Hey dirt and readers,
Wow, this is somewhere I thought I’d never end up. But life has a habit of taking you to those places and if you resist, you are not living freely, you are in a cage of your own making. There may be no rhyme or reason to the universe or to life itself. Maybe we just wake up in these places and we’re sleep-walking most of the time, until we wake.
Whatever the case is, I’m young. 22 years old. I thought I hated you and every radfem that existed at one point. Hell, I thought feminism was a joke too. I thought I could not resign myself to female living, to the heroism of men, the subservience of politeness, the sweetness of smiles, the softness and posture of an inactive and passive body made to fondle.
Now? I’m a dyke who cherishes my androgyny, my strength and I start to feel my heart bloom a little when I read radfem writings.
And I am detransitioning. I’ve already told my family and friends, I have gone off the hormones (that nearly killed me, more on that later) and I am ready to live again, because I have never really lived before. I am so damn excited.
Let’s start earlier. Same story as most: I was a little girl who hated being a little girl. I hated being ‘precious’ and I hated that I wasn’t allowed to be as surly as I pleased. Never a fan of hugs, eye-contact or the attention of crowds, I took my place in the corner with a stack of novels at family functions and eyed everyone warily. In my musical lessons, I insisted on dressing as Indiana Jones for a costume-themed recital and sang the bloody fare featured in Sweeny Todd with the same bellowing joy as Len Cariou. I wanted to stand there with wild hair and a mad glint in my eye while someone adored me, in a mature, admiring manner without any of the condescension I was doled out regularly.
My own father would assign me nicknames which made me cringe. He would touch me fondly despite my very honest and disapproving shouting and growling in discomfort. I would cry when I wore dresses. I constructed intricate systems of pulleys around the house and preferred animal figurines to cars, dolls or any of the gender-normative fare. Stories were often my playground as well, I relished coming up with the most toe-curling horror narratives possible. I was called into the school by a disapproving principal whom insisted a mob of angry parents called in and told her their children were too frightened to sleep.
Guess it worked.
Despite all this, there was darkness to me. I did not fit. I was constantly bullied by girls who offered to coach me how to be cool and shoved up against bathroom walls with death threats galore. I was told to reveal more skin and my child’s body was under scrutiny constantly, giving me serious bulimia that progressed to anorexia and self-harm by nine years old. I had been molested by an older cousin when I was very young.
Having been logical in all things since I could form words (I once argued my way into cookies for breakfast after proving the sugar content was exactly the same) and consistently frustrated by emotions, inconsistency and a lack of creativity on the parts of others, I got along better with the boys, who seemed to be more preoccupied with shooting each other with laser beams and fighting with light sabers as we reenacted Star Wars on the jungle gym.
I also became a very adept liar, coming up with excuses for why I had vomited, which I reasoned I couldn’t hide for very long, so I might as well come up with a good story and hide my problem in plain sight.
I kissed girls underwater as we played ‘Titanic’, I found I related to Leonardo DiCaprio’s inoffensive, gentle, beautiful brand of masculinity and his respect for his lady, Rose, the sacrifices he was willing to make. I did not cry at the end of the movie, instead, quietly resolving that I would be a hero one day, like him. Not like Rose. I did not want to be saved, I did not want to look soft, beautiful and sad in my gilded cage. I wanted to be physical, I wanted to explore, I wanted to impress people with my dexterity of mind and body and I wanted to save people. I wanted to have the room to fall in love with the ‘wrong’ person and do some crazy things.
Boys were my friends, but I would not be anyone’s girlfriend. I could not see myself as a woman in a powersuit with sleek hair, nor as a teenage girl in a high-school uniform. I could not see myself in women. I saw myself in the saucy lankiness of scruffy rock gods, the devil-may-care grins of thrill seekers in films, the deep pain of confusion written on the faces of James Dean and Johnny Depp, but I could not see myself in any of the women I looked at.
Gays were not hated in my home, they simply didn’t exist. My mother was a ‘tomboy’ when she was younger, which meant she had short hair and didn’t like to give into the whims of people around her. My dad was a hard-working man who made his way through medical school after being kicked out of his home by his single mother and battling a drug problem. They were admirable people, but they didn’t understand my pain upon breaking up with my first girlfriend or why I wore suits, why I cropped my hair.
