To the young gender questioners, I was you.

When I read some of the young MTF gender questioners, I can really identify with them, because I remember a time when I was them. Things were somewhat different then, I think there were like 4 of us young folk on the internet, in a community completely dominated by older transitioners, and completely dominated by MTFs. I remember we thought the older ones were skeevy too, I think that is just a part of being young, and some of them really were skeevy! I too was frequently hit on by some of these older transitioners, and found it creepy. I went to support groups and everyone was 20 years older than me. That part is different now, because there is substantial community of young trans people.

My dysphoria was rampant during my early teenage years, but subsided once I turned 16 and for the first time had some success with dating. It only reappeared with a vengeance when I discovered alt.transgendered, a then new Usenet group for trans folk. I couldn’t believe there were people in the real world that felt like me! Also I was dealing with the stress of newly being in college and being away from home for the first time. I felt so euphoric when I discovered people with similar feelings, and begun to believe that it was possible for me transition.

I came to believe that I had an essential transgender identity and it was important to express it. Both the community and the therapist I saw twice before being prescribed hormones confirmed it. I was on a high dose of estrogen and it created a kind of euphoria and emotional intensity I hadn’t experienced before. This was considered to be confirmation that I found my true self. I’ve said elsewhere that when I went back on T I liked it because it relieved my brain fog and social anxiety. That wasn’t what I felt then. I felt that E was truly right for me, and my new connection to my feelings was proof of it. There was a certain buzz that estrogen provided, almost like vicodin. I thought my social anxiety was due to passing fears and other trans-related issues. Now I believe that hormones just make you high in large doses. I had a similar effect when I started back on T, I remember the intense euphoria of my first T dose, but it only lasted a few months, and I returned to baseline.

I was tall, but I was young and people didn’t have as much trans awareness then. Not only did I pass (at least outside the queer community) but I was attractive. I got quite a bit of attention from men, many of them the same sort of men that used to bully me as a teenager. This attention validated my then fragile sense of self-worth and validated I was on the right path.

If you had asked me more than three years ago if I felt that transition was necessary , I would have said absolutely. No matter how many problems it caused in my life, I thought that being male was so repulsive that it was necessary. But, there were problems, besides the general difficulties of living as a trans woman, I still felt dysphoria. I still felt my body was wrong and wanted to make more changes. I considered implants and FFS, but something always drew me back when I got to the brink of it. In addition, no matter how much validation my sense of “being a woman” received I always needed more. If someone gendered me as male, it felt like a threat to my very existence.

However, there was always also a thread leading me home, I was seeking out experiences leading to my own healing. I wasn’t sure what I needed but I knew when I found it. I discovered embodied practice, studied psychology, went to therapy and had someone love me for who I was. Eventually I saw this “fixed and essential” female identity was nothing but an illusion, and was just something I created to keep me safe, because I couldn’t be myself as a man. Now, I know that is nonsense, as I can be myself and be accepted. Indeed, the very construct “being yourself as something” is a contradiction, because being yourself is not being as anything, it is just being.

So I don’t know which of you need to transition and which of you don’t, or if any of you do. I do support you whatever you decide. But I do know I see some of the same patterns that led me to transition, and it concerns me. Looking back it would have been nice to avoid all of that unnecessary suffering. I also see your doubts being brushed aside by rampant cheerleading, and that is dangerous.

47 comments

  1. I am one who’s transitioned and realatively young (it appears to have worked for me, however I don’t believe I’d have made it through all I have if I’d not truly needed it), the amount of cheerleading that goes on not just for individuals but now for parents of young children concerns me a great deal and always has.
    The truth is, I never really wanted any of this, and life is still not easy, but I knew it wouldn’t be even when I started, I sought out and read the bad and the negative as well as the more “positive” (none of which seemed to relate directly to what was important to me personally)
    I stay away from all things “trans” and avoid situations that might see me asked for “advice”, but if someone were to ask and (for reasons I can’t conjure) I was inclined to answer my advice would be plan for the worst, hope for the best, and if there is another way, then certainly don’t do it!

  2. There is a great deal of serious truth here. I hope someone is listening.

    “I came to believe that I had an essential transgender identity and it was important to express it. Both the community and the therapist I saw twice before being prescribed hormones confirmed it. I was on a high dose of estrogen and it created a kind of euphoria and emotional intensity I hadn’t experienced before. This was considered to be confirmation that I found my true self.”

    “But, there were problems, besides the general difficulties of living as a trans woman, I still felt dysphoria.”

    “Eventually I saw this “fixed and essential” female identity was nothing but an illusion, and was just something I created to keep me safe, because I couldn’t be myself as a man. Now, I know that is nonsense, as I can be myself and be accepted. Indeed, the very construct “being yourself as something” is a contradiction, because being yourself is not being as anything, it is just being.”

    1. No, because being yourself “as a man” or “as a woman” or “as anything” is not being yourself. There is no as in being yourself. What I am saying is that if there is a male self and a female self, then there is a kind of polarization that is happening, where your concept of who you have to be as a man doesn’t contain vital components of who you are and then those qualities get placed in who you are as a woman and need to be expressed somewhere. Both of these are incomplete. Depending on how rigid these concepts are and how out of sync with your true self they are it can cause considerable distress.

