Sunday, November 18, 2012

The End of Transition-Learning to Live and Love One's Self

This piece comes to you from a reader of this blog who wanted to share her story of dysphoria, self hatred, transition and detransition. Her hope is that her painful revealing story may help other girls/women suffering from similar issues. It is also my hope. While the piece is somewhat long, I didnt want to break it up in pieces as I think anyone interested will invest the time it takes to read through it.

My Story

I have very vivid memories of being four years old, and imagining what my life would be like when I was an adult. My favorite things to do were to make up stories and plays, play tug-of-war with my puppy, and watch The Power Rangers. In a lot of the stories that I made up for myself, I would imagine myself as one of the Power Rangers. I was pretty much always Tommy, the white/green Ranger and leader of the gang. When I was Tommy, I would save the world and get all the girls. It just seemed natural to me. I had a very strong sense of being attracted to females from a young age.

Sometimes I made up stories, where-in I was the fearless ninja that would save my baby sister from peril and seemingly insurmountable odds. I didn’t have the words for it then, but if you had asked me, I would’ve told you that my ninja character was a boy. Of course, all of the fictional characters I played and created for myself as a child were boys.

As I grew up, my closest friends and companions were boys, and I was the stereotypical tomboy. We played hockey, wrestled, got messy; when the girl from down the street played with us, I got real shy, right along with all of the other guys. Despite the fact that my parents kept my hair long and bought me a lot of pink clothes to wear, I blended well with the boys from my neighborhood. Nobody ever gave me guff about the activities I liked or the company I kept. It just wasn’t a big deal for a young girl to act like the young boys.

I knew things were changing when I began to hit puberty. Puberty hit hard and fast when I was still relatively young; my first menstrual cycle began when I was only 10 years old and in 5th grade. My chest began to develop at the same age. Around this time, my father stopped letting me play the rough and tumble games with the neighborhood boys—games I had enjoyed so much for years.

The boys in my neighborhood were all several years older than I was. Looking back, it probably wasn’t such a bad idea for me to stop playing with them. They were starting to get themselves into dangerous situations. By the beginning of high school, they all had police records. At the time, I was extremely angry with my father for disallowing me to play hockey and skateboard with the guys. I thought it was because he saw me as weaker and more vulnerable than they were. Now that I’ve grown and been able to speak with him about it, it’s become clear that he was simply looking out for me, trying to keep me out of trouble with the law.

After the disappointment of losing many of my childhood friends, I turned inward. I took up guitar, started learning to program computers and write code, and did anything I could do by myself. My discomfort with my body began to solidify, as did my understanding that I was sexually attracted to females and had never experienced sexual attraction to males. I don’t believe my parents intentionally kept knowledge of homosexuality out of our household; it seemed there just weren’t many positive representations of gay culture, homosexuality, gay men—much less lesbians—in the United States at the time. I don’t think I really thought two women could be in a relationship. Eventually, I had more control over my clothing choices, and when it was time to shop for new school clothes, my mother winced visibly every time I went straight to the boys’ section. My parents insisted on my keeping my hair long, so I always tied it up in a ponytail and tucked it under a hat. I fantasized about cutting it off but I never had the courage. Instead, I wore a baseball cap every day, along with my standard attire: baggy jeans and a t-shirt or sweatshirt. I refused to wear any variety of bra other than a sports bra, because when I wore sports bras my breasts became invisible under a few layers of t-shirts. That’s exactly how I liked it. I remember thinking about how other women’s breasts were perceived/objectified and feeling embarrassed, both for the women and for myself.

We got internet at home earlier than most, as my father worked with computers and programming. As early as 10 years old (1997), I was trolling around every Yahoo chat room I could find, looking for girls to talk to. When I was in middle school, my parents discovered my homosexuality through a very incriminating web history. By this point I had discovered homosexuality existed and understood there were other women who were attracted to women; I realized that’s who I must be. I was okay with this for a few years.

My hometown, however, was a very small place where rumors spread fast and homosexuality was more than frowned upon, it was violently discouraged. When a gay man was beaten to death behind the bar on Main Street, my parents packed us  up (my siblings and me) and we moved to a much larger metropolitan area just in time for me to start high school. They didn’t tell me their reasoning at the time; they instead opted to tell me we were moving to be closer to our grandparents, which was true, but a secondary motivation. My parents were not exactly supportive of my being gay. I think deep down they hoped it would change, but knew it was unlikely. It would take seven years for me to feel comfortable telling them about my being in a relationship with a woman. By that time, I would already be identifying as male.

In high school I had my first girlfriend. She was a knockout. We were together for over two years, and she was really great and encouraging to me in every way. It looked like a stereotypical butch/femme relationship from the outside. I was quiet in high school, and much more interested in playing guitar and basketball than in social activities. I hated how, in social activities, there always seemed to be a divide between the guys and the girls. I was horribly uncomfortable in groups of girls, and even more so in groups of lesbians. Although there were many lesbians in my school and a strong GSA, I always felt as if I couldn’t relate. I had a couple of lesbian teachers who I liked very much, so I was not without strong, adult lesbian role models. Despite the fact that these were two adult, butch women, with loving partners and established households, I didn’t relate to this and didn’t see it as a possibility for my future.

With groups of guys, I was totally comfortable. I felt equal, like one of their peers. I was interested in the same things that interested them and related to the way they interacted with one other. There was a lot of music and video games, and not a lot of sitting around talking and gossiping. These were the ways that I interpreted “female-boding” and “male-bonding” back in those days. I got very involved in the local music scene, playing guitar and bass in a lot of hardcore, punk, and metal bands. I used Craigslist and other local sites to find bands and band mates. I quickly learned to leave the fact that I was female out of my ads and emails. Being female impugned my credibility as a hardcore musician, it seemed to me. At the time, I thought it lucky that my name was very androgynous. More often than not, I was perceived as male.

My discomfort with my body never left me. My jealousy for my male peers grew. I bound my chest for the first time when I was 15, with duct tape over a tank top that I wore over my sports bra. I tucked my hair up into my hat, as I had continued to do since grade school. I swiped a button-down flannel shirt and some baggy jeans from my dad’s closet, tucked a sock into my underwear, and then took my girlfriend out to a movie. The feeling that all of this gave me was indescribable. For months, my girlfriend referred to me as her “boyfriend”—this, as a kind of sweet talk. I really liked it. When she saw me that night, I remember her face, and the way she looked so happy. I don’t remember anyone’s treating us any differently than they had in the past. I wasn’t trying to pass, as I didn’t even know what that meant yet. All I knew was that I hated my breasts. I felt as if I would have been much happier had I been born male; this would’ve allowed me to do and be all of the things I wanted to do and be, without getting hassled, without constantly feeling like an outsider.

I also had a lot of discomfort with my vagina. I wasn’t interested in anyone touching it, and certainly did not want another person entering my body. I had read about stone lesbians, and I figured that was what I must be. I loved getting my partner off. When we had sex, I stayed fully clothed the vast majority of the time. She didn’t seem to mind and appeared happy to be on the receiving end of my sexual attention. Together we experimented with strap-ons, from which I got the sexual gratification I had been missing earlier in our relationship. I could easily close my eyes and pretend the strap-on was an extension of my body. It helped calm my nerves and tension where relating to my body sexually was concerned. It filled a void that existed, because I desired to penetrate my partner sexually with my genitals. I routinely imagined having a penis with which to make this happen. We broke up amicably at the end of my senior year—a mutual distaste for the trials of a long-distance relationship.

When I was 17, I entered college at a large, liberal state university. During my first semester, I found a class entitled “Gender Outlaws.” Part of the women’s study curriculum, it was intended for only upperclassmen. I, however, enrolled immediately. I didn’t have the pre-requisites, but I emailed the professor and she admitted me after a short correspondence. We read Halberstam and Feinberg. It was the first time I had ever heard of transsexual people. The professor talked about people who were born with bodies in which they were always uncomfortable, people who felt they would be more comfortable in their bodies had they only been born the opposite sex. We discussed the differences between sex and gender. It was explained to me that sex was your external appearance and genitalia, while gender was what existed in your brain. I latched on instantly!

The idea that I could be transsexual made so many things in my life make sense. I hated my chest. I felt an extreme disconnect from my genitals. I had never seen myself reflected in any of the lesbians I had ever known. My interests and social inclinations had always seemed to fall directly in line with those of my male peers. I had always hated the word Butch and had consistently referred to myself as a Boi. Boi felt comfortable in a way that Butch never did. When I was in public and someone assumed I was a young man, I felt a sort of euphoria. All of this was well prior to my ever hearing that transsexuality existed. Realizing I might be a man in the wrong body brought me a sense of calm and peace that I had never felt before. If I knew what had caused my life-long discomfort, then I could do something to fix it.

Over the course of the next few years I began slowly coming out to people as transsexual. I never changed my name. I was fond of my given name and, as I said, it is very androgynous and usually defaulted to masculine. The more people referred to me as he or as someone’s boyfriend, the more comfortable I became. It became easier to blend into society, even though I was pre-T and pre-surgeries. I became concerned with passing, and started taking measures to ensure that I would be perceived as male. These measures included such things as binding my chest and becoming much more meticulous about my clothes and haircuts than I had ever been. My friends were all very accepting, and I never experienced rejection from my peers for my transsexuality. On the contrary, most of them said that it made perfect sense; one conveyed, “[I’ve always]kind of seen you as a guy, anyway.”

I joined a new band, told them I was a guy, and fit right in. There was none of the awkwardness that I had experienced in other bands with guys that just didn’t know how to act naturally and be themselves around a female. People stopped treating me in ways that I hated, and ways that I had come to associate with being treated like a female: holding doors, refraining from cursing, et al. Society at large felt as if it were more natural and comfortable with me. This, perhaps because I was feeling more natural and comfortable than ever with myself, now that I had identified the problem and knew how to fix it.

While it took years before I sought out counseling for medical transition, it was very easy for me where my social transition was concerned. I blended in well. As long as I took a few precautions before I walked out the door, I passed as male. Although I’ve always felt discomfort with my breasts and genitals, the rest of my body is built in such a way that it didn’t hinder my ability to pass. I have always been athletic. My build is slim through the hips but muscular in my legs and arms, which I’m sure contributes to my being perceived as male.

During this time, I told everyone that perceived me as female that I was actually a man. I informed those who had known me prior to my transition, that I, in fact, had always been a man. Owing to my fear of rejection, the only people I didn’t tell were my family members.

I graduated from university and attended counseling sessions with a gender therapist when I was 21. In our first meeting she informed me that she usually waits several months before seriously discussing medical transition with her clients. However, during this first meeting, she indicated she was comfortable discussing medical intervention and my feelings about it, because of my already extensive “real life experience” and the fact that she could “clearly see that I was a transsexual.” I informed her that I intended to medically transition as soon as I found the courage to tell my parents, and that I didn’t want to start without their at least being aware of my condition. She asked me to write down all of my earliest memories regarding gender and how I related to my body. She explained that we would use my writing as a starting point for our next meeting, during which we could begin discussing how I would come out to my parents.

Six meetings and three months later, I had my letter diagnosing me with “General Anxiety Disorder,” with a recommendation for hormone replacement as treatment. Still, I was no closer to actually telling my parents. She refrained from a “Gender Identity Disorder” diagnosis, because of my intention to live “stealth.” I saw my condition as purely medical and not something I wanted to acknowledge in the future. I had already drafted several letters and scrapped them all. I called the clinic and set up my first appointment for blood work.

My blood work checked out, and I had to wait three months for the next available appointment to actually get the testosterone treatment I wanted so badly. In the meantime, I worked out like crazy, putting all of my free time into playing music. I also finally mustered the courage to tell my parents. I wrote a letter explaining my dysphoria, the difference between sex and gender, and my intentions to fully medically transition from female to male. One night, after having borrowed my parents’ car to run errands, I left my letter in the front seat where my father would be sure to see it the following morning. I then biked back to my house.

My father was furious. My mother was heartbroken.

I still remember his calling me that night and telling me he loved me dearly and that his love for me would never change. However, he also told me he thought I was dead wrong about the decisions I was making. The next night I went to their house to talk about it in person. We had one of the longest conversations of my life. For about four hours, we picked apart the way I felt, why I felt that way, and what it meant. My father infuriated me when he told me that he actually thought I was pretty stereotypically female, in that I have a large amount of compassion and tend to be very sensitive. He asked me what I thought was different between myself and my mother—who is a very strong, driven person, and who embodies many of the qualities I strive to embody. I remember trying to explain to him that it all comes down to what people identify with in their brains, how they relate to their own bodies. I tried to tell him that it has nothing to do with characteristics like intelligence, compassion, athletic interests, or familial roles (e.g., “the breadwinner”). At every step he refuted me. He asked me if it were okay for women to want and think the things that I wanted and thought. I repeated over and over that it was, of course, okay. I asserted that it didn’t make such a woman any more of a man than my compassion made me a woman. At the time, I didn’t understand that he was bringing up all of these socially structured gendered expectations in order to encourage me to think critically about my identification and why I felt that way. All I felt was angry and trapped and disrespected. I left that night without feeling we had resolved anything. I was glad I had told them, glad I knew I still had their love. I was still so, so angry that they couldn’t just accept what I was telling them at face value.

I remember asking my father if he would still feel like a man if he woke up the next morning, inexplicably, with a vagina and breasts. He told me that he “wouldn’t give a fuck” and would go about life as normal. He told me the only thing that would change would be the way society reacted to him, but that it wouldn’t change who he was on the inside. I asked him if “who he was on the inside” was male. He told me that who he was on the inside had absolutely nothing to do with his reproductive ability or his genitals. I thought he was absolutely out of touch with the reality of the world, and of course he must have some internal sense of himself as a man, or as male. I’ve since come to realize that he meant exactly what he said.

We had a few more intensely strained conversations over the next few weeks on the subject, and eventually came around to agreeing that my parents love me and support me no matter what, but they did not believe in “gender identity.” They agreed to do whatever would make me comfortable, including refraining from using female terms regarding me, but neither of them thought they would come around to calling me “he” or their “son.” I took this as consolation enough, and resolved to move forward with my appointment to get testosterone.
In the interim between my blood work and my appointment to get my prescription, I turned 22. I began working two jobs with the intention of saving money toward reconstructive surgery for my chest. I got very single minded regarding my transition. My girlfriend began to pull away from me, although I didn’t pay much attention at the time. My testosterone appointment arrived the morning of February 22nd. By 3 pm, I was home with my 10 cc vial of 100 mg/ml testosterone cypionate, needles, syringes, a sharps container, and instructions to inject 0.5 cc weekly into alternating thighs. To calm my nerves before I administered my first shot that evening, my girlfriend and I decided to get dressed up and go to our favorite restaurant for dinner.

That night I gave myself my first injection of testosterone. The time from me prepping to finishing was less than ten minutes. I didn’t experience any hesitation or fear before plunging the needle into my right thigh. Afterward, I was so happy that I couldn’t stop smiling. My girlfriend stayed by my side for my first injection, then left to comfort a young man she had been spending a lot of time with, while I was too self-obsessed to notice. He had broken up with his girlfriend. When my girlfriend returned home, she promptly broke up with me. We had been together for a little over a year— lived together, had a dog together—and I thought I loved her very much. I shed a few tears and retired to the futon with my dog. Digging up all of my personal resolve, I told myself that my life was just beginning!

A week and a half later I moved back to my parents’ house while I searched for a new apartment. My dog and I stayed there for three months. I worked and saved money and searched, but things were very tense, and I was having difficulty finding apartments in my price range. My voice began cracking and changing, and I started inventing colds to cover up for it. My parents knew I was going to do what I wanted to do, but for some reason I didn’t want them to see me changing right before their eyes. It felt as if I were doing something disrespectful by being under their roof as I continued with my weekly injections and strength training. My father told me that it had always seemed to him as if I were “trying too hard” to be a guy, and that this made him uncomfortable. This really hurt me. For the remainder of my stay with my parents, I kept out of their way as much as possible, making sure to buy and cook my own meals—my appetite was absolutely out of control from the testosterone and my second puberty. If I borrowed their car, I made sure to return it with a full tank of gas. I didn’t want them to feel as if I were taking advantage of them. I also had a deep desire to not be where I felt I had to hide myself, my truth. I decided to move to a very large city where I had a friend with whom I could live, where I was sure I could find employment, and where I could begin living stealth.

I made my move. After having been on hormones for approximately 3.5 months, I was feeling fantastic, physically and emotionally. I loved the way I could actually see my muscles growing from my intense strength training. I loved the way my voice had dropped itself to the point where people over the phone assumed I was male, sight un-seen. I had experienced the growth of my clitoris to an extent that allowed me to masturbate comfortably for the first time. It seemed to me like a very small penis. I loved it. I loved that I was being perceived as female less and less every week. Tiny, blonde hairs had already begun creeping up along my upper lip, jawline, and down from my belly button. I was getting encouragement and validation from all sides, apart from my family. But I was content to wait and let them see how much happier I was having begun my medical transition. I was convinced they would eventually see I knew myself better than they did, that I was on the right path. I called my physician to check in and let her know how things were going and how I was feeling. She ordered my second vial of testosterone.

Around the seven-month mark, things began to feel, for lack of a better word, weird. I still loved all of the changes that were happening to my body, but I was beginning to question the way that I viewed gender and sex. I was lonely in this new city, and it gave me ample time to think. I was also stealth, meaning that absolutely no one knew of my female past other than my roommate. I trusted him to hold my secret, as he had the same secret. I began rethinking what it meant to be male and what it meant to be female. I started reading internet forums where young transmen gathered to discuss different suggestions for passing and to talk about what “being a man” meant to them. It seemed to me that many of their reasons sounded superficial, which made me dig deep within myself to confirm that I wasn’t transitioning for superficial reasons. Certainly, I thought, the deep discomfort I felt with my body wasn’t superficial. I loved women and knew women could be anything they wanted to be. My transition, I maintained, certainly wasn’t a product of patriarchy or misogyny the way it seemed some of these other people’s transitions appeared to be. Most of all, I reasoned, “Testosterone is giving me things that make me happy. It must be the right thing.”

This reflection and self-questioning went on for a couple of months. While I continued to greatly enjoy and look forward to the changes testosterone was affording me, I was experiencing an ongoing internal battle. My second vial was used up within ten months. I made the decision to forgo ordering another vial. I wanted to give myself time to think and process before continuing.

When I had been off of testosterone for a month, my menstrual cycle returned, along with all of the extreme pain and cramping which kept me in bed, throwing up once a month for years in my youth. My muscles stayed strong, but I stopped getting the consistent growth I had been enjoying while on testosterone. The hairs on my face and belly continued, although I shaved my face weekly to avoid the pubescent-appearing fuzz that was beginning to cover it. I was still battling on the inside.

I wanted to re-confirm for myself why I was on testosterone. I figured that if I could re-explain and re-validate it, then I could feel good about ordering a third vial and continuing on my intended path. I considered all of the changes I had loved and enjoyed, but there was something nagging at me. The question, “Why?” I began thinking about my future, about being medically dependent on a substance for the rest of my life. It started to sound less and less appealing. I remembered asking my dad to explain what was so wrong with my being on testosterone if it made me happy and physically affected only me. My dad asserted that giving drugs to drug addicts makes them happy and that they usually think it affects only them as well. Clearly my dad wasn’t comparing transmen to drug addicts, but he was trying to bring to light a logical fallacy in my argument that I might take into consideration. I began wondering about the price of this happiness. At what price to my body, what price to my sense of personal integrity did this change come? These were only the beginnings of my truly questioning gender in a meaningful way, but they were immensely influential.

