“With a beard or without, with breasts or without, in flannel or in skirts, I am female and I will never let anything or anyone try and take that away from me again.”
Submission by @questiontransition
28 years old, Maine
When I was little, I did all the gender expected things that little girls are “supposed” to do like wear dresses and try on my mom’s make up, but I was also really active and climbed trees, played with my brothers in the mud, and played soccer. I was always wanting to pretend to be the boy when I would play with my friends, and I eventually fell out of my love of feminine things to instead embrace everything more masculine. I liked how the girls around me would accept it when I was pretending to be a boy and I felt like that made me feel more real.
When I was in middle school, I realized I was attracted to my female friends the way my male friends were attracted to them, and I started to feel really out of place. I hit puberty and I hated the way my body changed, I despised my period as any sane girl would. I had cut my waist length hair up to my ears and it didn’t take very long to start getting homophobic slurs thrown my way and people avoiding being my friend. While I found a girlfriend in high school who loved me for who I was, she was only just starting to settle into her sexuality and so she was shy about public affection or really being proud of telling people we were together.
I felt very isolated and I had started to really experience what I would later know was dysphoria, especially the larger my breasts grew and the more men started to give me attention. I was 15 when I had to do a research paper for my AP Psychology class based on any topic I wanted. I had wanted to do something related to the LGBT community and it was then that I decided to do research on the T part of that acronym and really try and figure out what it was about. As I looked up information on Gender Identity Disorder, as it was then called, and read personal stories, I started to see myself in more of them. Maybe not the knowledge of from birth, but certainly the desire to be a man, the discomfort in my gender role, the hatred of my female body. I was certain this was who I was.
I’ve been in therapy since I was a kid due to childhood abuse from my father and a traumatic divorce between my parents, so I started to discuss these thoughts with my therapist. Even over a decade ago, she was ready to tell me that I absolutely was trans from everything that I was telling her, and that the childhood wishes didn't really have to be a part of it - my current clear body dysphoria coupled with my constant desires to be a man were solid enough for her. As I was just a kid and I did not want to come out about it to my parents, I didn’t pursue any adolescent transition. My girlfriend and close friends were the only ones I came out to and I started to use he/him pronouns to see how it felt.
I was 19 when I moved away from my home in the mid atlantic to New England. Being so far away from home, I started to change my pronouns with people I introduced myself with, and started to introduce myself by a masculine name. I hadn’t taken hormones, but trans awareness was starting to slowly come into the public, so people were understanding. I ordered a binder and a packer. I tried to deepen my voice. I watched YouTube videos and read advice blogs telling me to study other guys, to talk with a deeper voice, to walk like a guy, to take up more space, to change the inflection of my words, to be more aggressive, to play more sports and stop doing all the “girly shit” I was more fond of like sewing and baking. I came out to my family - my mother didn’t care, my father was expectedly an asshole, but my aunt said something that would always stick with me; “Oh, I knew you had to be trans - you never liked make up or gossip or any of the stuff normal girls like. I knew you had to be a boy.”
By the time I reached my early 20s, I had decided I wanted to pursue transition. Through help from the Tumblr trans community, I found a doctor who only needed inform consent rather than multiple letters from therapists because I thought easier meant they were more accepting, that there was less “gatekeeping.” I got on hormones within a month of my 25th birthday. Two years later, I was able to get chest surgery. I changed my name. I changed my gender marker. I had thousands of followers watching my transition, pushing me along the way, congratulating every “brave” step I took, telling me how incredible I was, how handsome I was, how perfect I was. Sure I got the occasional hatred from bigoted jerks looking to get a rise out of me, but I was seen as a hero to so many more.
My girlfriend from high school ended up becoming my wife, we decided to start a family. It was around that time that I had started to really question what it meant to be a man or a woman. I couldn’t get her pregnant because I didn’t have the right reproductive organs - if I was a man, that should have been something I could do. My dysphoria worsened and I started to feel depressed. I had no one in the lesbian community to talk about our pregnancy journey with, no same sex couples to really connect to, and opposite sex couples wouldn’t have understood my needs. I started to realize that my sense of self was not actually that of a man, that I would never be a straight man, and my brain couldn’t wrap around it because of years of exposure to the constant rhetoric that trans men are men, men don’t all have penises, men are men if they feel it.
The idea of trans without dysphoria had led me to the “truscum” community, which eventually led me to the radfem and gender critical communities. I had been taught to despise these people by the trans community on and off Tumblr, but I had started to see how many opinions we had that overlapped, and the concerns of gender I’d had since my wife got pregnant actually addressed. These ideas were so much more real, so much more factually backed, and not relying on feelings or senses of self. I started to realize my desire to be a man may have been my fear of being a butch lesbian, that internalized misogyny and homophobia could have been the cause for all of the feelings I’d had.
It’s only been a few months in which I’ve finally really accepted the idea of detransitioning. I stopped taking T about 3 weeks ago, my wife and I have had long talks about the idea of my socially detransitioning as well as medically. What it might mean, how it might effect us, what her parents will say, what my parents will say, how our friends will react. My mother knows and is fully supportive. I haven’t told most of my friends, too afraid of how they might react right now. I’m easing my way in, wetting my feet, trying to slowly remind myself what being a woman really means and trying not to regret the steps I took to survive in a time when I didn’t know any better.
With a beard or without, with breasts or without, in flannel or in skirts, I am female and I will never let anything or anyone try and take that away from me again.