Detransition

Crash is concerned people are calling her “transphobic” and not listening to the nuance of what she is saying, but unapologetic, saying that she of course will act to advance our own well-being. If that means telling stories and truths other people find uncomfortable, so be it. She spent four years on T, presenting male, and has reverted. Yet she wants transitioned and detransitioned people to be allies, and is not helped by people using her story as a weapon against transition. So, how could we be allies?

I don’t know of any detransitioned woman who doesn’t believe that adults can decide what to do with their lives and their bodies, including to transition if they decide that’s what’s best for them. No, that would be a detransitioned man, Charles Kane, filled with resentment for what he did to himself. That might be something about female socialisation, growing up to make the best of it and see others’ point of view. However she wants to speak out for detransitioned and dysphoric women… because no one else is looking out for us.

She bears the scars of transition- chest masculinisation, T use- and has a deep voice and facial hair. She is forging a new path: transition is well-travelled, with many books and support groups on what it means, but on detransition she found only a few blogs.

First, I found her blog post about the backlash from the article about detransition in a new online magazine The Outlook, then went to the article itself. I would like us to be allies. Anyone who transitions has had difficulty living with themselves in a gendered society, even if they detransition. We have a lot in common. Why is she called transphobic? This quote from The Outlook may give a clue: The bloggers write about how they’ve come to understand their own transitions as a response to trauma, or an expression of self-hatred stemming from living in a patriarchal world, or a capitulation to social pressure. I might see their detransition in the same way- the only word I might change is “patriarchal” to “transphobic”, and even that is not absolutely necessary.

I have thought about detransition a lot, and always called it “Reverting”. That’s a different way of framing it, as a failure. This is how we are opponents in a zero-sum game: if detransitioners are people who should never have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria in the first place, but treated otherwise than by transition- people who have been wronged by the system- then it should be much more difficult to get hormones or surgery.

I should be accepted as a woman because I really am a woman. This is the basis for our argument that we should enter women-only spaces, be treated as women, be recognised in law as women. Psychiatrists who specialise in us have the expertise to diagnose gender dysphoria, for which the treatment is medical, surgical and social transition.

But it’s a zero-sum game. Crash could not have been prevented from transition without it being made more difficult for the rest of us. The Outline cited studies that regret is 2.2% or less- making transition more difficult stymies forty people for the sake of one. Arbitrated by fairness or Utilitarianism, my side should win the zero-sum game. And, possibly, many who reverted might not have taken no for an answer when they transitioned.

I really am a woman. Or, the only treatment for gender identity disorder is transition. Crash says she suffered from internalised misogyny, trauma and dissociation. I learned The Script, what I was told I should say to ensure I got the right diagnosis. The Script was not true for me, I told the truth, and got the diagnosis and treatment anyway. If Crash could have been protected from transition, a real trans man might have been wrongfully refused it- and given that hormones and surgery are so invasive, psychiatrists might err on the side of caution. But when we transition, we really really want that treatment.

I do not trust the psychiatrists. I don’t think there are clear discrete groups, one of which suffer from gender dysphoria who should transition, and another whose symptoms mimic those of the first but who suffer from some different diagnosable condition, dissociative disorder or something else. My psychiatrist told me I was “not psychotic” but I don’t know he was right about that.

I don’t think I am dissociative. I hated my body before transition. Now, I love it. What would I know? On what basis is Crash diagnosed as dissociative- is it just because she has decided to revert?

I wish diagnosis could be certain, but it is more messy than that. I want Crash as an ally, because we have a great deal in common. We are both people who did not easily fit the stereotypes attached to our birth gender, the social construct of “man” in my case, “woman” in hers. We try to make our way as best we can. We live in gendered societies, with expectations about what a man or a woman ought to be like, even if those expectations are broader and more inclusive than I, desperate because I saw myself as less than a real man, imagined them to be.

There are those who would argue that Trans is a great lie, that the removal of breasts penises and gonads is a vile mutilation, and we should accept our bodies. Some of them are religious nutters with rigid ideas of what “Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” is, and some are radical feminists who think gender roles are a misogynist social construct imposed by patriarchy. Yet we desperately want social and/or physical transition.

