Kelly Worrall’s story: The costs and the courage of coming out

“When Kelly Worrall took off her men’s clothes for what she expected would be the last time in 2011, she felt free.

‘It was very liberating to be able to give myself the opportunity to be who I needed to be in the moment,’ she says. 'For 37 years I’ve played by the rules and I’ve done everything I was supposed to do, and it didn’t make me happy. I still felt trapped inside.’

As a seven-year-old, Worrall wished she had been born a girl. She wanted to wear long skirts and grow up to be a tall, beautiful woman. But it was the 1980s, and transitioning back then was barely an option on most people’s radar. So she repressed her feminine self. Until she couldn’t anymore.

Coming out gave her permission to be her true self, she says.

Now, after two years of living full-time as a woman, she is presenting again as a man. Does this make her any less trans? No, she answers without hesitation.

This is her story.”

Detransition is Deprogramming

When FTMs express disdain for detransition, they talk about it within the framework of trans rhetoric, which equates detransition with reparative therapy. They assume that I am accepting the female gender role they felt pressured to take on before they found their way into trans-masculinity. Of course it is unappealing to think about going back to the performance that was so painful that evacuation was necessary. I am not going backwards. I am living in a completely different way than I did before or during transition because now I know I can opt out of both forms of gender conformity.

Truth is not a hedonistic pursuit. Detransition is difficult because it can feel as if everything one built around themself will crumble if they don’t hold on to the things the trans community taught them. The ideas presented by the trans community don’t just apply to how people relate to their sex; they color the whole world. People are separated out into “cis” and “trans” and taking the side of the “underdog” makes it difficult to divert from the trans script. It can be frightening to think about losing the life story and identity that being trans creates. Often people may not want to think outside of the dogma because that means leaving the group where they have made friends and found comraderie and a sense of belonging and order in the world. Detransition can mean losing community, losing credibility, and losing the validation of others glorifying FTMs as brave and unique and admirable.

Detransition isn’t a process where someone is waiting at each milemarker to give you a gold star. It is necessary to want to find a new way: you get what you put into it. It is impossible to stay within the framework of trans rhetoric and still detransition. Without the desire to seek out a new way of thinking, all this is just a self-fulfilling prophecy of defeat. FTMs who criticize the process I’m going through don’t understand this: the path I sought out is rewarding, but there is no carrot dangling in front of me.

When I write about detransition, I do not mean “retransition.” Some people use the two terms interchangably – like Joel Nowak and thirdwaytrans, both de/retransitioning former MTFs. Retransition implies a second superficial journey: the MTF part of the term FTMTF. Some people have used this acronym to describe me, but I am not FTMTF. I don’t have to try to pass, I don’t have to wear different clothes, I don’t have to change my voice, I don’t have to do anything but be what I am. Using the terms retransition and FTMTF would imply viewing my time being FTM as a foundation to build on. I have always been female, and it is from that understanding that I detransitioned.

Redressalert has written about her experience with being vulnerable to sex stereotypes early on in her detransition. I have fallen into this trap as well. I spent a lot of time obsessing about how to tweak subtle gestures, voice tones, and ways of taking up space into a feminine form. I grew my hair out for a while, and I attempted to use MTF voice training to alter how I spoke. I dressed differently, and I tried to use my knowledge on how to pass for male to invert my presentation. Like Redressalert, I realized that all this was self-harm. I do not do this anymore.

It is not productive to change myself in order to change the perceptions of others. Detransition is the furthest thing from conversion, or from what I imagine reparative therapy would be. Detransition is no rigid course of treatment for those who believe transition is morally wrong - it is the absence of all the rules, community-created goalposts, and judgements that transition consists of. Detransition is not an externally directed movement, it is just the act of looking around honestly, and adjusting accordingly.

Detransition does not mean ceasing to be aware of gender, or how others perform it. It means opting out of playing a part for others, and recognizing that I can’t control how other people will categorize me. I refuse to change myself in order to make my world more friendly anymore. My direction comes from within instead of from outside measures of digestibility and normalcy. I am becoming more and more aware of when I am performing out of habit, or when I feel pressured to perform, and I make it a goal each day to come back to myself.