      Transitioning (or even temporarily taking on a different persona) can be a strategy to escape from the rigid constraints of the gendered schema. It can improve things for sure, when I transitioned I felt I could express more of myself in a female persona. But, better still is to dissolve the entire construct.

  3. Thanks for this reply.

    I am wondering about your comments in your previous post:

    ‘For me, it was important to find several different positive experiences of men being warm and kind, so that I could be comfortable being a man.’

    ‘I want to learn to relate to women in a healthy way as a man.’

    Are you seeking a healthy way of being male, or are you seeking to be a genderless ‘true self’? I respect both intentions, but I think clarity is important.

    1. Well, when talking about healing gender schemas, one of the keys to healing is a direct emotional experience of contradictory information. Since I had some distorted views of what it meant to be a man making it unsafe to present as a man, the experience of different kinds of men was important of that. Likewise it is easier to heal from schema around women by experiences involving women. It is not an absolute requirement but it helps.

      When I talk about “relating to women as a man” what I mostly mean is being able to engage in dating and the mating dance in a healthy way. I also mean to some degree dealing with the assumptions and stereotypes that are placed on me when perceived as a man. I don’t mean enacting traditional gender roles. Except perhaps temporarily like in a dance or something.

      I think the true self is beyond all concepts, not just gender. Though still we have to put on roles to interact with society to some extent. I don’t see myself as some special being outside of gender, I think that is true for everyone. However we do have gender biological instincts, and gendered socialization which both do play an impact.

      1. Thank you again for your thoughtful reply. Here is my, hopefully thoughtful and friendly, reply:

        I think that your notion of ‘true self’ exists in a place of spiritual abstraction, away from society and sexuality. Those who go far down a spiritual path often become celibate and choose to live away from the world at large. While meditation may be a beneficial practice, it is where one re-engages with that fromwhich meditation withdraws that there is personal character, which leads to identity. Character is not completely immutable, but neither is it freely protean. Identity may be ultimately a construct, but it serves a purpose in a society where we have character and roles. The detachment one can feel in meditation is hard to hang on to in a busy business environment, still harder in a nightclub.

        We do not have our occupations written on our hearts, and anyone can work in any job. But working in a job to which your character is very unsuited can be traumatic, and I don’t think that meditation can fix the mismatch. If you go into a nightclub, you will observe that everyone has chosen to wear particular clothes, is acting in particular ways. Do you say ‘this realm of human activity is not for me’ and leave, or do you say ‘where do I best fit in here?’

        There are many gay Buddhists. I haven’t studied them, but I imagine that they would say that their spiritual practice leads to an awareness of a particular self, not just a detachment from self (or an abstract ‘true self’). It’s a complicated, interesting and important area. I don’t think it leads to a ‘Blanchard is roughly right, the trans community is wrong’ conclusion.

        1. Thanks, I do appreciate our discussions, it helps to clarify my thinking.

          I think we are talking about a few different things here. One, is the what is called the “observer” or the “witness” consciousness which is what is cultivated in some spiritual traditions. I think this is a valuable state and is one of the goals of mindfulness practice. I definitely do not live here most of the time. I try to be in this space when I see clients and I do practice entering this space, but I am not an aesthetic or yogi.

          You talk about our character and how it ties in to what jobs we are and are not suited too. I agree this is very important and we have our own individual likes and dislikes, that lead us to preferring certain environments and not other environments. This is what I was talking about when I talked elsewhere about our organic pattern of valuing. This is still a non-verbal thing and pre-conceptual, it is a feeling state of what feels good to us and what feels bad to us.

          Then when I talk about the conceptual self I am talking about our ideas about that organic pattern of valuing. We draw certain inferences about what kind of person we are. Some of these come from this pattern of valuing and some come from external places like our childhood and society. This can be useful because it allows for a convenient shorthand so we don’t have to undergo a process of introspection every time we try to decide what to do. However there is a price for this also, as the organic pattern of valuing is ever-changing and the conceptual self may not match the organic pattern of valuing. It is mostly the conflict between this conceptualized self (or selves) and the organic pattern of valuing that I am referring to. The more disconnected these two things are the more suffering is created. In some cases being in the organic pattern of valuing can be painful and retreating to concepts is away to avoid the pain.

          Finally when talking about roles, these are things we can take on and off to participate in certain activities, and provide guidance to others about what part we are playing in that space. There is nothing wrong with this at all, but they are by necessity incomplete.

          We do have gendered roles in our society (and every human society) which say what is acceptable for men and women to express. There is nothing wrong with a male wanting to play a woman role or a female wanting to play a man role. Turning these roles into identities can lead to disconnecting from whatever parts of the self are not allowed under those identities. There is a difference between being one person that plays two different roles and having two different identities. The first has a greater wholeness to it.

          I think Blanchard is right about some things, but is too dogmatic and rigid and even throws out some of his own data when it doesn’t fit his ideas.

  4. I think what is being lost in a fog of gender identities. and overly complex theorizing, is that simple reality that males and females have distinctly different SEXUAL characteristics. I am sure that all can agree that gender is a social construct or presentation which can vary according to cultural norms or the whim and/or whimsy of the individual.

    A man, (male), can “present/act/express” as a man/male or a woman/female. Nevertheless he remains a man/male as long as his sexual characteristics remain male.

    While individuals do, (and have in the past existed) which have been born with male sexual characteristics and a female neurology, they are few and far between. These are those extremely rare few who absolutely must make whatever changes possible to be able to attain some level of congruity between their physical body and their mind/soul/psyche/self.

