Part One: The Post-Surgery Bad Feelings, Expectations Vs. Reality, and Grief
I also want to say that I feel very fortunate to have grown up in a time when "gender identity" wasn't a thing. I can relate so much to the gender dysphoria that both trans ppl and detransitioners describe. I think a lot of it really are normal things that a lot "cis" people feel. Not to trivialize your pain. I'm just saying that wanting to be the opposite gender, and/or struggling with things specific to your gender... is a pretty symptom of the human condition. We should be trying to figure out why people feel unhappy with their gendered body, and then help them figure out how to not be unhappy with it. Instead, it is just assumed that someone is trans and trying to get that person to be happy with who they are is considered conversion therapy.
Anyway, I hope that isn't rude to say. It's just that, as a gender non-conforming woman, I feel that if I had grown up in this time, then I would also be detransitioning or.. not on earth anymore :/. It truly troubles me to see what is happening to young women today. I'm so sorry that you have to fight this fight, and I wish you all the best in life.
As a survivor of both cancer and accidental dismemberment (necessary mastectomy; + left a finger on a fence years ago) I understand viscerally the grief and loss that can accompany a permanent change in the body. I am also, as someone who wants to be the best trans ally I can be, grateful for your first hand account of your feelings. I had read Robyn Kanner's very good (I thought) 2018 essay in the Atlantic, "I Detransitioned. But Not Because I Wasn't Trans," in which they make the case that we are all figuring out who we are and should have the space to do that on our own terms, including following the changing understandings of ourselves and how we want to be in the world, wherever they take us. I'm glad you are you, even if you had to come through fire on your way. Thank you again for this essay series.
My oldest brother went thru the entire transition to become what he thought he was (this was after three marriages and three children). He was a successful computer gaming developer (you can find him as Dan Bunten on wikipedia). But after completing the transition he didn't find the happiness that he was expecting and even said that if you are contemplating this transition to think long and hard about it because it won't make all issues to go away--he also said that the therapist he saw was a rah-rah person, much like this fraud is. Unfortunately my brother died of lung cancer due to his history of smoking but likely made worse by the hormone treatment he was on.
I took testosterone in low dose form for 13 years after menopause. I regret even the superficial changes to my face, my voice, my body. You chronicle the devastated landscape of detransition with uncommon grace and insight. And you’re a damn fine writer. Thank you. I’d like to see your essays reach more people.
Thank you so much for sharing this incredibly important story. You are a brave, brave woman and I wish you continued courage and health going forward.
This is so sad but also very brave and full of hope. Human beings come in all shapes and sizes and I hope you come to find peace with yours. Well done for sharing!
I wish I had come across this essay a mere one month ago. I feel like the biggest idiot on the planet: I'm 36 and very self aware, or so I thought. I can related to everything you have said here. I understood myself to be nonbinary and thankfully never even considered hormones. HOWEVER, I did have top surgery exactly one month ago and knew it was a grave, horrific mistake the day after my surgery. My dear friends tried to blame it on the pain and anesthesia, but I knew, and know, in my bones that I had been in some kind of trance of my own making, stupidly bolstered by instagram accounts, acting from a Major blindspot and figured this out 24 hours too late. How absolutely tragic. I have been drowning in grief and self-blame and am not sure how I will come back from this. The surgery was 100% not necessary; I was not even deluded that it would make me happy. I cannot even contact the part of me who thought this was a good idea. It's like a made the decision a couple years ago based on Occasional (I see this so clearly now) discomfort with my breasts which turned into a story that I amplified, focused on, and came to believe, and then didn't pause to check whether the decision was still right for me. It's like I got on a moving sidewalk and then was just on autopilot the weeks leading up to the surgery. I am truly horrified and how this happened and don't know how I will ever forgive myself. This whole event has been so completely out of my character and against my values. Gender affirming care is right for many people, but it was not right for me. I don't even know if I'm nonbinary... it all just seems like words to me now. Now I must take it upon myself to love my body more than ever, although I cannot fathom how this will be possible. I miss my perfect breasts so much. I have to lean into, and expand my understanding of femininity. She/her pronouns are actually fine with me. This has been cosmic whiplash. Thank you for sharing your experience. I would love to talk more if you are willing.
Grace have you thought about writing a book? Just saying ....
Thank you for sharing your story. I've grown very worried about the trans trend and its effect on so many young people. I hope you continue to heal as you work through the past. A lot of people will benefit from your courage. Stay strong, girl!
Hi, I’m a trans person who want top surgery. What red flags would you say you should have looked for before making the decision?
Thank you so much for speaking out. I realize top surgery is the right choice for some people but it isn’t for everyone. We need to have all stories out there so people do not fall into the same trap of thinking it’s always a positive.
Thanks for sharing. God uses everything for good for those who love Him, and sometimes our mistakes turn into amazing accounts of His redemption of our lives. I hope you know His peace, but even if you're not there I hope you know that there are those of us who are extremely encouraged by you and what you've shared.
You are so strong! Thank you for speaking out. Your story is important and I'm glad you shared.
As a heterosexual being, I don't understand what would drive anyone to mutilate their body. I can't grasp the idea. I have so many questions. I don't have any hate or any animosity, only love and concern for so many. I hope you find peace and continue to live a life that is filled with love and understanding. I embrace the being that you are and would gladly hold you dear to my heart.
I've had four spinal surgeries, the first at 18. The first surgery may have been premature. What they didn't tell me at the time was that the results of the surgery guaranteed future corrective surgeries. I. had a condition that sometimes can be corrected through other means. At 52, my spine is a mess. I have 12 screws, two plates, two frames just to keep my pelvis and spine connected.
When I read hear about young women having mastectomies, my heart is shattered. I know what it is to live a lifetime with scars. What ever happened to first do no harm? Women are being brutalized. I wish I could tell every girl who is transitioning that they will find their way, that eventually being "you" becomes more comfortable and you begin to see that no one fits in 100%, that femaleness is a gradient - some express femaleness is a definite way and some, like me, have to find their own footing. I was at odds with my body and my femaleness in adolescence. It got better. Now, I am content in my own skin It just took time. Precious girls, you are perfect the way you are.
I’m for real trans and do not regret my top surgery at all, but I’m commenting to say that your surgeon really misrepresented what healing would be like almost to the point of malpractice. You shouldn’t play sports for like, almost 7 weeks after surgery. I couldn’t drive a car for three-four weeks. It’s a HUGE, MAJOR surgery that one’s body needs a LONG time to recover from and I’m so sorry that you were lied to.