, 25 tweets, 4 min read
Twitter, particularly UK Twitter, is talking about detransition a lot today. This thread is my experience with transition, detransition, and transition again.
I began my transition in 2006. Back then, it was a lot more difficult to be taken seriously, particularly as a minor. When I finally made it before a psych who was willing to approach the issue, I was placed on anti-androgens and then forced into a one-year "real-life experience"
The few trans folx I knew then, mostly elders, called the RLE a "suicide test" and they were right to. Expecting someone to go directly to full-time presentation in ALL areas of life before they will be allowed access to hormones is abusive. Naturally, I cheated where I could.
I experienced a lot of violence during my first transition. It was mostly the violence that made me doubt whether I could survive transition. Transphobic media actors like to paint this as choice, but there is no choice to survival.
I had to check in with my psych every week to maintain my path toward hormones. Naturally, this was expensive in Southern California, but I had a good job then. I remained as closeted as I possibly could until I felt I could "pass"
I'll make it clear now that there should never be an expectation of "passing" placed on any trans person, it's just a cruel enforcement of artificial gender roles and ideals. Nonetheless, I internalised it and it was a grave source of anxiety.
I found supportive coworkers to write letters for my psych declaring that I was full-time. I certainly was not. Between the jokes I would overhear and the support groups that warned of employment discrimination, I did not feel safe to be out.
Not feeling safe was the natural state in almost every situation. Except in queer spaces, which were often just as discriminatory then, I rarely felt that I could relax in my skin. I spent more time in nightclubs then than any other time in my life.
I had a supportive girlfriend (more on that later) at the time. Though she would eventually tell me I was taking this "trans thing too far," she provided encouragement I desperately needed in the beginning. I was not out around my flatmates.
I maintained a mostly androgynous expression at the time, but very much one marked by the trappings of shame. You could see it in my posture, baggy clothing, hiding behind a hat. I wouldn't find strength and confidence in public for another ten years, but I learned to fake it.
I started working as a cam-op in pornography and found that it was the most supportive space I had. With the exception of a couple directors trying to persuade me to appear in front of the camera, I was completely accepted there. That's where I learned to fake confidence.
During my RLE, I thought about suicide a lot. I thought about stopping because it was so very difficult. I thought about the opportunities I would be denied and the barriers I would face. At the time, my goal was stealth, to simply not read as trans and avoid society's punishment
Then I made it through. I reached my one year and my psych wrote an estradiol prescription. Before she did, she told me "No one will ever love you if you do this." I internalised that, too.
After 6 months of E, my transition was starting to become obvious. I talked to my boss, he seemed supportive. A month later I was laid off. No job = no health insurance in USA.
I couldn't find work, even unskilled work after losing my good job. This was during the Great Recession, so it wasn't entirely because of discrimination, but I suspected that was a big part of it. I went from having no trouble finding work to struggling to get an interview.
The only work I could get was part-time cam-op work in porn. Again, that was the one space that felt fully accepting of my transition. I couldn't afford the $900-$1800/month to continue HRT - I involuntarily detransitioned.
I left California, which was probably a mistake. I wound up on the street again. With a body that was obviously in transition, I was locked out of the gendered shelter system. Before long I found myself attacked based on my appearance. The slurs they used made their motive clear.
I was hospitalised as a "John Doe" with six broken bones. I'm still not comfortable talking about it, but it changed my worldview. I became more aggressive, more radical.
I matriculated in a conservative uni far from California. I was disenfranchised. I still expressed, but mostly as a form of protest against the rampant homophobia and transphobia on campus. It was all I could do to be honest with myself, but I was still semi-closeted with others.
I've twice used uni as a means off the street. It's a privilege to do so, but it was the clearest way I saw. With student loans and grants, I got into on-campus housing, but branded male. My flatmates threatened me, I often slept in lounges.
Eventually, I ended up sleeping in a car for safety. Then I found myself in a series of abusive relationships. When you tell someone that "no one will ever love you if you do this," that's what you set them up for.
Eventually I moved to British Columbia and saw my chance to transition again. I followed the process, but found a much worse situation than I previously had.
The one specialist in trans health care, and the only doctor for whom I could get a referral for HRT was reckless with the standards of care. This doctor refused to prescribe HRT because of my previous detransition. She refused to consider why...
... she believed that I would have done anything to stay on HRT if I were "actually trans." She looked at my career and education goals and decided that I was not "trans enough." She learned that I was a lesbian and told me that I could not be a woman and love women.
I was broken. I thought that was the final word. I attempted suicide.
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