It can be hard to meditate in the standard sitting form, because it is often too painful to be completely in my body. Instead, I have been working on making every activity a form of meditation: writing, reading, laying down, cooking, eating, showering, walking, exercising, being. I found that it was impossible to “just be myself” when I first began to detransition, because I actually didn’t know who that was. I am closer to knowing now, but without building awareness long-term I could not begin to weed through the overgrown garden of influences that have intertwined inside me.

I decided to do something different without having a roadmap. This isn’t a step-by-step process, but there is a growing number of women talking about what it’s like to take a new path when they stop identifying as FTM. I have internal motivation to break open and find truth and that has rewarded me. To one who is cynical and holds on to trans rhetoric, there is no reason to try something different. Trans rhetoric is its own universe: there can logically be nothing outside of it. An open mind is required for detransition, because this is not a pseudo-religious, blueprinted endeavor that provides a script for one’s worldview.

The year and seven months that I have been detransitioning have been a continual process of change. I am spiraling towards a center of being and knowing. There has been a clear pattern of movement that feels more and more like a vector and less like wandering in an endless desert. Detransition is deprogramming: putting down all the performances, the perpetual analyzing, the coded gender recipe. Detransition is coming back to a sense of self that isn’t just a reaction. It involves taking off all assumptions, all judgements, and all the stories I’ve collected about my body and who I am.

I call myself butch, but it’s not an identity. It’s not a word I really contemplate in the context of myself as an individual, it’s just a descriptor of how I fit into a gendered world. Butch isn’t masculine. I work on breaking my habits of performing masculinity and femininity on a daily basis, and that’s what butch is to me. I no longer qualify and quantify each movement I make. I’m not keeping score anymore, because gender is a game rigged in favor of men.

My Position

This is my position, my situation

I believe in gender abolition. I believe in the abolition of masculine and feminine, and the degendering of behaviour

I believe personal choices occur in a political context and that politics should inform choice and choice should be politicised

I am female and experience dysphoria related to the secondary sex characteristics of my body.

This could be neurological, biological, a result of abuse, environmental factors or misogyny

When I started transition my politics were different and I was recovering from sexual abuse. I wanted to be seen socially as a man, and I believe this was partly to try to protect myself from further rape

I was raped while living as male, and on testosterone. One of the main things that has helped me recover from that has been finding female solidarity. Like it or not, I am female sexed, and I am female socialised. I will never fully be able to change my sex, and I will never fully be able to change my socialisation. 

I look at radical feminist and lesbian feminist spaces here, and the solidarity they have. I feel separate from that, distant, but I see it as something that could be healing, were I to be part of it.

I still have sex dysphoria. However, now I have no desire to be a man socially, I just retain dysporia about my sex characteristics. I still feel the need to change them, but no longer feel the corresponding need to be seen as male.

Taking testosterone and having my breasts removed has helped with my sex dysphoria. However, it has left me read as male without that socialisation, suppressed by men, and constantly scolded and excluded for not having the ‘right’ socialisation. It has left me raped and unable to find supportive spaces in which to recover, because I experienced female socialisation and my rape in the context of that socialisation.

Unexpectedly, testosterone treated a life-long, massively life-altering, and indeed life-threatening condition. My doctors believe it was the experience of puberty that did it. If I come off testosterone I have been told the condition will most likely reappear.

I have multiple other disabilities that limit my life incredibly. Having that condition back would make my life flip over into being completely unliveable.

I have to remain on testosterone therefore. I pass completely as male.  

I am female. I have a man’s name. I am presumed to be a man. I have a flat chest and a broken voice.

I like having a flat chest and a broken voice. I would like to have a penis and scrotum. I have a vagina. I am female.

I couldn’t practically return to a female name, when I look so completely male - it would make my life very difficult. I can’t life a full life at the moment without women’s spaces and solidarity. My life would be even less full if I came off testosterone.