Today, three years later, I’m about to turn 25. I never ordered that third vial. I didn’t talk myself out of it so much as I couldn’t talk myself into it—regardless of how hard I tried. The logic of medical transition stopped adding up for me. I determined there was a lack of reputable research into what exactly forms our “gender identities” and senses of self.

When I stopped testosterone I began researching the basis of gender identity very seriously, much more so than I did at 17 or 20. I am still researching. I still feel immense amounts of disconnect from and discomfort with my body, but I am no longer able to convince myself that it has a purely biological basis. For me, in order to justify physical transition, I would have to be able to prove to myself that there is such a thing as a “male brain” and a “female brain,” and that I, personally, possess the former. There are some studies that claim this to be the case, but when I looked at the full library of medical and scientific research, I found that the notion that male and female brains are categorically different in some functional sense fell apart.

I started thinking a lot about words, such as male and female, versus man and woman. The first word pair is biologically relevant and has specific connotations regarding the gonads and genetic makeup of an individual. The second word pair is laden with cultural and social significance that goes far beyond biological relevance. I started wondering why I felt comfortable with my understanding that I was, for all medical purposes, female, but was so insistent that I was a man. I also questioned why I could rationalize that I was attracted to only females, but that those females also had to be “women.” I wondered why I could recognize myself as medically female, but couldn’t accept the word lesbian being applied to me. Thinking about these semantic and philosophical questions, continuums, and contradictions kept me up at night—superficially corresponding words, similar definitions, shades of meaning, distinctive medical/biological connotations versus social/cultural connotations.

I thought about different medical diseases and how we, in developed Western society, treat them. In general, the biological relevance of a disease pathway must be established before treatment is begun. When I’ve brought this up before, I’ve been met with arguments regarding different diagnosable conditions such as clinical depression. (Note: I come from a biological/clinical background in my education and career.) My understanding is that although not every individual who shows symptoms of depression is tested for the incongruity of their serotonin uptake, we can prove, in general, that a condition does exist in humans wherein certain cells lack the receptor for serotonin, and so the individual therefore becomes depressed. It is not necessarily relevant, therefore, whether the individual being treated lacks these receptors or not, but it is relevant that the condition exists in the human sphere, in order to justify beginning treatment. Treatment for transsexuality seems to work in the opposite way, however. There are no medically reliable tests to clinically differentiate transsexuals from non-transsexuals, prior to hormone therapy, without information regarding personal identification. However, the treatment does usually seem to confer comfort onto the individual being treated, at least in the short term (within the span of a few years or a decade). This brought me to reiterate to myself the question my dad had asked me so many years ago regarding whether a drug addict would be happy if given drugs. There is no way to prove there is something biologically different within the individual drug addict that causes them to need drugs, but giving them the drugs can make them happy and in the case of some drugs, taken in moderate doses, individuals could remain happy and healthy for decades or possibly even the remainder of their lives. I began to struggle with whether this made the administration of these drugs ethical. I came to the personal conclusion that I cannot justify the ethics of this drug administration. Further, I cannot personally justify the administration of hormone treatment to transsexual patients without a method of biologically and clinically reliable diagnoses outside of individual transsexual self-identification.

This includes myself. I cannot justify the administration of testosterone therapy to myself, given these conditions, regardless of how I feel “on the inside.” I resolved, therefore, to put much time and energy into working through “how I feel on the inside,” rather than relying on medical intervention, in the form of what is essentially a drug, to fix it for me. I do not dispute an individual’s right to do with her or his body as she or he sees fit, but I do dispute the biological relevance of such conclusions, and the biological necessity of such drug administration.

The past three years have not been easy, by any stretch of the imagination. I have worked hard. I have suffered. I have lost the vast majority of my friends. I find this to be an interesting contrast to the fact that, when I came out as transsexual, I didn’t lose a single friend. Beginning to talk to people about not being transsexual, however, caused the swift end of more than a few friendships that I had previously thought were solid. The struggle has not ended, but it does tend to get easier with the passing months. Nothing about my external “presentation” has changed. I still wear the same “guys’” jeans. I still prefer “men’s” button-ups as my day-to-day wear. I still wear sports bras, because I am still uncomfortable with anyone other than my partner noticing my chest. Ironically, I probably get perceived as male more often now than I did pre-testosterone, which I attribute largely to the self-confidence that I’ve gained in the past year or so. I still prefer to have sex with my partner wherein I am not penetrated, but rather receive sexual gratification through strap-on use or  the sensation of my given genitalia against/on her genitalia. My interests have not changed, my political leanings have not changed, and the kindness and consideration that I try to show my fellow human beings has not changed. I am essentially the same person, except that I no longer insist on being referred to as male. Also, though I do still get the urge to do so regularly, I no longer wear a chest binder, nor do I “pack.” I am still largely uncomfortable in situations where I am surrounded by other females, especially so by other lesbians. Now though, I realize while I may not relate easily to the majority of females I meet, this does not make me any less female. I realize there are females out there to whom I can relate. I will find them some day.

It makes me so, so sad to think that the females to whom I might be able to relate are likely transitioning and calling themselves male. It worries me that I may never have a female friend to whom I can relate on the same level that I relate to many of my male friends. This is something I want very, very much. This is why I am telling my story.

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  1. Dirt, this is by far the best article that you have posted. This is one intelligent and thoughtful female.

    Thank you for posting the entire article.

    When I read about her childhood playing sports and hanging out with the neighborhood boys, I instantly felt a human connection. I saw myself at her age.

  2. "It makes me so, so sad to think that the females to whom I might be able to relate are likely transitioning and calling themselves male. It worries me that I may never have a female friend to whom I can relate on the same level that I relate to many of my male friends. This is something I want very, very much. This is why I am telling my story."

    You are not alone by any means, and there are thousands of other courageous females just like you.

  3. "Further, I cannot personally justify the administration of hormone treatment to transsexual patients without a method of biologically and clinically reliable diagnoses outside of individual transsexual self-identification"

    Ohh I see, you know very well that there isn't a single existing mental disorder that can actually be biologically proven, with hard evidence, so trans people should just, I don't know, suck it up? and any other option would be "unethical"?

    You realize testosterone and gender related surgeries aren't cures right?
    Is it unethical for a biological man having his breast tissue removed? or if he wasn't born with a penis or it was destroyed somehow would you blame him for wanting surgery? do you think women shouldn't be allowed breast augmentation? Why is it OK for a male to have his breast tissue removed and not ok for a transman or a women for that matter?
    Is it ok for an intersexed person to have their breasts removed? when exactly does it become unethical?

    The same goes for Testosterone, though I do believe precautions do need to be made, I don't understand how it is more ethical not to give people the option to use testosterone when the regret rate is so low?
    Its kind of like saying its unethical to allow your daughter to ride a horse because she might get injured, and of course injuries happen, quite often in fact, but does that make it unethical?

    And I cant understand how you are comparing hormones to a feel-good drug, I use testosterone every day, that's when I don't forget to use it, sometimes 5 days in a row, I cant think of anything less thrilling than applying my testosterone.

    I never experienced a high with using or receiving my testosterone for the first time, by the time I finally received my hormones I was so fed up with the hurdles I just wanted to get on with my life.

    Also the way you came to the conclusion you were trans was quite odd, you learned about transgenderism and then decided you were trans and then what? Just went down the transition route because other people were rather than because it was what you wanted?

    I always wanted to change my body to look more masculine, I wanted to have a sex change the way transwomen could, the only reason I didn't sooner was because I didn't realize the option was available to me.
    I guess in the same way a non-trans man might feel uncomfortable about his extra breast tissue and then realizing he could have it removed and then doing so.

    It was more that I wanted these things and I sought them out rather than I realized I was trans and then did what everyone else was doing, which would be stupid. If you did this and then realized that it wasn't for you I wouldn't be at all surprised.

    "It makes me so, so sad to think that the females to whom I might be able to relate are likely transitioning and calling themselves male"

    Boo hoo for you? People have lives outside of me! if only they could put their lives on hold so I had someone to relate to!

    Seriously, I cant think of a group I don't relate to more than the transgender community, and I'm trans, we just don't get along. I don't understand how gender dysphoria would automatically make you relate to somebody but whatever.

    I think this story was a little dramatic and I couldn't relate at all *shruggs*

    Well hopefully now you are making decisions based on what you want rather than what you think you should want.

    good luck.

  4. Some people end up detransitioning. We should be understanding and supportive to those folks. But the fact that they've ended up detransitioning does not mean that hormones and SRS aren't right for other people.

    We're all different people. We might not always be able to relate, but we can empathize. And we can recognize that what's right for one of us, isn't going to be right for everyone else.

  5. @ 7:23 PM

    Don't be an asshole. This person has really exposed themselves to an audience that is going to refuse to understand them either because: a) they're transphobic or b) they're trans and get defensive whenever someone does any kind of detransitioning.

    I admit, I don't think they should have said that they can't "justify the administration of hormone treatment" to any transexual patients. They should have stuck with the part where they say they don't "dispute an individual's right to do with her or his body as she or he sees fit."

    To the brave soul who wrote that letter: testosterone isn't for everyone. SRS isn't for everyone. I'm glad that you realized that it wasn't for you and that you're finding your own path. You've still transitioned, just not medically. You don't have to call yourself male to transition.

    I'm on testosterone now, but I don't think I will be forever. For some individuals, it's a lifelong commitment, but it doesn't have to be for everyone. The trans community and doctors that work with us are becoming more aware of that.

    I think you can find the friends you're looking for, as long as you're not alienating trans people. You are working on your own path to being a whole and happy person. So are all of us. I take T, I'm going to get top surgery, I dress and act male most of the time. But I'm not going to legally change my sex. I'm not going to give up my femaleness. In my path, which I'm not going to pretend is right for anyone but me, I'm going to embrace my femaleness and maleness.

    Maybe something less black and white than just male or just female is what you're looking for too. I don't know, I'm just putting that out there.

    If you're looking for the voices of more people who are detransitioning, I enjoy this tumblr:

    If you're interested in talking to a female who is also male, you can look me up on tumblr too.

    I'm going to make a separate post talking about drugs now.

  6. So, the idea that a "disorder" has to have some biological component in order to be properly diagnosed and treated with drugs. Unfortunately, we don't know enough about how we work yet to diagnose everything that way. I won't talk about clinical depression, because there have been some big improvements into diagnosing and treating that.

    Instead, I'll talk about something the writer of the letter and I have in common: General Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Unless I'm mistaken, that doesn't have something biological that can be measured. Sure, it can cause panic attacks, which have physical symptoms. But it doesn't always. There's a long list of possible symptoms, most having to do with feelings, and the way I was diagnosed, a psychiatrist went through the list and asked if I experienced any of them. I experienced enough to be diagnosed with GAD.

    And I'm on drugs for it. Thank god I am. Because there's a good chance I wouldn't be alive today to harass Dirt if it weren't for my medicine.

    I'm in therapy too, of course. Because I personally think anytime you're going to be on drugs for a long period of time, you should have a therapist and doctor on hand to help you out. Being dependent on drugs isn't super easy.

    But sometimes we really are dependent on them. That doesn't make us drug addicts, or mean we have poor character. We're not bad people if we're sick, and drug-free methods haven't helped us.

    The point is, some people need testosterone. Looking down on them is like looking down on someone who needs anti-depressants to function. Neither of these are drugs that should be abused, and both are drugs that some people will not need their whole lives. But some do. And it's great if you don't need the drugs, but please, I'm literally begging you, don't judge people who do need them. It's hard enough to admit we need help in the first place. Having people give us a hard time for finally getting that help... it's really painful. I can't explain in words the hurt it causes.

  7. PS: I smiled when you mentioned Tommy. He's actually the one I had a crush on.

  8. I'm trans and quite happy with testosterone. Doesn't mean I'm going to get all defensive about this person's story and try to attack her. It kind of sounds like she didn't fully think about the implications of transitioning before starting hormones, which I agree is a concern with young people who are questioning. Before I started T, I did so much reading and thinking about what defines gender and what it means to "feel like" one sex or another that I felt paralyzed. I finally decided that if I'm obsessing over transitioning that much and the thought of not going through with it stresses me out that much, I should. I haven't regretted it one bit. That doesn't by any means mean that transitioning is right for everyone who thinks they are trans. This is a great post and the person who wrote it is very brave. It really bugs me how people in the trans community will disown the ones who decide it's not for them.

  9. I think everyone is going to have their own path and obstacles along the way towards real integrity and honesty. If you make the mistake of believing that being male or female alone constitutes personhood or identity, then you are poised for a fall. Transitioning does not preclude all the other ways a person learns and grows. Anyone who hinges a life upon transition or *not * transition is screwed, including Dirt. Now, there's no reason to be an asshole to this writer. All she did was speak her truth, and if you deny her her truth, you deny your own.

  10. November 18, 2012 11:08 PM

    Really? an asshole? for what? Can I not disagree with anything de-transitioners say?
    I am giving this person the same treatment I give everyone else on this blog, they said some stupid shit and I am calling them out on it.

    The whole story seems a bit iffy to me, like how their view of transgenderism is similar to that of Dirt's, like for example, she acts like transition is the only way to be trans... trans is something you are, transition is something you do, If I couldn't transition, I wouldn't stop identifying as male, I cant, it would be like forcing myself to believe the sky is purple, I just cant do it.

    The way she learns about transgenderism and begins to transition is EXACTLY LIKE A FAD.
    then the way she apparently took a serious look at gender and did so much research and yet didn't come close to hitting the mark of what transgenderism is.

    Instead she concluded that she cant find a biological reason for it so she cant justify it, well why doesn't she try finding a biological reason for homosexuality before she goes fucking women, just in case she isn't actually a lesbian?
    and I'm not comparing this to justifying if its OK to transition, but to identify as trans, before anyone says "lesbians don't use hormones/surgery blah blah".

    Of course you don't need a scientist to tell you if you are a lesbian or not, no scientist can tell you what your gender identity is either and like sexual orientation you sometimes can't be sure of your gender identity.

    This story is so inconsistent with the reality of being trans that I can only assume that either this person is the type to jump on a bandwagon or that this story isn't legitimate.

    But I do truly believe some people are taking the route of transition for stupid reasons like the writer of this story, its time we made it clear that transitioning is something you should really want, it should feel like the natural option, not something that kinda makes sense so you might as well go along with it.

  11. "The point is, some people need testosterone. Looking down on them is like looking down on someone who needs anti-depressants to function."

    Is this individual referring to biological females who take large doses of synthetically produced testosterone for "gender dysphoria" or GID which, by the way, even some members of the trans community have finally admitted might be influenced by culture and/or peer influences?

    As to anti-depressants, there are actual biochemical changes in the brain's neurotransmitters (serotonin) that can lead to depression. The science on this subject is sound.

    1. Not really. I have yet to run across a person who got their serotonin uptake rate or serotonin levels measured. And it makes no sense to me that serotonin would have a mood-lifting effect when it itself is a depressing neurotransmitter, plus it is made from chemicals that have a calming effect and is then made INTO a chemical (melatonin) with a calming effect. How do you go like calming --> calming --> calming ---> PERKY ---> calming? It's a recipe for insanity. The perk-you-up neurotransmitter is actually DOPAMINE.

      They're thinking now that the reason SSRIs work in some people is they trigger neurogenesis in the hippocampus in some people, since a slowdown or stoppage of that neurogenesis is strongly associated with depression. It would explain why SSRIs don't fix depression immediately even though they work to increase available serotonin immediately.

      So much for the sound science. Ranks up there with the interpretation of the China Study data, actually (and that's a royal mess too--google "Denise Minger China Study" to see what I mean).

  12. @ 11:08 PM

    You can certainly disagree. But you were an asshole while doing it.

    I don't see what you're seeing, it doesn't look like they were transitioning because it was a "fad." (the idea that people transition because it's a fad is such BS in the first place. That's one of the arguments of the trans-deniers. How is something that less than 1% of the population do a fad? How is something that gets us beaten up or killed a fad?)

    From the letter, it sounds like they believed they were male, and when they found out about transitioning they went to a doctor, they had their feelings that they were transgender confirmed. Where do you think they went wrong? At what point does it look like they were not sure of what they were doing?

    People change. Their views of the world and themselves change. After some time, this person decided that testosterone wasn't for them. They haven't stopped transitioning (they still present as male). Do they deserve being called stupid for that? No. They deserve to be given room to find what's right with them.

    This person has found what's right for them (for now), and they want to apply it to other people. That is a problem. We all do that, trans or not, and we should not. But that still doesn't mean we should call this person stupid. Figuring out a gender non-conforming identity is hard, and if you're a jerk to someone like this, you're just going to make them more afraid of understanding what it is to be transgendered. You push them right into the arms of people like Dirt, who will foster hatred in them.

    This story is inconsistent with YOUR reality of being trans. But that doesn't mean it's not legitimate. We all have different experiences with being trans.

    I don't believe that anybody transitions for stupid reasons. I believe that people transition and sometimes change, which makes medical transition no longer right for them. Or I believe people may start medical transition without full understanding of what they're getting into. But it's not stupidity, or willful ignorance. We live in a society that is afraid of trans identities, and information and understanding about transitioning can be limited. Maybe this person made a mistake. Maybe they didn't and their needs just changed. Either way, they don't deserve negativity from anyone. Well-reasoned arguments, personal appeals, more information that contradicts their positions when it comes to all trans people: those are fine and should be encouraged.

    1. Being butch is not "presenting as male". Way to encourage the stereotypes though.

  13. @ 11:40 AM

    "Is this individual referring to biological females who take large doses of synthetically produced testosterone for "gender dysphoria"'

    Oh god, I know when it's you again. You always use the exact same phrases. Like "large doses of etc, etc." Yes, that's what I'm referring to. No, the doses aren't that large compared to what men would take for conditions that require testosterone usage in men (or for muscle building).

    "or GID which, by the way, even some members of the trans community have finally admitted might be influenced by culture and/or peer influences?

    Will you please read the words I'm typing. I "admitted" that we are influenced by culture and peer influences. BECAUSE EVERYTHING WE ARE AND DO IS INFLUENCED BY CULTURE AND PEER INFLUENCES.

    Why do I keep responding to you? It's so completely pointless.

    "As to anti-depressants, there are actual biochemical changes in the brain's neurotransmitters (serotonin) that can lead to depression. The science on this subject is sound."

    If you read my whole post, you'd see I used general anxiety disorder as an example (for which you can also take anti-depressants). That is not diagnosed through biochemical changes. This is just one example of possible conditions that medicine is prescribed for, without having found a biological cause for the conditions.

  14. Just for fun, I'll float this idea:

    Should we be restricting access to information about transition? Should we be hiding in the shadows, so as not to be taken as role models by young transitioners? Maybe there are built-in limiting aspects of this. For those of us who transitioned with no support and a bunch of opposition, we did what we had to do and we followed our gut. That tends to weed out the joiners. Searching and struggling and poring over limited available information about transsexuals, feeling alone, having everyone tell you you're crazy, knowing that you're relegated to the bottom reaches of society, is that a reliable enough indicator of need? Following that, transitioning, losing friends and family, dealing with threat of violence due to not passing yet, and in the case of transmen, dealing with all the potential violence and macho posturing when passing as male. Seems like an organic, built-in way to keep out the merely confused, wayward joiners and lost pups.
    Is this what we want, in order to avoid what happened in this girl's life? I mean, it sounds an awful lot like how it was to be gay in the 1950's U.S. to me, and well, alot of people committed suicide rather than deal with their homosexuality. Straight people WANTED gay people to feel ashamed, to hide, and to not expose their children to the idea that it might be okay to be gay. But, really, should trans people lock the gates behind us to avoid lesbians saddling us with the blame for misguided youth?

