I will speak to an audience next month, primarily of gender and sexuality diverse people, and thought of saying, “If you’re considering transition, don’t”. But- if I could say that to myself in 2001, when I had decided to transition, could I persuade myself? Perhaps not even if I could convince my earlier self who my current self was.
It is insulting to say “Think twice”. We think not seven times, but seventy times seven. We analyse every contra-indication. Autogynephilia terrified me, I thought if I were being sucked in to a perverted fantasy I would be terribly damaged before I was spat out. I needed my trans nature to be more soundly based. 2017 could not attempt to fool 2001 about that, and integrity might compel me to reassure myself. No, it is not merely a perversion. We note all the hostility, and I am still more interested in TERFs than their numbers and importance justify.
In the mood I am in now, I might just reassure myself. Transition is a way to live more comfortably and authentically in the World. It is not easy, and I lost some friends when I transitioned, yet I knew it was what I had to do, and it has been my path to self-acceptance.
I would warn myself about two things. Taking synthetic hormones, and doctors altering my hormone doses, has made my emotional lability a severe problem for me. Yet I have kind of known I was sensitive, and my emotional control was doing me no good. And, I regret the loss of my genitals. Yet that might not weigh much with 2001: I was so intensely ashamed of what aroused me that it might seem impossible that I could ever work out how to make arousal remotely pleasureable. It was compulsion and agony.
I don’t know if I could have transitioned without hormones and surgery.
If I decided to force myself down a different path with this imaginary time machine, I might be better to approach myself in 1996. I had had aversion therapy. I had got a pretty bridesmaid’s dress in a charity shop, worn it a few times, then let it hang in my spare room for months. I noticed it when I went into my spare room. I was quite pleased with myself for not wearing it, and after a few months I threw it away, just before I first bought a wig and visited the Northern Concord transvestite club.
I would have to take care with 1996. I could try to avoid transition by reinforcing that icy self-hatred and control, which broke me in the end- I might break myself sooner. It is the therapist’s curse, she knows the obvious truth, but if the client can’t say it himself he won’t be able to hear it either. I would have to offer something better, some self-acceptance, and 1996 might not understand. I am a different person now. He has to make his own mistakes. My guidance might take him down worse paths.
I am this person, myself and no other, and this person is beautiful. And it is difficult to be my whole self in my culture, which homogenises people, praises different gifts than mine, and in which I have failed to thrive. Recognising my beauty and fittingness is a step forward for me, and I am so badly hurt!