    The unfortunate truth is that the transgender narrative has literally colonized (stolen/misappropriated) that unfortunate truth in an effort to “normalize” the GENDER confusion/”dysphoria” of those suffering from a totally different condition.

    Treating those suffering from GENDER dysphoria, (GID) with the same radical protocol needed to treat a transsexual is tantamount to medical malpractice.

    1. @Sally:
      Please, could you explain to me what are you talking about?
      What is the difference between a person with only “gender confusion” or HBS?
      I don’t think that if I hate my body I am necessarily a transsexual. I think, that a lot of people can have gender confusion for a lot of time, that can be misinterpreted as transsexualism, especially in these time, where on the internet there is a lot of “transgender narrative” available.
      So, it is the main reason that I am contrary about SRS (not crossdressing)…because we cannot know if a person will regret it or not! I think(and hope) we can have a choice.Do you confirm that a person can change its idea, without knowing it before?

    2. Yes the fundamental problem I faced after transition was the clash between the remaining male instincts I possessed and the effects of estrogen which did create a partial feminization. This most played out in my attempts to date men which had this attraction/repulsion component. Like a good queer, I thought the problem was homophobia due to my male socialization and that if I would just get over that I could have great relationships with men. That turned out not to be the case.

      Testosterone is certainly not perfect, but at least things are harmonious now.

      I believe there are sexed instincts to some degree, and these primarily play out in the realm of dating and relationships, however I don’t think mismatched instincts is what is actually going on in the case of most gender transitions.

  5. I think that a transsexual can try to convince themselves that they are not a transsexual. and only a cross dresser. They can try convincing themselves and others that they have a choice.

    I honestly think that if they are in fact transsexual, (and that is a very big “if”), that denying that reality is a terrible mistake. It is just as bad to believe, or to be misled into believing that one is transsexual when one is not.

    Gender confusion, and what some people call HBS, (or true, or high intensity, transsexuality), are very different in my opinion. Someone with gender confusion can work through the confusion and find some less drastic way of dealing with it. Sadly, for the moment it seems that for transsexuals, only HRT/SRS seems to work. For those with issues other than true, high intensity transsexuality, HRT/SRS does not effectively address those issues and may only complicate matters.

  6. “I think that your notion of ‘true self’ exists in a place of spiritual abstraction, away from society and sexuality” I IMHO, this is a highly presumptuous confabulation. How could one possibly know, (or presume to know), where or how someone’s sense of self “exists”?

    I cannot see how your discussion of gay Buddhists and meditation has any relation to, “a ‘Blanchard is roughly right, the trans community is wrong’ conclusion”. Personally, I think Blanchard’s ideas, while not 100% right, do in fact represent a relatively accurate description of the dynamics involved in the trans-gender experience . Where I think those trying to work with, (or conversely disparage) his theories, is that theyfail to take note of the fact that that tiny percentage of those suffering from a totally different condition were essentially ignored as a statistical anomaly or, forcibly ‘shoehorned’ in as homosexuals.

    My guess is that he was talking about your common garden variety drag queen. It is interesting to note that these gay men also reject Blanchard’s theories,

  7. I don’t know if this is the proper place to ask these questions, but I am in need of understanding my son who told us this past April (over Facebook) that he is transgender and will be going through the process to transition to a female. We were/are shocked

    At first he said he understood if we didn’t understand everything, but now he is at the point of anger that we don’t understand and wondering if he will ever forgive us for not letting him be his true self.

    There were never any clues that he was a female…ever! When he was young (too young to hide his feelings) he never said anything that he wished he was a girl or that he like girl things. Never tried to dress as a girl. There was no clue. He did have struggles being comfortable around girls as a teenager and never dated. He was thin, but other than that nothing that would make us wonder about him

    He has not seen us since last year and has blocked us from everything, his phone, facebook…everything. We never said anything to hurt him. I was concerned about the hormones he would have to take to be a woman. We have a blood-clotting disease in the family that hormones would cause a serious blood clot. So I told him I was concerned about that and I just said to wait until he was older (he is 25) to make sure this is what he should do. He was enraged by this and has blocked us from communication.

    What should I do if anything as his mother?

    1. I just wrote an article on this issue here

      It is a very tricky and difficult situation, because ultimately you don’t have any control of your child’s actions and that must feel helpless. You are quite right to be concerned about the hormones. Estrogen does lead to blood-clotting problems, and I’ve known a couple of people in similar circumstances who couldn’t take hormones. Hopefully, a competent doctor will manage things and look at that issue.

      I wish I could tell you more than to keep the door open the best you can. If you aren’t in communication you don’t have any influence at all. It sounds like you really care, and I’d just try to keep communication open and meet them where they are.

  8. Thank you.

    It has been such an emotional roller coaster for us. He is the youngest of 5 children and I became pregnant with him when I was battling a spinal cord tumor which was paralyzing me. I am not sure if this trauma in the womb could have caused something or not.

    All of us have told him of our love for him but he said he doesn’t want our love only our acceptance of his decision.

    Is there any support group for parents of transgender children that you know of?

    1. I know that PFLAG(Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) also does have support for parents of transgender children as well. There are some groups specifically for parents of transgender children as well in some areas, so you might be able to find one.