When I transitioned, I thought it was quite possible that I would revert within five years, but transition was the only way I could find that out. I wanted it so much. I had to try it. I have not reverted yet. This might escape the zero-sum game: that detransition is right for a person does not mean that transition was necessarily wrong. Or, alternatively- I am not a woman, or even a person who particularly well fits the social construct of “woman” in my society; only someone who has chosen to identify as Clare, and I have a right to identify like that, or as Stephen, or Hillary. That detransition is right for someone does not mean it is right for everyone, or that anyone should be stopped from transitioning because they might revert later. It is not clear cut, but confusing, and people make mistakes.

Whatever, I want to extend a hand of friendship to Crash. We are both people who have been uncomfortable with gender roles, and have done what we thought best in response to that. Let us honour our choices and mourn our mistakes together. I doubt I could have been saved from myself. None of these choices are easy: that we have all faced them is a bond. (That’s just me- I like to see things in terms of common interest and common experience.) Crash linked to this video: “We’re not recruiting, okay?” says the detransitioned woman. “This is about people’s well-being”. I want their well-being, as well as my own.

Continued here: Detransition II, on Callahan, a detransitioned woman whom people call a trans excluder.

The Outline.
Crash’s blog. Crash’s video.

breslau-the-artist-and-her-model

Desistance

Trans children, treated with surgery before puberty then assigned-sex hormones to have an assigned-sex puberty, would pass so much better. They would have skulls and skeletons consistent with their trans sex. They would need far less invasive, far more successful, surgery. The problem is children who desist. Many children referred to gender clinics as children grow up to identify as cis, often lesbian gay or bi. Reverting after surgery or such hormone treatment, after removal of genitals and needing further surgery, a person might develop a deep resentment of the medical services s/he had as a child.

Who do you protect? Not knowing whether this child will revert, do you force trans children to undergo an unwanted puberty to protect a cis person who might be caught up in the treatment? All other things being equal, people are happier with a full set of working genitalia including gonads than without. So, someone has to speak up for the genuine trans children, forced through an alienating puberty to need more surgery with worse outcomes: I am sorry that it is not me.

What matters is how many referred to gender clinics desist, and whether one can detect them before puberty. In the New York Magazine I read of two recent studies. Some of the children who desisted were just as extreme [in their gender dysphoria] as some of the children who persisted, wrote Devita Singh, a clinical psychologist. The NYMag article raises my distrust when it says that Kenneth Zucker was sacked as director of a GIC largely a result of false accusations leveled against him, after a lengthy campaign from a segment of LGBT activists who accused him — wrongly, in light of the available evidence — of harming his clients. Um. “A segment”- who? The Bad ones? So his bosses sacked him, because of lies told by bad people, rather than finding the truth? Really?

Thomas Steensma studied 127 children referred to the Centre of Expertise on Gender Dysphoria in Amsterdam. He found that eighty of them had desisted. Singh found of 139 AMAB children, 122 had desisted.

Were those children referred to the clinics for true gender dysphoria, or mere gender non-conformity? Some boys are effeminate- get over it, as they say. It is no surprise if non-conforming children become cis non-conforming adults- for it really is OK to be an feminine man or a masculine woman, and adults, who learn to navigate the discrepancies between what others expect and their own internal leadings so much better than children, can live more happily with that. A child may be more comfortable transitioned because though the new gender stereotype does not fit their idiosyncratic self, it is still more comfortable than the stereotype assigned at birth.

Can you tell the difference between non-conformity and dysphoria? I don’t know. I hope the doctors are working on it.

Would that children could be transitioned to neutral, a childhood without gendered expectations. They could be allowed to experiment- different clothes, colours, hair, names, playing without being divided between girls and boys-

Only gender affirmation- if it is not clearly harmful, it is permissible. That might be better for everyone.

New York Magazine, What’s missing from the conversation about trans kids.

Carpioni, Narcissus and Tiresias

Freedom, constraint

What do I so passionately want for you?

Old lady at the bus stop. Browny-cream coat, black slacks with no spare cloth, practical handbag with lots of zips. Perm. Gloves with button detail. She’s going down the butcher’s and the mini Mart. She has a practical mask for the world. You put your face on. Though she has joys too- you only exist in my imagination, the real woman has joy-

Or W aged 24. Seeking to belong, and happy to conform. It’s conforming I want to save you from- save myself- I realised she wanted to conform when she told me something which must bore her had been interesting. Who does not want to belong?

