Visibility

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.

 

11 thoughts on “Visibility”

  1. The other day on tumblr I saw a few paragraphs clearly describing how tempting the trans narrative is when you don’t know anyone like you in your everyday life, and how finding a community of women more like me could have turned everything around. I reblogged it on my main blog simply because of where I had been a year ago at this time, and then thought “Oh, shit, it’s Trans Visibility day, isn’t it??” Here I am putting up something considered “TERF-y” when we should all be thinking of Actual Trans People, etc. But the thing is, the other side of the story DOES need more visibility. The detransitioners, the people who find other ways to deal with dysphoria, all of that is also part of the narrative – and so often a heartbreaking one. ”

    So your speaking up was a tremendous thing – I can’t imagine how nerve-wracking it must have been – especially in regards to correcting some of the false and misleading information. I really think most people have no idea what gender dysphoria is to struggle with, and only by making the whole story visible is anyone ever going to make any good healthy sense of it.

    I wish I did know exactly why it is so risky to talk about it – aside from the TERF-branding. But is that just limited to our online world full of vocal activists? I would hope that in the setting you were in that kind of silencing wasn’t a passing thought, and that you opened some ears and some minds.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Well, so in our talk after the visiting counselor did say, “so are these groups for detranstioned people people who don’t believe in trans people?” I said, “they’re for people who found out transition didn’t work for them. I think people need to do a lot of different things to have happy lives and people need to have autonomy over their bodies.” Which is what I believe about people using these new technologies to change their bodies- like, that has to be their own decision and right. I just want people to get to move on and get healing if it turns out that’s actually what they need to feel better. I’m trying not to turn this stuff into a fight when it doesn’t need to be. Everyone with a good heart wants people with gender dysphoria to have autonomy, be healthy, enjoy being in their bodies, have loving relationships, get to fulfill their greater purpose in this lifetime. Like, I feel like this online war dynamic is a terrible spot for all of us making sense of our feelings to be stuck in.

      Liked by 8 people

  2. As a parent who is trying to prevent my child from doing permanent, irreversible damage to herself before she’s emotionally or cognitively capable of understanding the full consequences? Thank you for making your experiences and opinions public online and also in real life where they could cause some change. Parents in the thick of this, who are truly embattled on all sides and who want to maintain relationships with our children, can’t do this. And, therapists won’t listen to our experiences and concerns because we’re seen as abusers and oppressors — or just plain stupid.

    I love my daughter just the way she is. She’s fine just the way she is. I don’t know how THAT got turned on its head to be equated with physical violence, but the world is a topsy turvy place right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you so very much for your work and this post. It needs to be read very widely. While I may question their choices, adults have the legal right to “transition.” What’s being done to children needs exposure in as many venues as possible. The general public simply does not know how far this has gone. That little boy needs protection and support for being a gender-defying person–not a fast-track to lifelong sterilization, drugs, and surgeries. Keep up the good fight.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. What you’re doing is really important: you’re articulating from personal experience how over-simplified notions of body dysphoria and gender can lead to really damaging conclusions. So, thank you.

      But the whole thing with children is just mystifying — and horrifying — to me. Why can people not understand that there are masculine girls and feminine boys, and that this is not something that needs to be “fixed” with pronouns or hormones? And that ultimately that “fixing” is not only extremely sexist and homophobic, but also extremely damaging to the child?

      I had no idea that the therapist community was so whole-hog onboard with the trans movement. This is just tragic and depressing. I saw in the comments above a mother trying to do right for her daughter — and I just wanted to say that you ARE doing right. The human brain is not fully formed until we are 25, and making drastic, irreversible changes to our bodies should wait until AT LEAST then. When I was in my early 20s, I think I would have been swayed by the current trans movement into thinking that I should transition — and what a mistake that would have been!! Mainly for two reasons: 1) I would now be a 5’3″ balding man (and the world is not particularly kind to 5’3″ balding men), and 2) I’m now at a point in my life where I really love being a woman — a slightly masculine woman, but a woman nonetheless. It took a little while to get there, but by my 30s I was definitely there. Life is good!

      I am so glad that I’m not growing up now, and I feel bad for children (and their parents) who are.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. I agree with everyone above – you are super courageous and what you are doing is very important. Especially since there are huge assumptions being portrayed as “universal truths” – and they just ain’t so. For example, just read a little bit about the history of toy marketing and you’ll see how the gender divide is being manufactured to sell more toys – it’s not consumer demand that drives it, but the desire for more profit. There are lots of articles/studies/books on this, but this link has many links. https://www.newdream.org/blog/2011-10-gendering-of-kids-toys

    And men also used to wear dresses, robes, tunics, kilts and skirts until pants became the defacto male uniform. Priests, judges are still wearing robes…as well as many men in other cultures. http://the-toast.net/2014/08/07/wearing-pants-brief-history/

    This breaks my heart. Kids should be allowed to explore freely in play. What we wear, the colours we are allowed to like – this is all cultural, and our cultures like to limit us. I love history, so always check to see if “truths” still hold across all historical eras, and cultures.

    Keep on questioning! And being courageous.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I think you were right to speak out. The most helpful thing I can offer is to say that ideology is the engine of illusion. Some people get caught in it’s teeth all the while believing the’re working the levers. Knowing that they’re not thinking straight can help you assert yourself without reflecting their hatred back at them.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Its 13 months after you wrote this and I’ve only just found it.

    Yes your so right about transing kids, you know I’d say that, its obvious.

    What I really want to say, is that compared to the numpty standing up and telling people what to think of kids who play with the wrong toys, you are the expert. You (and you fellow de-transitioners) are the experts on dysphoria, its treatments, trans experiance, psychology,and culture.

    You have lived with dyspohoria, explored ways of dealing with it. You have seen trans culture and the culture of trans activists, supporters and hangers on. You have had the wit and strength to see the faults in trans dogma and question them.

    All the experts have done is suck up a load of bullshit, shut down their own ability to question their beliefs and bask in the righteous praise of their little bubble.

    I know you have to watch what you say, your ambition to work in your field is admirable and trans activists could shit you out. That is a problem you have to live with, but its not a fault in you, its a fault in the system and in those to week or stupid to speak truth to power.

    They will try and make us out to be conservative bigots, but we know that this is nothing to do with how people dress, act, talk, walk or who they sleep with. Call yourself Miranda and rock a dress and a floppy hat, or call yourself Bill and be as handsom as hell in a plaid shirt, jeans and work boots.

    Its a way harder thing to set your life up, where your very existence depends of you and everyone else believing, every second of every day that you are not the sex you were born. The drugs and surgery needed to do that are experimental, eventually permanent and totally untested.

    You can (and do) say all this, people can’t write you off as a bigoted parent who can’t accept …blah blah. For that I will always be grateful and somewhat in awe.

    Rant over.

    Like

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