      Unfortunately sometimes when people are going through gender issues they can’t see anything but themselves. Looking back I was rather selfish at that time, but also under a lot of distress.

  9. Theresa said: “I am in need of understanding my son who told us this past April (over Facebook) that he is transgender and will be going through the process to transition to a female. We were/are shocked.
    At first he said he understood if we didn’t understand everything, but now he is at the point of anger that we don’t understand and wondering if he will ever forgive us for not letting him be his true self.”

    Theresa, I very much understand your shock and dismay, especially in the way you were “informed”. The very first thing that comes to mind is why did your son inform you via Facebook of all places? Do you live far away or is there something preventing a phone call to perhaps set up a personal meeting?

    In my mind this “decision” to “become a woman” has got to be one of the most monumentally intimate and important life changing events imaginable. I can only suggest that some intimate and personal “face time” are in order and right quick.

    There is no question that there is a huge amount of fear, shame and guilt involved and that this is a desperate mix of emotions fraught with all sorts of volatile and unpleasant consequences. While I have no clue whether or not this is the best or correct path for your son, as I mother I know that you love him deeply and want only the very best for him, even if, he might ultimately have to become a she.

    As the host of this forum has already pointed out this is an extremely difficult and painful situation for everyone involved. My best advice is to find a way to reach out to your child and get some real life, in the flesh communication going. You might need the help of a professional to do this, but again I strongly urge you to get that communication going.

    In the end it sounds like he is demanding your unconditional acceptance of his decision and ultimately it is his life to with as he sees fit. All you can do I to try and make sure that he is in fact doing the right thing for the right reasons. The only way you can do that is to have him HELP YOU understand.

  10. Thank you both for answering my questions and giving me information/resources for my understanding of my son.

    You asked Sally as to why my son would have chosen Facebook instead of a phone call or physical meeting. Some of my other children expressed this as well and are upset that this did not occur. There really wasn’t a good reason for it. This is not something that should be told on Facebook via personal message. He does have one sibling, a sister, that he did confide in about this, but she has been going through her own crisis of a divorce and has actually perpetuated some of this whole emotional defensive game-playing.

    I will try to set up a visit with him through my daughter if they will agree to it and see where that goes.

    I just worry that he will make a monumental decision of surgery and then 20 years down the road he realizes he made a mistake. I know I cannot change his mind if he should decide to do this, but I need help in understanding it.

  11. Theresa said: “I just worry that he will make a monumental decision of surgery and then 20 years down the road he realizes he made a mistake. I know I cannot change his mind if he should decide to do this, but I need help in understanding it.”

    Theresa your worries are valid and they are the very focus of this forum. Unfortunately the causes, while arguably “understood”, are still open to some very contentious debate and are in fact the object of some very erroneous conflations and serious misinformation.

    In my opinion the key, yet very important question, is whether or not your son suffers from the same neurological misalignment that caused me to actually change my sexual morphology from MtF, or….is he suffering from some other form of gender confusion which can be much more effectively addressed by other less drastic means.

    Sadly it is this very important distinction that has been glossed over and essentially ignored by design in the name of “political correctness” and “transgender rights”. Anyone asking simple questions, such as you are attempting to do in your efforts to understand, run the risk of being labeled as a “trans-phobic” bigot or worse.

    There are many sources of information on the internet, many of which are politically motivated as noted above or just flat out wrong. Unfortunately in the effort to provide “support”, it just seems to me that these efforts result in the enabling of some highly destructive actions and decisions.

    At the risk of igniting a firestorm of controversy, I will suggest just two sources which I consider a good source of useful non-politically motivated information.

    The first is “The Transsexual Phenomenon” by Dr. Harry Benjamin, an endocrinologist, published in 1967 and in my opinion a seminal work which provides cases studies and a realistic framework for diagnosing and treating the many different manifestations of this difficult condition.

    The second is “The Musings of Maria” by R. Maria Soto. The first part of the book provides an interesting and poignant glimpse into the life of the author, a transsexual herself. The second part takes a critical look at the existing data on the causes and treatment, or mis-treatment, of those suffering from this potentially life threatening disorder.

  12. @Teresa

    The only person that can reasonably say anything about his or her gender identity is the person that is experiencing a gender identity conflict, and no one else.

    Transgender persons go through hell before coming to terms with their own identity, whether this is by identifying fully with their target sex (i.e. the sex opposite to the one assigned at birth) or by embracing some kind of non-binary identity.

    The internet has made it somewhat easier, as young trans persons may now find stories that makes their own experiences make sense as well as new friends to talk to. Still, I know from my own experience (as a transsexual woman living in Germany) that much of society find transgender lives hard to grasp and that many remains prejudiced or even hostile.

    Most trans people have also internalised a lot of transphobia. This especially applies to male to female transpersons (as in the case of your child), as people assigned male at birth are expected to toughen up and behave like “real men”, by peers, family members and — above all — class mates and friends. Terms like “sissy”, “girly” and “fairy” are regularly used in male circles to harass and invalidate non-conforming male bodied persons. Sexist theories like “autogynephilia” and “fetishism” are used to invalidate their identities. This continues when people like your child come out of the closet, as people around them continue to question their identity.

    I would say that if your child has taken the step of announcing herself as trans, and is willing to take all the stigma and pressure that follows from doing so, she has probably a very good reason for doing so, and it is up to those who love her to accept that.