Something strikes and moves me in my perception of these women if it is particularly important for me. I desperately want it for them only if I want it for me. I hardly know them, yet am moved.

How is it for other people? For me, being authentically myself, and fitting in a community, seem diametrically opposite goals, and equally impossible, and equally unbearable without the other.

Another woman told me she had been dismissed after two months on a zero hours contract. Why would that need a zero-hours contract? An office should have regular hours, surely? Because it was covering for sickness and holidays. She had been told a few times that she needed to work quicker, or that she should do a task differently, but was shocked when she was sacked, as she had had no warning of the possibility.

I thought, well, you would not necessarily warn, would you? Would such a warning make a person more efficient, if telling them to work quicker did not? Would they just be depressed and resentful? I told a friend, and he said, of course you would, because it is fair. She has a right to know. He was shocked I might contemplate otherwise, considering it from the position of a purely selfish manager, rather than one having some consideration for the employee. How cruel is your world? How atomised do you imagine people are, or should be?

Of course I will not revert. Conforming to what I see around me, what makes sense to me because it makes sense to people important to me, I consider that “femininity” is a patriarchal, oppressive social construct. No, I am not a “woman trapped in a man’s body”, I don’t have a “female brain”, women can think like men if not restricted and judged and oppressed. I walked along the high street and passed three young women, laughing together, full of life and energy, and thought, I have nothing in common with them. “Aged male pervert” says my inner critic.

I could not say “it is authentically me,” not really, because we change and I am not sure of an unchanging core, it could just be a story we tell ourselves to comfort ourselves and all such stories are false. All I have is the desire, the same now as fourteen years ago when I went full time female at work. The desire, the immovable object. All my arguments, the consideration of my interest, all the pain it causes me, never change it.

This was Friday morning. I am not there now- see tomorrow’s post- I could not write this if I were there now, but then I wanted an entirely different person to occupy the space I occupy, just so’s the pain would go away.

face

Authenticity II

What is authenticity? Is it even possible? Are we all hypocrites, pretending- the word derives from ancient Greek for “actor”. WYSIWYG is a compliment, everyone admires that.

When I typed the title, wordpress let me know I had posted on Authenticity before. There, Jnana commented that we discover ourselves through others. We respond out of our wounds, our hurts. We lash out when we see in others what we fear in ourselves. Or others see something in us.

And we are all influenced, perhaps even created, by other people. We are social animals- we see and we imitate, our genes are activated by our environment, nurture is nature.

Possibly when I am least self-assured, I am most authentic. I have a response I have repressed, but then I come out with it, self-conscious, self-doubting, unsure this is real or authentic.

We learn and grow and mature.

We want to appear to be good, and in practising that we may become so.

The law of non-contradiction is true- a statement and its negation cannot both be true- yet it is difficult to apply it to my experience and understanding. Both p and not-p may appear true to me: I cannot simply choose one, and reject the other, but must live with both until I see where I have been wrong before.

Not knowing is difficult, yet necessary. The discomfort is good, it motivates me to resolve the paradox; my truthfulness, knowing falsehood harms me, lets me live with the discomfort until I can resolve the paradox truthfully.

I want to be authentic and I want to fit in. Trying for either is painful.

As for reverting-

if I did it because I thought- oh, help! That was a mistake, in 2002, a wrong turning! I must put it right! I was forced by oppressive kyriarchal society into a wrong turn. I must go back, I must put it right-

if I thought that, panicking-

that would be a way further into the maze.

If I revert, that must be because it is right for me, now. And I need not make a Decision- I could start by being Stephen, just for a day. I cannot be Authentic for all time. I can only let the process unfurl, in the moment. I will be authentic in the future if I am authentic now, but these authenticities may appear different. It might feel right, even if I could not explain why it was right, in words.

Artemisia Gentileschi, self-portrait as a martyr

Reverting IV

If I reverted, could I hold my head high again?

It’s not that people might say, “What a fool! He had his balls cut off, and now he admits it was a mistake!” Some might say that, but only immature people, lashing out in their suffering.

It’s that, having decided I like myself, that I am loveable, would I be able to see myself as a man, yet with this character and qualities, as remotely worthy of respect? Could I have self-respect as a man?