My mother, who went through hell and back to have me, grew very uneasy with me as the word ‘lesbian’ was uttered. I denied it. Vehemently. I didn’t want her to be disgusted with me.
I went to a new school and my classmates tormented me for my short hair. “Dyke”, “lezzie” and other venomous hissing was directed at me. There were girls who were curious, tentatively kind to me and enjoyed my attention, but they ultimately stayed friends and did little to defend me.
Enter middle school. Curiosity reigned supreme in my circle of friends, while I was confused at the sentiment. I was only doing what felt natural to me. I was only being whom I knew how to be and that was, well... masculine. And carrying on relationships with other females.
I delighted in being called ‘such a guy’ by them when I didn’t know what shampoo I used, I just poured the stuff on my head, I was adventurous, brooding and I did not want to be a ‘lesbian’. I hated my breasts. I hated my period. I hated these markers of being a ‘girl’, everything my behavior said I was not.
Not knowing what to do, or seeing a future for myself, I floated until I found the transgender community. I had not known about it until my early teens, but immediately, I knew what had been wrong. I was a boy. I knew I could not be a girl with a pair of breasts, the looks I got, the weight ‘she’ held, my parents insisting I just needed to be tutored on ‘boy-girl’ relationships to my counselors.
At 15, I came out to my friends, who accepted the idea, of course. I had always been such a guy, right? None of them had any protests. I came out to my family, who said, ‘absolutely not’. But I knew better, I had been taught better. They were oppressing me. They were transphobic, they were not allowing me to find my core identity and express it. They wanted me to be unhappy and just deal with it.
My body-dysphoria became so unbearable, I thought about mutilating my breasts myself, as I attended a Christian school that only served to tell me the grimmest future possible for women. I would not. I could not. I would be free. I would be strong, lean and sharp. No one would see me as a prize or a child, I would grow up and people would RESPECT me.
I was allowed to see a gender-therapist after suicide attempts and much pleading, after meeting the criteria she had put forth for an appointment (functionality, passing grades, get back in school [I dropped out for two months due to my depression and eating disorder]).
She told my parents I had severe gender dysphoria and recommended they help me seek treatment. My other therapist (non-gender related therapy) was not quite on board with this, but said nothing, as this was not her specialty.
I was resolute. I would be attractive and androgynous, like David Bowie, but I would be a hero because I was a man. I would love other men, I would not associate with women and I had never REALLY been a lesbian, right? That was just high school. That word, the hiss of the ‘s’ against the pop of the ‘b’, the pornographic images it inspired and the disgust people had treated me with, instilled in me, would be erased.
At 17, I took my first shot of testosterone. Shortly before my 18th birthday, I had my breasts removed. I wanted to be stealth, but I was a regular at a few support groups and received affirmation, congratulations every step of the way. The kind I had never gotten. This was good, I was doing WELL for once. I was not a messed-up dyke. I was just a sensitive guy, a rebel. I would be perfect now.
I got a girlfriend, two... no great loves there. It was no surprise. I had decided I was a gay man. I wanted to be hurt by someone with strength. I didn’t want any fragility or gentleness. I wanted someone who wasn’t frivolous and who held gravitas, as women were not afforded. I had a sexual encounter with a gay man that started off as consensual and ended up with him raping me. I had a consensual encounter with a bisexual man. A bi-curious friend from high school assaulted me as well and so did a strange in a gay club. I was proud of these encounters, they affirmed my identity and I did not see them for what they were: events that left me with crippling PTSD, eventually.
I had a third girlfriend post transition, a straight woman. We talked for a very long time, became close and I divulged my history to her. She didn’t mind. She was very feminine and I could not connect to it, but there was something else to her, some fire that I liked. We played husband and wife, we were good in our roles as ‘just a boy and a little girl trying to change the whole wide world’. But it soured. Something wasn’t right. She was uncomfortable and I felt strange, playing boyfriend.
Then illness set in. My weight plummeted involuntarily and I was in bed for weeks at a time/handicapped due to GI issues that no doctor seemed to be able to pin-point. I had pancreatitis every so often and was on a liquid diet. My skin was yellowing. My hair was falling out. My eyes were dull and my skin was mottled, the acne had not gone away as I was told it would.
After being told that there was nothing, nothing at all, after an invasive series of tests and my own extensive research to guide the so-called specialists, I stumbled onto a piece of information about the role of sex hormones in the GI tract.
