory Moore lays out is that, in public, the gender hierarchy makes women the ones who are watched (under the “male gaze,” as it were). But in the bathroom, sans women, men worry about being the object of another man’s gaze, a feeling they don’t often confront in other places. This can make them fearful, even if there’s no real threat present.”
Men, generally speaking, are afraid of other men thinking they are gay. Considering how common it is for gay men to be beaten and killed in horrific ways, this is no surprise. Men know how violent we are. Even being seen speaking to a gay or gender non-conforming man (which is how transwomen are viewed by homophobic men) is likely to make other men assume you are also gay.
Interacting physically with a gay or GNC man, even violently, may also be seen as an indicator that the aggressor is himself gay, or somehow associated with homosexuality.
It doesn’t have to make sense – remember the pervasive fear that Moore and Breeze observed in their study. There are cases of men being attacked by other men inside restrooms (here, here), but again, no documented cases of men attacking people for being GNC men or transwomen inside a men’s restroom. Fighting is a masculine act which proves one’s “manhood,” but it seems that anyone perceived by these men to be a gay or sexually deviant man are themselves the cause of fear – at least in the microcosm of the men’s restroom. The men most likely to enact violence are, I strongly suspect, also the ones most likely to be in fear of having their masculinity questioned.
Which explains why trans males are attacked in the men’s restroom. It isn’t considered un-masculine to enact brutal violence upon those seen as women, especially if they are seen as deviant women, which is assuredly how these men see their victims.
In fact, men attacking women to keep them in line is a rich and storied patriarchal tradition. What better way for a man to prove his “manhood” to himself and other men?
If the issue is primarily centered upon safety concerns, why does the trans community: 1) largely ignore the dangers trans men face using the men’s restroom; and 2) insist that transwomen are safer using the women’s restroom? Centering safety issues is more politically viable than asking for validation of one’s self-identification. The safety narrative is a strong one, and is clearly able to steamroll over the available evidence (and the absence of evidence).
This narrative does not help the trans community. It is a reversal that prevents trans people from realistically gauging their risk level, because this risk level requires attention to male violence and its roots. Attention to safety is essential, and if the real threats to trans persons are made invisible in order to promote a political narrative, then that narrative is transphobic.
Just love your body. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to be disgusted by; you’re beautiful just the way you are.
I like that sentiment. It’s sweet. It’s something that’s stated as an ideal, often in pseudo-spiritual language, and is meant as a reaction to the overwhelming societal pressure to hate yourself and the body you inhabit.
Unwillingly, I might add. That’s an important aspect to this topic: none of us chose the physical form our bodies were programmed to take, or the environment that molded our bodies during childhood. But accept your body. Just the way it is.
There’s a friend who runs a feminist button store called “misandry over misogyny” – a dysphoric female with gender-critical views who blogs as transcynical – and I’m thinking now of a quote off one of the buttons I ordered:
“There is no ethical consumption under capitalism.”
Yet of course, under capitalism your consumption is coerced because no alternatives are provided, which complicates the ethics where individuals are concerned, especially the working class. This got me thinking about how our individual decisions are coerced by the systems we are socialized into, and how many kinds of body modifications are enforced adaptations to an oppressive impulse towards “normalcy.”
Not all body mods, though. Replacement appendages for amputees are an obvious one. Can’t think of anything wrong with that. Corrective surgery for the wide range of variation that we call “deformities” – from those that may impair function, to those which are entirely superficial and are done in order to facilitate a positive social perception – because society judges people, especially women, for things like superficial facial “deformities.” A physical attribute that poses no medical issue may still be modified necessarily because it poses a social issue. It impacts basic stuff like getting a job.
So does dental care, which oddly is not covered by Medicaid. Yep, I live in a society where someone with obviously missing teeth won’t get a job they otherwise would have, yet it’s not seen as a medical necessity for those whose survival likely depends on a job.