Men are not supposed to be like that.

Where does that idea come from? I am not sure I would judge another harshly, for being like this. It is very strong in me. It might be a large part of my decision to transition.

I am not supposed to be like that. So the only way I could escape that judgment was to transition. If you are considering transition, now, considering starting on hormones, a useful question might be, Who am I, really? Why should a man not be like that?

Softness is beautiful in a man. (Why should I remember a child at school, a year older than me, saying “You’re soft as shite?” Why should that be with me, now, still mattering?)

Reverting would be a bit of a faff. I can’t afford a whole new wardrobe. Would I need packing in the swimming pool? Would people notice my breasts? I would be terribly self-conscious, and it would be my own judgment of myself which would matter, all my anger and fear. The adulation and worshipful reverence of every single human being is not enough if I despise myself.

I would need to avoid the risk of osteoporosis. Would it be a straight choice between continuing oestradiol and going on T? If I took T, would that change me? We are different people, yet the same, at twenty and eighty- my difference might be greater. It is so important to us, to say, “This is the real me, who I have always been”- yet chemicals and experiences change us. I am a process, affected by experience and new ideas- whatever happens, it is not me who will be here in ten years, but another person.

I want that person to be happy. That needs self-respect.

Now, transphobia affects me. “You’re not women!” say the transphobes. “Men force their way into women’s space, where they are not wanted!” I doubt my authenticity. That might make me revert. Authenticity is important to me.

What is authenticity? Is it possible?

Allan Ramsay, Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The Descent of Inanna

Inanna, the Queen of Heaven, wants Gilgamesh, King of the city of Uruk, as her lover, but he spurns her. Your lovers have found you like a brazier which smoulders in the cold, a backdoor which keeps out neither squall of wind nor storm. In a rage, she calls on her father god Anu to give her Gugulanna the Bull of Heaven to take revenge on Gilgamesh. He refuses, but when she threatens to break open the doors of the Underworld so that the dead shall eat food like the living, he relents. The bull snorts and the Earth opens, and the warriors of Uruk are killed; but Gilgamesh and Enkidu kill the bull. Inanna curses Enkidu, who throws the bull’s right thigh at her. For this, the Gods kill Enkidu.

Inanna arrays herself as the Goddess, in royal robe and crown, and the breastplate called “Come, man, come”, then descends into the underworld to attend the funeral of Gugulanna, whose husband is her sister Ereshkigal, Queen of the Dead. She leaves behind Ninshubur, her servant, with instructions if she does not return. She pushes aggressively at the door of the Underworld, and Ereshkigal commands the doorman to open the seven doors a crack, letting her through but removing her royal garments. “Let the holy priestess of heaven enter bowed low.” When her garments are removed, Inanna protests: “What is this?”

“Be satisfied, Inana, a divine power of the underworld has been fulfilled. Inana, you must not open your mouth against the rites of the underworld.” Or,
“Quiet, Inanna, the ways of the underworld are perfect,
They may not be questioned.”
(The first comes from this prose translation, the second from this verse translation.) Inanna makes Ereshkigal stand, and takes her throne, but the seven judges shout her guilt, and she is turned to a corpse, hung on a hook.

When she does not return, as instructed Ninshubur petitions Inanna’s father-Gods Enlil, Nanna and Enki to rescue her. Enlil and Nanna refuse, saying “Inana craved the great heaven and she craved the great below as well. The divine powers of the underworld are divine powers which should not be craved, for whoever gets them must remain in the underworld. Who, having got to that place, could then expect to come up again?”

Enki creates two demons to rescue Inanna. He gives them the life-giving water. They go to the underworld and find Ereshkigal sick and in mourning, her unwashed hair “bunched up as if it were leeks”. They sympathise, and she offers them a river of water. They demand the corpse, sprinkle the life-giving water on it, and bring Inanna to life.

When Inanna returns, she is escorted by demons who will accept no sacrifice, but afflict humanity- “tear the wife from a man’s embrace”- without pity. She must bring back a substitute, for no-one has ascended unscathed from the Underworld. She finds Ninshubur in mourning, and will not send her, but her husband Dumuzid is dressed magnificently and seated on a throne, so she chooses him. The demons seize him. He escapes briefly, and his sister asks to share his fate: each will spend six months each year in the Underworld.

