Okay, time for some serious talk. We need to talk about these idiots who call themselves "gender critical", who are really just trans-exclusionary, if not outright transphobic, and their newest bone to clamp their jaws down upon, so-called "rapid onset gender dysphoria".
First of all..."rapid-onset" is in the eyes of the beholders. If it's going to fit your narrative, someone's gender dysphoria is going to have come "out of nowhere". This is because kids who know that they don't conform to expectations, but who seek love, learn how to hide.
So, for example, when I came out to my mom (20 years ago), she was stunned. She said it was "out of nowhere" and that she "couldn't see it". When I came out to my little brother a year later he said he'd always known. So, to my mom it was "rapid-onset", but not for my brother.
Now, some context. I was born in the early 1970s. I remember going back to when I was pre-school aged that I admired women pioneers I'd learned about, like Elizabeth Blackwell (because at the time I wanted to be a doctor), and thought that women's lib was a good thing.
I remember being in preschool one day, and I was wearing socks that were long enough to come up over my knees. One of the boys asked why I wore them because they were long like stockings. And I liked the thought that they were.
But that interaction also made it clear to me that liking something that was like what girls/women wear should be something that I should avoid. It was an early reinforcement of "you don't want to be too aggressive in not conforming to norms." I was just shy of 3 at the time.
One of the other things that got me a bit of guff in those early years was the fact that I preferred to spend my recess time with the girls, and I made friends with them more easily. After all, why should I prefer skipping rope to playing kickball?
So, a lot of times I just went off on my own on the playground so that I didn't upset anyone by not being rough-and-tumble, and so that I wasn't spending too much time around the girls. This, at age 6, is me altering my behavior so that I could hide and blend in.
This was necessary to avoid harassment. It was only 1978. Yet, as I sat on the school bus during the autumn & watched the high school's girls field hockey team practicing, I'd imagine doing that when I got to high school (except my family would move from CT to OH before that).
I remember times when I'd play house with friends, and I'd ask why I had to be the dad. "You're a boy, stupid. Boys are always the dad." Um, okay. That was a way to make me never want to play that, then. Thanks for calling me stupid, too.
In 1980, my family moved to Ohio. It tore my world apart. I was in a situation where people were intensely curious about this new kid and why it was that they were so quiet, sullen, aloof. I would get peppered with questions about what sports I liked. Football? Not really.
I'd get asked which girls I thought were cute (which, in itself was almost heresy at age 8). When I answered honestly, it was usually the smart, bookish girls, and they'd tell me how wrong I was, and then they'd ask what I though of the "popular" girls. I just didn't fit in.
At this point I was still kind of iffy about the whole idea of boys & girls being inherently different & still thought that I could will myself to be a girl, but that illusion was soon to be shattered. We had our "family living" course taught by the local Red Cross in 5th grade.
And between that and my classmates (who were mostly at least 2 months older than me) starting to hit puberty in the next couple of years, I became aware of the fact that what I hoped wouldn't just materialize. It was around this time that I first heard "tranny" thrown my way.
And I didn't know what that was, or what it meant, other than it was something that I should be ashamed of being called. But I found out soon after. Along with times that I was being forcibly shoved towards or into the girls' restrooms.
I felt so....seen. And in feeling that way, I also felt like it was scornworthy, despicable, something to be ashamed of. So I needed to try and throw people off of that idea. If I was going to survive, I needed to misdirect people from what they were picking up on.
I took up football. Never was really good at it. But it helped me to blend in. To a degree. And I was 12, and it was fall of 1984. And I was starting to really feel the conflict between my gender and what my body was doing. And I was trying to suppress to survive.
It was also about the time when the hysteria and misinformation about HIV/AIDS was at its worst. People were calling for LGBT people to be quarantined for "the public good". So to find the term "transsexual" at this time, it was scary, because I became a demon.
And the representations of such women in the media were almost uniformly negative; usually "hookers" and "junkies" and other things I didn't want to be or to have associated with me. Better to suppress, run far away from my truth. Then I could be safe and "normal".
Socially, my high school years were better, but I started to get invasive questions once again, when I was 16, nearing the end of my junior year, and my body was showing no real signs of puberty, like body hair or stench. And I avoided the locker room showers.
Instead, I'd just go home and go right into the shower when I got there. I was very much ashamed of my body. I didn't want people to see it. If you've watched Sense8 and seen when Nomi talks about her experiences with Lito, that scene is so easy to relate to, and it makes me cry.
About this time I had my first girlfriend. We met on a trip to NYC for NE Ohio Model UN. She was taller than me by a good four or five inches, but I didn't care. She was nice, smart, and we could talk about things deeper than the newest pop songs. But I was made to feel shame.
After all, if she was taller, then she's dominant, and therefore I was the "girl" in the relationship. I would argue against that strenuously while in the back of my head there was a voice saying "you have no idea that there are two girls in the relationship."
Also, in this period, my little brother (recall that I said earlier that I'd said he told me he always knew when I came out to him?) got me into table top RPG; mostly "Dungeons and Dragons" and "Champions". He quickly noted that I only cared about making female characters.
He asked once why I did that. "Because that's what I want to play." He never questioned it further. It was left at that. Not much longer after that, he caught me once wearing my mom's clothes when he came home from marching band earlier than I expected. (TBC)
And this was just one thing in a long line of things going back to my youngest years involving me playing with mom's makeup and looking through her things, wanting to learn about being a girl. And because of the socializing, these are things that I hid, too.