    My two cents is, whoopti-do. Some 22 year old went down the wrong path for a minute. Most do. I regret the decisions I made when I was 22 also. I smoked a bunch of weed, broke some hearts completely, and pissed away money on a useless college degree. But I can't conceive of regretting my transition any more than I can regret my own birth. Once I cleared out the voices of haters and fear-mongers, it wasn't even a decision. Everyone deserves the right to listen to themselves and that's what this woman did.

    1. Thank you so much for this. Exactly my thoughts. I wish the gay community would realize that we're on the same team.

  15. "Today, three years later, I’m about to turn 25. I never ordered that third vial. I didn’t talk myself out of it so much as I couldn’t talk myself into it—regardless of how hard I tried. The logic of medical transition stopped adding up for me. I determined there was a lack of reputable research into what exactly forms our “gender identities” and senses of self."

    I thought about different medical diseases and how we, in developed Western society, treat them. In general, the biological relevance of a disease pathway must be established before treatment is begun. When I’ve brought this up before, I’ve been met with arguments regarding different diagnosable conditions such as clinical depression. (Note: I come from a biological/clinical background in my education and career.) My understanding is that although not every individual who shows symptoms of depression is tested for the incongruity of their serotonin uptake, we can prove, in general, that a condition does exist in humans wherein certain cells lack the receptor for serotonin, and so the individual therefore becomes depressed. It is not necessarily relevant, therefore, whether the individual being treated lacks these receptors or not, but it is relevant that the condition exists in the human sphere, in order to justify beginning treatment. Treatment for transsexuality seems to work in the opposite way, however. There are no medically reliable tests to clinically differentiate transsexuals from non-transsexuals, prior to hormone therapy, without information regarding personal identification. ....I began to struggle with whether this made the administration of these drugs ethical. I came to the personal conclusion that I cannot justify the ethics of this drug administration. Further, I cannot personally justify the administration of hormone treatment to transsexual patients without a method of biologically and clinically reliable diagnoses outside of individual transsexual self identification. "

    This certainly seems like a well though out critical analysis to me. People might not want to hear it, but I agree with the statement, "There are no medically reliable tests to clinically differentiate transsexuals from non-transsexuals, prior to hormone therapy, without information regarding personal identification." I was something of a rough and tumble tomboy when I was growing up. The only difference between me and the "trans" biological female children who are given puberty suppressing drugs is that I was born before they started experimenting on children by intentionally delaying their puberty. Prior to "transitioning" ("T" or testosterone, and "chest masculanization"), the only difference between butch lesbians, or other gender non-conforming females and females who identify as "trans" is a label, or how they identify themselves.

  16. @ 3:20 PM

    Very well said! I would love to quote you on my blog.

    @ 4:04 PM

    That's the only difference we're aware of now. That doesn't mean that further research won't turn up some biological reason for the differences between trans and non-trans people.

    Just like, for a long time, there was no evidence of biological differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals. But now there has been research which points to some possible differences.

    Knowing or not knowing the biological influences on our sexual orientation hasn't stopped gays and lesbians from being who we are. It should not stop transgendered people from being who they are.

  17. "Very well said! I would love to quote you on my blog."

    Please feel free. If only I could direct this kind of attention to my school assignment for today...

    Please direct me to your blog also.

  18. "Will you please read the words I'm typing. I "admitted" that we are influenced by culture and peer influences. BECAUSE EVERYTHING WE ARE AND DO IS INFLUENCED BY CULTURE AND PEER INFLUENCES."

    I'm sorry....I really mean this, and I know that this is a sensitive subject for some people.

    I want to take this opportunity to sincerely apologize if I upset you. I didn't mean to give the impression that I was ignoring what you said. The reason I keep bringing up the subject of culture is not to simply be a stubborn ass with my fingers in my ears refusing to listen to anyone. To me, the isse of how culture relates to FTM (female to male) "transitioning" ("chest masculanization", testosterone) is germane to what I've been struggling to understand. On one hand we are told that transmen or FTMs are essentially men trapped in women's bodies, and that gender identity is innate or more or less fixed. Then, if pressed hard enough, some in the trans community say well, yes...culture, peer pressure, etc. might play a role in the decision to transition. Gender non-conforming people, or individuals who refused for whatever reason to follow sex based stereotypes of what is considered masculine and feminine have also always been with us. The brave souls who stepped outside the boundaries of culturally prescribed sex roles weren't always called "trans". What is new? Why should we be concerned, and what are the ethical implications? On the extremely long time line of human history, sex reassignment surgery, synthetically produced cross gender hormones, puberty suppressing drugs, "chest masculanization" or "top surgery", and phalloplasty on biological females are all new inventions. Can we honestly say that we know everything there is to know about the effects of large doses of synthetically produced testosterone in biological females? Or, the effects of puberty suppressing drugs on adolescent development? What precisely does FTM (female to male) transitioning entail? I prefer to toss out the benign sounding word "transitioning" and strip FTM transitioning to its bare essentials. What do we see? In "chest masculanizaiton" or "top surgery", a surgeon takes a scalpel and carves off both healthy female breasts. I know people don't like me saying this, but how else can we describe the reality of what actually occurs? "T" or testosterone has to be taken for a life time to keep up a masculine appearance. If a transman still has intact ovaries and uterus, PCOS might be an issue with long term testosterone use. If the ovaries and uterus are removed, these individuals are sterile. Phalloplasty involves six to eight inches of skin grafts from a donor site to fashion a penis that will never function like a penis on a biological male. Unlike a penis on a biological male, the forearm or thigh is not comprised of erectile tissue. This donor skin is surgically attached to female genitals. So, in a real sense, FTM transitioning radically alters healthy female reproductive systems, breasts, and genitals.

  19. If FTM transitioning might be influenced by culture, "BECAUSE EVERYTHING WE ARE AND DO IS INFLUENCED BY CULTURE AND PEER INFLUENCES." (thank you very much) what else has been influenced by culture?

    *Female genital mutilation is a thousand year old practice that is definitly influenced by culture.
    *The horrific practice of breast ironing is thought to prevent unwanted sexual advances and to keep girls and women chaste.
    *The 19th century practice of clitoridectomy to cure lesbians of their affection for other women. This was also once used to treat masterbation in girls.
    *Where do people think the word hysterectomy came from? Doctors once thought that female patients were naturally emotionally unstable. The word "hysterectomy" comes from the root word "hyster" referring to the womb. This is a derivative of the word "hysteria" based on the sexist assumption that the womb caused uncontrollable, emotional behavior.
    * Culture definitely was behind the decision of Victorian women to wear tightly constricting corsets that mis-aligned ribs and pressed on internal organs. By the way, transmen who wear binders for long stretches of time can also get mis-aligned ribs.

    I could go on forever, but Dirt's blog isn't large enough to properly describe all the ways in which the female body has been culturally altered. We are lopping off female breasts, and fourteen year old girls can wait to get their first binder and go on "T" (testosterone). I'm struggling to understand what it's all about. Also, when I look at the scars of "chest masculanization", I really don't know what to think, and something doesn't feel quite right in the pit of my stomach. If this makes me a horrid, evil person, then so be it.

  20. @ 5:11 PM

    You can find me at!

    @ 5:27 PM

    I appreciate your apology, and I'd be happy to talk with you about the concept further. There's one very important thing you have to understand:

    Not all transgender people agree.

    For example, you did not have to "press" me to say that culture plays a roll in our gender identity. I believe that it plays a roll in everyone's gender identity. People who aren't transgender are just as influenced by culture and peers as those who are transgender.

    Some trans individuals believe that they are trapped in the wrong body and their gender identity is innate (just like many people believe that sexual orientation is innate). I don't disagree with these people. It may be that for some of us, it our identities are somehow hard wired into us. But some people don't seem to be that way.

    As long as you try to apply the same logic for how to explain transgender identities to all transgender people, you will never be able to understand. Because there are a lot of different kinds of transgender people, with a lot of different kinds of experiences, and a lot of different views and theories about what make us all tick.

    Yes, gender non-conforming people have always been with us. Just like people who had intimate relationships with the same sex have always been with us. The words "trans" and "homosexual" were only recently invented in the grand scheme of things.

    What is new?
    We live in a world that is more accepting of different kinds of people than ever before. People who are gender non-conforming or who are attracted to the same sex don't have to hide who they are. We are all able to come out, and we are allowed to start forming identities based around these traits that have traditionally been opressed.

    There's a lot of ethical implications. Those have been discussed by the trans community, by the medical community, by philosophers and activists. Nobody's ignoring those questions.

    You're correct that in all of human history, transitioning medically is new. Also in all of human history, chemotherapy is new, open heart surgery is new, anti-deprassants is new, a lot of life saving surgeries and medicine have only been developed in the last few decades, increasing live spans, decreasing infant mortality, etc. Of course, any new medicine or surgery needs to be monitored to determine long term effects. We are in the process of figuring that out with medical transitioning now. But we have to do it in order to figure that out, just like we had to start using chemotherapy.

    No one can say that we know everything about using any drug, including testoterone. That's why there are constantly studies going on, and patients should constantly work with their doctors to make sure they are staying healthy. You can't advocate for not using a drug based on the fact that it's not posible to know for 100% certainty what every effect might be.

    What precisely does FtM transitioning mean? It means a lot of things.

    Your attmept to "strip FTM transitioning to its bar essentials" is over simplifying and an attempt to use semantics to make your case. There are many other ways to describe what actually occurs, and I have responded to your question many times on this blog. If you are really paying attention this time, then let me know, and I'll explain again.

    OK, and the rest of your questions just ends up being the same crap I have answered before. Again, if you really want an answer to them, give me another sign that you're paying attention to what other people here are saying.

  21. Here are some other things influenced by culture.

    -Women's suffrage
    -Women's right to abortion
    -Protecting people against discrimination based on race, sexual orientation, gender, religion, and more
    -Measures to ensure that women receive equal pay to men
    -Gay marriage becoming legal in more and more states.

    Culture influences everything. Good and bad.

    But your real point is that you want to compare transitioning to negative things that have happened throughout history. Let's see how they really compare.

    *Female genital mutilation is forced on women. Transitioning is a choice.
    *The horrific practice of breast ironing is forced on girls. Transitioning is a choice.
    *The 19th century practice of clitoridectomy was forced on women. Transitioning is a choice.
    *I'm not sure what the point of the etymology lesson on hysterectomy was. We're all aware that medical science has, and still is, full of BS when it comes to women.
    * Culture definitely was behind the decision of Victorian women to wear tightly constricting corsets that mis-aligned ribs and pressed on internal organs. By the way, transmen who wear binders for long stretches of time can also get mis-aligned ribs: Thank goodness that chest reconstruction removes the need for binders, and protects FtMs from having to worry about misaligned ribs. If we ensured that FtMs had access to health care which alled SRS, then the chance of an FtM misaliging his ribs would be greatly reduced. Of course, that doesn't solve the problem for lesbians who enjoy dressing in drag and who bind, nor does it address the many non-trans men and women who still use corsets.

    1. Amen! Thank you so much for this.

  22. Transition isnt a "choice" anymore than anorexia, bulimia, or any other "disorder" is that is solely informed by the Gender Straight Jacket/misogyny.

    You might want to delve into a deeper understanding of the word "choice".


    1. proudbutchandnotamusedNovember 24, 2012 at 3:02 PM

      Wait... so if you hate transmen for being victims of the GSJ... then do you hate anorexics for it too? Have you even met an anorexic? Honestly, anyone who thinks that anorexics are to be blamed or hated for being ill.... is ill! I watched my sister sicken and die with anorexia. I watched her struggle, and I can tell you now that it was a disease that killed her. She was NOT a bad person. She wasn't even a very shallow person. She volunteered at a homeless shelter. Do not tell me that she died by choice. She loved life. She wanted to have kids. She was engaged to a wonderful man. Do not tell me that this was a choice. And what do you mean "disorder"? Do you mean to imply that she was faking it or just dying to get attention? Victim blaming is not feminism. Hating people different from oneself is not feminism. You're as bad as the Westboro Baptist Church people. And, get off your holy high horse. Aren't you telling girls how to live their lives? Aren't you just enforcing the gender binary by insisting that all women must feel comfortable being one way or another? I was disgusted before... and now that I've read you hating on people with eating disorders I am convinced that you are either just an internet troll or a closet bigot. If you gave a damn about women you'd be addressing anorexia or abuse or an actual womens issue. Transmen are not women. Hating on them helps no one. Enforcing the stereotype that all butch lesbians are hateful firestarters isn't the same as feminism. This is pseudo science and pseudo feminism.

  23. Hey all,
    Just checking in. This is the author of the piece Dirt posted for me, and I wanted to make you all aware that I would be here in the comments section to address any direct questions that anyone may have of me.
    I'll admit, I read through the comments already posted but it is difficult to keep track of who is who when everyone just posts "anonymous." I will do my level best to write "Author" in as my name when I post.

    One thing that sticks out as something a few people disagreed with me on is when I touched on the ethics of drug administration to transsexual patients. I am not a doctor. I have no say in what/how people are prescribed medical treatments. I can only say that it doesn't sit right with me, ethically. I do not thing the right to transition or modify one's body in any way is something that should be able to be legislated away. Perhaps I didn't say that as eloquently as I could have in my initial post, but that's what I mean. I don't agree that it's a medical necessity in the same way that removing cancerous tissue is a medical necessity, but that doesn't mean that I think individuals should be barred from requesting medical intervention if they deem it appropriate and necessary for themselves.

    I should have more time to read through comments and respond in the coming days if anyone should have any questions or want to talk about any of these issues. Thanks all, for reading.

  24. This is the author, back again. I've now been able to discern a little better who's saying what in the comments section, and it looks like three individuals for the most part, to me. If I've misunderstood, I'm sorry. I'll try to address a few things that have come up.

    First, I'd like to discuss the concept of regret. I do not regret the things that I have done and the decisions that I have made. Never in this short auto-biography did I discuss regret. On the contrary, I do enjoy the physical changes that have remained with me post-testosterone. I like my lowered voice. I like the growth to my clitoris that never left. I still get hair on my face that's a good deal more than grew there prior to testosterone therapy, but I shave it off every week or so and it's not a big deal nor does it bother me. So no, I am not speaking of regret. I do not regret the pathway that has led me to where I am today. I do, however, wish that I had heard of individuals such as myself as I was still dealing with and sorting through my feelings. It is this desire that led me to write out my story.
    Along these lines, I find it critical to address the individual that seems most upset about this post, the anonymous poster that keeps addressing me as "stupid" and "unsure" of myself: If you are secure in your gender and your interpretation of the world, then I am happy for you. However, this post is not for you. This post is for any individual that is looking for alternatives to the traditional trans* narrative. This post is for an individual that feels strong disconnect, dysphoria, and discomfort with their body but does not feel inclined to label this disconnect, dysphoria and discomfort as "transsexual," but rather is searching for a way to deal with it outside of the medical community and outside of trans* identification. By all standards and definitions, I fit the criteria for transsexuality with the exception of personal identification. I am speaking of my personal choice to find happiness and comfort within my own body and life without transsexuality. This is my choice. I am not pushing it on your nor am I pushing it on anyone else. However, I would like to put myself out there in case this is something that resonates with anyone else.

    To the other anonymous poster that referenced, thank you for making that reference known to people who may not be aware. X (the person that runs the blog) and I are familiar with each other over the internet, and I agree that it’s a nice resource for hearing about people who are detransitioning. In fact, one of their posts is from me, but that’s neither here nor there ☺

    I would also like to touch on the post that someone made regarding me “still having transitioned.” I strongly disagree with this statement. I do not feel that I have “transitioned” to anything. I am simply who I am. I do not need a gendered system of classification in which to identify. There is no longer a “transition” in my life, as it comes to gender. The fact that I still “present” in a way that 99% of society would take as my being a “man” does not make me “transitioned.” I am female, in a strictly biological sense, and I am comfortable in that strictly biological line of thought. I am not transitioned, nor am I transitioning. I have no transsexual or transgender identity.

  25. @ Dirt

    You might want to develop a deeper understanding of the word "transition."

    How do you decide what is a real choice and what isn't? How do you differentiate? There's no evidence that transitioning is a creation of misogyny, there's just your hate and cruelty.

  26. Sorry author, we have to post anonymously because Dirt deletes our comments when we're logged in as ourselves (unless a poster agrees with her without fail). Thanks for wading through the comments section anyway.

    I think you and I just have different definitions of transitioning (which is fine, we don't have to agree on that). Biologically, I identify as female still, but I am working towards presenting as male. I don't feel my gender has changed, so much as I have always had this gender that's a mix of male and female, and now I'm taking steps to get my presentation in line with that identity. Transitioning is the act of "realigning" your presentation. At least, that's how I think of it.

    In the strictest definition of the word, I think you have transitioned, even if you don't claim that word as your own. You don't have to identify as trans. I mean, there are women who only sleep with women who don't want to identify as gay or lesbian. That's a choice we all get to make about ourselves.

    But I think that you could still find people to connect with in the trans community. You still have experiences in common with a lot of trans folks. You don't have to identify as trans to have trans friends that you can connect with.

  27. I think that saying that I've "transitioned" in this way only furthers the gap between the sexes and the sexed/gendered expectations that go along with that gap. I think it empowers cultural and sociological forces to further divide males and females. I think it empowers cultural and sociological forces that tell young females that the way they act and their attire is wrong if it is usually thought of as only suitable for males, and vice versa. Claiming that I've undergone a transition only panders to these, in my opinion, backwards and outdated notions that we should be working to get rid of, not validating.
    I have not transitioned. Wearing clothes that society may think are "male" does not mean I'm doing anything subversive or transitional. If we took away the labels that society puts on things as being appropriate for men or appropriate for women, transition in the sense that you just spoke of would not exist. It is merely superficial.
    I do not mean to cut you down as you've been very patient and logical in your discussions. I just so very, deeply disagree with the notion that "transition" can mean something as superficial as the fact that I choose to put "men's" clothing on my female body.

    1. Hi there, Author. Your article disturbed me deeply. I am a female bodied person and I have always been more masculine than feminine. From my earliest memories I have always wanted to be a boy. I look at men in the street and burn with envy because they have been gifted in ways that they can't even imagine by being born into the bodies they identify with. I look in the mirror and see a pretty little girl. I have no problem with that little girl, except maybe I think she could lose a few pounds. But, that girl doesn't feel like me at all. I feel like I am crossdressing every time I wear feminine clothes. I am pretty much asexual, but the thought of dying alone frightens me. I know that I will probably not die alone if I remain in my feminine body, but I will never be able to identify with it.

      As a child I used to play with the boys and didn't find girls particularly interesting. They didn't scare me, but we had nothing in common. I had 'boyfriends' because I thought that's what you were supposed to call your best friend if he was male. I was sexually abused from the age of four to eight. Because of this I became very ashamed of my body. I felt dirty, like I had done something wrong. I became suspicious and secretive. I remember wishing that I was a boy. Maybe I created a 'male' persona because it made me feel less helpless. I don't know. But, I was convinced that all men were pigs early on and that some part of me wanted to be male anyway.