Stone bowl offered to Inanna

 ♥♥♥

What does the story of Inanna mean?

It is incantatory and repetitive. You would hear it as a story, and the repetitions would please you like the returning themes of a symphony.

The Jungian interpretation is clear. Jesus said, When you strip naked without being ashamed, you will become children of God and have no more fear. Inanna’s finery is mere pretence, masks so she might look good- though Isaiah 64:6 sees them differently: we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. Our pretences are stripped away, and we are free.

The individual garments may have individual interpretations:

With the me in her possession, she has prepared herself:
On her head she wears the shugurra, the crown of the steppe.
Across her forehead her dark locks of hair are carefully arranged.
Around her neck she wears the small lapis beads.
At her breast she wears the double strand of beads.
Her body is wrapped with the royal robe. [or, She covered her body with a pala dress, the garment of ladyship.]
Her eyes are dabbed with the ointment called, “let him come, let him come.”
Around her chest she wears the breastplate called “come, man, come.”
On her wrist she wears the gold ring.
In her hand she carries the lapis measuring rod and line.

What could each mean? Comment! Knock yourself out!

Joshua J Mark, in the Ancient History Encyclopaedia, eschews the Jungian interpretation: the tale shows how self-centred and unfair a Goddess may be, and humanity suffers. Also the change of Dumuzid and his sister explains the seasons. Though myths may pass through many hands, and have meanings added. He thinks Ereshkigal is praised at the end of the poem-

Holy Ereshkigal! Great is your renown!
Holy Ereshkigal! I sing your praises!

-because she sought justice against Inanna; but the Goddess of the Dead should be propitiated, especially after portraying her as outsmarted by her sister.

For me, a myth speaks to the unconscious. I can explain the meaning that we lose our pretences, our identities, when we find our unconscious, because I have become conscious of that. There may be other meanings in the story.

I have been at thirdwaytrans again. He finds the identity “a trans woman” a prison, because it means we can no longer present male. A commenter brought up Inanna. First I tried to please the World with my hyper-manly persona (from Greek for mask) then, more truly me, with “Clare”. After descending into Hell, or reaching rock bottom, I learn how valueless the masks are. Before I transitioned, I thought that in five years’ time I might be trying to present male, but transitioning was the only way to get to that place. My identity as trans liberated aspects of myself I could not express otherwise.

Unilantern, commenting, claims masculine and feminine are patriarchal oppression. She produces a great long screed arguing masculinity is seen as instrumental, femininity as expressive. If a man is expressive he is seen as feminine. But composers, painters, poets, philosophers, even writers, were until recently overwhelmingly male.

Healing-stars Goddessastrology compares the removal of the seven garments to the purification of the seven chakras, though chakras are understandings from a different culture. Hooray for eclecticism!

Inanna

Pathological manliness

So many trans women I meet had worked hard to make men of themselves. I joined the Territorial Army, one was in the police firearms unit and had pointed her gun at a man, willing to shoot him if necessary; others were in the armed forces. The police are necessary, but I do not have the personality for that: I know myself well enough now, and am glad my application to join the Prison Service was rejected.

Here is thirdwaytrans pathologising gender identity. He has detransitioned. A therapist would think of a patient as a person with depression rather than a depressive, and encourage the patient to do the same. The patient is so much more than just the condition, but also thinking of the condition as separate- “That’s the depression talking”- is therapeutic. If they identify as “a depressive” they may feel they cannot change and become harder to treat.

He wants to treat gender dysphoria the same way, as separate from the person and not their authentic self. An identity is not authentic, but a summary, a short-cut to explain that “freezes things into place”. He is wrong, there: it can be a jumping-off point, an understanding which enables me to grope for further understanding, at first without words.

I feel he wants to justify his detransition. He has moved on, not “reverted”: it is new maturity, not failure. He says mindfulness is important in detransitioning, because it loosens identities and the holds they place on us. Strange: my Quaker worship was a way into accepting the need to transition.

I feel all decisions are acceptable, if the person knows the consequences. Yes, you can dress female, or transition; you can have testosterone suppressors and oestrogen, if you realise these may cause permanent physical changes and the risk of sterility is high; you can have vaginoplasty; you can revert.

