Reunion

This week, I’m meeting with the psychiatrist who oversaw my transition and the first few months of my re/de-transition. I’m not seeing her for therapy–at least, not technically–but as an update: to tell her how things are going and what the process has been like. I’m not anxious about it, or about my gender identity or presentation, but it has made me thoughtful. It feels like a job interview–no, more like a high school reunion. A performance review? I wish I were thinner. I’m excited to show off my breasts. I hope my hair will behave. I’m proud of its length and thickness. I’m glad that I suspect she’ll be impressed by how much more feminine I’ll look. I hope that I’ll seem happy and sane.

That’s a post of its own, of course, but there’s another internality that crops up as I think about checking back in:

I’m realizing how little I actually remember about the last two years.

For example, I just had a maintenance laser appointment. (Laser hair removal is a newer depilatory technique; it’s replacing electrolysis. Although it is less effective in some ways, it can be cheaper, quicker, and less painful.) At this point, I have a small number of thick dark whiskers–fewer, in fact, than I had before testosterone. I had them nuked because my clinic was offering a special recession offer, and because it will be nice not to have to pluck for the next few months. This is my sixth or seventh laser appointment. When I started laser hair removal, after two-and-a-half years on testosterone, in a body that grew an impressive amount of hair to begin with, I had a beard. Not as thick as my father’s, but enough to give me a noticeable five-o’-clock shadow, and too much to erase with daily shaving.

I remember feeling and seeing the hair that sprouted under my chin when I was about thirteen. I remember standing in front of the shaving mirror in my old house bathroom. And–now that I’ve started to think back again–I remember the way the beard felt under my fingers a week or so after my first laser appointment, when the dead hairs began to fall out of my skin. I do not remember what my beard used to feel like under my fingers, or against a razor, or what it looked like on my face. I can remember shaving right after stopping testosterone. I remember the giddy despair when I saw the best results. I have no picture of what I saw in the mirror. My beard enters my memory during the weekend it began to slough off forever.

I haven’t paid much attention to my absent recent history, but there have been other discrepancies. My memories hardly ever reflect the real length of my hair. It didn’t touch my shoulders for a year or more, but I can barely see that.

I also have a lot of difficulty remembering what I looked like–remembering residence in that body–when I was transitioning.

Some aspects of my pre-transition body have disappeared forever: I have no picture of my first genitals, or treasure trail, or eyebrows, or breasts, or voice.

I think that I had to ignore what had happened in order to change what had happened. Acknowledging the fact of transition would have meant admitting the impossibility of recovery–and I saw it as recovery. I had to do a flit, as it were, from my transitioned body. I had to leave in order to reshape it, or the enormity of the job would have been overwhelming. Like a heart that has to stop to take a knife. I believed that I was probably ruined. You couldn’t really transition; therefore, you definitely couldn’t transition twice.

None of this was true, any more than it had been true of my first crossover. Coming back involved very little effort and not much time. It felt like a fraught eternity, an endless series of decisions about what and how to change, but this body and that one are separated by a tiny physical and physiological differential. And when I was a man, I was a trans man: I should have been hearing all along that I was barely male and truly female. Still, I felt like a fallen woman. I saw my future gender as a performance crafted from cues I had never wanted to display before transition. I never thought I could present myself as more or less the same kind of woman I was beforehand, even though I do, now, look a lot like I used to look.

So I quit my situation as I knew it, and set aside my body as I saw it, and walked forward apart from my appearance and its gradual alteration. I had probably learned to do this years before: I’m not a transsexual man, and so I probably could only live in a masculinizing body by ignoring it. I know that being male began to be unbearable around the time it began to be indisputable. Right before I re-transitioned, my parents finally made an effort to introduce me as their son; my psychiatrist wrote a letter attesting to my irrevocable transition and my inability to pass as female or use female documentation; my residual top-surgery swelling dissolved.

I can remember the way those moments felt, but not what I saw.