    The fact that she came clean on Facebook is irrelevant in this respect. I would guess that she had reasons to believe that you would not accept her choice, and that this was the reason she did it this way. From what you write here, it seems to me that she was right about that. Indeed, the fact that you approached this blog, a blog written by one from the tiny minority of detransitioning regretters, tells me that you are still hoping that this will pass, and I am sure your daughter is sensing this.

    Moreover, as an adult at the age of 25 she is old enough to make up her own mind. The longer she waits, the harder it becomes to adapt to the social life of a woman. Every year I waited was one more year living as an alien in my own body and my own life.

    Is there a chance that she could be wrong? Sure. Life is complicated, and transitioning is a complex social, psychological and biological process that entails a lot of challenges. Still, studies show that some 97% of those who transition report that their lives improve post transitioning. I would never go back to the dysphoric hell that was being forced to live and act like a man. Never!

    So: If you love your daughter, embrace her as she is! She needs your support now, more than ever!

    1. Even if we disagree on some of the origins and ideas around transsexualism we can definitely agree that rejecting her child is not going to help the situation. It is also true that there is a high chance that they will persist along this path at this point.

      For me, it was that very internalized idea that I could not be myself and be a man simultaneously because of all the childhood abuse I received for being “too weak” and “too soft”, “sissy” and a lot of terms you describe.

      Eventually I discovered that was all an illusion. The adult world is not the childhood environment I grew up in. I am not forced to “act like a man” by virtue of being perceived male. The dysphoria was caused by my belief I couldn’t simultaneously be myself and be a man. In truth, I am not forced to act like anything and there are plenty of spaces where soft, warm men are appreciated, in fact more so than those where transsexual women are appreciated.

      My alienation from my body was caused by what it symbolically meant about who I could be in the world, an idea that proved to be unfounded.

  13. Nadine. You raise some very valid points and I find myself in partial agreement with you given the following exception. In my opinion, the following statement;e “studies show that some 97% of those who transition report that their lives improve post transitioning”… is highly misleading in that the terms you use are inherently vague and subject to all sorts of misinterpretation.

    For example; how are you defining “transition? Many in the TG world see transition as a simple change in gender role or, “presentation”. They consider themselves “transitioned” when they begin living ‘full time” in the feminine role. Sometimes this is met with some level of societal acceptance and sometimes not. As you say, it is not an easy road.

    If you were to qualify your statement to include the caveat, “for those properly diagnosed with Type VI or High Intensity Transsexualism”, I would agree with you that yes, to date the most effective treatment for this condition is a complete surgical reconfiguration of the sexual organs and hormonal rebalancing. Properly applied to the properly diagnosed candidates, this is the most proven and effective treatment and indeed, the success rate exceeds 97%.

    However, treating someone who is not in fact suffering from such an extreme case of neurological misalignment often results in serious regrets and sometimes tragic consequences as in those cases cited in the Guardian article noted above,

    Proper diagnosis is the key factor. Self-diagnosis based on the highly politicized and misleading anecdotal information found in the vast majority of self justifying forums in the internet in IMO a recipe for disaster.

    1. I don’t think the issue is diagnosis. I wasn’t “misdiagnosed” I had all of the typical traits that are found in many MTF transitioners. I was a computer nerd, had erotic fantasies of being female, had a strong sense of a female identity, went on hormones, believed I was becoming my true self, felt like transitioning enabled me to let go of the constraints of “being a man”, felt intensely threatened if anyone ever questioned my gender, felt that estrogen was right for me etc. I was also very “high-intensity” as transitioning seemed like the most important thing in the world.

      However all of these things didn’t get at the real issues, and now that I have resolved many of them, I am faced with the additional difficulty of having modified my body in ways that are unchangeable.

      I don’t think I wasn’t “really trans” and other people are “really trans” I disagree with the identity construct. There is just dysphoria and our responses to it. Transitioning is a response, and it does help some. At the time it was the best response that I had, and it did help. However, it would have been better to work through the underlying issues instead.

  14. “Proper diagnosis”? Seriously? The medical diagnoses of transsexuality is constantly changing, so what makes you think one in particular will remain standing?

    A couple of years ago being transsexual was considered a mental disease in the US. The courts may change the requirements too. In 2008 the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany concluded that it was unconstitutional to force transsexual people to divorce from their partners. In 2011 the same court dismissed forced castration as a requirement for legal gender change as well.

    The court basically gave the same message as Amnesty International, which now argues that forced divorce and castrations are severe human rights violations. We have had a diagnostic machine committing crimes against humanity, so why on earth should we put our trust in such a system?

    The Gender Identity Disorder diagnosis was originally created to give doctors a way of “healing” transsexual women by any means possible. They used electroshocks, nausea inducing drugs and pure psychological torture to turn their patients into “real men”. Hormones and surgery were the means of last resort, and in order to get that treatment MTF transsexuals had to play the role of the demure and submissive, heterosexual, middle class house wife.

    Here in Germany there are still doctors who will ask you about your sexual orientation and sexual fantasies when determining whether you are “fit” for treatment. I had one transsexual friend who made the mistake of admitting that she sometimes got aroused by the idea of having sex as a woman. She was immediately labelled a “transvestic fetishist” and refused treatment. Very few of my non-transgender female friends would have gotten legal recognition as women if they were to follow the rules of this particular doctor.