      I remember first learning about puberty in elementary school, and realizing that I could forstall the inevitable if I became skinnier. So, I nearly killed myself by dropping down to 70 lbs in an attempt to avoid growing breasts. When they finally made me eat and I began growing breasts I was devistated. But, I buried those feelings for the sake of survival in middle school. I tried my best to identify with other females. I went out of my way to copy their mannerisms and speech patterns. It always felt like an act. I always felt like a little lost boy in girl's clothing. It was secretly humiliating. I hated myself. I hated my body. I hated men because they had things that I couldn't have and because they frightened me. I hated women because they were so complicated and I always felt like they were ten steps ahead of me when I was trying so hard to be one of them. I knew I was romantically interested in females and males, but sex didn't interest me.

      I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and anxiety. I couldn't leave my house by the time I was in high school. I was a complete wreck at school because I hated being seen by other people. I attempted suicide.

    2. Then, I left high school to be home schooled because my health was deteriorating and they didn't know what else to do with me. I came out as queer to my family. I felt better. But, I still felt incomplete in a deep way. Whenever I was on the internet I found myself looking at pictures of men and women. I realized that I could come closer to the female 'ideal' than the male one but looking at those pretty faces outraged me and made me ill. Then, I watched a documentary on transgender kids and it all clicked. I cried because I could relate to every word they said. I'm not the crying type, but I felt like I'd been living a lie. And it was true. For years I'd been trying to come to terms with my femaleness-- either by trying too hard to be a femme or trying too hard to look comfortable being butch. I couldn't identify as either.

      I had butch lesbian friends. Strong and beautiful women whom I admired. I fell in love with a lesbian. I went through relationships with men and women that didn't make an impression on me. Then, I was in an abusive relationship in which my boyfriend raped me. At the time I didn't even realize that it was considered rape if we were in a relationship. I was sixteen. I was stupid. Everything in my life should have made me hate men and proud to be a lesbian. I did feel proud, but I also felt like an imposter and not just because I'd been in male relationships. I felt like a man posing as a lesbian. I wanted so much to be like one of the strong females I knew. I consumed as many 'how to be a woman' articles as possible. I tried cooking and yoga and therapy. But, I've always come back to feeling like a man.

      The truth is I can't be happy as a female bodied person. I respect women. I felt no shame as a 'lesbian'. My best friend is an amazing lesbian. But, I'm not a woman. I'm a man. And, I'd rather die than go on pretending to be something I'm not at this point. I'm just so tired of it. I've always wanted to be a man. I've always felt like a man, even when I was trying my best to identify as something else. I'm 19 now and finally seeing a real gender therapist at the end of this month. I'm afraid that I'll be unlovable as a man. I've got a very small stature that is considered 'cute' on a woman and 'ridiculous' on a man. I've decided that if I end up being murdered for being trans then that's okay because I don't want to live in a world where trans people are murdered.

      Honestly, I am just so sick and tired of pretending. If I am, for some reason, denied T, then I will probably go on living as a 'butch' inbetweener. I don't know how much longer I can last this way. I have considered ending it more than once. I've lost my family and some friends since I've come out as trans. This isn't something I choose to do lightly. I know that short men face discrimination and that transmen are murdered at an alarming rate. But, my unhappiness now is such that I am more likely to die from suicide if I don't see change than by murder after I do. And, I'd rather be murdered than stuck in limbo. I'm afraid of being unloved, but I'm beginning to accept it as the price I must pay to feel comfortable being myself.

      Am I making a big mistake? Tell me, am I doing this for the wrong reasons?

  28. Again, that's fine that you disagree. We can all come at how we live our lives and identities in the way that works best for us.

    I don't believe that transitioning or the transgender identity divides males and females, though. Especially with all the possible trans identities that mix male and female. As I will say, I embrace male and female.

    Our society certainly does encourage a separation of male and female, though, and there are a lot of transgender people who live that. There are transguys who end up hating women, and transwomen who end up hating men. But in my personal experience, those are the minority. I deeply believe that acceptance of transgender people and their choices of how to express their identity will only help close the divide between male and female.

    I don't believe that we should erase the concept of gender completely (as some people on this blog have suggested). Men and women do have different experiences, and allowing for these differences isn't necessarily bad. Clearly, we need to make sure that men and women are equal, that neither have to fear violence or sexual abuse, that neither have to fear discrimination based on their gender. And I believe that if people want to act/look like a gender different than what they were born as (whether trans nor not), they should be allowed to. Gender roles and what's appropriate for each gender will continue to evolve and change, and gender expression will evolve too.

    Instead of focusing on the clothes people wear, or the bodies people want to have, we should be focused on the rights that people have.

    I may have gotten off topic there, but something you said sparked that thought.

  29. Again, I find that I both agree and disagree with some of your thoughts.
    I have an important question for you, anonymous @12:51. You say that your gender identity is a mix of male and female. How would you define gender identity? If your gender identity is a mix of male and female, that must mean that male and female exist in some categorical sense outside of our genitals and secondary sexual characteristics, correct? If you give credence to this conceptualization of gender identity, then I have a very hard time seeing how that can be separated out from sociological/cultural gendered expectations.
    I can wrap my head around the notion of being transsexual – that someone can feel such strong disconnect with their genitals and desire for the genitalia of the opposite sex that they work to change their body and secondary sexual characteristics to match this notion. However, I just can’t get myself to a point where I can understand a “gender identity” that deals with these feelings only on an aesthetic level.

    I am no more “transitioning” by wearing clothes and acting in a manner that falls in line with accepted notions of “being a man” than I am “transitioning to bull” by wearing a large septum ring. It’s all aesthetics. If someone were to tell me that they were getting chest masculinization surgery because they felt that it was more in line with their vision of themselves aesthetically, I could understand that. It’s the notion that this is somehow biologically hardwired with no cultural influence that I cannot wrap my head around.

    I do hope that it goes without saying that I think all human beings are deserving of equal rights and protection.

  30. I don't think that you can separate sex or gender from cultural expectations.

    While I believe sex is rooted in biology, I believe that it is a cultural construct, just like gender. There's a great book about this "Between XX and XY" by Gerald Callahan. He's not a great writer, but he explains the cultural construction of sex and gender very well.

    I think that part of the disconnect you're having is the fact that you think that there's this belief that transgender is "biologically hardwired with no cultural influence." While there may be transgender individuals who believe that, I don't. Many of us don't. That is the traditional rhetoric about trans identity, but it's evolving, and the trans community is welcoming new kinds of identities, and new beliefs about them.

    (not all of the trans community. There are old school trans people who do not like polygendered people like myself).

    I wish it went without saying that all humans deserve equal rights and protection. But it doesn't around here. The trans-deniers on this blog do not generally believe that people who identify as trans deserve much of anything.

    Now, I saved defining gender identity for the end.

    Gender Identity is a person's private sense of, and subjective experience of, their own gender.

    As you can see, that's very broad, and leaves a lot of room for personal interpretation. This is why you and I have some very similar experiences (like being on testosterone without planning on doing it for the rest of our lives, dressing and presenting as male but still acknowledging our female biological sex), but I identify as transgendered and you don't. Gender identity isn't a hard science, it isn't all about our physical aspects (whether we change them or not) and it isn't hard-wired.

    This is a fun and interesting conversation for me. At some point, do you mind if I share it on my blog? (

  31. I’m glad that you find our conversation interesting, anon, and you may post it to your blog. However, I’m afraid we are not ever going to agree.
    When you give credence to aesthetics that are separated by social/cultural gender lines, such as saying that I “present” or “dress” as male, that automatically assumes that there is something inherently “male” about button-up shirts and jeans. This is false. I did not go on testosterone with the intention of stopping, ever. I went on testosterone to correct what I felt was a biologically relevant disconnect in my brain wherein I experienced my female body as “wrong” due to my sexual characteristics. I knew that this was a life-long decision that I was undertaking.
    The fact that few individuals exist outside of the XX/XY dynamic is certainly very interesting, but doesn’t seem relevant to trans* identities or politics. If an individual is XY with female genitalia and secondary sexual characteristics (vagina, breasts), then that individual has biologically relevant male and female characteristics that can be diagnosed and understood. I do not care one bit whether this person calls themselves male or female, and it doesn’t seem relevant to trans* sphere. This possibility of scientific diagnosis does not exist in the trans* community, making it categorically very different. There is no functional test or difference in transsexual people outside of personal identification that can be relied upon.
    Unless we can separate talking about “trans*” experiences from talking about the ways in which men and women are socially conditioned, it doesn’t hold water for me. You can change your aesthetics all you want, but that doesn’t mean there’s a biological underpinning causing you to change them. If there’s no biology relevance, you’re just making aesthetic choices. Making these choices is totally fine, and I think people should be able to make any bodily choices they’d like, be it clothing or body modification. It just doesn’t make it a biological disease or disorder nor does it feed into the notion that trans* individuals have no choice regarding their transition or the way they feel and the way they handle their feelings. I’m sorry, but this really all sounds aesthetic to me. I never had ties to the trans* “community,” as I never felt need to share “community” with individuals that shared what I felt was a physical disorder.

    And while we bring up choice, the other, angrier anon had said something earlier about how I should look for a biological test before I call myself a lesbian or have sexual relations with females. I don’t care if there is a biological test or not. Even if being homosexual is purely a choice, I would make that choice over and over again every day without guilt. Does transsexuality hold up to that, or do you need biological relevance in order to justify the medical procedures? Would you go through transition if it were a choice? Why do human beings feel the need to abdicate “choice” at every step of the way? I do the things I feel are right, without having to fall back on the “I didn’t have a choice!” rhetoric that seems so popular these days. Can you say the same?

  32. We don't have to agree! That's why it's fun! I certainly don't believe that everyone has to agree with my conception of trans identities. I just believe that I have the right to demand respect as a human being (I can tell that you are trying to be respectful, so that's not directed at you).

    No, I don't believe there's anything inherently male or female about clothing. I believe that culture defines what is masculine and feminine. And it's possible to present in a way that aligns with those cultural assumptions.

    Sorry, what I meant was that you stopped using T after a while, and I intend to stop using T. So we'll both end up with a similar experience of being on T for a limited amount of time and enjoying the permanent affects. Not all trans people consider T a life-long commitment (though many do).

    My mention of that book isn't specifically about chromosomal makeups other than XY and XX. That was just the title of the book that I was offering up as an interesting read. While the author does talk about intersex conditions, his main point is that sex is a cultural construct.

    Right now there's no test based in biological function that can diagnose transgender identities. There's no reliable test like that for homosexuality either. There's no test like that for gender identity disorder. There's also no biological test for general anxiety disorder. Not having a test like this does not invalidate these identities, nor does it invalidate the need to medicate in certain situations when it comes to GID or anxiety.

    Why would we separate trans from talking about how men and women are socialized? That's a big part of the trans conversation. Being trans is about examining how we're socialized, and how we want to interact with society.

    I don't believe there has to be a biological underpinning for making changes to your gender expression. That doesn't make it necessarily just aesthetic. There's no biology behind what religion we follow, but if you're Christian and you chose to wear a cross, that's more than just aesthetics (or if you feel that identity and belief systems are just aesthetics, then that's a matter of opinion).

    Some trans people describe the fact that they were born as the wrong gender as a biological disorder. For me, I feel the physical aspects I have that don't align with my identity cause psychological distress. Not all sources of psychological distress are biological in origin.

    No, we don't need the kind of biological proof that you would require for yourself to justify medical procedures. And yes, many of us would go through transition if it were a choice (as I believe it is for myself). But the "I don't have a choice" rhetoric was developed by the gay and lesbian rights movement, where we first heard that homosexuals deserve equal rights because they didn't choose to be gay. I've always rejected that idea personally; even if it is a choice, gays deserve equal rights and protection. And the same is true for transgendered people.

    I get that you don't understand or get along with transgendered people who don't believe they have a choice. For a long time, I didn't understand gays who said they didn't have a choice. But just because I don't feel the same way as them, that doesn't mean they don't have the right to feel they way they do.

    So yes, I can say that I do the things that I feel are right, and I have never said that I don't have a choice. In fact, I have always said that transitioning is my choice, and that I deserve to be respected for the choices that I make.

    It's actually Dirt who says that I'm not able to make my own choices regarding this.

  33. PS: Based on our conversation so far, there's something I've noticed that I do want to point out.

    You may not be meaning to do this, but you sound like you're trying to dictate how transgendered people should feel and think. You don't understand the feeling that some people have that they have no choice in their gender identity. That's fine. But it sounds like you're saying that they shouldn't say they don't have a choice. It sounds like you're telling them how to feel.

    Telling people how to feel is going to upset them. It's going to make them defensive and angry, and it's enough to make you lose friends.

    You don't have to change what you believe and feel. I'm not asking that. But it would be kind of you to acknowledge that people have the right to feel differently from you.

    We all have a tendency to want people to understand us, and in an attempt to get them to understand, we will state our positions in a way that sounds definite, a way that tends to exclude the possibility that other beliefs are valid. It's good to be aware of that tendency, and to be aware that you can acknowledge the feelings of others without having to compromise your own feelings.

  34. I feel that the "genderriver" poster is actually appropriating transgender in much the way dirt complains about transgender people appropriating lesbian.

    Even on the basis of what passes for medical diagnoses, that poster would not qualify as transgender unless they lied or flubbed their personal feelings in order to gain access to services (which many do).

    Having them speak as some sort of authority on transgenderism is about as useful (or correct) as me being a one on lesbianism.

  35. You know what, I think we may actually be coming to something of an agreement, despite ourselves.
    If you acknowledge that you are making a conscious choice regarding the physical changing of your body, then I am in agreement with you. I think that any choice that anyone makes regarding the aesthetics of her or his body is a valid choice. I think that the individual should push to understand why they are making that choice, but it’s not any less theirs to make. That individual will be the one to reap the consequences of their choice, regardless of whether they are good or bad.
    In general I have a hard time getting along with anyone that throws their hands up in life and claims that they didn’t have a choice in the decisions made or path followed. Yes, this includes a lot of homosexuals as well as a lot of transsexual identified people and a lot of heterosexual, completely non-queer individuals. I’m totally with you on that one. I think too often we, as a society, just say that we didn’t have a choice and instead put the blame on religion or false beliefs about science or the way our bodies work. Addiction sometimes functions in a similar way. I think the denying of rights is absolutely why the gay and lesbian movement took up the cry that homosexuality is totally biologically based, because if we “have no choice” then those rights really can’t be denied, logically. The problem comes in when we think about why homosexuality would be looked down upon if it is a choice (clearly, religion and the abdication of “choices,” again). I obviously do not think it should be looked down upon in either regard and feel that it is the right thing for me with or without a choice. I do find some personal strength in realizing that I don’t have to rely on biological or scientific justification for my actions.

    I understand that you read me as trying to tell people how to feel, and why I come off that way. This is not my intention. My intention is merely to point out the fact that transsexuality does not have a biological basis that has ever been proven. I recently had a discussion with an individual wherein we both discussed our dysphoria, our history with dysphoria, our early childhood hatred of our bodies/genitals and desire for the body/genitals of the opposite sex, and how we came about to identify as transsexual. This individual and I discussed very deeply, for a long time. We came to realize that our struggles have been almost identical, we feel almost identically about our bodies, etc, and the only difference really between us when it came to “gender” or “presentation” was one of identification. If the only thing that separates this individual from being a transsexual is one of personal identification, that is, the proclamation of what one “feels like on the inside.” This is not a method of diagnosis that I am comfortable with for myself. If it is enough for others, then those others are free to pursue treatment with just that diagnosis. We both possibly have some sort of biological hardwiring that may differentiate us from a statistical majority of our female peers, but if this exists, it must exist on some sort of spectrum where at no point could a physician pin-point that a person “must be a transsexual” without that person first identifying themselves as a transsexual. It is circular logic, and I don’t see how it can be clinically applicable.

    Again, as I feel it bears repeating, I think people should change and own their bodies in any way that is right for them. I just disagree that it has a purely biological basis and that transsexual people have absolutely no choice in how they handle the dysphoria and discomfort, or the notion that there is only one way to treat extreme sexual-characteristic-related body dysphoria. I know that I am not the only person “treating” my dysphoria this way; I have been fortunate enough to meet a few like-minded individuals. I know it can work. There is absolutely nothing biologically different from transsexual identified females and myself.

  36. Finding agreement is also exciting when you start out disagreeing!

    I do believe that I am making a conscious choice! I just don't believe that's true of every transgendered person.

    And I think the strength you find in not having to rely on biologic or scientific justifications is awesome!

    I... don't think I have anything to add. I think that your last comment stated your position and your feelings very well, and you didn't step on the feelings of anyone else. You didn't compromise what's important to you, and you didn't have to be a jerk! Seeing that makes me really happy, because it's a very difficult balancing game.

    But I'm still having fun. We could talk about more specific aspects of transitioning or gender identities, or not transitioning. May I ask (and of course, feel free not to answer if you're not comfortable talking about this), but how do you feel about chest reconstruction surgery? Is that an option you'd ever consider?

    I ask because I would appreciate the perspective of a person who is gender non-conforming, but doesn't identify as transgender. I personally am getting chest reconstruction because my breasts make me uncomfortable (both physically and psychologically). I have described my decision differently depending on who I'm talking to (and my feelings about it have evolved since I first decided to do it about a year ago). Sometimes I call it extreme body modification done (I enjoy tattoos and piercing). More recently, I have thought of it more as something I "have" to do, probably because I like the idea better and better as time goes on.

  37. You can absolutely ask about chest reconstruction, but I can only answer to my experiences and opinions.
    For a long time I considered chest reconstruction very seriously. I had my surgeon picked out, consultation done, and some money set aside, although I did not have a date set or money down. The surgeon that I had chosen was a plastic surgeon in my adopted home town (the small city I spent my teenage/young adult years in), so although he only had a few patients seeking the type of chest reconstruction I was after, his prices were quite reasonable and I thought I would be able to get the type of personalized care that I desired through him. He specialized in male gynocomastia surgeries and said he didn’t see much difference in the procedure I desired, and I have to agree. I had nothing but positive experiences with this surgeon, so I’ll refrain from naming him here.
    My chest still makes me uncomfortable when anyone other than my partner or myself seems aware of it, but I’ve decided against reconstruction personally, as I know this is a cultural interpretation of my healthy chest that I so strongly feel adverse to. Yes, I work out strategically to reduce fat in my pectoral region. I desire to reduce the fat content my chest as much as possible, and to produce as muscular a chest as I possibly can.
    This being said, I am still against cosmetic surgery personally. As I feel I’ve stated numerous times before but can always be repeated, this doesn’t mean I think other people shouldn’t be given the option to exercise any body modification they see fit. I am a strong advocate of body modification in general, and have more than a few mods myself (in the form of piercings, tattoos, scarifications, etc), so I don’t see a strong difference between this and cosmetic surgery and don’t think either should be legislated against. I just don’t see cosmetic surgery for myself. I think that, in general, the motivation behind most cosmetic surgery seems to be a lot more culturally/socially motivated and body-hating than body mods such as tattoos and piercings, but I know that is probably informed by my worldview.

    I would caution against the notion that it’s something that you “have” to do, however. Of course I still like the idea, aesthetically, of a “male” contoured chest. I do not enjoy my breasts, but they no longer cause me the extreme emotional and physical discomfort that they did in my teens and early 20’s. I control my diet and exercise regimen very closely in order to ensure that my body stays where I am comfortable, but I also know that this diet/exercise regimen is the healthiest possible for me in the long-term, so it is a win/win.

  38. I appreciate your perspective!

    From my perspective, I actually feel like I forced myself to like my breasts. I grew up being taught about how culture and today's media vilifies the female body, and that just made me so angry (still does). I also hated the idea of being objectified, so I had this weird relationship with my breasts, in which I enjoyed them privately, but did not want anyone else's attention on them (unless they were specifically invited to pay attention, as in the case of lovers).