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53 Responses

  1. Claire
    Claire April 14, 2009 at 10:11 pm |

    I just can’t imagine crossing the line and going back again, but it’s scary to me because I’ve seen a good number of trans people do it, and I’m sure they never thought they would. The poor memory you describe, though, is definitely something that afflicts me, as well. I write a lot (privately), which is good, because without my writings I’d feel like I was having nightly brain-wipes.

    Living as a woman full-time, now, when someone asks me how I felt “before”, and how that moved me to transition, it’s very difficult. Not just difficult to explain, which it always was… it was never really possible to adequately express the need to transition… but now it’s difficult in a whole new way… I don’t really even have access to and a personal understanding of those feelings, anymore. To appropriate a Buddhist metaphor, I guess I crossed the stream on a raft and then threw it away.

    I guess I don’t really have a question, because I’ve talked myself out of the sensibility of asking how you could be certain enough to go ahead with transition, and then certain enough of the opposite to de-transition.

  2. Maureen
    Maureen April 14, 2009 at 10:23 pm |

    My gender history’s been pretty vanilla, so I can’t really comment on any of that, but it sounds like you’re in a pretty good place and I’m happy for you.

    By the way, what happened with that guy who kept referring to you as male after you’d been retransitioning for a few months?

  3. Tanya
    Tanya April 14, 2009 at 10:57 pm |

    This is all very strange for me. I have never felt all that attached to my gender. I don’t feel that being female is a very important part of me. I feel like if I had been born in a male body I would never have felt the need to switch genders, I would have gone through life as a man and been ok with it. Of course, I have never liked feminine things very much. I hate make-up and dresses and all that stuff and I have always felt that way.

    I don’t think I have a point, I just wonder if I am alone in feeling that my gender isn’t that important to me.

    I’m just glad you’re in a good place now.

  4. jane
    jane April 15, 2009 at 12:29 am |

    thank you for sharing this.

  5. RacyT
    RacyT April 15, 2009 at 1:49 am |

    I have a friend who is a m>w transitoner, and who has lived as a woman for probably two decades longer than I have known her. The man she is with is also a friend and knows her story (of course!). I would never consider bringing it up in normal conversation, because I don’t want to be an insensitive asshole. But I’m curious about it — and she’s about the coolest person I’ve ever met. Is there a trans 101 site? I want to ask her about her experience because I’m curious, but I’d hate myself if I made her feel bad. Is there any way to politely bring it up, or should I just suck it up and shut up? Is there any actual decent way to ask about these things?

  6. RacyT
    RacyT April 15, 2009 at 1:50 am |

    I forgot to mention my total off topic and personal bullshit. But an answer would still be good.

  7. ander
    ander April 15, 2009 at 2:57 am |

    Wow, that was a really personal post to share, thank you.

    I almost can’t believe how some people are responding to something like this in such a clueless way, and yet, I totally can believe it.

    Tanya, please read Holly’s 101 post at http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2007/11/28/what-trans-means-to-me/ and maybe you will begin to realize how grating that kind of statement is to people who are affected by these issues.

    RacyT, you seem to know it would be insensitive to start asking someone personal questions about their body or whatever else, and yet, you still feel this need to do it. If she hasn’t brought it up, she’s not into talking about it with you and perhaps anyone. It’s offensive when cis people assume they have a right to know these things, as if trans people’s bodies and histories and the most painful and difficult periods of their lives are public property for cis people to gawk at. So please, stop being one of these people.

    why, why are these the only conversations we can have about trans issues? even with such a nuanced and intimate post, this is what comes up?

  8. Debi Linton
    Debi Linton April 15, 2009 at 4:04 am |

    This is a fantastic post, Piny, and a really interesting insight. Thank you for sharing, and I’d like to add my voice to those pleased to see you in a good place right now.

  9. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac April 15, 2009 at 4:26 am |

    This is a very powerful and clear post, about an experience I had literally never thought about before. Thank you for writing it.