    My friend eventually killed herself. She was invalidated by her family, she was invalidated by the gatekeepers, she was invalidated by society at large, and what do you know: She was even harassed and bullied by so-called “classic transsexuals” online. In the end it was too much for her. She did not manage to allow her true self live and blossom our of fear of ending up lonely, without love. She did end up lonely and without love, because the system required that she should live up to some sick ideals of femininity formulated by bearded old men in the late 19th century.

    I was lucky. I found a therapist that gave me time to think and time to feel, without judgment and without trying to shoehorn me into some narrow pseudo-medical category. She gave me respect. She gave me love. That is what we need.

    I have read through your posts here now, and it is very clear that you are one of the trans women who have assimilated the gender stereotypes of the old medical system, and who now desperately try to distance yourself from those labelled unworthy by the same system.

    I wonder why you feel this need to police other trans women. It is most certainly not out of compassion and care. And it cannot be because the system stops you from living your life as a woman. If you are the “high intensity transsexual” you talk about, you should have no problems fitting in in your local community. Most of my post-op transgender friends do just that: Live as women, feeling completely relaxed about the variety of transgender lives and expressions they find around them. But, somehow, you feel threatened by those who do not live up to your standards. Could it be that there is one part of you that knows that none of us can live up to those standards?

  15. TWT: ” I wasn’t “misdiagnosed” I had all of the typical traits that are found in many MTF transitioners. I was a computer nerd, had erotic fantasies of being female, had a strong sense of a female identity, went on hormones, believed I was becoming my true self, felt like transitioning enabled me to let go of the constraints of “being a man”, felt intensely threatened if anyone ever questioned my gender, felt that estrogen was right for me etc”.

    Nadine: “I was lucky. I found a therapist that gave me time to think and time to feel, without judgment and without trying to shoehorn me into some narrow pseudo-medical category. She gave me respect. She gave me love. That is what we need.”
    Yes. I was extremely lucky as well in that I too found someone who could provide me with what I needed to not just survive, but to live happily and productively in the reality that is mainstream society today. Might I inquire as to how long has it been since your SRS and if you have experienced any long term intimacy?

    As to your last paragraph, it makes absolutely no sense to me and seems to be little more that a typical collection of attacks propagated by the ‘group-think’ agenda of “progressive” populist umbrella waving “trans-women”, (another popular and equally vague and ill-defined term). I have made no claims as to who is “worthy’ or “unworthy”. These are your thoughts, not mine. Nor have I allude to any standards of womanhood defined by the “sick ideals of femininity formulated by bearded old men in the late 19th century”. Again it is you who have introduced yet another red herring.

    TWT: “I disagree with the identity construct.” I do not accept that construct either.
    TWT: “There is just dysphoria and our responses to it.”
    Precisely. However, it is how we, (the health care system), respond(s) to those different manifestations of what are arguably different motivations and symptomologies, that determines whether or not the treatment will be successful. Just as you say, would it not have been better to have more diligently explored just what it was that caused your dysphoria as you re doing now, rather than to just “shoehorn” you into a “trans*” diagnosis and subject you to the drastic and sadly less than successful transformation that you have endured?

  16. To continue…
    TWT: “I don’t think the issue is diagnosis. I wasn’t “misdiagnosed” I had all of the typical traits that are found in many MTF transitioners. I was a computer nerd, had erotic fantasies of being female, had a strong sense of a female identity, went on hormones, believed I was becoming my true self….felt intensely threatened if anyone ever questioned my gender, felt that estrogen was right for me etc. I was also very “high-intensity” as transitioning seemed like the most important thing in the world.”

    Of course you are entitled to your own opinion and perception of this as you were there and I was not. Nevertheless, given my obviously different perspective, (being on the ‘outside looking in’ as opposed to “inside looking out), I tend to disagree. As you have noted, you were given mind altering hormones after just one or two cursory “diagnostic” sessions. Of course those hormones reduced your “dysphoria” since as you well know, those feminizing hormones drastically reduce the libido which in many cases is at the root of the dysporia. especially those cases involving autogynephilia.

    Nadine: ““Proper diagnosis”? Seriously? The medical diagnoses of transsexuality is constantly changing, so what makes you think one in particular will remain standing?…. In 2011 the same court dismissed forced castration as a requirement for legal gender change as well”

    Well yes. It would seem pretty obvious to me that ‘proper diagnosis’ would be an important component of effective treatment. I mean how would you like to have a broken leg treated as though you had liver disease?

    “forced castration”??? You could not possibly be referring to that life saving genital reconstruction that is so necessary for woman to function as….well, just a woman? No….that cannot possibly be. It must be that you are trying to demagogue and demonize that simple requirement that those seeking to have their identity documentation changed to reflect their actual identity as female, actually BE physically female. (What a novel idea!)

    1. You keep talking about “proper diagnosis”? I don’t know of any way to do that. We still don’t have any diagnostic criteria that discern between how much people will benefit from transition and medical treatment, and who won’t. The diagnostic criteria for gender dysphoria in the DSM-V basically reduce to “this person is uncomfortable with their gender’ The WPATH standards contain only a vague reference to “looking out for severe mental illness” that might obscure things.