I was socialised female. I will always be female. I will always be female with medically altered sex characteristics. I would have killed myself had I not altered them.

I do not desire to be a man - only to have a male body. I do not align myself with the gender roles aimed at men. Nor do I align myself with the gender roles aimed at women. I wish to destroy - abolish - all gender roles.

I consider myself to be a women, - an adult, human female, because this is what I am, regardless of name, testosterone, and surgery. I consider women my kin. I was raised into the underclass that is female. I was socialised as female. My body will always be female.

I sit uncomfortably in the middle. I align myself with women, we share reproductive struggles. We share female socialisation. We share (I suspect) the risks of abuse that women face - given that most abuse comes from people close to us, and those people know I’m female. When a woman is read as a man that does not make her safe. Being read as a man does not make me safe. We share constant fears of rape. Many women are read as men. Myself included. 

I look for spaces where my body is welcomed as that of a woman. An adult human female with a male name and male secondary sex characteristics, but a female sex and a female upbringing. I never enter those spaces. I am cast out of women’s space, told it’s not for me, it’s not for men. I am not a man. I am perceived as one but am an adult human female with female socialisation and experiences who has chosen to be able to pass as a man. 

Changing my name back to a female one might make me slightly more able to enter women’s spaces but at a high risk in wider society given I am read as male.

I am unwelcome in queer theory women’s spaces because I am female assigned, on a transition path towards a male body, and do not identify as non binary.

I would be unwelcome in other women’s spaces because I look like a man and have a man’s name.

Were my views on prostitution, pornography, and women’s spaces known by people in my real life I have no doubt that I would be hounded to suicide.

I feel trapped
No Words - The Death of Nathan Verhelst -Warning: Extremely Disturbing Video - REtransition

I don’t have the emotional strength to watch this video right now. Nathan Verhelst’s story has made me feel numb in a way that very little of this gender bullshit has in a very long time. I guess it felt similar when my two mtf friends were murdered, but that was 15 years ago now and I’ve had a lot of time to distance from it.

But I’m also reblogging because this post is a really beautiful piece of writing. I just found Joel’s blog last night - as you may have noticed, Gallus only links to detransition sites now. Joel (retransition author) is a lot more grounded than the author at m2f2m, but then again Joel’s been detransitioning for 7 years, as opposed to six months.

I know these are really hard things to talk about, and probably nobody wants to discuss it. But I’m putting this out there to create a space for the few people who do.

And I want to emphasize that as opposed to what the misogynist tumblr transwoman crew says, I’m not transphobic. I’ve been living like this for a very long time and I care very deeply about trans people. If you are dealing with trans issues please feel free to message me or use me as a resource any time. I didn’t know Velherst so I couldn’t be there for them, but that only makes me want to be there for everyone else even more.
FTM detransitioning experience—quitting “T” and getting back to life as a woman

I know that not everyone who stops T or re-transitions sees it as “detransitioning” or regret, but it was interesting to read another type of experience. Among other things, the author writes about getting pregnant after a year on T.

PS: this is a guest post on a blog that is REALLY awful and full of anti-trans sentiment, but this particular post is okay (and I think it could be useful for some people, considering the dearth of info on re/detransitioning; otherwise I wouldn’t bother linking to a site like this).

How I returned to myself

How I returned to myself

I thought I would give a brief overview of how I returned to myself and let go of my transgender identity.

My story was pretty typical at the beginning.  I had fantasies of being female in childhood which then become eroticized in puberty.  During my teenage years, I didn’t think there was anyway I would ever actually transition, but then when I got to college I discovered some of the beginnings…

View On WordPress has not had much attention outside of transactivists dismissing (yet another) case of detransition. Check it out and see what you can find to share and discuss.

Why I am writing this blog

Why I am writing this blog

My last post made me realize I did something I want to avoid, which is to get into the ongoing fight between radical feminists and trans activists. That is not really my goal for the blog. In fact one of the reasons I do this is so that there is someone other than radical feminists or religious conservatives talking about some alternative ideas around this issue!

I am no radical feminist, I…

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