I feel he pathologises the wrong thing. I have not read his whole blog, but I find little difference in this post from the ignorant person who says I am delusional and a man in women’s clothes is disgusting or sick. Transition let me be more me. I moved from tense, defensive and masked to soft, gentle and peaceful; celebrating my femininity rather than loathing it.

Possibly rather than transitioning a person could be freed from the mask of Masculinity. It is that idea that we must be extremely masculine to pass as men that imprisons us.

The rules of Masculinity are not just in my own mind, or my parents’ understanding, but in the wider community; yet a counsellor observed that trans folk have a very narrow concept of what is acceptable behaviour to be “manly” or “womanly”, where the unafflicted have a much wider range.

My identity is Clare, but seeing myself as soft, gentle and peaceful and coming to value that has been liberating, many years after transition. Though Ann saw me as a gentle boy full of humour and love when I was twenty, and others saw me as other than my self-concept of echt manliness.

The psychotherapist, rather than treating gender dysphoria as sickness or delusion, or transition as the only way of treating it, would attempt with the patient to find and value the human being under the shell of manly pretence. My problem is, I could only do that after transition.

Monet Poplars Epte 1891

“Sex Change Regret”

Walt Heyer makes money from telling his story as a transitioner who reverted. Who is this fool?

Contrary to what you may think, male-to-female sex change surgery is a sex change in name (documentation) only. Sex change regret may come years later when you understand the surgery did not make you a female or change your DNA gender/sex. Is there anyone contemplating GRS who does not know this? You will not get pregnant! Not yet, anyway: womb transplants are in an early, experimental stage. It will not grow back!

Heyer claims our suicide rate is 31%; but this is not because people are not trans, and living in the true gender is not better for them, but at least in part because we still suffer discrimination and hatred. Consider two reverters he quotes: Chelsea says, It is exhausting putting on make-up and wearing heels all the time. Even then I don’t feel I look like a proper woman. I suffered from depression and anxiety as a result of the hormones too. I have realised it would be easier to stop fighting the way I look naturally and accept that I was born a man physically.

Well, I don’t wear heels every day, or make-up. Do you? I have enough acceptance to like the way I look and express myself. If I constantly felt the disapproval of others, it would be different. Like the unnamed teenager: my decision has alienated my family and how I will have to become a boy again to resolve it. My family were more distant too, though not completely alienated. I talked to my nephew last week, for the first time in two years. I am so glad! Again, this regret is not because transition is wrong, but because other people can be bullies.

Then I read his story. Before he was nine, when he went to his grandmother’s house she dressed him in a purple chiffon dress. She had wanted a granddaughter, he says. My grandmother withheld affirmations of me as a boy, but she lavished delighted praise upon me when I was dressed as a girl. Feelings of euphoria swept over me with her praise, followed later by depression and insecurity about being a boy. Her actions planted the idea in me that I was born in the wrong body. She nourished and encouraged the idea, and over time it took on a life of its own. Then his parents found out. My father was terrified his boy was not developing into a man, so he ramped up his discipline. His uncle Fred abused him. One day Uncle Fred took me in his car on a dirt road up the hill from my house and tried to take off all my clothes. His mum did not believe him. He developed a dissociative disorder, which was not diagnosed when he sought transition. His wife divorced him.

Clearly, transition was not right for him. Yet his experience is no basis for preventing the transition of trans women who have received proper care, and not been abused, such as the vast majority of us. The abuse comes from ignorant people who cannot accept the rightness of transition. He continues to write ignorant articles like this one: The setting for the first transgender surgeries (mostly male-to-female) was in university-based clinics, starting in the 1950s. Stupid man! Has he never heard of Lili Elbe? He quotes David Reimer as a case against transition, when Reimer is proof of the existence of gender identity!

He cites studies showing people still suffer depression after transition, but fails to show any better treatment. If we really could be therapised into being happy in the birth assigned sex, all the transphobes and trans-erasers would be trumpeting the research. But there is none.

I thought when I transitioned that in five years’ time I might be reverted, trying to live as a man. I realised that transition was what I had to do then. The only way I could get to any equanimity trying to live as a man was by trying transition first. Though for us, both roles are difficult: the assigned sex because of dysphoria, and the true sex because of transphobia. Society is the problem, not the trans woman.