  10. RD
    RD April 15, 2009 at 5:25 am |

    That’s intense. HUGZ

  11. RD
    RD April 15, 2009 at 5:58 am |

    You folks might wanna check out the “educating 101″ thread.

  12. RD
    RD April 15, 2009 at 5:58 am |

    You know, so’s not to…derail.

  13. Jacky
    Jacky April 15, 2009 at 7:55 am |

    Wow. It took a lot of self-awareness for you to realise that you wanted to go back to female. It probably took more guts to re-transition than to transition, I bet. Once we start to transition, there is so much social pressure to show that we made the right choice, etc.

    I can’t imagine detransitioning now but, from your writing, I can almost feel what it might feel like to need or want to do that. One thing that really strikes me is that memory thing. I have that about other periods of my life, not related to gender dysphoria, but that same thing of knowing something was a certain way but not really remembering it.

    Thanks for sharing your story and good luck to you with everything.

  14. ephraim
    ephraim April 15, 2009 at 8:08 am |

    thanks for sharing this.

    i worry almost every day that i’m eventually going to need to de/re-transition, and that i’ll only realize it exactly when i’ve crossed that line of indisputability. i’ve had the kind of body amnesia you describe for as long as i (can’t quite) remember. and though i sit and contemplate it in every way i can, there’s no reason for me to stop transitioning right now and nothing solid to grab onto that tells me it won’t be the right thing in the future. all there is to do is wait, and i feel like i’ve been already waiting a long, long time.

  15. Alex
    Alex April 15, 2009 at 8:22 am |

    Thank you for sharing. This is a type of narrative that I’ve only recently become aware of (not that I find that surprising – I think that re/de-transitioning represents a big fear of invalidation for a lot of trans people), and I think that it’s important that more people – trans and cis – hear and learn about it.

  16. jayinchicago
    jayinchicago April 15, 2009 at 9:05 am |

    I’m just offering this up as sort of a response to Tanya.
    You know, I never felt my gender was particularly remarkable, either. I lot of times I feel alienated from trans discourses (well and cis discourses!) where, because I am transsexual (in so far as I am a male who was assigned female at birth) I *can’t* have a low-key relationship with my own gender (which I would term “sex and gender”).

    I also don’t related well to people asking me how hard it was to ‘decide to transition’. I have been male-identified since my early teens. There was no big shift for me.

  17. SyntheticGenius
    SyntheticGenius April 15, 2009 at 9:06 am |

    I admire your strength and courage, Piny. I will likely never transition (FTM) but not because the trip there scares me too much (it does scare me a lot though). It’s the trip back I wouldn’t survive. Kudos to you for making it in one piece.

  18. gogojojo
    gogojojo April 15, 2009 at 9:23 am |

    most of my friends who are trans are very young in their transition and don’t like talking about the possibility of re/de-transitioning. it a pretty taboo topic in most conversations about transition that I’ve ever had. so thanks for sharing a piece of your own experience.

  19. Butch Fatale
    Butch Fatale April 15, 2009 at 10:16 am |

    Piny, I really appreciate your willingness to share this piece of your experience with us. De/re-transition is such a touchy subject, and I think even more challenging to the normative ideas about sex and gender as being immutable. It’s too early out in CA for me to be able to express my thoughts on this topic clearly, but I just wanted to say I read this & appreciated it.

  20. amandaw
    amandaw April 15, 2009 at 10:45 am |

    I just want to say I’m glad to see you back.

  21. precipitant
    precipitant April 15, 2009 at 10:54 am |

    thanks for sharing this. i feel right now like i’m on the edge of making decisions about gender/transitioning stuff, and it’s good to hear bits of your story.

  22. Miranda
    Miranda April 15, 2009 at 11:15 am |

    Thank you for sharing this with me.

  23. Liz
    Liz April 15, 2009 at 11:36 am |

    This is incredibly moving, and I, too, appreciate your sharing it.