I had found it. I knew the effects of serotonin on the gut, where most hormones resided... but I had no idea, the effect that testosterone could have on the LES and the motility of the gut. I had no idea that my sexual organs were withering. I had no idea I had atrophy and prolapse due to the hormones I was taking and when I found out, I breathlessly, silently started tapering down.
This event coincided with my personal education on misogyny, the history of feminism, the importance of feminism and the subtle, insidious ways that the patriarchy poisoned my great mind, my mind WITHOUT A GENDER. MY BEAUTIFUL BRAIN. MY DANGEROUS, DARING, SHARP HEMISPHERES. I had believed that men and women had different brains, as the trans narrative goes. Gendered brains. No. No, not so. Epigenetics stresses the importance of environment in genetic development. Activity in the brain does not different structures make. Women are not beholden to certain postures or clothing that deforms them. Women do not need men. Women do NOT have to hate each other and women do not have inherent interests or obligations. Women are HUMAN BEINGS WHO HAVE TO FIGHT TO BE SEEN AS SUCH.
I realized I would have to make peace with my body because I would never hate women so much that I would choose death or a life withering a way to flood my body with testosterone. I realized that being female was not a cage for me. It was a new world. It was the me that I had knocked out and dragged to sea in the night. It was the me that I had been separated from forcibly. I could be a hero. I could demand to be heard. I could be crude, logical and wear my body the way I pleased, just as men are encouraged to. I could be a dyke and I could LOVE myself again, as a gay woman. I had every right to stand up and shout and it took me that long to realize it.
I have made the decision to have reconstructive surgery on my breasts. I am legally changing back to my female birth sex. My girlfriend and I are now dyke-identified and both masculine-of-center gay women. We love each other and we love our lives, the life ahead of us, we love the community, we are full of love now. We both came out of the closet at the same time.
I am healing, I am repairing the physical damage, as I have already rejected the lesbophobia, the misogyny and the body/victim/presentation shaming I was raised with. I am questioning the community. I wonder about this word ‘queer’ and if having an ‘other’ really supports gender variance or kills it completely. Masculine women should not disappear because people hate women so much they cannot stand to be one, though they are not men. Men should not be green-lighted to become women and try to school them on female experience, try to tell us we’re oppressing them if they fetishize us and we don’t want any part of it or come up with terms like ‘transmisogyny’ when trans men are discriminated against for having female experience and are only safe in invisibility. It’s straight-up misogyny. Hate for women does not get a SPECIAL category by which they can accuse feminists of being anti-woman. That is the greatest insult of all.
Young women, like me, like others, need encouragement. We need understanding. We need someone to explain that ‘woman’ is not an insult or a sentence and that the lesbian community is full of love and opportunity to be who you are.
I am ready to fight for you and with you. I am ready to fight for women of all sorts. Butches, femmes, masculine-of-centers, androgynous, those who cannot speak out because they are afraid or in danger.
Dirt, I mean this... I understand you better now. I don’t agree with everything you do on your blog, but I understand you and where you come from, that you are full of concern and love for lesbians. Thank you for caring about women. Thank you for being butch. Thank you for talking about detransition. I don't hate you at all. In fact, I want to help you speak about the things no one else will. Your message of hope has helped me get through this incredibly painful process.
I am healing already. I'm out of bed. My skin is returning to it's normal color and texture. My hair is looking much better, my eyes are clear. My hair is short. I dress, talk, walk and sit however the hell I want to. The hair on my face is almost gone and I am breathing a deep sigh of relief.
So, there it is. Here I come, life.
Edit to add from the author:
Edit to add from the author:
I see you posted my account, thank you! It feels nice to get that out, as I don't imagine I will be explaining the embarrassing ordeal to many people in my life as I go through it. Also, just so people understand, I am undergoing laser hair removal to reverse the effects of T. It is permanent and it will cease any new hair growth and remove what the T put there. I am the right skin/hair combination for this therapy to prove effective. I know people may not agree with the decision I've made to do this, as it may be viewed as conforming to a beauty standard, but the hair growth was truly abnormal for a woman to have and I would like to be able to return to the community feeling confident about my presence there, without wearing that mistake for the rest of my life. Stopping T thinned it out but did not make it disappear, that much is true.
Thank you for being supportive, I appreciate your comments you made. I would have said this in comments but for some reason, they aren't going through... weird.