I thought I would give a brief overview of how I returned to myself and let go of my transgender identity.
My story was pretty typical at the beginning. I had fantasies of being female in childhood which then become eroticized in puberty. During my teenage years, I didn’t think there was anyway I would ever actually transition, but then when I got to college I discovered some of the beginnings of transgender culture on the internet and transitioned at age 19. I eventually had SRS at 24. From the outside I was pretty well-adjusted. I still have the letter from one of the psychologists that evaluated me for SRS describing me as a “well-adjusted professional young woman”. From the inside my life was a wreck. I was in an abusive relationship, my body was twisted in knots, hormones made it so that I couldn’t think clearly. I was not a very healthy person.
Right before I got SRS I was required to be off hormones for 3 weeks, without the influence of the estrogen, it felt like coming back to myself after a 5 year strange dream. I had quite a few doubts about having surgery but I wasn’t able to stop, there was just too much momentum. All of the friends I talked to about it encouraged me to do it. After all, I had been wanting it a long time. I remember thinking it wasn’t possible for me to return to being male, as I had already eliminated my facial hair and “could never be normal”, this seems ridiculous in retrospect. Afterwards, I felt like I had to just go with it and what was done was done.
I settled into life but I felt something was missing. My body was still a twisted wreck and it was very frustrating to me. I tried things like yoga and massage and that would help but it would only be temporary. I briefly explored meditation but then moved into the pagan community. I loved paganism and was able to have ecstatic experiences and connect to parts of my unconscious. This was the beginning of my ability to heal but it was not an embodied practice nor was it particularly relational. I discovered later that these two things were important for my healing. I was still looking for something but not finding it there.
I eventually discovered dance and embodied practice. I started out with 5 rhythms and eventually branched on to biodanza and doing partner dance. When I began to do partner dance I was so disconnected from my body I wasn’t able to trust another. Biodanza was particularly helpful because it involved learning how to connect to others. Connection and attachment require connecting to embodied instincts. Gradually my body began to thaw. I also had a relationship with someone who was able to see me for who I was regardless of whether I put on a false self or not.
I also began therapy, not with any intent on working on gender issues, but rather the intention on working on relationships and connection. Then I eventually went to school for my masters in psychology. During the 1st year my body began to have a shaking motion. I wasn’t sure what this was and briefly thought it might be a neurological issue. Luckily, I happened to be surround by somatic therapists at school, and they suggested it might be a trauma release. This continued on and I eventually realized that was my body’s masculine instincts starting to unwind and be released. My body confirmed this by unwinding further.
Eventually I decided to experiment with getting of estrogen, and much to my surprise that seemed to fix a lot of my issues with social anxiety, and desensitized my nervous system so I didn’t feel so fragile. I stayed off hormones for three months and then tried testosterone which made me feel really amazing and euphoric. The euphoria only lasted a few months but I continue to enjoy much better mental functioning and a sense of vitality. I decided to do what was best for my body and listen to it.
Although this also caused several new issues. My body was re-masculinizing which was scary. There was a part of me that found that to be very terrifying. I did work in therapy using IFS and EMDR and discovered a lot of this fear was related to feeling that men were evil and that it was unsafe to be a man. Once I healed from that I was able to gradually become more and more comfortable with being perceived as male.
I also experienced a surge in erotic fantasies about being female, which were similar to what I experienced as a teenager. These threatened to have an obsessive quality but once I healed from the trauma, they were only contained in my fantasy life. I tried to resist them which made things worse, but eventually learned how to accept them and acknowledge that they are just fantasies and I don’t have to identify with them. I think this part is unchangeable and will always be present. However presenting as male feels like a letting go of affectation, and that I am able to just be who I am without pretending to be something else.
I am still not done with this process. I still have yet to change my legal id, which causes various problems as I present as a male and have a clearly female name on my id. I also find it awkward to be around people that have known me as a woman, it feels on some level they have seen me enacting a fantasy and I feel shame about that, even though I know that I had no way to avoid it without the knowledge I have now.