  24. Emma
    Emma April 15, 2009 at 1:21 pm |

    Lack of memory sounds like a major trauma response to me.

  25. The Opoponax
    The Opoponax April 15, 2009 at 2:15 pm |

    I’m trying to imagine what it would be like to read comments on a thread about a disability or healthcare issue and have someone say, “You know, I just don’t get it. I mean, I’ve never been that attached to my ability to walk/see/hear/breathe…”

    For that matter, I’m trying to imagine what it would be like to read comments on a thread about race or sexual orientation and have someone say, “You know, I just don’t get it. I mean, I don’t really think that much about my race/who I’m supposed to be fucking…”

    Somehow I’m guessing that very, very few people would be willing to hit “Submit Comment” after typing a ridiculous screed like that.

  26. Mireille
    Mireille April 15, 2009 at 2:32 pm |

    Piny’s experience is exactly what RLE is for. It helps to remove the fantasy that may exist in your head about transition and you have to face the harsh realities… You have to decide if what you’d gain is worth what you’d lose. I would never judge someone either way they went, only if upon detransition they turned into an ex-gay evangelist sort of person.

    As far as not being attached to your gender, well… It’s a spectrum. Just as there are bisexual and asexual people, there are people that fall all over the map in gender attachment/representation. However, saying “I’ve never thought that much about my gender” means there wasn’t a conflict, so cis-gender would probably be a good bet for that sort of feeling.

  27. Zailyn
    Zailyn April 15, 2009 at 3:27 pm |

    TheOpoponax,

    You know, I just don’t get it. I mean, I don’t really think that much about my race

    I’ve seen this one. I’ve seen this one a *lot* in discussions about racism, or its close cousin “if we were all colour-blind racism wouldn’t exist! You’re noticing race! You’re RACIST!” You also get something similar in lots of discussions about invisible disabilities, although more on the lines of denying that there is a problem at all. Finally, off the top of my head I can’t remember this happening with homo-/bi-/pansexuality discussions, but it is a huge problem in discussions about asexuality. Pick any news article about asexuality and the comments are probably going to be filled with how they don’t get why asexuals have to *talk* about this, after all it’s not as if not wanting to have sex matters or anything and there’s nothing to talk about so clearly we’re just pretending in order to be special. Again, not quite the same (although some of them do go into the “but I don’t angst about wanting sex!” territory), but related.

    This isn’t to say that this isn’t awful behaviour, because it is. Just to say that the way you phrased it made it sound as if you think these attitudes aren’t a problem in those other areas, and they are.

    piny,

    I’ll jump in with the others and say this was an incredibly powerful and moving post. Thank you for writing it.

  28. gogojojo
    gogojojo April 15, 2009 at 3:31 pm |

    @28 i think you’re right and i think it should have been called out earlier (i am at fault in this as well as i am checking this thread all the time.) its one of those kind of innocuous comments that *might* (though i doubt it) be seen as harmless but has the effect of being really delegitimizing.

    partially, i wasn’t sure if the commenter was trying to express some kind of gender varient identity (not reeling attached to gender) or just delegitimizing. but i probably should have aired on the side of caution and spoken up.

  29. piny
    piny April 15, 2009 at 3:56 pm |

    Piny’s experience is exactly what RLE is for. It helps to remove the fantasy that may exist in your head about transition and you have to face the harsh realities… You have to decide if what you’d gain is worth what you’d lose. I would never judge someone either way they went, only if upon detransition they turned into an ex-gay evangelist sort of person.

    Well, but then again, that wasn’t true for me at all. I didn’t have a traditional “pass and live as a man for a long time without hormones,” RLE prior to starting testosterone or having surgery, but I didn’t turn back from a hypothetical.