Neither are hearing aids or eyeglasses covered. Clearly, being able to see and hear is required in order to function “normally” in this society. The push towards this imagined normalcy is insistent. It takes form in our complacent refusal to adapt to diversity, including those who are disabled, refusing to make efforts to be inclusive of these individuals. Deaf children are often prevented from learning sign language because the impulse towards making them like normal, hearing children is so strong that the caregivers mistake this as helping them. Alongside this recommendation is often the suggestion of surgical intervention in the form of a cochlear implant, a practice which is controversial in the Deaf community and criticized as a form of ethnocide/cultural assimilation. For these reasons, a group of Deaf people protested a symposium of the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing for the organization’s support of methods to “normalize” Deaf children.
Even the question “should a deaf child be made to hear” is fraught with ethical problems under this system which values normalcy above all else. But who is “normal”? White, straight, rich, able-bodied men? Products intended to bleach skin are a huge business, especially in Africa and Asia, where the consumers are frequently subjected to toxic levels of mercury (pdf of WHO report on mercury in skin lightening products). This is a massive public health risk that in particular impacts women and girls, caused by the commodification of negative body image. Where is the line between individual choice and social coercion when it comes to body modifications?
The button from above helped me here.
“There is no ethical transhumanism under white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy.” Or something like that.
The act of engaging oneself or another person in transhumanism cannot be entirely separated from the system under which a person is socialized, a system they are dependent upon for survival. Or at least, their relationship with survival inevitably involves that system. But here, as above, application of this principle to an individual’s actions is more complicated than the quote implies.
How does this apply to transition? Adaptation to the overwhelming social pressure regarding one’s role in society based upon reproductive anatomy cannot be ignored as a motivation to transition. A common one. What I’ve heard from so many trans people is the idea that one’s body shouldn’t matter when it comes to you or others’ perception of who you are – and I agree in theory. One’s body shouldn’t mean anything about the person’s personality or social role other than their form and function as a material being, and how that material reality shapes their lived experience.
That’s not the world we live in, unfortunately. Not yet. Social programming is real, and it’s based upon set standards of reproductive anatomy by which we forcibly divide people into those who are expected to give birth, and those who are expected to police those who are expected to give birth. Opting-out of this socialization is not an option. Not wanting to identify with violent men who were clearly intended to be my role models didn’t spare me from the influence of men who saw me as someone meant to be a man like them. They changed me, forced me to adapt to them, based upon a body I had no choice over.
Of course I’m going to despise being male; of course I’m going to want to be female. What other choices are there? Eunuch? Even then, that doesn’t answer the question of self-expression. Body modification isn’t enough for this process to work, which is what raised a red flag for me. Needing a combination of medical transition and social transition eliminated the possibility that this was simply a medical issue – a case of “born into the wrong body” or “sexed brain” is simply insufficient to fully explain transness – namely because the notion of brain sex is controversial (here, here, here) and as an idea is inseparable from sexist notions of biological essentialism. Attention must be paid to gendered expectations of humans based upon reproductive anatomy as a motivation for transition – and as a potential cause for physical dysphoria.
This doesn’t mean I think that any amount of therapy can make someone comfortable with their body. Nor is someone obligated to try. Each person knows their limits. Each person is capable of setting their boundaries, and sometimes the only option available is to simply live with being uncomfortable in one’s body. Yet if a body modification has the potential to improve someone’s quality of life, I cannot consider denying someone access. Which is why I think transition can be helpful for some. The problem is, as long as we live in a system where gender norms exist, there is no way a person’s decision to transition can be considered completely separate from the system they are adapting to. This is not meant to diminish the personal nature of transition, but to connect it to a larger context. As long as we live under the gender hierarchy, there will be people who benefit from transition.
Threat of male violence alters you whether you want it to or not. Men know this, because we do it to each other. Fear being yourself. Don’t make yourself a target.
Women know this very well.
I was never socialized into the female sex caste, so my delusion was that “being female” might be an escape from being a man who balked at the thought of being himself in this society. Two years of transition and I realize that the assigned female role is not an improvement over the social problems inherent in being a gender non-conforming gay man with dysphoria, although the nature of the obstacles change. I’m not “normal,” I get that. So what? Neither are a lot of other people. The more privileged you are, the more normal you get to be – and as an able-bodied white man I’m definitely privileged. Many of us try to change ourselves in order to “fit” better with what society orders us to be (I know I have, and still consider), but maybe, just maybe, your individual choice is partially influenced by others.
