Why do people transition? Because we are trans. Because we are human. No more precise answer is possible- because we are complex organisms in complex social structures. But transition continues to shock and distress trans folk and others. Because I wanted to is not a good enough answer for me, because I feel I have suffered because of transition and life might have been easier without that desire; and not for other people, because they want to debate what rights I get as a transitioned woman.
The answer “Autogynephilia” is given by people who want to treat trans women as men, limit transition, and exclude us. So it matters whether that is scientific or not. It isn’t. Haters insist on it, though.
The answer “because I have a woman’s brain/spirit, because I am really a woman” would give us full rights, but I don’t believe it myself. Women’s brains are not particularly different from men’s, trans women’s brains are not clearly closer to cis women’s than cis men’s, it is not clear what differences would be relevant to transition, and brains are plastic, changing throughout life. “Gender essentialism”, the idea that women are in some way innately feminine, is offensive to women who reject femininity but are clear they are women. I observe gender non-conforming people who do not transition, and conclude the idea that people with ovaries are fundamentally different from people with testicles, with the exception of trans people who are really in the other group, is ridiculous.
There is nothing which is a virtue in one sex which is not a virtue in the other; no characteristic which one has but the other has not, apart from those reproductive differences.
“Should a trans woman be allowed in women’s space?” should be addressed without a definitive answer to whether we are women or not. Socially and legally we are women. At worst, we should be pitied and tolerated, for we are mostly harmless. Some say we are men, so should not be there; but society is too complex for such a simple answer. Anti-trans campaigners scaremonger with imagined consequences: male abusers pretending to be trans to enter women’s space, or cis women seeing trans women, thinking they are men, and being retraumatised over past male violence; but most people either don’t care, or see that the gain in allowing us to lead productive lives as members of society outweighs such imagined problems.
A trans person just transitioning might need to justify that to themselves. I wanted to believe I was really a woman. I feared transitioning if I were simply an autogynephiliac pervert, consumed by my sexual fantasies. You doubt yourself, so other people’s opinion that you are a man hurts- it was as if I wanted the whole world to say I was a woman because I could not trust my own judgment and any doubt of it confused depressed and terrified me. But you doubt yourself, then you transition, or you don’t. It is hard to be a campaigner when you need affirmation, because you will meet the opposite.
Now my answer is It was the best I could do at the time. I look back on the difficulties, but with effort I also see blessings, and I may have been worse off if I had not transitioned. It is part of forgiving and acceptance.
A friend said Those who look for a cause are looking for a cure. That was in the nineties, when gay people questioned their own orientation. This is who I am, they should say. Gay Pride. I still looked for a cause. Transition is such an odd thing to do.
Why am I transitioning (I’ll never be done with it)? Because I can! For most of my life, I thought the idea of it impossible – or, at least, un-achievable. Because my transition is mine, and mine alone – different from anyone else’s, as theirs is from all others – I can only answer for myself. I certainly did not undertake this daunting task to please anyone else. It could be argued that I did, however, in that I had become a miserable human being. Those who were, and still are, close to me were on the verge of abandoning me, and transitioning was my only way of giving them the real, and happier, me. I left it to them to decide which was better.
I waited long past the time when I was confident that I could transition to start it. Still, I did it because I knew I could.
Because it is who you are.
I’m bringing my 12 year old daughter (she is still using female pronouns) to get her first puberty blocking shot today.
She has been binding her breasts since they began growing 2 years ago. Her period brings severe dysphoria.
It’s a complicated and hard to understand step…but I can’t know what it is like to live in her body, I can only listen and believe her.
Your words help me so much.
I don’t think there is one way of being trans. I hope she finds a path which helps her flourish.
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[Warning: this is a comment by someone who believes trans children, perhaps trans people, do not exist. She and others might benefit from this recent article in the International Journal of Transgender Health.]
Are you insane?!? You should be encouraging your daughter to love herself and her body as it is. Puberty is a natural part of life. How dare you partake in such abuse as to stop it. SHE IS 12!!!!! 12!!!!! You can only believe her?!? Do children not lie?!? Do children not do things for attention?!? Do children not become obsessed with one thing and then another?!? I suggest you get to the root of her trauma and help her to heal, not become a medical patient for the rest of her life. Please do research on cross sex hormones and what they do to the female body. Transition is NOT going to fix her trauma. It’s not going to erase her being female. She can’t run away from that.
Please do not insult other commenters. YOu are replying to a comment made nearly three years ago. You have no idea of this family situation. No psychiatrist or endocrinologist will recommend such treatment lightly. No parent will seek it lightly. You don’t know the mother or the child.
Some people are trans. Unless you have a belief that transition is always wrong, you would not make such a comment. So, you are outside your bubble. Congratulations. Hearing different views is good for us.
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I let Leah’s comment stand. I was unsure whether to permit it. I am afraid you will have seen such abuse before, from complete strangers. I am sorry you would see it here, and it is at the edge of what comments I would permit. I hope you and your child are well, whatever path through gender you have chosen.
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Thank you for that.
I think it is important to show that there is huge resistance and backlash to these decisions.
These decisions are not made lightly. Being a parent is an amazing, but not easy role. Being a parent to a non traditional or non conforming child is extra hard.
It is 3 years later and my child is still alive and thriving. Many things have happened that I never expected, but we have managed through them with love, support and a lot of patience.
Our journey continues. I have no idea how it will turn out…but I’m willing to listen, find the right experts and I always have my kids back.
I hope people who are distressed by others choices stop and ask themselves why. Our decisions do not impact you. Live and let live.
Stillness and peace
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As a newcomer to this world, can I thank you both for you calm reasonableness in the face of the strident comment. As someone who is trying hard to assimilate both points of view, this is the most supportive space I have found so far.
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Welcome. Please feel free to comment and question.
I am married to my best friend from highschool that was the manliest man on earth. We met up 2 years ago and we had not seen each other for 17 years. I did not know he transitioned, but the love was still there for the both of us. We never dated, we never had sex, just the best of friends. Life went its course for the both of us and we met .back up 2 years ago. We are now married, however I still cant comprehend why he chose to transition. He claims to have been very unhappy with life and angry all the time. Still to this day She is not a happy person, moody ( I still love her) and she still acts like a man.She did not fully transition and does not want to, but legally is female. I dont understand it and deep in my heart i wish my best friend was still a man. I am not a lesbian, never was and when we got together that was a hard pill to swallow for me. It was ingrained in my head that that would be what the outside world would see me as, I get that. But for lack of better thoughts, I am not a lesbian. She however refers to herself as lesbian as she is not interested in men in the least. I am struggling here, i dont understand.
Welcome, Deirdra. Thank you for commenting.
Put the words aside. Words are not the best way of understanding anything. I am sorry you feel hurt. Love is strange.
And, don’t blame her too much for acting like a man. That was safety for her, for years. When she can fully relax, which may be years after transition, you will see how feminine she is. And there are deeply ingrained habits: even now, sometimes women respond to me as a man, and I reciprocate as a man. And yet I have transitioned. I can’t understand it myself.