    By the time I re/de-transitioned, I had already spent something like two years (it’s a difficult thing to calculate exactly, because my circumstances and the people I knew all adjusted at their own rates) living as a passing man in a male body, with the aid of hormones and then surgery. I knew exactly what the reality of transition involved. It didn’t dissuade me. And for a few years before that, I was a sometimes-passing androgynous female-bodied person, so I had that experience to inform my decisions as well. In all that time, I neither acknowledged nor expressed any doubt. My psychiatrist was pretty shocked when I quit.

    The RLE that was my full-bore sex change eventually did teach me that I didn’t actually want to live as a man, or be seen as one, but by that point I was possibly post-transition.

    The RLE aspect–the idea that there are tests to pass, results to collect–may have had negative rather than positive effects. While it may help people see and process their doubts and fallacies, it may also teach them to suppress them for fear that they will be unfairly delayed. If uncertainty means that you’re not really transsexual, well, maybe you just won’t be uncertain anymore.

    It also creates a sort of ordeal-dynamic for the natural feelings of loss and gut-liquifying terror that accompany a change of this order. They become important, but perhaps not in the right way.

    I did transition twice–in the second instance, I think my emotional stability benefited from a physiological lack of barriers between me and what I wanted. If I had had to prove that I was really a woman after all? Spend several months or a year living and passing as a woman without benefit of any medical treatment? Wait that long to go back on estrogen? (Stay on testosterone in the meantime?) I’m not sure I would have survived. It was agonizing anyway. Some of that need might have been my own strong sense of the difference between being an automatically acceptable cis woman and a probationary transitioning woman, but I don’t think all of it was.

    So I’m not sure that the RLE is feasible or useful for every transitioning person.

  30. Emily
    Emily April 15, 2009 at 3:57 pm |

    I think there are often people who comment with thing like “i’ve never really been that attached to my race” or “i don’t think race is that important to identity.” But I think that comes from a sort of “colorblind” mentality that is often interpreted as dismissive of the realities of racism and enforcement of racist norms that people experience.

    I appreciate Opoponax speaking up, because the comment in question did not cause the same knee-jerk reaction in me as it would have in a racial or other context. While I don’t doubt that there are people who don’t see gender or race or whatever as a significant component of their identity, the inability to understand why others do suggests an ignorance of the mulitiplicity of ways those identities are policed by our prejudiced society, and the ways that many people are attacked for not conforming to expected gender norms.

  31. piny
    piny April 15, 2009 at 4:01 pm |

    There’s also the temporal and physiological constraints of any RLE separate from different transition-related medical treatments: a trans man who spends six months on testosterone has no idea what he’ll look like in two or five years. Most trans people are told by people around them that they will never present as the gender they identify as. So it may not be therapeutic to place so much emphasis on the outcome of the RLE.

  32. schauspiele
    schauspiele April 15, 2009 at 4:14 pm |

    This is such a wonderful piece of writing. Adding my thanks to you, for sharing it, to that expressed above.

  33. The Opoponax
    The Opoponax April 15, 2009 at 4:36 pm |

    Sure, Zailyn, except that A) we all recognize those as bigoted things to say, and B) I have to say that I don’t see much of that sort of thing here at Feministe.

    Also @ gogojojo, yeah, I thought about that a little bit, especially as I was reading the comment for the first time. I think it was somewhere around the end of the first paragraph when somehow a personal conception of one’s sex/gender got conflated with whether you like to wear makeup that I started really ooky about it. The announcement that, hypothetically, if she had been born male, she’d have been cool with that too, kinda rubbed me the wrong way. It just sounded like she was implying that nobody should question the sex/gender they were assigned at birth, because, hey, she just knows she coulda handled it…

  34. jayinchicago
    jayinchicago April 15, 2009 at 4:44 pm |

    RLE? Read the most recent WPATH SOC. Seriously.
    WHen I started testosterone, my health clinic was in the process of switching over to a informed consent based model for HRT. Trans people are autonomous humans who can make their own decisions. If my decision to go on testosterone would have turned out to be the wrong one, I would have stopped.
    I think the hysteria over “we must protect trans people from themselves!” is a little silly. If I had decided to “transition back” after a few years on testosterone, I just would have had to do it. It’s not that complicated.