This doesn’t mean body modification can’t help you. Transition can be a helpful option – as long as alternatives are also being approached. Oh, but there aren’t any alternatives. Just cessation. Not-ness; not-trans.
Tell me again why there aren’t resources for people seeking alternatives to transition? What am I supposed to do with my dysphoria? Psychotherapists are largely just mirrors, but I already have one of those – there’s a second me I talk my issues through with. Yes, a little odd, and yes, this started greatly increasing in frequency about a week ago. Talking to myself at length, about complex subjects. Oh, right – what I did prior to HRT.
I’m starting to dissociate from myself again, but it’s taking a different form this time. More like a rediscovery. Maybe I’m just nervous and hormonal. The conversations do help me clarify ideas, though!
I know transition numbs the dissociation from my body by numbing the body itself, but if I also know my feelings are influenced by social programming in the form of gender norms (which includes norms regarding sexuality), shouldn’t I at least seek alternatives? Really, I’m trying to find a way to be comfortable with my body. If my hypothesis is correct that the gender hierarchy and all its ancillary machinations influenced my body/gender issues, then I feel an obligation to myself to fully explore this possibility as an alternative to both medical transition and self-harm.
From experience, the alternative to transition is “deal with it.” That doesn’t work well for a lot of people. Should we find a therapist and work it out individually, so as not to trouble others with our inconvenient lived experience? Bringing up all sorts of annoying questions like “was I always female when I was a transwoman, but now I’ve always been male?” or “when detransitioners are told they were ‘never trans,’ how is this different from christians telling unbelievers they were ‘never really christian’?” or “how is it possible that medical transition mediated my dysphoria if being a detransitioner means it wasn’t ‘right’ for me?”
Being trans is more complicated than the available narratives allow, especially ones as reductionist as “right/wrong” and “true/not-true trans.” We are trying to adapt to this society, and it’s a society whose currency is the human body. The social and the material are inseparable because the social controls the material. Transness is a social and physical phenomenon, because gender is a social and physical hierarchy. Training retransitioners with individual therapy to adapt well to an abusive system (i.e. not speaking out, being gender conforming) isn’t going to address the causation, and is just the mirror image behavior of what they did before – changing oneself to accommodate the pressures of compulsory normality.
Maybe the misfits can confront the system by expressing who we are, offering our own interpretation of what it means to be owners of certain kinds of bodies. At least, those of us able and willing to do so.
Whether I decide to continue my cessation of HRT or not (funny thing, after that last post where I stated my reproductive anatomy was waiting to bloom, it suddenly did) my perception of self will be male, but I will not alter my self-expression and capitulate to the threat of male violence, nor flee this threat by disappearing into women’s safe spaces. I’m not going to stop seeing myself as a man, complete with socialization and privilege – but I don’t have to be the kind of man they want me to be.
The main thing is, I don’t accept my body, and a good portion of that isn’t my fault. But this doesn’t mean I am powerless. I declared myself non-christian at the age of 15, and it took another decade to fully separate that programming from my perception of the world. From my first years, other people saw me and treated me as male, socialized me male. How long does it take to unravel that type of programming?
If the alternative solution to transition is working through one’s gendered socialization and how that affects your relationship with society, I cannot hold it against anyone who feels that transition is necessary for them. I know first-hand the potential benefits. And who knows, there may be a physical etiology to some transness as well, possibly due to teratogens and endocrine disruptors, random genetic mutations, or some as-yet-undiscovered mechanism. However, I repeat that under this system, there is no ethical transhumanism. As long as the gender hierarchy exists, many people will benefit from transition, but their decision to do so – at least in part – is influenced by gender norms. Coerced.
(Since this is a post about body acceptance, I thought I’d throw a candid picture of myself in here, complete with bags under the eyes. Connect to the readership and all that. My publicist says I need all the positive spin I can get.)