  17. TWT: “You keep talking about “proper diagnosis”? I don’t know of any way to do that. We still don’t have any diagnostic criteria that discern between how much people will benefit from transition and medical treatment, and who won’t”

    Yes. I agree. Perhaps this is something that those of us who have actually gone through this, might address, hopefully without recourse to the usual memes and political correctness. That is my hope; that open discourse might result in something better than the existing “mishmash” that is little better than what we all suffered through decades ago.

  18. @Sally

    Sally: “I have made no claims as to who is ‘worthy’ or ‘unworthy’.”

    Really? There are an awful lot of invalidating quotation marks in the expression “the ‘group-think’ agenda of ‘progressive’ populist umbrella waving ‘trans-women’.”

    (“Trans-women” with a hyphen? I haven’t seen that one before…)

    And right now you are trying to box me in:

    Sally: “Might I inquire as to how long has it been since your SRS and if you have experienced any long term intimacy?”

    The question of SRS is there to see if I live up to the HBS standards of hating my male genitals. The second question is to see if my motivation i real or some kind of “autoeroticism”.

    It is a fair guess that if I give the “wrong” answers to these questions, you will start misgendering me.

    So let me rephrase my question: Why are you here, really? What is your motivation? What is it in your life that has made you spend hours on a blog like this one, written by a sex and gender agnostic, and where the majority of readers are probably gender questioning in one way or the other? I have so far not seen one other supporter of your simplistic binary.

    Let me explain why I am here, to give you the context:

    This blog was recommended to me by a transgender friend. She told me about this transition regretter who actually tried to expand the scope of our knowledge, questioning the myths dominating the transgender debate.

    She was right. Admittedly, I do not like thirdwaytrans’ tendency to generalise on the basis of his own life experience. Most of the trans women I know are securely anchored in their female identity. But I like the way he goes into the complexity of this “big ball of wibbly-wobbly gendery-wendery stuff”, bravely facing the various feedback-loops of biological, psychological, and social factors. That is why I am following this blog. I do not agree with him, but he makes me think. [Let me know if I am using the wrong pronouns here, thirdwaytrans!]

    But you already have the answer, Sally, and it seems to me that you look at thirdwaytrans’ life as living proof of you being right about the great divide between real and false women. There is not much you can achieve here. If you wanted to teach the world your gospel, you should definitely choose media with more eyeballs than this blog.

    Therefore: You being here makes no sense. Unless, of course, you feel threatened by the imperfection of other transgender people, and you need to push them back into their dusty closets. But why would you feel threatened, being a Benjamin class VI?

    The only alternative explanation I can come up with is that you find dismissing the identity of other transgender people stimulating in some way. That it makes you feel superior. I really hope that that is not the case, because that would be very creepy.

    1. I agree that Sally’s reply is invalidating and inflammatory. I have warned her several times about this and requested that she not flood my blog with incendiary replies. Also, as you say she has been very clear that the things be discussed her don’t apply to her. I have placed her on moderated status for that reason, and she has posted several replies to this, none of which were not invalidating. If there is one more comment of that nature I will ban her entirely.

      While I do support free dialogue, I am also aware of the importance of a space free of personal attacks to create that dialogue.

      Heh, “big ball of wibbly-wobbly gender-wendery stuff”, love it!

      I do think most trans women have a strong sense of themselves as female. I did too, but then I didn’t and that wasn’t supposed to happen. So I try to make sense of it. It is hard to know how much the same and how much different I am than others, but I sure felt empathy and common cause with the people transitioning in my cohort, we seemed to have a lot in common.

      I do generalize from my own life experience that is true, because that is the only experience I have, like everyone else. However my writing is not just from own life experience, I have known many trans people over the 20 years of my transition, I also am well read on the literature and have seen gender-variant people including trans people as psychotherapy clients.

      It is the long-term transitioners who tend to be missing from the discussion, people drop out of the community after transitioning and almost everyone on the forums are either pre-transition or recent transitioners. I see the people that transitioned with me. Many of them are lonely, many of them still have dysphoria and pursue more feminization, many of them have gone through a lot of suffering. Some of that suffering is due to bigotry, and some of it is due to internal issues. None of them have detransitioned other than me, but some do exist in a kind of androgynous semi-alive state.

      Some of them don’t have these issues too, and have good relationships and good lives, but there still seems to be a lot of dysphoria around. So I wonder what we can do different, to expand the options.

  19. My hope is that you will post my original response to Nadina. If not then you have actively contributed to the insane campaign of misinformation where women” have penises and “men” get pregnant. Good luck with that!

    1. No, I won’t post that response or your other response because it is insulting to Nadina. That is not something I will allow any more of on my blog.

      You repeatedly say that you are different than the rest of us and that is okay. It sounds like you have a lot you want to say about these issues, that is outside the scope of the discussion here. If so, then your own blog might be a more appropriate place for that.

  20. TWT: “It is the long-term transitioners who tend to be missing from the discussion, people drop out of the community after transitioning and almost everyone on the forums are either pre-transition or recent transitioners. I see the people that transitioned with me. Many of them are lonely, many of them still have dysphoria and pursue more feminization, many of them have gone through a lot of suffering. Some of that suffering is due to bigotry, and some of it is due to internal issues. None of them have detransitioned other than me, but some do exist in a kind of androgynous semi-alive state.”