    When someone first floated the idea that I might want chest reconstruction, I was vehemently opposed. I'd been thinking about breast reduction for a while. But chest reconstruction just seemed too dramatic a change.

    Eventually, things changed for me. And Now I have my surgery scheduled, and money put down on it. It's a big relief to me to know that I can look forward to my clothes fitting better, my back not hurting so much, and me just being more comfortable in my body. My breasts have actually been a big hindrance to doing the kind of exercise I want to do. I'm still worried, because it's surgery, and surgery is always scary.

    You've been sharing your story, so I wanted to share some of mine.

    Really, I think it would be cool if we lived in a world in which people could say decide on the kind of chest they wanted and get it. To a degree, we can (if a guy wants a muscular chest, he can work out. Sometimes if a woman wants smaller breasts, she can also do certain exercises and lose weight). There's a lot of negativity surrounding cosmetic surgery. Yes, it would be ideal if everyone was happy with the bodies they were born with. But if someone wants to have plastic surgery to help them be comfortable with their bodies, then I say more power to them.

  39. "I would also like to touch on the post that someone made regarding me “still having transitioned.” I strongly disagree with this statement. I do not feel that I have “transitioned” to anything. I am simply who I am. I do not need a gendered system of classification in which to identify. There is no longer a “transition” in my life, as it comes to gender. The fact that I still “present” in a way that 99% of society would take as my being a “man” does not make me “transitioned.”

    But I could say the same thing. I know plenty of people who would be considered transsexual if anyone knew their history, but who don't identify that way themselves. They have physically changed their bodies, pass completely, and now they have the privilege of choosing whether or not to associate or not with transsexualism. Your testosterone use has changed you, and probably contributes to your passing. Do you constantly correct people? If you don't regret the permanent changes, doesn't that just mean you are conveniently rejecting something that is jus no longer necessary to *you*? I'm not trying to be a jerk- you seem like a very nice and thoughtful person. And I really appreciate your willingness to engage. Looking at my past, if there were any way possible that my transition could have happened without my agreeing that I was trans, I would have done it. The trans narrative never resonated with me. I went on testosterone without telling anyone, hoping that my body would appear to have naturally come in to a higher degree of physical masculinity and I could just move the fuck on. The entire social stigma of being a transsexual has alot of psychic weight. *Too* much for some people. But simply doing things that will cause you to pass while rejecting the paradigm that claims them....seems like a slippery slope.

  40. Anon @8:27
    I understand the weird and strained relationship with your breasts. I also understand the reduction of breasts in order to make life and daily movement more bearable, especially in the case of large breasts that put physical strain on the body. That being said, I still can’t get behind cosmetic surgery. It seems like a cop-out to me. I agree with what you said about how we can achieve the bodies we want, to a degree. I firmly believe the old saying that happiness isn’t getting what you want, it’s wanting what you have. Cosmetic surgery seems to be the epiphany of consumerism, and it places way too much value on the cosmetic/aesthetic, IMO. I have much, much more respect for a person that works hard to get as close as they can to their bodily goals than I do for someone that pays to get themselves to exactly where they want to be. It’s different strokes for different folks, though. Those are just my opinions. I’m very DIY in most aspects of my life, and that mentality shows, I think, when it comes to my aesthetic opinions.

  41. Anon @9:29
    Hello, thanks for the input. I’m not sure how much you know about the effects of testosterone in terms of what is long term and what goes away after a person ceases testosterone usage. My voice is still lowered (I understand this is the experience of most female people that use testosterone and then subsequently stop), but very few other changes persist. I never noticed a body fat redistribution, which is likely due to my only being on T for 10 months and the fact that I keep my body fat pretty trim, so there’s not much to redistribute. I know that my face did change slightly while I was on T, but that was mostly due to the “face bloat” that a lot of people experience in the first year on HRT, and has definitely gone away and reverted back to the way my face always looked pre-t. I honestly don’t think there’s anything visually different about my person now than there was pre-t, physically. My voice, yes, is still a pretty dead give-away for anyone in the know. What I’m trying to say, basically, is that I don’t think my 10 months on testosterone three years ago is still having an effect on whether I’m perceived as male or not, at least before I open my mouth.
    I do correct people. If it’s just on the street or the clerk behind the counter at the bodega, I don’t bother. However, if it’s someone I’m going to be working with or seeing more than once and they assume I’m male, I will absolutely tell them otherwise. It’s actually been a big hassle on the train that I take for work, because when you order monthly passes you have to indicate your sex as a deterrent for sharing/swapping monthlies, and at least a few times a month a conductor will stare at my pass for a very long time before either accepting it or telling me they need to see identification because they just don’t believe that I’m female.
    I don’t regret the permanent changes because they are a result of a period of my life that shaped me into who I am today. If I could go back in time with the mindset that I’ve acquired now, I do think I could be happy with my body without the permanent changes. The way I see it, there’s no point in regret. What’s done is done. No one pressured me, and I made all of my own choices. Because I fully own my life choices, I see no space for regret.
    I’m interested in what you said at the end of your comment regarding “doing things that will cause you to pass.” For the sake of discussion, I’m going to assume that you’re referencing my clothing choices, because I’m not sure what else you could be seeing that I do to “cause me to pass.” I wear the clothing that is comfortable to me, and although that clothing comes from a section in the store marked “men’s,” I do not wear it in order to be taken for male. I wear it because it’s comfortable, aesthetically pleasing to me, and the clothing has real utility (the jeans actually have real pockets, etc). I wear sports bras because I do not wish to accentuate my breasts, and I lead a very active lifestyle so they give me support in that. I do not understand why it should be considered the default for females to wear clothing found in the “women’s” section and to wear undergarments meant to accentuate the breasts if that person isn’t comfortable with that. Rejecting these societal norms and finding a comfortable footing for myself does not equate with “trying to pass,” unless you place gendered value on things like clothing choices.

  42. Anon @9:29
    It occurs to me that in your last sentence regarding "trying to pass" you could have been talking about my strategic workouts, also. I'd like to touch on that, in case that's true.
    I desire to have a muscular physique. I work very hard for it. Yes, I especially desire to have a muscular chest and upper body. However, I fail to see how this is consequently due to my "trying to pass." Is it wrong for a female to desire a muscular physique? Is desiring a strong chest and upper body relegated to the male sphere? If you only had knowledge of me as female with no questions otherwise, would you be questioning my motivation in working out to achieve this physique? Is your knowledge of my trans past coloring the way that you read me in the present?

  43. @the author

    I used to think that cosmetic surgery was bullshit. That it was a product of society telling us what we should look like.

    But I don't think that's true. The fact is, I'm not getting surgery to be what society says I should be (because society says I should be a a woman who looks like a woman). Before I decided to have surgery myself, though, I came to believe that cosmetic surgery is more about people making decisions about themselves and their relationships to their bodies, and their personal choices should not be looked down on. As long as they're safe, and working with doctors, there's no need for anyone to interfere with or look down on their choice to have surgery.

    I have equal respect for someone who works out to someone who gets cosmetic surgery. Actually, sometimes the person who works hard to get the body they want are the less healthy of the two. Most people who use exercise and diet to get the bodies they want do not consult with doctors. This resulted in my brother-in-law almost killing himself by not eating enough and working out far beyond what was healthy for his body. This is a problem that more and more Americans, male and female, are experiencing. My brother-in-law just doesn't have the genetics to have the body he wants, but he keeps trying, to the detriment of his physical and emotional health, and to the detriment of his marriage and personal life.

    I think it's unwise to say something like "I respect people who work out more than someone who gets surgery." Because each person has different experiences, different goals, and different needs. If we assumed everyone worked with a therapist to help them with their body image issues, and everyone worked with a doctor when they decided to change their bodies through exercise and diet, then maybe we could generally say the people who do the work are the ones who are the harder working. But sometimes, spending all your time at the gym is the much worse option.

    I suggest you have respect for the individuals who take healthy steps towards loving themselves. And that you don't rule out surgery as a possible healthy step, even if it's not something you want to do.

  44. I want to return to this issue of choice, as in "transitioning is a choice" and relate it to how girls and women really feel about their bodies, and how culture, the devaluing of girls and women, and childhood sexual abuse might play a role in body dysphoria. I was a tomboy when I was growing up. Indeed, my fondest memories as a child are of me running through the woods in back of our house, building forts, and playing baseball with my brother. I don't know why, but while most girls were playing with dolls, there was nothing I enjoyed more than the smell of the grass and the muffled ping sound of a ball as it struck the bat at the sweet spot for a solid double. I knew how to slide into third at age twelve.

    When I started puberty, I felt intensely awkward as if what was happening to my body meant that I could no longer hang out with the boys. I had to put away my baseball mitt that I loved and become a girl. Boys always seemed to have more fun and far more freedom to do as they please. Being a boy represented a form of Independence that I could never sense in a girl. Besides regretting puberty and all the changes in my body, thinking back and analyzing my life experiences, there was another reason why I felt especially uncomfortable with my breasts. I can say with all certainty that my body dysphoria or revulsion I had towards developing breasts was partly related to my grandfather touching me inappropriately on my developing breasts. I can't recall the exact age, but I was about twelve or thirteen and I had just started developing breasts. One warm summer day my dad was going to drive my grandfather home since grand dad didn't have a car. I was wearing a light tan colored shirt and I wasn't wearing a bra at that time. It's funny how I can recall what I was wearing that day. I was sitting in the back seat of the car with my grandfather. My dad stopped at the post office downtown and got out of the car. I was alone in the backseat with my grandfather. I recall him reaching over to me and touching my breasts. It was no accident at all. He was trying to caress my breasts. I didn't know what to say, and I got out of the backseat of the car and started to walk home. I don't know why, but I didn't tell anyone. I was deeply ashamed more than anything else.

    It might make me sound old, but I was born before people started using the words "top surgery". I grew up in the country, and no one even heard of the word "trans". At any rate, if someone told me that they could remove my breasts, I would have done it right then and there. Because I felt so insecure, and always hid my breasts, I would have had it done at age sixteen. I associated anyone even looking at my breasts with that sick, terrifying feeling I felt in the pit of my stomach when my grandfather's hand felt my breasts. After this incident, I recall clinching my fists and hitting my chest until it bruised. I didn't want to be a woman, and I didn't like my body. My body and breasts were betraying me, and were a source of fear and shame. When I was around sixteen years of age, I started wearing loose fitted sweat shirts to hide my breasts. My hair was short, and on more than one occasional I was mistaken for a boy. I would wear a baggy shirt, put on a heavy coat, put my hands in the front pockets of my jeans like boys and men do, and slouch over.

    It took me about ten to twelve years before I finally began to cherish and appreciate my female body. It was a slow process that required a great deal of soul searching, and it didn't happen over night. With a loving and patient partner, I actually enjoy my breasts touched now. It's very sensual and erotic. I'm so fortunate that I was born before "top surgery" because I sure as heck would have had them lopped off. I know it might sound strange, but I was in my mid-twenties before I finally realized that my breasts were actually things of beauty.

  45. "I desire to have a muscular physique. I work very hard for it. Yes, I especially desire to have a muscular chest and upper body. However, I fail to see how this is consequently due to my "trying to pass." Is it wrong for a female to desire a muscular physique? Is desiring a strong chest and upper body relegated to the male sphere? If you only had knowledge of me as female with no questions otherwise, would you be questioning my motivation in working out to achieve this physique? Is your knowledge of my trans past coloring the way that you read me in the present?"

    Thanks for your thoughtful responses. I tend to agree with the last poster. I have had many of the same thoughts you are detailing here, and no, I'm not trying to say where you will end up. You are just fine where you are.

    I never wanted to transition. I never wanted to be trans, I never wanted attention for my gender. I never wanted a politicized identity. I simply wanted to be and appear male. I wanted bigger muscles. I wanted more hair. So, I worked out like crazy. I realized that I had got myself into a mentally abusive mindset, where I was punishing my body for not being what I felt it should be. Starving and yo-yo dieting so as not to have any of body fat, which we can agree, is generally a higher percentage in female bodies than male. I wasn't lucky enough to pass as male *all* the time, or to have a lean, boyish body. For the record though, I was no slouch. I am not short, or fat, nor do I have wide hips. I was built muscular and square.
    So, I punished myself by trying to make my body into what it would never, ever be. I see women doing the same thing around me. It affects their whole lives. Social activities are restricted because of eating restrictions or having to go to the gym 6 times a week.
    I started to wonder what, exactly, was more healthy for me. In the end, it was less abusive to admit that I wanted the changes that come with testosterone and which cannot be achieved otherwise. I don't believe in gender-I believe in the body. Changing my body was not incongruent with whatever gender I have.

    " If you only had knowledge of me as female with no questions otherwise, would you be questioning my motivation in working out to achieve this physique?

    Maybe, depending on how truly kind you are to yourself and well-rounded in the rest of your life. Not that I'm in a position to judge!

  46. I totally missed the comment from the avid reader @ 3:50 PM yesterday.

    I'm sorry you feel that way. I have not lied to anyone about my gender identity. My therapist knows exactly how I feel, and my plans for the future. But my therapist, like many people in the transgender community, acknowledge that there are a lot of different ways to be transgender.

    The old school belief is that you had to identify as either male or female. And there are a few trans individuals out there who seem to really believe that trans is becoming a "fad" and that people who don't deserve medical transitioning are jumping on the bandwagon. That's utter bullshit. You have no idea how hard it is to have an identity that doesn't fit neatly into male or female. Polygendered people are having to struggle against society's assumptions about male and female, and against "feminists" like dirt, and the traditionalist transgendered people who think we don't have a right to our identities, just because it's not what was originally defined as transsexual.

    The world is changing. The concept of gender is constantly evolving.

    And I'm not speaking on any authority. I'm speaking from my own experiences. Nobody is any kind of authority on this blog.

  47. Anon@12:22

    I find it very interesting and telling that when I wrote that I have “more respect for a person that works hard to get as close as they can to their bodily goals than I do for someone that pays to get themselves to exactly where they want to be,” you read that as being only about getting fit and working out.
    I don’t think that everyone on the planet should strive for a fit, muscular body if that’s not what they want. I never made the claim that people should work out and that that’s the only way to get the body people must want, that claim is yours and yours alone. I merely said that I respect people who work hard for whatever their goals are.

    I think in both cases we have to ask “why?” a certain individual is working towards a certain body type or “why?” a certain individual feels a need for cosmetic surgery. In both cases the likely culprit is society’s expectations or the way that we as individuals interpret them.

    Also, notice that I wrote that I respect individuals who work to get as close as they can to their bodily goals. I know not every individual can physically attain the body ideals that they may want. In fact, practically no one can really achieve the exact, “perfect” body that they may want. We will always find imperfections in our bodies, we will always be striving to change and better them, such is the conditions of a social animal. However, I still find cosmetic surgery to be a cop-out. Of course it is just as unhealthy to starve your body and work it out beyond your physical capabilities. To suggest otherwise would be absurd. Your argument regarding your brother-in-law seems to fall flat when we consider that people die of cosmetic surgeries, also. Both can be dangerous. Both should be supported by full knowledge of what one is embarking on. There are no dissimilarities in that arena.

    I respect hard work and determination. This can come in the form of physical or mental hard work, and I have the most respect for people who work hard on both. Honestly, I fully believe that individuals should be happy with what they have, and work very hard to achieve the goals that are important to them. Cosmetic surgery seems to me to be a cop-out from the deep personal reflection into the “why?” and doesn’t seem to actually be an act of self-love. It cuts out the mental hard work that it would take to overcome the reasons why a person can’t accept and work with their body as-is.

    Again, people should do with their bodies as they please. I think that’s an inalienable right. However, I’m just not going to have the same respect for someone that goes the surgery route versus someone that does deep emotional, and mental work into why they want the surgery. Cosmetic surgery is exactly what it sounds like, cosmetic. All it does is change your outside. My deepest respect is earned by people who can get past the superficial, cosmetic, outside appearances and work hard internally to better know and understand themselves, and to come to a place of peace through that hard work.

  48. "My deepest respect is earned by people who can get past the superficial, cosmetic, outside appearances and work hard internally to better know and understand themselves, and to come to a place of peace through that hard work. "

    And trans people are capable of this deep-healing process too, with or without surgery. What you are talking about is a *human* experience. Nobody ever think their body is perfect, with or without cosmetic surgery. There are mistakes made on both sides of this debate, as per usual in any debate. It is a mistake to believe that transitioning will solve all of your problems, because you will still have to struggle through all the ones that don't have to do with gender. It is also a mistake to believe that transitioning precludes all the other learning and growing we have to do as humans. It *could* but you don't have to let it. As far as I can tell, gender and transition is a sum-null argument. Do it or don't do it, but be able to move on and be a good human.

  49. Anon@12:51

    Thank you deeply for relating your story regarding body dysphoria and your childhood sexual abuse. I think the only way that we can start helping and healing each other is by relating our stories and truths freely and openly.
    I think your story echoes a lot of stories of women, and if they were told more often, I feel it would help in the isolation that many of us feel as young people that don’t fit inside of the box that society would like us to.
    I can absolutely relate to having to go through a long, slow process in order to begin to appreciate your body, as is. I feel I am only just beginning on this journey, as it was only about a year ago that I became comfortable with referring to myself as female, again. I am still not to the point where I relate to my breasts in a favorable way, but they no longer bring me the deep psychological pain that they used to.

    One way that I’ve found helpful in “reclaiming” my chest, as it were, is in desexualizing it as much as possible. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been jealous of males that were allowed to run around with their shirts off, without being sexualized. I have had a deep desire for my chest to not be sexualized at all, and it rarely is part of my sexual activities (although I do take my clothes off for sex, these days). Around a year ago, after I had already been working hard to accept my body as-is for awhile, I began to work on accepting my chest, in earnest. I realized that the only way my chest and breasts could be “desexualized” was for me to begin the process of not seeing my chest as sexual, myself. I couldn’t expect it to come from anyone else.
    I began leaving my shirt off when I was home alone. Not all of the time, and not very often at first. I began taking steps to actually look at myself in the mirror, topless, which in the beginning was very hard to do without feeling a lot of sadness and anger at my body not looking the way I wanted or the way I thought it should. I did this about once a week, very purposefully. I knew that I was actively trying to recondition myself. Slowly, after months, I was able to look into the mirror without the surge of sadness, and eventually I was even able to look at parts of my body and admire their strength. I was able to start admiring the strength of my shoulders, and my arms, and my back, and to see the definition in my pectoral muscles underneath my breast tissue. I was able to slowly, very slowly, begin to see things in my body that I liked and that I related to and that I felt good about. Eventually I stopped absolutely hating my chest, and from looking at myself very purposefully, stopped seeing my breasts as sexual objects. From there I made several more slow steps towards desexualizing my chest, including just leaving my shirt off when home alone and going about my everyday chores. I started doing dishes without a shirt, fixing my bike without a shirt, playing video games without a shirt, and doing my at-home workouts without a shirt. Now, I regularly don’t wear a shirt at home just because I don’t feel like wearing one. I no longer feel ashamed for my chest and my body, at least when I am home safe by myself or with my partner. Through a lot of slow, hard work, I was able to move myself from a mental space of “breasts are inappropriate unless in sexual situations” to “my breasts are a natural part of my body and there is no need to cover them and be ashamed of them in the privacy of my own home.”

  50. Anon@12:55
    I can absolutely relate to the things that you are talking about, especially in regards to punishing one’s body for not being what I “felt it should be.”