So I decided to stop being a transwoman. I wasn’t wanting to write about this at first, but a friend expressed his feeling that others may find my narrative helpful. At the very least, writing it is helpful to me. My reasons for this, and the goals this alludes to, are complex. A further problem is, I’m not sure exactly what “de/retransition” as a concept entails.
One step at a time, I say. First step was to stop thinking of myself as a kind of woman, including the idea of myself as a transwoman. Second step meant not going into women’s spaces. As a male, I shouldn’t be invading women’s sex-segregated spaces, and fear of reprisal by other men if I don’t is simply shifting responsibility for male problems onto women. Third step is telling people I’m a man, and don’t identify as trans. The first one was easy since I had been building up to it for a while anyhow; the second was/is difficult, but the emotions involved are comparatively simple (fear, embarrassment, anxiety) and have straightforward resolutions.
The third, telling people I’m a man, has proven tricky, because it is connected to the degree with which others perceive me as feminine. Clearly they do, since people literally argue with me about my “identity” and have a habit of just sticking me in the Woman Box for convenience. That many of these people have been LGBTQ just shows the investment in notions of biological essentialism within the queer framework of “trans.”
Feminine = female, because the alternative of being a man who displays femininity as a man is too horrible to contemplate. Like the friend who told me that going into the men’s restroom would be demeaning to me. I can already see from reactions of my customers that I’m more socially acceptable as a man who’s tryin reel hard to be a women rather than as some weirdo dude with a feminine self-expression.
I suspect affirming myself as male is something I’ll get better at doing once I become more comfortable with it – the end goal for this one is to project a lightheartedness about the absurdity of gender roles, and use my self-expression to poke at the sanctity of patriarchal norms, as described by the following quote from an article titled “Lesbian Feminism and the Gay Rights Movement:”
“There is a gentler politic which lies behind some gay men’s affectation of the feminine. It can be a kind of fun which involves mockery not of women or of straight men but of the whole institution of gender–a deliberately irreverent fooling around with one of the most sacred foolishnesses of phallocratic culture. This may be the necessarily lighthearted political action of a gender rebel rather than an exercise of masculinity. Certain kinds of lightheartedness in connection with what is, after all, the paraphernalia of women’s oppression can become a rather bad joke. But when the silliness stays put as a good joke on patriarchy it betrays a potentially revolutionary levity about the serious matter of manhood and thus may express a politics more congenial to feminism than most gay politics.”
Easier said than done, certainly – but I think keeping this concept in mind may help me navigate the relationship between self-expression and social perception/judgement. However, there is a caveat here: the quote is speaking of feminine “affectation” – clearly, all aspects of a man that are considered feminine by society are not affectations. Many or most, depending upon the man, could simply be personality traits, some of which are rooted in culture and some which may not be. There were many behaviors I censored in childhood when I learned they invoked negative reactions in others – such as wearing jewelry, and trying to be physically/sexually intimate with other boys. Wanting other men to fuck me is hardly an affectation, although it is certainly associated with the oppressive social role that women are forced into.
I like beautiful things. Jewelry made by my own hands out of natural wood and shell beads, sometimes silver metal twisted into odd spirals…although of course I don’t always wear my own. Basically every human likes jewelry in some form or fashion, whether on themselves or other people, or both. Where is the line between affectation and self-expression here? I don’t see this as an affectation of the feminine – yet, I cannot ignore that the rest of society does see it that way, and gender is coded based upon the perceptions of other people, not my self-identity. Given that I know how my behaviors are perceived by others (in general) I cannot help but feel a responsibility to question my motivations for expressing myself in a decidedly feminine manner.
However, not caring about “passing” and going into men’s spaces has led to the culling of certain behaviors that were not there for my benefit or self-expression, but rather were intended to convince others that I was female. As one example, I’ve dropped my voice to a range that is somewhat androgynous, although I have a habit of using “male” and “female” voices in a single sentence if I’m feeling expressive. Or if I’ve been drinking! Depending on how my mood influences my manner of speech, I can be gendered either male or female.
