Yesterday was a big day. I finally let go of that adult baby story, which for some reason took me over a year to get out. I don’t know why that is. Maybe because it was such an over the top, crazy experience. Also yesterday was the Trans Day of Visibility. ALSO yesterday we had a counselor who runs a transgender group come in to speak to my group counseling class.
The things people who are supposed to be professionally educated in trans issues say are so CRAZY. The counselor who runs the group didn’t say anything super weird, but my professor shared this story about a little boy who she thinks is trans who sees this therapist she works with. The little boy, from what I can gather, doesn’t ask to use she or ask to be called a girl, but wants to wear dresses and play with barbies. So my professor right away tells this story as an example of a trans kid, and then the other counselor is like, “Then use the pronoun she instead of he,” and they have a little back and forth about it, at which point my professor says “He doesn’t know he’s a she yet.”
WHATTTTTTTTTT. WHAT WHAT WHAT. THIS LITTLE BOY JUST WANTS A BARBIE AND YOU ARE SAYING HE DOESN’T KNOW HE’S A SHE YET. WHATTTTT.
So I’m sitting on my hands. I’m in moments like this all the time in therapy school, where I’m being taught about trans issues by people who do not know shit about trans issues. My professor says, “Research shows kids know their gender identity by 5.”
THAT IS NOT WHAT RESEARCH SHOWS IN ANY WAY. STRAIGHT UP THAT ISN’T WHAT THE RESEARCH REVEALS. Also this kid is NOT saying he’s a girl. Why are we discussing what pronouns to use for him when all he’s said is he wants a barbie and he wants to wear dresses? What is going on that a professional could look at that kid and DECIDE he’s trans FOR HIM? Like, if the adults in this kid’s world are going to decide he’s trans, are they going to decide they should put him on puberty blockers? Are they going to decide it’s better long term for him if he’s infertile? All because he likes dresses and dolls?
Long story short I end up raising my hand and saying, “This is really personal for me because I went through this, and I’m in groups with other women who thought their feelings were about being trans and now are detransitioned.” And I went on, about the situation people are left in when they’ve physically transformed their bodies and THEN realize their feelings were about trauma, and you could see the visiting counselor’s brain just like, exploding. And I talked a little bit about how using hormones to medically transition and using Lupron to block puberty are all off label uses so we actually don’t have long term studies of their safety. I talked about how for a lot of people they still experience dysphoria after surgery, and how the actual symptom of gender dysphoria has not been studied much. I talked about isolated people end up when they leave the trans community. We talked after class and she said she had never met someone who thought they were trans and then decided they weren’t.
So like, yesterday was a highly visible day for me. After I spoke up in class I felt like maybe my skin had been taken off, I felt so raw and visible and like, shake-y from it.
But also- like, counselors especially need to know detransitioners exist. Counselors NEED to know there’s going to be people attending their trans groups who are putting their energy into transition rather than working on healing from trauma. Those people might someday figure out they always needed to be working on healing- and that realization might involve living publicly as the sex they were born as, and living as the sex they were born as publicly might be an impossibility. So how do services to heal reach those people?
It just SUCKS because by being visible I don’t know what I’m signing up for. I don’t know if all my co-students think I’m an insane person now. I don’t know if maybe I just really jeopardized my ability to work in this field. (I think probably not? I think as long as I talk about my actual experience and don’t say I know what’s best for anyone else considering transition I should be ok? But I actually don’t know.)
Like, how is it an acceptable situation that people who detransitioned are so scared of being visible? Why is it so risky for us to own what we went through?
I don’t know. I feel like this is an area I could, in the future, be very helpful to people in. I also feel like by speaking up in class and writing this blog I could be creating a bad professional situation for myself. It feels like a real knife edge to walk on. I guess I’ll just keep doing a lot of yoga, keep learning about embodiment and trauma, keep not telling people how to live their lives, keep offering to tell people about my life if they want to know.
Mary please protect me and my over-sensitive, earnest, risk-taking heart.