    It seems to me that you’re talking a lot about the aesthetics of what you wanted for your body. You say you wanted to appear male, and go on to list wanting bigger muscles, and more hair. Do you think that being female precludes the desire for wanting bigger muscles and more hair? These are things that I desire, as well. I am always pushing myself to these ends. I do not subscribe to starvation and yo-yo dieting, however, I have my diet and nutrition well under control after years of working to find a good balance for myself and my body. (FWIW and for anyone that may read this and think I don’t understand nutrition: I run 3 miles a day, bike for 8 as part of my commute, and have a naturally high metabolism, so I eat around 3000 calories a day in well-balanced meals and snacks. I am in no way starving myself. I do not count calories but I have a pretty good idea of my caloric and nutritional needs and work consciously to stay on top of both.)

    It seems to me that what you’re saying is that you wanted cosmetic bodily changes that could only be achieved through testosterone use, such as bulking and hair. So why don’t you call it that? Why do you call it desire to “be and appear male”? What is categorically male about bulky muscles and body hair? I don’t think that there is true justification in just saying that testosterone use was able to get you out of the abusive mindset that you had yourself in, all testosterone use did was give in to that abusive mindset. Using testosterone means that you caved to aesthetic desires rather than working hard with what you have to get as close to your ideals as possible.

    It is hard to for me to wrap my head around the seeming dichotomy of you saying that you “simply wanted to be and appear male,” and then going on to say that you “don’t believe in gender,” but rather “believe in the body.” Perhaps I am reading you wrong in this case? Is there any chance I can get you to elaborate more on what you think the difference is?

  51. Anon@1:35
    Thank you for your input into the discussion thus far. At this point, I really don’t have much to add for you. If you are in a place where it seems to you that gender is some indefinable thing that exists solely in one’s psyche, then I’m not sure my standpoint of biology and science is really going to mean anything to you. I work my life around hard facts. I am a scientist by career and education, and I do not believe in this conceptualization of gender as a “feeling” that one has regarding oneself.
    I believe that you are trying hard and struggling to truly understand yourself, but in my opinion, you’re going down the wrong path if you think that the aesthetic changes you are making to your “presentation” are due to something innately “male” about your psyche. It really screams of cultural socialization to me rather than deep knowledge of oneself. Again, it’s only my opinion. You’re the one that will reap the rewards or consequences of your actions, and I wish you the best in your life no matter what and that you do find peace.

  52. "What is categorically male about bulky muscles and body hair?"

    Please, be real. Of course I know that there are muscly and hairy women out there. But, really? What do you think their naturally occurring testosterone levels are? On average? I'm trying to have an honest discussion with you and I think your sentence sounds delusional. I'm truly not trying to attack you. I've heard Dirt make the same assertions, but, since you come from a biological perspective, how can you not accept the physiological differences in a body with a high testosterone level and and body with a high estrogen level? There is *absolutely* a limit to what you can achieve towards a masculine physique in the gym. Not to mention that working out will not grow you sideburns or lower your voice, or enlarge your genitals. If you had stayed on testosterone, I don't think you would be trying to argue this point because the changes are *profound*. Or, are you saying that I should have just taken testosterone to achieve my aesthetic desires but insisted I was female? That seems like a cop-out because the world confers male privilege upon me. I would never do that, though I know people who have. I don't respect them. They want a more masculine appearance, but they are afraid to leave the safety and shelter of the women's community where they will be fetishized for their masculinity and applauded for their "bravery". I have no respect for that kind of opportunistic character.

    "I don’t think that there is true justification in just saying that testosterone use was able to get you out of the abusive mindset that you had yourself in, all testosterone use did was give in to that abusive mindset. Using testosterone means that you caved to aesthetic desires rather than working hard with what you have to get as close to your ideals as possible."

    No, testosterone did not save me from an abusive mindset-I did. I recognized the self-abuse I was putting myself through as abuse. Believe me, I worked hard on my body. I worked on my mind too. I told myself trans was all about misogyny. I told myself transmen just were afraid to be lesbian, or were just short and fat, wanting a weight-loss plan. I told myself I "loved being female". I didn't, and eventually the lies wore away. It was self-hatred of my transness. It was fear of losing my friends and family. I wanted to be anything but transsexual. I wanted to *have been born* male, never having to process about gender. I wanted to quietly go away and come back appearing male, while never having to accept that I was a part of an abused, undervalued, hated, mistrusted, and feared minority. A minority that had to admit they wanted or needed help from the medical community, which I usually avoid at all costs. I wanted NO pathologizing about some kind of "condition" I was supposed to have.

    You sound like an athletic person. I also ride my bike, and always have, and work out at the gym, and always have. BUT, I have multiple artistic and professional pursuits that take time. They are important to my identity- more important than gender, or spending half my life in the gym to achieve a look that's essentially based on the general look of the sex I was not born with. It's been 10 years since my transition, and the longer I live, the more I see how weird and narcissistic it was to be THAT concerned with my muscles-before or after transition. You see young transmen reporting on their muscle growth on YouTube and it makes me cringe. Now I work out for cardio health and mood. I have a life. Is it possible I could have accepted myself without transitioning? Maybe, but like I said before, it's a sum-null argument. It doesn't matter. The only people who seem to want it to matter are people with an agenda to impose upon others' lives, such as Dirt.

    I see no reason to attribute virtue or lack of virtue to the act of "transitioning".

  53. Anon@3:53

    I think that these multiple “anons” are finally starting to confuse me, but I’ll try to stick with it. I don’t suppose I could get those still in the conversation to make some nickname up as what they post under, at least for this thread?

    On the contrary, I am being quite real with you. I understand that my sentence sounds delusional to you because you equate bulky muscles and hair with a certain level of endogenous testosterone. I would agree 100% that high levels of endogenous testosterone would make gaining bulk much easier, of course. That’s basic biology and not anything that’s in dispute. I know that you’re not trying to attack me, and I hope I’ve made it clear that I’m not trying to attack you. From my perspective, we’re just having a discussion and trying to push each other to see different viewpoints. So far it has seemed quite productive to me, and it is indeed making me think, as I hope it is for you as well.
    I would absolutely agree that there is a limit to what one can produce in terms of physique through physical exercise. Do you think that all of the females that have the bulk of muscle and hair have only achieved that because of high endogenous levels of testosterone? As we know, muscle tissue does actually produce testosterone and therefore individuals with more muscle mass will produce more testosterone, leading to a general increase in “hairy-ness” in females, so it’s possible to see this increase as well with muscle growth. Do you think there’s any chance that females with the same endogenous level of testosterone that you have in your system have achieved more bulk that you achieved prior to testosterone treatments through training harder because it was more important to them? All of life is a balance, of course. If bulking is a priority, that individual should stay in the gym. If it’s just a general desire, that individual probably spends less time in the gym and sees fewer results. It’s all personal drive and priorities, really, and I’m certainly not arguing that there’s anything “better” about being a gym rat.
    I agree and can easily see that the physiology of a testosterone-enriched system is different than the physiology of an estrogen-enriched system. So far, I have nothing on which to disagree with you. I’m curious if you see similarities between yourself and an XY male that also desires increased hair and bulk and administers steroids to achieve this, or not. I’m not necessarily saying that there are or are not, I’m merely looking for your opinion. Also, clearly a female is not going to experience genital growth or sideburn grown without exogenous testosterone or an underlying condition such as PCOS. Again, though, these are aesthetics.
    It’s interesting to me that you and I have really only been able to talk about aesthetic desires. Could you talk to me more about your sense of yourself as male on a deeper level? In general, because I am taken as male more often than not, the world and society confers a sort of “male privilege” onto me and a sort of “heterosexual privilege” onto my partner and I, together. To me, this seems a weak argument on which to base male-identification. If I work hard to achieve an aesthetic that is pleasing to me for my body, but I define it purely on an aesthetic level and do not correlate it to some innate sense of “gender identity,” is that my desiring a “male appearance,” still? Is it disingenuous for me to pursue this aesthetic because society will confer “male privilege” onto me, and, as a female, I should make myself easily discernable as female? It seems to me that drawing these lines along what is a “male appearance” and what is a “female appearance” become arbitrary when we look at the entire spectrum of human experience, but I am very curious of your thoughts and opinions on the matter.

  54. (continued...)
    I have gone through similar doubts to those you speak of regarding not wanting to identify as trans. It made a lot of sense to me, but I absolutely resisted at first. Also, the part about how you wanted to convince yourself that you “loved being female” really struck a chord with me. I do not “love being female.” I am female. It simply is a biological reality. This is nothing to love/hate unless you put more power into it than the fact that it is biology, and the only thing it means is that I have a uterus and external sexual characteristics of a human female. Period. It means absolutely nothing else, and I don’t see any more reason to hate my chromosomal and genetic makeup for my sex than I do to hate it for my hair or skin color.

    I appreciate and am glad that you have interests outside of athleticism! Clearly, I do too. I outlined my workouts, which are basically my bike ride commute to work and a quick half-hour run after work. Three days out of the week I do a half-hour of lifting, as well. I’m really not an extreme gym rat, but when I lift, I lift hard and it shows. When I run, I run hard, and when I bike, I bike hard. I don’t approach anything in my life half-assed, and that’s why I see the results I see. I also play guitar in a few bands, have a regular 9-5 job, study 2 hours a day for my MCAT to get into med school, spend a lot of time with my partner, and have two dogs that I spoil. I have plenty of other priorities, but I do seem to fit in the time to work my body towards my ideal aesthetic, because it is important to me. I closely budget my time, and as a result I have little unscheduled time. This is okay, for me, because it means I’m really fitting in the things that are important and priorities for me.

    I think you boiled it down well when you said that you have “multiple artistic and professional pursuits that take [your] time,” and that those are more important to you than spending “half your life in the gym to achieve a look that’s essentially based on the general look of the sex [you were] not born with.” I read this as essentially saying that you wanted the aesthetics that come easily to males, but were/are disinclined to put the work in to achieve that aesthetic because there were/are other pursuits that were more important. I agree that one’s life should be balanced and we should give ourselves adequate time to pursue a variety of interests, and aesthetics shouldn’t be paramount. However, you still wanted that aesthetic and so you take testosterone to achieve it. That’s all fair. None of that gets me any closer to understanding what “male” means to you, which is what I’m really interested in.

  55. I'm sorry, it wasn't totally clear that you wanted to know what being male means to me. I think it used to mean something to me before, but it doesn't anymore. In the same way that many men and women cannot describe how it feels to be male or female. It just is. And without a discernible way to conceive of being male or female, there can be no impetus for transition. I understand that completely. I don't think the youngsters should be fed lines about the trans narrative, but I also think that if it is your will to take testosterone, you should be able to do that. Most of the rationale is in the act itself. Why did I transition? Because I would.

  56. We agree!
    "And without a discernible way to conceive of being male or female, there can be no impetus for transition" and people who desire aesthetic change to their bodies should have access to that aesthetic change.

    However, aesthetic change is still aesthetic change, and not a change of one's biological sex or an indicator of some biological imperative to create these aesthetic changes.

  57. It looks like some good discussion is happening here, and I'm sad because I can't catch up on it.

    There's too much going on from now until the end of December, so I will have to stop constantly harassing the trans-deniers for a bit. I apologize if someone directed a question to me and I missed it.

  58. "However, aesthetic change is still aesthetic change, and not a change of one's biological sex or an indicator of some biological imperative to create these aesthetic changes."t

    Agreed. Except there a few things that are not aesthetic about testosterone: 1) The change in the size of the clitoris can be profound, especially if a person can achieve penetration. That's not just for looks.
    2) Not getting my period, or specifically not having pms has had a profound positive effect on my emotional stability. I can't tell you how much I suffered. And no, raspberry leaf tea did not fix it.

    There are more emotional and physical-capability things I have noticed, but I gotta go to bed. Take care and be well. Thanks for the conversation.

  59. @ Author:

    I'm wondering about your apparent analogy between testosterone use and drug addiction. You seem to be saying that you can't justify giving testosterone to a person because it makes them feel better, in the same way that you can't justify giving drugs to a drug addict because it makes them feel better. And then you say that this is unlike giving drugs to a person to cure or treat a medical condition that can in theory be tested for, even if you don't test every individual.

    But there are lots of studies suggesting a biochemical/genetic basis for drug addiction. There are studies suggesting that the neurochemistry of addicts is different from that of non-addicts, and suggesting that addiction might be heritable. I'm not saying this justifies administration of opiates to an opiate addict (I don't think it does, and I don't believe in methadone treatment, for example); I actually think that even if addiction is proven to be totally biochemical and that an addict is a physically different being from a non-addict, addicts should get treatment towards sobriety, not towards addiction. But I don't understand your point about the connection between drug addiction and testosterone therapy. Can you explain?

  60. Anon@9:58

    I’m going to jump right in and say that actually wasn’t my analogy, it was an analogy my father placed to me in order to point out some flaws in my logic. Later I went on to say that clearly my father didn’t think drug addicts and transmen were related in that sense.

    I follow and agree with your logic regarding the biochemical basis on propensity towards drug addiction, as long as we’re not implying that if an individual has a certain biochemical makeup it is a biological certainty that they will become a drug addict. Possibly, actually, this conceptualization works better in regards to similarities with transsexual identification. If there is, indeed, some sort of biochemical difference between transsexuals and non-transsexuals, it must only exist as part of a spectrum that deviates from the statistical majority. It does not exist in a sense that it dictates a necessity for hormone replacement in a biological sense, but possibly does in a sense that certain individuals may be more prone to seek this option when they fall outside of a given statistical range.

    This is all, quite hypothetical, of course, as there aren’t studies available that can clearly differentiate a transsexual from a non-transsexual, prior to hormone therapy and surgeries, and without relying on individual identification. This also ties in nicely with the similar conceptualization of biochemical conditions in an individual that may give them a propensity towards addiction, but does not dictate a certainty that they will become an addict.

    I hope this answered your question. I will likely have a difficult time answering questions for the next day or so, because of the holiday and spending time with family. I promise to check back in whenever I can.

  61. @ Author:

    I'm the same anon who asked the question about your drug addict analogy. Or, your father's analogy. I still don't understand it. Can you explain it further? It seems to illustrate some point to you, but I am failing to understand what it is.

  62. This entire transsexual issue seems like a real first-world problem when you truly consider the European genocide of the original inhabitants of this land. Our continued mistreatment, treachery, lies, and abuse of native sovereignty is our greatest shame and it undercuts all subsequent moralizing and pontification by *any* marginalized group made of primarily white people of European descent. At least it should put it in perspective. Focussing on the transsexual issue while ignoring the larger issue of the stolen land we live upon so gaily, land our people plunder and then claim to be victims of persecution can only be chalked up to some large scale emotional disembodiment caused by an inability to face what we have done. Meanwhile, the original inhabitants of this land are relegated to the most barren soil, dying of alcoholism, with no access to fresh food or good nutrition. We split their families apart, raped their women, beat and killed them for speaking their own language, forced them into Christianity, made treaties and then broke them to steal land that had proven profitable later.

    Dirt will say it's a female genocide, to compare. Except I am not dead. I still have my body, my land, my money, my rights, my freedom, my resources, my access to health care, housing and food. My people still have their language, their religion, their identity. Too bad our identity is built right on a mass grave. Regardless of our gender presentation, we cannot be whole until we address what we have done. What are your priorities and are they a luxury others can't afford?

  63. Brav-fucking-O Anon 2:57!! Do you have a blog by chance? You're speaking my language. What a refreshing post, thank you!!

  64. Last anon made a good point. That's why it's a good idea to look at privilege and opression and how it intersects across different factors such as age, sex, race, etc...
    About sex/gender, it's clear that a person who's in the majority of the sex/gender presentation (word that begin with a c that dirt has forbidden) is privileged in many aspects to a person that is gender non-confirming, be they trans-identified or not. We can argue over words all we won't but they merely label concepts and the concepts of "masculine" and "feminine" will always exist, no matter how they are labeled and what kind of evolution they go through. Think of it like a spectrum, with us drawing lines where one begins and another ends and what lies in between or overlaps.
    About biology: yes genitals and reproductive systems are important, but only insofar as concerns reproduction and sex. Even during sex one can argue (at least in my experience) that it's not all about genitals but secondary sexual characteristics like skin, smell, hair, etc play a big part.

    I find it interesting that most people here seem to agree on the societal influence on things like cosmetic surgery but think the idea of "loving your body as is" is not a social influence/idea. In my experience, that's a constant propaganda in gay/lesbian and/or feminist circles and while it's great for promoting self-esteem and what not, I've more often seen it used negatively than not. One example would be in the case of a person that is overweight and that if it leads to medical complications they should absolutely not "just love their body as is" but should take some steps to achieve a better health. Even if it's not purely for medical reasons but partly aesthetic, they should not be shamed for wanting to change their body. I see this happen so often. Apparently it's fat-phobic to give advice on that type of thing but it's ok to shame people and tell them they're succumbing to some "patriarchal" notion if they want to change their body in a way that is healthier and looks better for them/makes them happy. Of course consult with people, especially professionals, as people can have skewed perceptions, but still. One shouldn't disagree with something good/healthy/moral just because it's part of a system deemed flawed and opressive, or you're just falling prey to political agendas and alternative systems that are doing the very same thing you're accusing the main system of.
    Should people use prosthetics to make themselves feel better? How about plastic surgery in case of injury/disfigurement? It's not for functional or biological health reasons there, but psychological health, and that should be taken into account as well. Without saying spiritual, as that's likely to incite laughter in this community. It's only westerners that when considering health and medicine, only consider biological or physiological things one can measure in test results, and I personally think it is a wrong approach to medicine.
    - signed, young person that has seizures that thus far are undiagnozable as all tests turn up "normal"

  65. You post makes me sad. The truth is, many people feel unlovable in so many ways. There are typically beautiful people who are terrified of being unlovable once they are seen by another. Or they are afraid they are *only* loved for their beauty. If you carefully study the people around you who do seem to be really *truly* loved, those are the ones who love themselves. This has nothing to do with gender *or* your body. Dirt has it wrong- loving yourself is necessary and possible for all people, regardless of transition. Do whatever you need to do with your body- as another poster said, you are the only one who will reap the rewards or consequences of that. I found transition to be a non-issue regarding true self-esteem. Yes, I feel much more comfortable in my body now and I would never de-transition or any such nonsense, but the real work has to do with being human, and that's universal. It is absolutely essential to start loving yourself now-you can start small.

    I've seen lesbians and transmen who drink themselves to death, do heroin, cut themselves, commit suicide.My best friend had anorexia as an adolescent and teen and and got into heavy drugs. When he transitioned, he began to eat again and has a healthy relationship with his body. He stopped doing drugs. He has a wife and family now. I've seen straight people destroy themselves too. People here would have you believe you are "killing yourself" by transition-not true. They have their own agenda, which they believe is based on love, but is actually based on their need to see others like themselves in the world. Transition may be necessary for you *or* not. Transition does not solve everything in life. I've got a few transguy friends who are very, very short. I'm not gonna lie-you will be shorter than most men if you transition, and that's not the easiest path. But everybody has their cross to bear and there are plenty of short born-males out there. Just don't make the mistake of believing that you are the only one who who is hurting or feels fucked up. If you give love to yourself and others, you tend to get it back at some point.

  66. Hey, Author, do you have a blog of your own? Sorry if you've already linked one in the comments. I've gotta run in a minute.

  67. "Female genital mutilation is forced on women. Transitioning is a choice."

    This is my suggestion. Replace the word "transitioning" with exactly what it entails then see how it all sounds.

    "Female genital mutilation is forced on women. Transitioning (what amounts to elective mastectomies in healthy women, a life time of testosterone, and the surgical alteration of female genitals) is a choice.