Although the difference now is when I get gendered male, it’s not because they call me “sir.” They don’t call me anything. I know because they often get uneasy, like they don’t know what I’m supposed to be. It’s an uncanny experience.
“The voice” posed an interesting question for me. In the context of “detransition” (assuming that’s even what I’m doing or trying to do, hell if I know) the traditional idea of “goin’ back to bein a dude” would involve using my natural male voice. Well, hold up a second – my “natural” voice includes pitches and resonances that are read as “female” if used persistently, as well as all those rumbly read-as-male pitches. Depending on the context and what I’m trying to express, I will use different pitch and resonance to convey the emotional content of my words. Using my full range of vocal expression is my natural male voice! I’m simply choosing not to limit myself based on notions of what a man or woman is “supposed” to sound like. If I’m trying to keep true to the intent of the quote from above, I think this qualifies as a “good joke on patriarchy,” especially because it’s simply me, being me. A more expressive me.
Limiting my self-expression based upon some obligation to represent myself as someone easily understood to be a man by others is antithetical to my goals. It would involve falling back on conservative notions of gender. Seriously, fuck that. I transitioned not only because of a desire to not be physically male, but also because I felt unable (unwilling?) to express myself as a man in this society. Two years of transition, and I realize that being a man trying to be a woman was limiting in simply a different way. I went from one box to another, because I was still operating within the framework of the gender straightjacket.
Not that I’m somehow operating outside it just by force of wishing…but I’m trying to find a more honest way of living within a gendered society, a better answer. I don’t know quite yet what that “better answer” is, but I know it doesn’t involve conforming to a gender identity of some sort – or even to the incredible claim of being a transsexual (which of course, of course, clearly isn’t an identity).
Detransition: cut my hair, stop wearing jewelry, change my name to a “male” one, only wear clothes that are either coded androgynous or male, stop taking hormone replacement therapy.
So, I stopped taking HRT about four or five days ago.
The other “requirements” for detransition seem useful in helping re-integrate a person firmly into their birth sex role (which is probably the best choice for most transwoman detransitioners to lead a healthy social life), but that isn’t my goal. I am happy being a gender non-conforming weirdo of a man. More so, I am unhappy being what society considers to be a “man.”
About seven or eight months ago, I began to have these intense “flashbacks.” They were like memories of another life, me from a parallel dimension where I made peace at an early age with my attraction to men (maybe I didn’t grow up as religious, or severely isolated, or sexually abused) and went on to have rich years of experience sharing emotional and physical intimacy with other men, instead of dissolving myself in drug use, pornography and dissociation. These weren’t even idealistic fantasies – just a reasonable expectation of good and bad, joy and sorrow, of me really living as myself instead of the ghost I made myself become. These flashbacks made my real life’s history seem dark and bleak by comparison. They also showed me, by comparison, the many people I’ve unintentionally hurt by lying to myself about who I am.
I experienced them again starting about a month ago. It starts with a feeling, then a vision, then the painful pulling away from the daydream once it’s done. Now, though, it ends with a feeling of hope. I’m trying to find some semblance of balance in my life, and these experiences are my mind’s equivalent of shouting at me that the answer is right in front of my face. The overwhelming regret these hallucinations bring me is meant to transform into an impetus. Which it has, in a big fucking way.
A huge part of my motivation to transition stemmed from being ashamed of sex in general, and especially ashamed/disgusted with myself for being attracted to men. That I found myself most attracted to the idea of being fucked by men was horrifying to me, maybe because of its association with the sexual abuse I experienced in childhood. When I was still married (to a woman) and was basically having sex as a sort of obligation of the relationship rather than out of physical desire (yes, I was an asshole, I’m fully aware of this), I made an oh-so-masculine vow to myself that I’d kill myself if I “turned out to be gay.” I still remember a small voice saying, after the first time I voiced this idea to myself, “this is going to cause serious problems in the future.” Which it did.
It’s too early to tell how going off hormones will affect me. I feel reasonably confident that my issues surrounding being attracted to men have been largely resolved, and I also feel confident that a large portion of my physical dysphoria about my genitalia stems from this internalized homophobia (the “other” issue of past sex abuse, I am still unsure how to resolve). What I do know is that I am no longer disgusted by the idea of being a man in a relationship with another man, and find myself surprisingly, satisfyingly, excited.