    Of course we are “missing” from the discussion. We usually get “moderated” or ‘banned’ into silence or extinction because we speak clearly to those issues which so haunt those suffering from gender dysphoria. Many of us were never even a part of your so-called “community”. I certainly never was. We are accused of “invalidating the identity” of trans* folk whenever we ask just WTF does “trans*” mean. Yet when we are attacked and insulted as being “just like them” except that we have self-mutilated our genitals we are expected to react with “kindness, support and understanding”. Really? If you honestly expect that then you know little about human nature.

    Nadina asks, “Why am I here?” I have told you, and it should be clear. It is to join your effort to fully understand the possible alternatives to a full blown sex change which is a radical and potentially disastrous undertaking for those who are ill prepared, or who do so for the wrong reasons.

    Let me ask YOU a question. Did you transition with the expectation that would emerge from the process a woman, or a trans-woman*? (Again, definition unknown). This is not about “legitimacy” or “validity”. This is about expectation of the end result. Would it not be wise to be fully cognizant of the potential outcome before embarking on such an expensive, hazardous, and potentially devastating, undertaking.

    I honestly and sincerely salute you for being brave enough and strong enough to realize, and finally admit to yourself that you no longer wanted to “exist in a kind of androgynous semi-alive state.” And then…actually do something about it.

    1. Perhaps the most disappointing absence regarding this discourse, which for the most part is centred around trauma and it’s sexualization, are mere fetishists. For whom there seldom is any intellectual drive to understand and discuss, opposed to fetishists who develop dysphoric psychologies and either worry about the issues that come with it, or “crossdreamers” want to appropriate the discourse as to make the fetish seem to be a symptom of their supposed transsexualism.

  21. thirdwaytrans,

    One way your reflections may help us, is by adding some much needed realism to the debate on transitioning. Transitioning is — and have to be — messy. I know. I have both the emotional and physical scars to prove it.

    The problem is that people somehow expect transsexual women to appear as “perfect”, archetypal, women after transitioning. I know that non-transgender women also suffer tremendously as result of the insane body and fashion ideals of our times. Still, their identity as a woman is normally accepted, even if they do not have the ass of Kim Kardashian, change the world like Aung San Suu Kyi or become the perfect soccer mum.

    I know that I am a woman. I know now that deep inside I have always been a woman — social construction be damned. But I also know that my life line is different from the ones of non-transgender women. Being raised as a boy does something to you, which is different from what most non-transgender women experience. Struggling with dysphoria and identity issues also does something to you. This is part of who I am, and I am not going to pretend that it never happened, or that it was easy.

    This is also why I am open to the idea that transitioning will sometimes end in “failure.” Not because the person is a sexual pervert, not because the person is “really a man”, and not because being raised as a man makes you a man, but because this is an imperfect world. Sometimes there simply is no correct answer. And sometimes social pressure and the need to be loved, accepted, embraced and desire makes us do things that do not work out in the end.

    But then again, all people are unique in some way, with different experiences, challenges, abilities, opportunities and failures — a lot of failures. Some women are poor, some are disabled, some are extremely talented in one field or the other, and some are transsexual. And some people are born to live beyond the binary. We should accept that.

    1. “I know that I am a woman. I know now that deep inside I have always been a woman”

      There is no such thing as being a “man” or “woman” per se beyond being affiliated with properties which are associated as being male-like or female-like.

  22. This is also why I am open to the idea that transitioning will sometimes end in “failure.” Not because the person is a sexual pervert, not because the person is “really a man”

    I hope you also open to the idea that transitioning will sometimes doesn’t work because the person is really is a man. I’m not a sexual pervert but indeed my root issue is sexual issue that grows to become gender issue.
    In this case transition to be a woman does not work that well for me because, I’m not much of a woman in the first place, I’m really is much more closer to man, my default comfortable nature, not because of transphobia ,not because its being repressed, not because of not passing (i do pass wonderfully). What I really need is all the help and support to be fine again as man and let go of the trans ocd.

  23. While I disagree that, ” Transitioning is — and have to be — messy. I know. “….is a ‘given” or a fact –perhaps it was for Nadina and others…I am pleased that we are finally getting down to some of the base or fundamental issues. I also agree that “adding some much needed realism to the debate”, would be helpful.

    For example, perhaps if Nadina would include the quallfier “That for me”, (Nadina),transitioning is — and have to be — messy. I know”. OR…a simple qualifier that for *SOME” people te expectation is that transsexual women *MUST* appear as “perfect”, archetypal, women after transitioning as is the implication their *all-inclusive statement with the undeniable implication that *all* people “expect…..”.

    The hard won progress that I have seen is an apparent admission the yes, we are all different, and by extension, treatment for what ails us might be expected to be different.

    And again, not trying to be difficult here, just trying to prevent any future understanding, can we please try to get some agreement on just what it is is to be the accepted definition for the term “trans” woman. For me, the English understanding or definition of “trans” is pretty much in agreement with what I found on Google: “Trans” – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Trans is a Latin noun or prefix, meaning “across”, “beyond” or “on the opposite side”. Trans may refer to: Contents. [hide]. 1 Gender; 2 Geography; 3 Media …

  24. bingunginter,

    You say “I hope you also open to the idea that transitioning will sometimes doesn’t work because the person is really is a man.”

    I am sure this is possible. Given the complexity of sex, sexuality and gender identity, it could happen. If this is how you understand your own journey, I accept and respect that. I hope you find what you are looking for!

    And thank you, Joanna!

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