  35. gogojojo
    gogojojo April 15, 2009 at 5:12 pm |

    i agree w/ jayinchicago the entire notion that someone, and often a cisgender person, can create a regiment (RLE) by which a transperson can figure out if they are “really” trans is ludicrous to me. to me its a way for the medical institution to police behaviors and bodies. for example historically (and i personally believe currently in far too many cases) psychiatric doctors have argued that someone has to exhibit heteronormative behaviors to truly be trans. meaning that if you are “ftm” you have to want to be extremely masculine and only express desire towards women. which is just so backwards from the ways that gender, sex, and sexuality are understood today (well in progressive circles at least.) its also upsetting to see people that *i* love have to spend years convincing doctors of *who they know themselves to be* in order to get treatments (that they wind up having to pay for because insurance sees them as “elective”) that they want/need to be comfortable in their bodies. its ridiculous.

  36. Lauren
    Lauren April 15, 2009 at 5:23 pm |

    This isn’t about transitioning, exactly, only in the most peripheral of senses, but I find the body memory thing really interesting, basically because I’ve got some kind of set-point in my mind about what I look like that actually is nothing close to what I look like. The set-point was made some time in my early twenties, and what’s weird about it is that even then I didn’t really look like I do in my mind’s eye either. Seeing pictures, looking in the mirror, is always a little startling. So I basically ignore my body altogether.

  37. Lauren
    Lauren April 15, 2009 at 5:24 pm |

    Also, piny, I’m so glad you’re back.

  38. Jadey
    Jadey April 15, 2009 at 6:05 pm |

    All of this, the post and the comments, underscores for me how very, very little privacy is given to people who transition, or consider transitioning. Not just the medical aspect, but all of it.

    I wonder, given that Internet spaces are a weird mish-mash of public and private, in what kinds of ways does that play out for people who are trans? A constant re-identification? A relief? A release? Or not that different at all… So often the online identity is described as “disembodied”, but especially in light of piny’s post, that description rings false. Our bodies inform our identities.

  39. ephraim
    ephraim April 15, 2009 at 6:27 pm |

    yeah, i concur with jay and piny and gogojojo that the “RLE” is a completely ineffective way of determining whether or not physical transition is the right choice. first off, by its very nature, it will not tell you anything about what your body will feel like on hormones, so if the main chunk of your issue is about the relationship between yourself (brain sex, cognitive gender compass, whatever you want to call it) and your body, the RLE can only be excruciating. secondly, unless you’re extraordinarily lucky, it will give you absolutely no information about what it is like to be perceived in the world as an unremarkable member of your gender. so that also makes it completely useless for the vast majority of people whose main issue is about social interaction and gender. there’s a reason medical professionals are moving away from that model.

  40. anarchafemme
    anarchafemme April 15, 2009 at 7:37 pm |

    I’ll also agree that the “RLE” is completely ineffective, for the reasons that jay, piny, gogojojo, and ephraim are saying. Plus, something that piny alluded to is the difficulty in determining when it starts. For myself and a lot of other trans people I know, we were gender non-conforming, and often times were out about various gender non-conforming gender identities before we came out and decided to pursue medical transition (focusing just on people who medically transition, here). So it problematically assumes we were firmly women or men to the outside world, corresponding to what they said we were when we born, right up until the moment we say, “hey, I’m trans and I’m actually a wo/man”.

    It also assumes that we’re going to identify with the other binary gender and that transition is this universal process of “trying out” living in that gender (either before or after starting hormones), taking hormones for a while, getting surgery or surgeries, and blending totally with the “opposite” gender, never to have issues with gender again.