The male parts haven’t woken up yet. There are slow, casual signs of increased…vigor. I’m not looking forward to a lack of control over my penis, it just…doing its own thing…regardless of anything I have to say on the subject. Just to continue this dip into TMI, the testicles come alive too…seriously, they move around on their own and it’s disturbing. Writing this paragraph reminds me I have a practical reason for taking HRT, and makes me reconsider my motivations for stopping their usage. But I still get the same scrips so if things go south I can restart hormones at any time, and attempt to re-evaluate the problem.
There have been some emotional alterations so far, subtle but important – small hints of complex mental experiences I forgot I used to have on a regular basis. It’s hard to describe them quite yet, since it has been a long while since I felt them – but one example is an anxious motivation. Another is the fear-spiral where my thoughts devolve into paranoid fantasies about dangers I am unlikely to face.
Trying to find a balance between physical dysphoria and being in a sexual relationship with another man is going to be tricky. There may be a minimum dosage of HRT that allows for both. I decided I’d start with the lowest dosage: zero. See what happens, work my way back up in dosage if necessary. Ultimately though, my view of the role of HRT in my life has shifted from that of “a necessary medicine” to more of “a temporary crutch until I can figure out what to heal and how.”
My attempt with this blog is now to simply document my current journey, whatever the hell that may entail. I can’t help but realize that other transwomen will see this is me “failing at transition.” Which is totally fine, I’m no longer invested in the trans community in the sense that I need their validation – and validation has faded as a desirable goal for myself anyhow. What’s ironic is that I see my transition as quite successful: taking off the pressure of physical dysphoria, and removing myself temporarily from the programmed mayhem that my natural biochemistry invoked has allowed me to take a few steps back and evaluate myself in a more critical manner.
Transitioning set in motion a chain of events that led to me enriching my worldview with feminist thought, encouraged me to observe, analyze, and engage my history of male socialization and privilege, and change my behavior to become a person that other people actually enjoyed being around. Transitioning in a completely public customer-service environment stilled much of my social anxiety to the point where I feel comfortable expressing myself as a gender non-conforming man – or as other people see me, a non-passing transwoman or some weird effeminate dude (or both).
I don’t see how the personal and the political can be separate when it comes to my relationship with the gender hierarchy. I must ask myself questions such as: “do my behaviors reinforce or challenge gender norms?”; “to what degree am I obligated to make my physical sex obvious to others, and in what contexts?”; “can my brazenness and indifference about public opinion of me be used somehow to weaken the gender hierarchy?”; “is my brazenness/indifference an extension of my male privilege, and if so, does that necessitate changing this behavior?”
Most of all, I am asking myself a very self-centered but essential question: “how much of my self-expression is me doing my own thing, and how much of it is me trying to fit into a social box?” The question can be worded many different ways. Regardless, it is the primary reason I am “retransitioning.”
Whatever that means! Maybe I’ll figure it out someday.
(Note: So I had someone ask about autogynephilia, and the fact that I used to identify as such. Considering that this is the same blog I used to explore those experiences, this is a topic I feel obligated to address.
I was planning on writing a post about it in a week or so when my libido increases, just to have a final piece of evidence to justify my assertions.
In short, I believe that the use of fantasy in order to imagine my physical body as female during the context of sexual intimacy was caused by dissociation surrounding my male body (itself a combination of physical dysphoria and a willingness to fit into any role but that of a dude who likes dick), as well as pornography, which aided the dissociation, made it come to life in a sense.
It’s been nearly two years since I last consumed any form of pornography, and over a year since I can remember having an experience that could be described as autogynephilic. As my libido increases, I should theoretically be experiencing these fantasies, but that hasn’t happened yet.
Again, I am waiting until my sex drive increases before making a final judgement. As far as I can tell, I once experienced autogynephilia, or an analogue of it, and now I no longer have those experiences/fantasies.
Hope that helps in lieu of the forthcoming post about AGP.)