    It's my understanding that it's usually an adult female who holds the girl down while her clitoris is scraped and cut away. What would possess a female to do that to another human born female? Why does female genital mutilation occur in the first place, and what are the underlying reasons for this ancient barbaric practice? If the lives of girls and women weren't so utterly devalued, then it wouldn't happen. None of us exists in a cultural vacuum completely isolated from outside influences. We are constantly bombarded with cultural messages from cradle to grave. As to Female genital mutilation,the underlying driving force is misogyny.

    Isn't it amazing how women view their bodies, and how cultural forces shape and influence how they see themselves? Despite millions spent on cosmetics, plastic surgery, fashion, botox, etc., for some reason, females never seem to be satisfied with their bodies one way or another. Why do women choose to starve or gorge themselves, and why is anorexia and bulimia more common in women? No one forces these girls and women to literally starve themselves to death. IT'S A CHOICE.

    "What is the most fatal mental disorder? The answer, which may surprise you, is anorexia nervosa. It has an estimated mortality rate of around 10 percent.i What is the cause of this high rate of mortality? The answer is complicated. While many young women and men with this disorder die from starvation and metabolic collapse, others die of suicide, which is much more common in women with anorexia than most other mental disorders.

    The last week of February is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. We often hear about the epidemic of obesity and the health consequences of over-eating, but the perils of anorexia and bulimia are less recognized. Here are some little known facts about eating disorders, all gleaned from NIMH-funded research.

    First, the demographics of eating disorders may be changing. The National Co-Morbidity Study-Replication, an NIMH-funded population-based epidemiologic study from a decade ago, struggled with estimating the prevalence of eating disorders because the researchers found that many respondents were reluctant to admit to these syndromes during a structured interview. Nevertheless, the study reported that these disorders are more common in women. The lifetime rate for anorexia nervosa among women was estimated at 0.9 percent compared to 0.3 percent among men. The lifetime rate among women for bulimia nervosa was 0.5 percent compared to 0.1 percent among men. And the lifetime rate among women for binge eating disorder was 3.5 compared to 2 percent among men.ii Almost certainly, these numbers are under-estimates. We have seen hospitalization rates for eating disorders continue to rise, increasing 18 percent between 1999 and 2006."

    National Institute of Mental Health

  68. More on the choices females make. As in transitioning is a choice.

    "Between 5% and 20% of people who develop the disease eventually die from it. The longer you have it, the more likely you will die from it. Even for those who survive, the disorder can damage almost every body system.

    What happens exactly? Here's a look at what anorexia does to the human body.

    The first victim of anorexia is often the bones. The disease usually develops in adolescence -- right at the time when young people are supposed to be putting down the critical bone mass that will sustain them through adulthood.

    "There's a narrow window of time to accrue bone mass to last a lifetime," says Diane Mickley, MD, co-president of the National Eating Disorders Association and the founder and director of the Wilkins Center for Eating Disorders in Greenwich, Conn. "You're supposed to be pouring in bone, and you're losing it instead." Such bone loss can set in as soon as six months after anorexic behavior begins, and is one of the most irreversible complications of the disease.

    But the most life-threatening damage is usually the havoc wreaked on the heart. As the body loses muscle mass, it loses heart muscle at a preferential rate -- so the heart gets smaller and weaker. "It gets worse at increasing your circulation in response to exercise, and your pulse and your blood pressure get lower," says Mickley. "The cardiac tolls are acute and significant, and set in quickly." Heart damage, which ultimately killed singer Karen Carpenter, is the most common reason for hospitalization in most people with anorexia."

    This is my opinion, and I have a thousand plus years of history behind my belief. It's a revolutionary act for any female to really love and cherish herself and her body. It's so rare and precious when it does occur.

  69. "*Female genital mutilation is forced on women. Transitioning is a choice."

    More on the choices women make and how they feel about their bodies...

    Psychiatrists and psychologist commonly refer to girls and women who self mutilate as "cutters". By all accounts, IT'S A CHOICE:

    Girls and women who psychologists and mental health professionals commonly refer to "cutters" scratch and cut their arms and bodies with razor blades or other instruments. According to the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injurious Behavior (CRPSIB), cutting, also known as self-injury or self-mutilation, encompasses a variety of behaviors in which an individual intentionally inflicts harm on his or her body for purposes that are not socially acceptable and are not with suicidal intent.

    Self-harm is not a diagnostic category, so its exact incidence is unknown. But women are twice as likely to do it as men. And it typically accompanies a range of conditions—borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, anxiety and depression. It most commonly occurs, however, in antisocial personality disorder, accounting for a high rate of self-harm in prisons.

    Self-mutilation is "the opposite of suicide," insists Armando Favazza, M.D., professor and vice chairman of psychiatry at the University of Missouri, author of Bodies Under Siege: Self-Mutilation in Psychiatry and Culture and a leading authority on the subject. "Those who do it want to live. They do it to feel better. It's an impulsive act done to regulate mood."

    It is an extremely effective treatment for anxiety, he points out. People who do it report it's "like popping a balloon." There's an immediate release of tension.

    It serves "an important defense—distraction," adds Federman. "In the midst of emotional turmoil, physical pain helps people disconnect from intense emotional turmoil." But the effect lasts only hours.

    Further, "it is the only action that can effectively stop dissociative episodes," says Favazza. "That makes it especially common among girls who were sexually abused."

    Again, no one forces these girls and women to scratch or cut themselves. IT'S A CHOICE.

  70. To Lostboy:

    "I was sexually abused from the age of four to eight. Because of this I became very ashamed of my body. I felt dirty, like I had done something wrong. I became suspicious and secretive. I remember wishing that I was a boy. Maybe I created a 'male' persona because it made me feel less helpless. I don't know. But, I was convinced that all men were pigs early on and that some part of me wanted to be male anyway.

    "I remember first learning about puberty in elementary school, and realizing that I could forstall the inevitable if I became skinnier. So, I nearly killed myself by dropping down to 70 lbs in an attempt to avoid growing breasts. When they finally made me eat and I began growing breasts I was devistated. But, I buried those feelings for the sake of survival in middle school. I tried my best to identify with other females. I went out of my way to copy their mannerisms and speech patterns. It always felt like an act. I always felt like a little lost boy in girl's clothing. It was secretly humiliating. I hated myself. I hated my body. I hated men because they had things that I couldn't have and because they frightened me. I hated women because they were so complicated and I always felt like they were ten steps ahead of me when I was trying so hard to be one of them. I knew I was romantically interested in females and males, but sex didn't interest me.

    I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and anxiety. I couldn't leave my house by the time I was in high school. I was a complete wreck at school because I hated being seen by other people. I attempted suicide."

    Lostboy, you sound so sad. I don't want to pry into your personal life, but are you seeing a counselor? You said that you were diagnosed with bipolar? Although I'm not a doctor, "transitioning" isn't going to change the bipolar nor will it change the emotional trauma of childhood abuse.

    In all honesty, I don't know what to say. Please find a good counselor would be my first suggestion.

    I wish you the best. Are there counselors in your area?

  71. "You're correct that in all of human history, transitioning medically is new. Also in all of human history, chemotherapy is new, open heart surgery is new, anti-deprassants is new, a lot of life saving surgeries and medicine have only been developed in the last few decades, increasing live spans, decreasing infant mortality, etc. Of course, any new medicine or surgery needs to be monitored to determine long term effects. We are in the process of figuring that out with medical transitioning now. But we have to do it in order to figure that out, just like we had to start using chemotherapy."

    Question: Is this person really comparing heart disease or cancer to "gender dysphoria" or "gender identity disorder"? Am I to believe that chemotherapy and "T" or testosterone for biological females with "gender dysphoria" are the same.

    Are they really serious, or is this some kind of joke. The thing about good science is that the results can be duplicated anywhere. Science is based upon controlled, repeated experiments Any decent lab in the word can detect cancerous cells. Let's say that a person has a suspicious tumor, and lab results show that it is cancerous. The results would be the same no matter where he or she had the tests. This is something that is clearly quantifiable no matter what country or culture we are in. Also, any number of laboratory tests can detect heart disease. Is there a lab test for "gender dysphoria"? Are there medical tests for "gender dysphoria" or "gender identity disorder"? How exactly do we quantify "gender identity disorder"? How can it be realistically measure? Clear precise science is can be quantified. If a person diagnosed with cancer doesn't get treatment, scientists know the likely outcome. He or she is likely to die. That is, there are actual biological changes in the human body that can be measured. The studies on gender identity disorder are not as clear. It's difficult to even come together on a clear defintion of "gender dysphoria" because it is so intertwined with culture. During my childhood, I was a tomboy, but with a lot of patient soul searching, I finally came to accept my female body. It was a long process, and it didn't happen over night, but "transitioning" is not for every gender non-conforming person.

    As to "transitioning medically", I didn't know that there was a medical term called "transitioning". When a female gets a mastectomy because of a malignant tumor on her breasts, it's based on an actual lab test that detects cancerous cells. In "chest masculanization" or "top surgery", a female gets both her healthy breasts removed based on "gender dysphoria". At the risk of repeating myself, even some members of the trans community state that the decision to transition can be influenced by peer pressure and culture.

    There are volumes of research material on diseases like heart disease and cancer. The disease pathways and processes are clearly understood. I don't dispute the idea that gender non-conforming people, or individuals who step outside the boundaries of sex based traditional roles of masculinity and femininity, exist. Indeed, they have always existed. Rather, I question surgically mutilating their healthy breasts and genitals. Moreover, I don't know if the human female body is designed for a life time of an exogenous source of testosterone. Humans are nothing more than primates, and it does appear that we can only push our species so far.

  72. "It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity."

    Albert Einstein

    Let's say that in five hundred years, humans could easily change their sex even down to the cellular level through some miraculous new technology. Is this something that we really want to do? Are there ethical implications involved in erasing female identity? If it were possible five hundred years from now to make truly transseuxal people who can change their sex down to the DNA level, why not make trans humans? That is, humans that are genetically engineered with DNA from other species. The amazing thing about humans is that our technology while impressive never seems to catch up to our ability to reason, and see the full consequences of our behavior.

    I contend that there are ethical implications involved in radically altering healthy female breasts, genitals, and reproductive systems. We are already deliberatly delaying normal adolescence puberty based on "gender dyshporia".

  73. What female identities are erased though? What if one never identified as female, tomboy or anything but always had a male persona?
    Ethics with children/adolescents, yeah (although I wish if sorted out this mess sooner) but what ethics with adults?
    Hormones/top surgery aren't guaranteed to kill you. I had pcos and didn't menstruate/produced ridiculously high levels of t anyway. Suicide is a more sure way to kill you however, and pre-t, or before even coming out, I starved myself, worked out like mad, drank lots and self-harmed since elementary school with no results. I've tried all sorts of "loving yourself" mind work.
    Is my life rosy? Hell no. It's harder socially then when I was in the lesbian circles but ive stopped harming myself, am eating properly, drink very rarely b/c I'm on meds as well and generally strive to be healthier. I don't think I'm going to kill myself. I hate to say it but I seem to feel better about myself now than ever before, even though I'm a bit on the chubby side at the moment.
    I've only been on hrt 5 months, so there's a possibility it's too soon to tell and I might change my mind but I highly doubt it.
    It really kills me because I've fought for equality tooth and nail before, was bullied like mad, wanted so badly to prove women are just as capable, deserve everything, and just wanted my achievements to go towards the women's team (men have enough crap already) but I wouldn't have made it that path I was headed towards.
    It fucking kills me and I still can't get over it sometimes. I really wanted to be a women's and lesbians champion b/c that's the community that I fell by default in when the mainstream world rejected me.
    There's much loss and grief felt. Not regrett. There has even been doubt but when are we without a doubt? I even think a bit of questioning is healthy.

  74. @ 5:56 PM

    God you're dumb.

  75. I am a feminist.

    I hate transsexuals.

    They are all perverts, or stupid women. They're little girls who have been tricked by the patriarchy to transition. They're probably just lesbians but don't know any better.

    Women like me need to tell these stupid girls how they should think and feel. We need to be there to tell them how all their decisions are wrong. It's our job to scare them away from medical procedures and drugs, even if doctors have told them that those procedures and drugs can help them.

    As a feminist woman, I believe that we should be using fear, hatred, shame, and even when necessary, lies to try to stop the growing number of transsexuals. We should stop all efforts to make transsexuals accepted members of society. Even if it means that we put transsexuals at a higher risk of being discriminated against or hurt, we should do everything we can to make sure the world knows that a "transgender" identity is unacceptable.

    Brava to Dirt and the other feminists on this blog for not shying away from using tools like hatred and fear to spread their messages.

  76. Feminists should not want to create more violence in the world! You sound just like people who used to argue that all homosexuals should be told they're unacceptable. Don't miss represent feminists and lesbians in thinking we need to wage a war against FTMs. They are not the enemy.

  77. These "transguys" are gross and unhealthy.

    It is just like gay sex. Gay sex is totally gross and unhealthy. Men can really get hurt by anal sex, and gays are more likely to get AIDS, just like transexuals are. That should be proof enough that homosexuals and transexuals are both sick.

  78. 3:13, it's pretty obvious you fell for a troll post. That person is not a feminist, he's an ftm trying to make feminists look bad. Which isn't too difficult a task is you read the rest of this blog.

  79. @ 12:39

    If it is a troll, it doesn't seem they're saying anything different from what the "feminists" on this blog say anyway. They're just not trying to hide the hateful language behind a layer of dubious "scientific" support or comparisons of transitioning to genital mutilation.

  80. 12:39- at least you understand that ftm's aren't feminist.
    anyway, there's no 'hatred' or 'fear' on dirt's blog (aside from that from the gender-believers).

  81. (and there is no science more dubious than what is cited by transsexualists.)

  82. "anyway, there's no 'hatred' or 'fear' on dirt's blog (aside from that from the gender-believers)."

    Bullshit. How about when she accuses us of being child molesters or accuses our partners of being child molesters? I'd like you to answer that, because you are nothing but a fucking bullshitter.

  83. Hey all! Sorry for my absence, the holidays were quite time-consuming but very pleasant. Looks like I missed a lot, and I will attempt to catch up with everyone. If I miss something you wanted addressed, please just point me to it and I will check back up.

    Firstly, Lostboy, I would like to address you because your post(s) were really, really heartbreaking. I know you said that you were going to start seeing a gender therapist, which is possibly a good start. I would caution you right from the out-set about seeing a therapist that has a set notion of the pathway for gender non-conforming individuals, however. It is not my place to tell you if you are making a mistake or if you are doing this for the wrong reasons. I fully believe that any individual that sets their mind to it can overcome body dysphoria without resorting to physical transition, but it is an extremely long and hard road for some of us.
    I can relate to pretty much everything you’re saying. When you say that you love and respect women, but you just aren’t one, I’m reminded of myself at your age (not that I’m terribly older, but at our age, 6 years is a substantial difference). For a long time I struggled very, very hard with the notion that I just didn’t connect with women the way that women connect with each other, and that I always felt like an outsider with women. Honestly, I still do most of the time. I’ve come to realize, however, that this isn’t anything biologically based, so I can’t justify treating it with drugs and surgery for myself, individually. I personally would need a biological basis of disease/disorder for me to look for medical intervention. Otherwise, I believe it is the best course of action to work hard to get through psychological issues with the help of a therapist, if possible, that won’t try to convince you that your sexual-characteristic-related anxiety is a sign of the necessity of sex reassignment.
    Your entire letter really screams of someone that needs help coping, to me. I think our generation is far too easily swayed to medical/pharmacological treatments for psychological disorders rather than learning new ways to cope and interact with the world around us. Coping with the world as a gender-non-conforming individual is hard enough without the history of sexual abuse that you have. I can only begin to imagine how hard that must be and how heavy interacting with the world on a daily basis must be on your psyche. I really, really cannot urge you strong enough to start working with a therapist on coping mechanisms for interacting and getting along in the world, both related and un-related to your body dysphoria.

  84. Do you know why I think that documentary about transgender kids “clicked” for you? I think it “clicked” for the same reason hearing about transsexuality “clicks” for a lot of us – we suffer severe anxiety related to our bodies and sexual characteristics, and we see people that also suffer finding ways out of their anxiety. This anxiety and dysphoria can be absolutely crippling, and I understand that. However, what you really need to develop are coping methods. You need to learn how to get along in the world, and it’s going to be complicated by all of the shit that life has already thrown at you. Please, please get into consoling for learning to cope. At 19, your brain hasn’t even formed fully enough for rational, logical thought. Give yourself time. Do not rush. Teach yourself to take deep breaths. Find even one person that you can rely on, whether that person is a family member, friend, or a professional doesn’t make so much of a difference. Find community that supports you in learning to get through the day-to-day, and doesn’t pressure you. You can email me,, absolutely any time at all, and for any reason. I can promise you that my response to that will be much quicker than on here.
    Overall, just please allow yourself time. Time will seem like the enemy at first, because you will feel like you don’t know how to continue for another week, let alone years and years for the rest of your life. But with time comes ease, especially if you learn to quiet your anxiety, and eventually life will begin to come more naturally for you.
    I am absolutely not saying that you have to change anything about yourself, by the way. Learn to live with yourself, in your skin. Don’t take shit from anyone, and please don’t hesitate to contact me.

  85. The “Drug Addict Analogy”

    I will try to elucidate this a little further, as it seems it was unclear. It may be difficult without the option of drawing graphs, but I will do my best.

    Imagine that there is a certain chemical that exists in the brain of humans that is correlated to sex, similar to the way BSTc counts have been correlated to sex. For simplification and because this is hypothetical, I’ll be making up round numbers for ease of understanding. This chemical is high in one sex and almost non-existent in the other sex, as measured on a scale from 0-100. As humans are sexually dimorphic creatures, we will assume two sexes (intersex individuals, while interesting case studies, are exceptions rather than the rule, so are not considered in this hypothetical situation). Of individuals of the sex where the chemical is highly present, if we were able to test every individual human of this sex (as defined by chromosomes AND genitalia, therefore excluding intersex conditions), 95% of them would fall in a range between 80-100 on our scale from 0-100. In the opposite sex, under the same testing conditions, 95% of individuals fall on a scale from 0-20.
    What of the remaining 5% of individuals that fall outside of the typical range for their sex? I will follow this from the perspective of following the one sex with high levels of this hypothetical chemical, but it should be noted that the logic works both ways.
    Well, in the case of the sex that is correlated to high volumes of this chemical, the remaining 5% fall anywhere on the scale between 0-80, and vice versa for the opposite sex. Now, let’s imagine that 3% of those individuals fall between 20-80, and 2% fall in the statistically normal range for the opposite sex (between 0-20). One might imagine that being able to discover and calculate a biochemical that functions this way could be a clear biomarker for transsexuality, right? Wrong. In order for this chemical to function as a clear biomarker the burden of proof would fall to scientists and physicians to prove that every single member of this 2% are, in fact, transsexual.

    Bringing this back to addiction, we can imagine addiction the same way. Let’s say there is a chemical in the brain that, when present, leads an individual to have an addictive personality. Again, in 95% of the human population, this chemical is very low or non-existent (I don’t actually know the numbers of addiction, all numbers are purely for illustration). For the other 5% of the human population, this chemical is high. In order for us to have a biomarker for determining exactly who is going to be an addict, we would have to be able to measure this chemical and prove that anyone in the range of this 5% WILL be an addict, with no exceptions. This would prove that addiction is purely biological. However, from studies that have been done, it would seem that such a pathway exists that is predominantly found in addicts, but can be found in non-addicts, as well. So what is the difference? Clearly it’s not purely biology, right?

