This post is one that is difficult for me to write. As most of my friends and family know, I was born female and have spent the last 4-5 years transitioning to present as male. This blog post is a sort of “announcement” that I have decided to stop my transition and go back to identifying as a woman and using my birthname. This is definitely going to surprise a lot of people, so I wanted to make a post to run through my reasoning and some questions that I anticipate people will have.
I want to start by giving a HUGE thank you to all of the people who have supported me through this. Most importantly of all my amazing partner Scott, who is a total angel. But there are so many other people I also want to thank. Marcus, Dana, Jenny, Chris, Helen, Sarah – and so so many others. All of my friends from uni and Scott’s extended family included. Thank you all for respecting my wishes and being endlessly understanding!
Right, so: what exactly do I mean by “stopping my transition”?
I have chosen to word it like that, rather than use “detransition” because I don’t like the implication that this decision is a step backwards for me. Coming out as trans, transitioning and figuring myself out has been incredibly difficult, rewarding and painful. I have done so much soul searching, hundreds of hours of research, really picked myself and the entire concept of gender apart numerous times.
I have realised that I do not identify as a man, nor do I really identify as a woman either. Gender is a social concept that I find incredibly difficult to pin down and define. I don’t know what my “gender” really is. This entire process has been equal parts enlightening and confusing. As I have gotten older, my understanding of the difference between sex, gender, gender roles and stereotypes has become much more sophisticated and complex. I was never a girly girl growing up. I always rejected traditional womanhood, I hated dressing up, I hated getting my period, I hated my breasts. I did not fit in, I did not conform. As a teenager I was angry at womanhood because it made life suck. I was bullied and underestimated and experienced constant sexism. Men seemed to have everything that I wanted. Reading about the trans experience resonated with me so much. I dreamed that if I pursued transition, finally, I would be happy and free.
What I have realised, is that presenting and living as a transgender individual sucks. I can’t emphasise enough how bad it is. Gender affects every single aspect of your life, it’s insidious, it’s omnipresent. And as soon as you step outside of society’s expectations, you are Other. Since I have come out I have experienced transphobia on an almost daily basis. I have had slurs yelled at me in the streets, strangers try to start fights with me in nightclubs, security guards escorting me out of toilets, embarrassing mix ups and dehumanising medical experiences. It just isn’t worth it. When I think about the pros and cons of living my life as female, the other option isn’t “male”: it’s trans. Society will never see me as male, they will see me either as a woman or as transgender. And one of those options is so, so much easier.
As for how I fit into being a woman, I suppose I can’t really say. But what I can say is that, unlike teenage me, I am no longer so angry. I have spoken to so many women who felt just like me growing up. I have met and admired gender non-conforming women, lesbian women, mothers, grandmothers, single women, career women, educators, writers, ministers, activists. So, so many of them grew up angry too. Just like me. They hated their period, they hated their breasts, they hated dresses and pink and expectations of subservience and femininity. Just like me. But that doesn’t make them transgender, and I have realised it doesn’t make me transgender either. Women have taught me that there is no such thing as a universal womanhood. To experience womanhood is to live life as a woman, and that is something that I have never stopped doing. Being angry about sexism, feeling trapped by femininity, rebelling against society’s archaic gender-roles: I mistook all of that for being angry with women. For being angry with me.
I know that this is hard to think about. Trust me, I have probably spent more time thinking about Gender than the average person does in their entire life! And what I’ve written isn’t the extent of my thoughts either, more like a brief insight. I know that people will have more questions so I am going to try to answer some in advance here. Don’t be afraid to ask me anything else, though!
Does this mean that you’ve changed your mind/ realised you made a big mistake?
It might be hard to believe, but I don’t regret transitioning. Not one bit. And I don’t consider it a “phase” either. Being goth in your teens is a phase, having a double mastectomy and fighting for recognition is not. This journey has been incredibly personal, and has changed me as a person for the better. I feel that it was something that I HAD to go through. If I could co back in time and change things, I wouldn’t. I would do it all again. I don’t want anyone to write off my transition as a mistake or a phase. It’s just one part of my journey. That’s why I don’t want to use the term “detransition”. My transition happened, and it will be part of me forever, and I embrace it.
Do you regret your surgery/ treatment?
I regret that I was not given more resources and support by the NHS throughout my treatment. For example, I was never offered therapy before receiving my diagnosis. I was on high dose muscular testosterone with no supervision of my bloods for well over 18 months. I was failed by the system along with dozens of others when the Aberdeen gender clinic closed and abandoned us to our GPs (who tried their best, but they are not specialists!)
But in spite of that, and in spite of deciding to “go back”, I don’t regret my treatment. The hormone therapy did not work out for me. I have been on testosterone for 3 years, and experienced minimal changes. My body is resistant to HRT. So in terms of permanent changes, I have some facial hair, and my voice is marginally lower than before. Neither of which I mind at all. I am glad that the acne has finally stopped!
But you had surgery!!
Yes I did!! And it was one of the best decisions of my life. Waking up after my mastectomy, I was literally grinning from ear to ear and crying. I have always hated my breasts. Before top surgery, I was an E/F cup and growing still. I always had to wear a bra, always ugly big ones. My back hurt constantly. I hated how my clothes sat. I hated everything about it. But now? I feel SUCH freedom. I love my body for the first time in my life. Top surgery may not have helped me to pass, but it helped me to accept myself. There are plenty of women out there who have breast reduction surgeries: maybe not as extreme as me, but still! I don’t regret my surgery one bit.
What about Scott?
This is something that came up SO much when I originally came out. But what about Scott? How could I do this to him? How can he cope with this? Are we breaking up?
Please…no. You think we are so weak…
Scott is amazing, brilliant, loving and compassionate. He honestly is not phased, nor was he phased when I originally came out.
Does this mean you’re straight/ cishet?
No, I don’t think so. I think I have been through too much to ever properly see myself as cis ever again. And as for being straight, I don’t think I ever was or ever will be. Labels are difficult, but I am still LGBT. My sexuality is complicated and personal.
Does this mean you’re a TERF/ Gender Critical now?
ABSOLUTELY NOT NO NEVER!!
I know that reading this will have a lot of my friends worried that I have somehow fallen into the trap of TERF rhetoric. Trust me guys, NO! Trans women are women, trans men are men, genitals don’t determine which bathroom you should be able to use and I don’t worship the moon or glorify menstrual cycles. Just because I’m no longer identifying as trans doesn’t mean I’ve lost my mind and joined the TERF wagon. I promise!!