    Some trans people can identify this, but it leaves out a lot of us (especially us genderqueer people and also binary identified trans people who are gender non-conforming in the gender they identify with), and it also presumes that you either transition once and it’s the right choice, or that you transition, it’s the wrong choice, so you try to undo it. It makes the idea that transitioning not be the right choice terrifying, and also holds up gender as this static thing that you only ever have one true one of, and that can’t change, and transition either helps you live in it, or is a big mistake.

    I’ve had a few distinct changes in how I identify in terms of gender, but have only medically transitioned once, and while medically transitioning is obviously a different experience, I still consider the various changes in how I identify in terms of gender to be important transitions as well. And if for some reason I ever decided to retransition, for me, it would just be a part of my bodily experience of gender, but this is certainly a view affected by my being genderqueer.

    More than that, it’s not a huge, life-ending thing. You transitioned once, and sure, there are big parts of medical transition that are permanent, but, it’s not like hormones only work once or anything. So like jay points out, the informed consent model makes sense – we’re adults, and we can take responsibility for our own decisions.

  41. eastsidekate
    eastsidekate April 15, 2009 at 8:22 pm |

    @Femme Fatale: I’m not sure if I’d agree that de/re transition challenges any notions of gender (nor do I care). It’s just something that some people find themselves going through while they’re trying to live their lives the best way they can. I’m not sure if we’re actually at odds here– there’s a pretty good chance that I’m just in a foul mood and feel like arguing about semantics.

    That said, I *loved* this post. People not only have “body memory” but also, for lack of a better way of putting it, “emotional memory” (somebody help me out here…). I remember how absolutely terrifying transition and pre-transition were for me, but that was years ago. I kinda forget about it these days. So many of us go through so much doubt, confusion and fear. However, with society so quick to discount our identities, there’s very strong pressure to avoid discussing the difficulties transsexual people face when they decide to transition. I’ve heard transsexual people say ‘it was either transition or death’, as if the choice to transition was always obvious. Fair enough. But it’s a catch-22: I shouldn’t have to defend my identity by hiding all the crap I dealt with prior to transition, but it’s really hard to create communities that support coming out if we can’t honestly talk about some of the psychological torment that comes along with exploring the possibility of transition, or even living in a world where transition doesn’t seem to be an option.

    Anyhow, thanks for the heartfelt post.

  42. eastsidekate
    eastsidekate April 15, 2009 at 9:37 pm |

    Rereading what I’ve written above, I don’t like my focus on transition (as opposed to de/re transition). What I was trying to get at was that thinking about transition can be ridiculously traumatic, as can be transition, as presumably can be the decision to de/re transition. However, there’s so much pressure coming from so many angles, from so many people who want to justify their lives by projecting it onto others that it’s very difficult for those of us who have dealt with transition to speak honestly and openly about our emotions. It’s not healthy.

  43. oleander
    oleander April 15, 2009 at 11:38 pm |

    Thank you for sharing this, I really hope that your meeting this week goes well and doesn’t cause you too much anxiety.

  44. Isabel
    Isabel April 16, 2009 at 6:18 am |

    Piny, you are such an amazing writer, pretty much everything you do just blows me away. thank you as always.

    I’ve never had trouble remembering what I look like, I don’t think, but I do have a generally possibly unusually good memory for things that happened in my own life and it came as somewhat of a shock when I realized that a few months when I was really depressed had almost completely failed to etch themselves in my memory. I had to assemble the events of one summer using logic – oh, I know this is when the seventh Harry Potter book came out so it must have also been when I did this thing, and that thing I remember was near this other thing, so… – instead of just remembering it; thinking about that summer didn’t raise up any immediate associations at all. Maybe this is normal for some people and the way their memory works but for me it was just so strange and unprecedented; it felt like that time had been stolen from me. which, I guess, it kind of was.

  45. little light
    little light April 16, 2009 at 10:21 am |

    This is one of the best and bravest things I’ve seen on the internet in a goodly while, piny. It’s good to have you back.
    When I stop being blown away fro a minute, maybe I’ll have something more substantive to say than that, but damn, woman.