Raffaelo Santi, Madonna della Rosa

M-F-M

File:Symphony in White no 1 - The White Girl - Portrait of Joanna Hiffernan (by James Abbot McNeill Whistler).jpgI still think of reverting, M-F-M, and worry that a main reason for not reverting is that I would be admitting I had been wrong. In one of Wxhluyp‘s interminable debates, her opponent contrasted two opposites: Male v Female, and Male v Not-Male. Then there is the trans-exclusionist critique: the only real differences between male and female are anatomical; any other differences are cultural, patriarchal and oppressive. And there is the denied, oppressed and derided way of being male, the sissy.

Reverting would not mean admitting I had been wrong. I wanted so much to transition at the time, it was the most important thing in my life. Transition is always portrayed as intended to be life-long, but need not be. Transition could be the only path I could have taken to get to wanting to present male, now.

I am dissatisfied. How could I not be? How many are not? In my dissatisfaction, I alight on the most impractical, self-hating and self-judging act as a possible solution. How tempting: I am dissatisfied because I took that wrong step- reverse it and everything will be OK.

As before, there are two questions:

Am I female?
Will I be happier if I revert?

No to the first does not necessitate a yes to the second.

It feels that I have a fire in me which can frighten or offend others (again, this may be the common human experience) which I have not yet learned how to live with: I am unhappy whether I suppress it or let it out, and learning how to live with it is what I mean by doing teenage, or doing toddlerhood, now.

M-F-M. It is not what I Want. Trying to work it out rationally- am I deluded?- gets me nowhere.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3d/Symphony_in_White_no_1_-_The_White_Girl_-_Portrait_of_Joanna_Hiffernan_%28by_James_Abbot_McNeill_Whistler%29.jpg

Hate and fear

transgender legalI don’t hate anyone.

(We’ll come back to that.)

I have been accused of hating. There is a blog purporting to be the diary of a person who transitioned male to female some time ago, and is now transitioning back. It is probably a TERF fantasy. It does not have any of the detail you would expect from a record of real life, but seems imagined, and it links to TERF blogs. I commented, and was referred to as  “full of hate”. I won’t link to it, it is too silly, but I notice I get a slow stream of views from there, and I got a huge number of views from a silly “Christian” homophobic site where I engaged briefly. Disagreement can be enticing.

I don’t hate trans women who revert. There are lots of reasons for reverting- social pressures, being read and insulted, demands from children- and, given that there are losses as well as the gain of Authenticity from transition, it is a choice some people make. Some, like Sam Hashimi, blame everyone but themselves for their transition, but they are people under pressure, and their letting their anger out is understandable, more to be pitied than hated.

I don’t even hate TERFs. They’re the haters! They seek to exclude us from changing rooms and loos, they seek to erase us, they try to infect all women with their paranoid, delusional hatred of us, they want us dead, they lie that we are oppressors while they oppress us-

-breathe-

jenna-talackovaMy colleague Ann had a phobic reaction to me. She found the thought of me expressing myself female repellent. She made great efforts to retain a professional working relationship with me, but eventually we had to stay as far apart as possible. TERF accounts of us reek of such phobia, rationalised and celebrated rather than set-aside, as Ann’s was.

So, start again. I don’t even hate TERFs. I think they are wrong about trans women, wrong about privilege and have picked on the wrong enemy, particularly when they support “Christian” “Pro-Marriage” groups in attacking trans children, but I don’t-

What can I do with that initial emotional reaction? I can deny it and suppress it; or I can acknowledge it, and persuade it. There is my Fight-or-flight, eyes wide, breathing heavily, and another part of me (some call them angels) is talking calmly and reasonably to her. The anger is there– TERF propaganda is horrible- but I can persuade myself, and feel other feelings.

In face to face argument at university, Sylvia bested Iain by winding him up with tendentious rubbish and then saying, calmly, softly, sweetly,

there’s no need to shout.

Iain was flummoxed. On line- there is discussion in the comments here, where Matt and atoughpilltoswallow both accuse each other of Hate.

Like a lot of people, I can type with my blood up, expressing my anger and fear, or I can calm down, and say much the same things, more articulately. And- I can write polemic- This is why they are the Bad People– or irenic, seeking common ground and greater understanding.

However articulate polemic is, there is anger and fear underlying it. Love and peace must seek understanding.