    Do you see how this correlates with the hypothetical situation I drafted above regarding transsexuality? The idea is that, although there may be positive correlation with specific diseases or psychological disorders and certain chemicals or biological pathways, this positive correlation does not suggest causation. It is easy to imagine an individual in the 2% range of people who fall in the chemical make-up of the opposite sex that does NOT identify as transsexual, just as it is easy to imagine an individual in the 5% range of “addicts,” but is not actually an addict. (cont…)

  86. (…cont)Of course this is all speculative, but so is most of the scientific research being tossed around regarding transsexuality. If you look at the studies that trans-advocates like to talk about (such as the ever-popular BSTc study), you realize they really lack the necessary negative controls to come to any real conclusions, and likely always will because of the lack of ability to perform post-mortem brain analysis on enough subjects. For instance, again back to the BSTc study regarding MtFs, the controls used in the study are heterosexual males, homosexual males, and heterosexual females. All of these cohorts were self-identified. However, the study says nothing of the nature of these individuals other than their sexual orientation. These homosexual males, are they all strongly male identified, or have any of them experienced body dysphoria? The real negative controls would include individuals that experience body dysphoria but do not elect sexual reassignment or identify as transsexual. Perhaps all this BSTc study confirms is a biological basis for gender dysphoria, not a biological necessity for sexual reassignment.
    But, for the purpose of discussion, let’s assume that even a full 1% of those 2% of statistical outliers are transsexual or seek sexual reassignment and the other 1% don’t. Let us even assume that a full 1% of the 3% of individuals that fall outside of the statistical mode of sexually “diagnostic” chemical seek sexual reassignment. Perhaps this chemical could be used as an indicator for “success” of sexual reassignment, or “happiness” after sexual reassignment, but it will never be a diagnostic marker for transsexuality.

  87. For those interested, I have been inspired to create my own blog. There is virtually no content at the given time, but I will be posting content and discussions over the coming weekend.

    The Author

  88. I never hated my body, even my breasts. They weren't so big, they were even pretty nice looking. I always thought I looked male, so I didn't have a real big conflict when I passed as male. Actually I liked it. I never thought of myself as having a gender per se, until everyone started talking about it like it was some fixed quantity in a person. Then I felt I had to figure out what that was. I have to say, that was heartily inconvenient. Processing on whether I wanted a more masculine body... required no processing at all. But I felt like I had to agree with the trans narrative to some extent just in order to get treatment for something I didn't even feel was a condition. Why ask someone if I can become a boy when I was already a boy? Why pretend to be sad when I liked myself and my body? I was made strong and solid, muscular. Why did I feel I had to separate myself from my self just to transition? Why go through such drama over a little liposuction in the chest area, when people routinely get nose jobs and shit with little to no judgement or suffering. It's the narrative of transition that fucks everybody up. Young kids get exposed to it and adopt it as their own story. Without the tragic narrative of transition to point at, all you lesbians would have no foothold on any of us. We could just quietly go about our transition and nobody would ever know. You'd have nothing to question. If I had had access to testosterone with none of the pathology, I'd have "transitioned" years before I did. I'm still the same person. I wasn't looking for some goddamn new persona.

  89. I'm sorry, I'm attempting to understand your explanation/justification and I'm not following. Perhaps you are a previous anonymous poster and I lost your train of thought somewhere. I'll attempt to address tis, regardless.
    It sounds like you wanted a more cosmetically masculine body and take testosterone and had chest reconstruction to achieve this. When you compare chest reconstruction to a nose job, the implication is surely that this is a cosmetic procedure. The idea that these are cosmetic choices indeed seems to be the theme for this thread, and not really in dispute as to whether they should or shouldn't be allowed.
    Where I'm losing you is how you came to the conclusion that your physical build ("muscular" and "solid" though it certainly may be) indicates some sort of "maleness" or "being a boy." The logic just doesn't quite fit. What exactly, then, makes you different from a Butch lesbian that appears very stereotypically masculine, desires this "masculine" aesthetic, and is generally recognized by the public as "masculine"? You're really losing me on your logic here.
    No one in this thread seems to be disputing an individuals right to elective cosmetic procedures. It may not sit right with me, but that doesn't mean I'm at all saying you don't have the right to change your body as you see fit. All I'm saying is that it's not due to a genetic difference or biochemical difference in your brain, it's a choice. Which seems to be what you're saying. So what are you arguing?

  90. "What exactly, then, makes you different from a Butch lesbian that appears very stereotypically masculine, desires this "masculine" aesthetic, and is generally recognized by the public as "masculine"? "

    What exactly brings up any frame of reference for comparing anyone to a butch lesbian? I want to believe that you are so objective, but I fear you have the same defensive-butch complex as so many of the others on this page. What is a butch lesbian? Does a person have to define themselves that way or *feel* like a lesbian to be called one? A butch lesbian is more of a sociological identity, whereas the biological effects of hormones create a completely different physical and social reality for the person whose body experiences them. To be "generally" recognized by the public as something sounds ambiguous and tenuous. Which being "masculine" *is* for a butch lesbian. There are very concrete physical and sociological differences between how I feel/am treated and how a butch lesbian feels/is treated.

  91. All I'm saying is, I was never looking for some sort of identifiable condition to justify my transition. It seems like you were, and now you are somewhat chagrined by that. I don't believe I was born in the wrong body, nor do I believe I am tragically at odds with the one I have. I still think transitioning is a sum/null argument when it comes to what really matters in life. Not everyone has the same ideas about transitioning or gender, and I think we can both agree that certain narratives can attract the uncertain souls. Also, I responded before to your "purely aesthetic" argument. Some transmen have experienced ample growth in the clitoris and can achieve penetration, which is highly pleasurable. That's not aesthetic. Furthermore, certain elements of physical performance cannot be achieved through "hard work" alone but can be quite functional, especially in a manual labor type of job. A higher RBC for me means greater stamina in the gym and out. We can argue about whether these things are truly desirable, but I don't think that it can be asserted that those things are purely aesthetic.

  92. My frame of reference for comparing “anyone to a butch lesbian” comes from you explicitly stating that “without the tragic narrative of transition to point at, all you lesbians would have no foothold on any of us.” I’m sorry, I took when you said “lesbians” and changed it to “butch lesbian” to make more concrete the “masculinity” it seemed you implied when you said “lesbian.” If that was incorrect, I’m sorry, but my analysis still stands.
    I think I define “butch” differently than it seems your taking it. It seems to me that you think that when I say “butch” I’m meaning the same thing as Dirt means, which is a very specific definition. All I mean when I say “butch” is a very stereotypically “masculine” individual, which is also not to insinuate that I think “butch” women really have much in common with stereotypically understood “maleness” (as in, “masculinity” = “male-like characteristics). I think you and I both know what I mean, even though I may lack adequate language to explain myself. I am still working on developing my language skills in talking in this sphere, I realize it’s very difficult. One of the ways I’ve heard it described (by Bev Jo, if anyone follows or is aware of her, I don’t mean to take credit for this) that I like best, is women that are not defined male-attracting characteristics (which is also not to imply that all “male attraction” is universal, this should clearly be taken as a generalization). Yes, this gets wordy and academic, and the sociological side of academics has always been something more difficult for me to understand and speak of than the clear-cut biological/scientific side of academia, but I am trying. I hope this more adequately explains what I mean when I say “butch” women, and from here on out I can just say “butch” without further explanation.
    I don’t really have a defensive butch complex, but I can absolutely see why you see that. I am quite “butch,” by the above definition, and yes, I am pushing you to define yourself in a concrete way that is different from me, which makes me sound defensive. I think a more accurate way to describe my position, however, is to say that I am staunchly defensive of the scientific method and science in general.
    When you talk about how people are “recognized in public,” we’re really getting into sexism and sex roles here. So, you experience male privilege. So do I. Why are we talking about this in these terms? What we’re actually experiencing is “being treated like a human,” which is something that people who society automatically take as female are not so privy to. Actually, why are you even bringing up how society treats you or how society treats me as an argument if your logic is that you merely desired these physically “male” traits and sought to acquire them? If society wasn’t the issue, or if men and women shouldn’t be treated differently, then what makes you male? The desire to acquire these characteristics or the fact that you actually went out and got them? Take care in answering these questions, and ask yourself if your answers hold true if we substitute in other races or other species instead of the opposite sex.

  93. (...cont)
    I would like you to elucidate the “concrete physical and sociological differences between how [you] feel/am treated and how a butch lesbian feels/is treated.” I thought about this sentence a lot, trying to figure out what you mean and how to take it. Because society takes you 100% as male, you are treated as a human being. A butch lesbian, on the other hand, taken by society as male even 60% of the time, yes, experiences something very different than you… and much worse. So you escaped that fate by cosmetic drug and surgical intervention to appear male (this is not an implication of your motivation, just a statement of how you are treated/received now). As for how a butch lesbian “feels”? What gives you the right to say that, categorically, every butch lesbian “feels” differently from you? That’s hogwash. You absolutely cannot say that and have it be logically or categorically true. It’s false. I feel the same way you do. I desire these traits, I can achieve penetration with my partner with my given genitalia (albeit, cosmetically altered by testosterone use), and I am a “butch lesbian.” Your statement cannot logically stand, I’m sorry. Being treated differently, yes. Feeling differently, no. Escaping being “treated as female” for being “treated as male” is exactly one of the worst issues here. Why are we “escaping being treated as female” instead of fighting to be treated like a human being in our own skin? This is not an argument that I think you have brought up in the past, and I apologize if I am taking your statement wrong and if that is the case I would be very interested to hear you elucidate or re-state it.
    No one is saying that the fact that you have cosmetically altered your body to appear closer to male changes who you are, or at least I am not. I am just arguing that you’re a female that desired cosmetic changes and got them.
    Also, you seem to be using a broken definition for “cosmetic” or “aesthetic.”
    Cosmetic: Involving or relating to treatment intended to restore or improve a person’s appearance.
    Aesthetic: Concerned with beauty or appreciation of the body.
    Neither of these definitions exclude the possibility that something “cosmetic” or “aesthetic” cannot have a function. For something to be “not cosmetic,” I do believe it would have to either completely change the function of whatever is being changed. Your clitoris has grown to the point where it can achieve penetration, but it is still a clitoris. It still functions exactly the same, it’s just bigger. That’s cosmetic. Your RBC count? Well, those red blood cells are doing exactly the same thing they were doing before you started testosterone. There is absolutely no functional change. Now, there’s just more of them, which makes your blood oxygenation more efficient. Even if these two things took you out of the statistical female range and put you in the statistical male range, they don’t define you as a specific sex. You’re a female with certain very specific cosmetic changes, provided to you by testosterone treatment and cosmetic, chest reconstructive surgery. Why do you say you’re a “man”? Does “man” mean something different that “adult male human” to you? What makes you not a woman? Does “woman” mean something different that “adult female human”?

  94. A few more definitions, just so we’re clear. The previous two were from Google’s wonderful “define:” feature, but here’s a few more just to drive the point home.

    Aesthetic: of, relating to, or dealing with aesthetics or the beautiful. Artistic. Pleasing in appearance (attractive). Appreciative of, responsive to, or zealous about the beautiful. Responsive to or appreciative of what is pleasurable to the senses.
    Cosmetic: of, relating to, or making for beauty especially of the complexion. Done or made for the sake of appearance. Visually appealing.
    Aesthetic: Pertaining to a sense of the beautiful or to the science of aesthetics. Having a sense of the beautiful. Pertaining to, involving, or concerned with pure emotion and sensation as opposed to pure intellectuality.
    Cosmetic: Serving to beautify; imparting or improving beauty, especially of the face. Used or done superficially to make something look better, more attractive or more impressive.

    No one is imparting a moral value onto these. True, I’ve stated my ethical and moral problems with purely cosmetic/aesthetic surgical procedures, but merely stating that something is a aesthetic change does not inherently impart moral value. If you take it that way, that’s your issue.

  95. Another thing to think about as you mull over these differences:

    When we say that altering something cosmetically can make an object "better," such as the enlarging of the clitoris to a point where it can achieve penetration into another human being, don't we have to question what "better" means? Or would you be implying that it's not cosmetic at all, because it doesn't make your clitoris "better," just "different"? Or does it make your clitoris a penis? If it makes your clitoris merely "different," and not "better," then why undergo a life-long treatment of hormones in order to achieve something that's not actually "better"?

    You don't have to answer these questions, of course. I'm just pushing to understand. You've been very gracious in your communications and I really do feel we're striving to understand each other on a deeper level.

  96. So much to respond to, I don't think I can cover it before I have to go out. Is it necessary or even possible to reduce human experience to a purely scientific state? What *about* feeling male? If I can't quantify my experience of that for you, does that mean it doesn't exist? In this blog in the past, I've talked about archetypes and other nebulous concepts which are met with a resounding dismissal. I realize some women on this site are very eager to deconstruct gender completely, but I'm not sure that's possible or even a great idea for humans. There are some gendered concepts which should be completely eradicated, I believe, but not a person's sense of themselves. I do realize that I can't truthfully say being male means absolutely nothing to me. When I speak about my motives for transitioning, I am in part reacting to all the academic gender-theory gobbledygook I waded through i order to arrive at the same conclusion I started with-that I wanted my body, like 40 years ago. I did not celebrate the position I felt myself to be in as some kind of queer revolution. I did not feel like part of a group of people doing the same thing at the same time, which I feel some kids now are experiencing. For one thing, there was alot of man-hating, and oh, I'm going to transition but I'm not gonna be, like a MAN. Or, I'm a boy, not a man. Blah, blah blah.

  97. continued ....
    I felt as though I was putting myself through a male puberty late in life. There are relational experiences I have had over the past ten years that do mean something to me regarding what kind of man I am in a social and familial context. Testosterone has changed my brain. Yes, you can call me an adult female and that will be true regarding my chromosomes, but my male hormone levels are that of an adult man, and have been for some time. So, my xy switch didn't flip in the womb, but the results of that switch flipping did happen later in life for me. I have been experienced as male by society. I dealt with all the bullshit of a suddenly raging sex drive, my ugly duckling teenage bloating acne-faced rejected-by-girls fugue state. After that, I learned to navigate strong emotions and intimacy. I learned to navigate the vulnerability of male friendship which *is* different. In *my* experience. In fact, everything has been different. You can laugh at what I'm saying, but you can't have walked in my shoes. You can say that I experienced all these things as an adult female, but I only see that being true from a chromosomal perspective. We don't relate with our chromosomes. We don't live our lives as sets of chromosomes. We relate with our brains and our hearts and our intellects, all of which are strongly affected by hormones. It could be true that there is no difference between you and I, but there might as well be all the difference in the world. I don't think that we are on the same page re: cosmetic until proven otherwise, by the way. It sounds like you are asserting that unless something has been proven to change in function, it's a cosmetic change. Now that you and have established that we can both penetrate our partners with our enhanced genitals, would you not agree that it is more pleasurable to actually be *inside* your partner with your sex organ? That was an explosively revelatory moment for me the first time that happened. Sorry to be so explicit, but it is something that I enjoy tremendously and my partner does too. (At least she's told me so, without provocation). That really seems other than cosmetic. Honestly. As a final note on functionality, my ovaries no longer function. Nor does my uterus fill with blood. My progesterone levels do not spike once a month ( as far as I know), or at least I do not feel the incredibly destabilizing emotional effects of pms. I may have traded it in for the overly stable and occasionally emotionally-retarded effects of testosterone, but that seems like the definition of functional to me. As in *not dysfunctional*, which is exactly how I was for at least half the month before testosterone.

    As far as butches go, I have no argument with what you are saying. My only comment on butches is that I sense alot of anger from some towards ftm's, coupled with an inability to be emotionally honest about what's really going on. I can understand grief, loneliness and loss regarding other people's transitioning. I get that-it really is a loss for some. What I don't understand is wishing transmen dead, calling us child molesters and rapists etc.

    Time is up, friends are waiting. I enjoy this exchange, so thanks. I hope you can appreciate that it is vulnerable to reveal some of the things that I have, as I appreciate the vulnerability of your posts.

  98. Hello again, Anon. I know that I’ve been quiet for a few days, for a few different reasons, most of which was general busy-ness and the rest was just not knowing where to take the conversation from here. I feel like we’ve talked this out and reached an understanding between us.
    I can agree with you on a great many levels about the generalizations that you’re making. I think the point at which I fall out from you is when I think about whether these generalizations are universally true. Yes, in general male friendship is different. However, as an exception to this rule, I know from personal experience that I have extremely similar friendships with males now that I did when I was calling myself male/actively pursing physical transition/being taken as male 100% of the time. Therefore, I think it’s pretty safe to say that although male friendships are in general different than female friendships, it’s not fair to say that this is a necessity. I also enjoy a friendship with one other female in my life (who has never ID’d as anything but female) that is exceedingly similar to the “male friendships” that I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying, so I know that this is not something that is, by definition, hormone- or sex-linked. I know this is a very sensitive subject, at least for me, because when I was young I so desired this variety of “male friendship” and believed I would never experience it. Now that I have, while “a guy” and while “female,” I can pretty concretely say that this variety of friendship can occur no matter what the sex of the parties involved, although I can absolutely agree that in society in general this is much more likely to happen between males.
    Yes, it is pleasurable to penetrate my partner with my genitals. Yes, the first time I achieved it was a mind-blowing experience. However, although I have no personal experience with this I have read of females with genitals long enough/large enough to achieve this without hormone treatment, especially after “pumping.” You and I may have not been born with the anatomy to achieve this, but we have acquired the ability through cosmetic means. An individual may pierce or stretch their genitals, as well, and come to realize they can perform new varieties of sex acts, as well. Is this cosmetic or not? I suppose the point is mute, as I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t see HRT or SRS as anything more than very, very extreme acts of body modification, and mods in general are something I’m quite fond.
    I still very much desire an aesthetic for my body and myself that the world at large would easily consider “male.” I work very hard to achieve this, and I have to work very hard mentally to reconcile what I see in the mirror. When I look in the mirror, often I have to actively tell myself that I’m not an “ugly female” or a “decently attractive guy” (which are the two things I usually think immediately upon seeing myself), which I wanted to mention in relation to your statement about having always looked into the mirror and seen a guy. I’ve been actively reconditioning myself to be able to see an “attractive female” when I look in the mirror, although my attractiveness is clearly not anywhere within the stereotypical or statistical female range. My wonderful, loving partner, although she doesn’t quite understand the depths of my discomfort with my body, appreciates my body in a way that is quite natural feeling and very appreciated by me, and I know that has a lot to do with how far I’ve come in accepting what I’ve got to work with.


  99. I hope that you appreciate that I would never wish harm, much less death, on any individual, regardless of identity or choice in body modification. It makes me cringe with disgust when I see this hatred, and I hope never to be associated with that amount of hate. For the record, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Dirt wish harm or death on anyone, either.
    I simply wanted to put out a narrative that has a happy ending, albeit through much, much more difficult mental work than I ever had to put in when I was physically transitioning, that has an “un-feminine female” with body dysphoria at the center of it. Your narrative is also interesting, and thank you for putting it out there for other people to read and contemplate. I think you and I are very similar, from as far as I can tell reading your posts, but we made some different life decisions. In the end I suppose it is a null-sum argument, as you’ve been saying. It just seems to me that the narrative of “dysphoria/extreme discomfort with sex organs/a strong desire for the aesthetics generally stereotyped to the opposite sex = you must be the opposite sex in your brain” is very, very strong these days, and I, for one, haven’t seen much of anything going against this narrative coming from anyone in my age group, so I put mine out there.