    …you know, I don’t really remember what shaving my face, or my flat chest, felt like or looked like either. It’s vague and blurry like a half-recalled dream–I remember that it happened, but it’s just so…murky, now.

    Anyway. Beautiful. Thank you.

  46. RacyT
    RacyT April 17, 2009 at 2:37 am |

    Hi. I bet I’m unwelcome here, for good reasons. I feel the need to apoligize for my obnoxious (I won’t get into reasons) comment above. I feel like a gigantic ass and I can’t explain why I was such a self-centred jerk without being a bigger idiot. Again, I’m sorry. Going to take a break from commenting. See you in like a month.

  47. transgenmom
    transgenmom April 17, 2009 at 6:46 am |

    The RLE aspect–the idea that there are tests to pass, results to collect–may have had negative rather than positive effects. While it may help people see and process their doubts and fallacies, it may also teach them to suppress them for fear that they will be unfairly delayed. If uncertainty means that you’re not really transsexual, well, maybe you just won’t be uncertain anymore.

    I think this makes a fairly good point. We recognize the usefulness of a RLE, but what we don’t recognize is whether or not the current RLE is worth anything. The RLE shouldn’t currently be a binding authority. It should inform rather than decide.

    Its important to remember that the RLE is currently only a hypothesis. As far as I know there are zero medical studies stating its effectiveness.

    I personally didn’t have to go through any sort of RLE. I just had to show that I wasn’t crazy and was committed for six months.

    That has its own issues because you get fakes who just want to convince you not to transition, but who wont tell you that until you have given them a bit of money.

    It also creates a sort of ordeal-dynamic for the natural feelings of loss and gut-liquifying terror that accompany a change of this order. They become important, but perhaps not in the right way.

    To me a future where I didn’t transition was a blank emptiness. There was no such future. So I had no reason to be afraid or to feel any loss because of it aside from normal worries like fitting in. It wasn’t really “transition or death”. Its more like “transition or something unthinkable”

    Even now after transition though I still occasionally wonder if I made the right choice. When I think about it I can logically think about the health and other worries and compare. However the idea of living as a man is still something my mind can’t process on an emotional level.

    So for me if I had to guess at an effective “nonbinding transgender evaluation” it would be on whether you have logical reasons for transition and emotional fears. Then you could follow up with the people who have been through it and if they are still content with their decision several years down the road you could say that it is worth something.

  48. RacyT
    RacyT April 20, 2009 at 1:34 am |

    Thanks Piny. I hate it when I feel like I’ve violated someone, but this helps.

  49. JoAnne
    JoAnne April 24, 2009 at 5:58 pm |

    This is a most civil discussion. I got here by googling “detransition”, a word that’s come into my lexicon within the past few months.

    I’m 28 years post op and have had second thoughts for years. And, it’s getting late. Anyway reading this thread has given me some things to consider that I hadn’t thought would come to the forefront of my mind.

    One thing that has arisen as I sit here is my resistance to seeking out support from within the community, and that has not been helpful. I’ve carried the delusion that I could somehow morph into a gg by getting as far away from those who were in the same boat as I was. And since I was passing well enough early on, my motto became: “there’s were no safety in numbers”. But to a large the extent the “safety” I sought was my wanting to control outside opinions… I rely on them so much for my sense of well being. And this aside from whatever gender issues I have or don’t have, but everything gets baked in the cake, doesn’t it?

    So, it follows that my tightly-held idea was to pass as convincingly as I could and move on as is nothing had happened. And then too, back in the day, people didn’t have the frame reference for a TS, and for me it was easier to pass than some. But even so, passing was/is not THE issue, but it is an issue, depending, upon how well we can rely on our own sense of well being rather than seeking it from outside of ourselves. And doing that has not been a strong point, and that makes it hard. Thanks for listening.

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