I didn't want to be a disappointment, an embarrassment to my family. So I kept things close. The only reason my little brother had any idea about anything was that we were so close in age, and we'd shared a bedroom until we were were in high school, so it was hard to hide.
And starting with that point in middle school when I started to realize things, I had talked with some adults about how I felt. One was a psych from the county that the schools had me talk to because of how "troubled" I was (including having mentioned suicide ONCE).
But whenever I talked to an adult about it, I was told "it's a phase. It's normal. You'll grow out of it." But I didn't. The second girl I dated in high school, during my senior year, had suggested once that I try on some of her bathing suits sometime.
I was very into that. The problem is that there was never really a time when one of her parents wasn't home when she was, so there wasn't a time when we could actually do that. But the idea was something I really wanted to play around with. She thought I'd be cute.
But she broke up with me anyhow. I went off to college. I was in ROTC the first two years there. When the end of the second year was approaching and the cadre were trying to get me to sign up for the full course and the post-grad obligation, I declined.
At that point, I knew that if I signed up & couldn't get to the end of the obligation without having to deal with who I was, I could be court-martialed for perjuring myself when I swore that I didn't have a disqualifying condition. So I used the outcome of the Gulf War as cover.
Earlier in that year I'd been called "miss" while in a store near campus, with my hair buzzed! And I'd been harassed through those first two years for how I only shaved about once every week or two (because I didn't need to shave more often).
Also, that year I took a Human Sexuality course. I learned more about "transsexuality". A lot of the stigmatic things I'd learned as a pre-teen were dispelled by what I learned in that class. But I sort of just put that on a shelf because I was in school & couldn't do anything.
The next spring I was in the first relationship where I had sex. It was strange, it wasn't comfortable, and it wasn't the mind-blowing experience I was told it would/should be. And I often fantasized that when we were intimate that we'd "swap" bodies or melt into each other.
In the end, there were a few problems in that relationship and it ended after a little over a year and a half. Soon after I was becoming more involved in online communities. This was in 1993-94, when the web was brand new, and I was mostly on irc and bbs'es.
Soon I was finding out that if I said nothing to indicate how others should see me, I was being assumed to be female. I talked to some trusted friends in these communities who helped me to understand and accept who I was. And then I got involved with someone from College Dems.
We went on a few casual dates over the summer since we both lived in the same general area away from school. Then I came out to her. And she got angry. She thought it was me coming up with a shitty way of letting her down because I didn't have the guts to just break it off.
After going back to school, I came out to my closest friend, and a couple of other friends I'd made. It went with varying degrees of success. Then I found out a girl I really liked was into me. So I suppressed again and tried to make a go of that relationship.
It lasted a little over two years, then she broke it off. Because I "wasn't masculine" and she didn't "know who was supposed to be the man in the relationship". I was devastated. I thought I had hidden myself so well, but she saw through me.
I finished up my grad school, got my degree, & worked on getting myself into a place where I could seek the help I needed. And as soon as I could, I did. But before that, I came out to my mom, with the results I mentioned before. As the 40 tweets above indicate, it's not rapid.
But mom "never saw it coming". But my little brother did, when I came out to him shortly after I'd started HRT. And all that this tome of a thread exists here to say that it is cis gatekeeping and cisnormativity that made it seem "rapid" because I tried to guard my thoughts.
I had learned, before my third birthday, that I was meant to be a certain way, even though it's not who I was. This was a steady background drumbeat in my life for more than 25 years. And then because I'd done so well to hide, then it's "rapid" and therefore somehow not real?
So, all of you cis people who think you know so much about trans people because of one badly done study on desistence that people like to cite over and over (Singal! TERFs!), you need to understand that it's not that way at all, it's that you force us to hide for our safety.
If you would just trust trans women to know who they are, if you would stop trying to push a scare narrative to advance the aims of the reactionary religious right (because that is what you are doing, whether you know it or not), we wouldn't have to hide. We want to live in peace
But we can't. You push narratives about "men in dresses invading women's spaces" when that's not who we are. We are women in dresses who want the same safety cis women have in those spaces. And your rhetoric gets trans women killed. 15 in the US so far in 2018.
If we slip up even a little to the wrong person, we end up dead, and it's because of the fear YOU, the "GENDER CRITICAL" community create, that is responsible for this. YOU are KILLING trans women. And it's time for the trans community to get you shut down.
You are no better than the fascists. You create a fear of the other, and the other is me. It's a matter of my survival that your volume be turned down. And I know it won't happen. Twitter and other platforms thrive on the clicks you assholes generate. So fuck you all.
I'm tired of trying to play nice and living in constant damned fear. Cis people need to learn that being trans is as human as any other human trait, and that we are sick or predatory. And if you're worried about cis men exploiting our existence for evil purposes, that's on you.
After all, they are cis men, not trans women. And cis men have proven in the past that they don't need to try and claim being trans to prey on women. They just do it. And they'll continue to do so if you made every one of us use the restrooms in sub-basement B, isolated from you.
So, please, spare me concern trolling about young kids being forced into transition (we aren't doing that), and about people who desist (I'd rather people find out they are cis through trying on being trans than suffer from not knowing for sure). It's all bull.
And some of us have grappled with this for longer than most know, even we ourselves. And with how you treat us, it isn't a choice we just make on a whim, it's the result of careful consideration over years.
(Ugh, this is why Twitter needs an "edit" option...there's a significant typo above where I typed "are" when I meant "aren't". Hopefully the context makes clear what my intent was.)
(aren't sick or predatory...damned lack of an edit option!)
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