I’ve felt a lot of shame over getting such a big thing like needing transition wrong. There are so many stories I could see other people believing about what character flaws led to such a dumb series of choices. That I’m a drama queen, that I fell prey to white people problems that I wouldn’t have if I had had real problems to worry about, that I’m a crazy person, that I was hungry for attention, that I’m a narcissist.
I buy into all these stories at least a little bit. There’s good reasons I don’t tell new people this thing about myself right away. But as I’m moving into a time in my life where I tell strangers this autobiographical jewel more and more, I think I need to work on some more compassion for younger me who made these choices. Also, because lots of other people are making these same choices, and I don’t actually believe they’re all crazy privileged narcissists. Or…maybe in some ways some of them are those things, as I am also, and still they are weirdo privileged narcissists trying to get relief from some suffering. You can’t blame people for trying to feel better.
So what are the healthy parts of trying out transition to resolve that suffering?
- You have decided your daily comfort moving through the world matters. What the important aspects of this comfort are is so specific to the individual. Obviously being trans did not end up making me more comfortable in my daily life. And then I learned money, respect, autonomy, not being anyone’s sex object was actually what I needed, not gender stuff. But I thought transitioning would do it and I was willing to make big moves for the sake of my own comfort! That was a huge step for me! Since detransitioning, having money in my bank account is the number one most important aspect for me being comfortable. I decided it was worth wearing makeup. For another detransitioned woman, avoiding the requirement to wear makeup might be more important than the money in her bank account. Is this an ok situation, that we have to make this choice? Hell no, it’s a sign this society hates women. But moving “my daily comfort” to the top of your priorities list, above other people’s requirements for your life, is just about the healthiest paradigm shift you can make.
- You have decided your friends and family can deal with whatever you need to do to be happy. This is important. It tends to really annoy friends and family when you transition. Even if they are %100 on board from the get go, supporting someone transitioning is exhausting. They’re about to have tons of shitty social experiences, they’re about to get really poor, for lots of people dysphoria gets worse and it’s pretty normal for the dysphoria/social anxiety to become debilitating. It is hard to keep showing up for someone going through all of that, and you probably are not going to get an equivalent amount of care and concern back from them, because they’re busy being poor and anxious. But you know- sometimes we demand a lot from our support circle. Sometimes we gotta do things that annoy people to get ok. Transition and detransition are some of the many times of life we take more than we give, and on some level we need to accept we’re going to have periods when we’re selfish. Now, if it looks like you’re going to have to be selfish for years and years, I think it’s a good idea to evaluate whether that’s how you want to live. Being selfish is pretty bad for self-esteem and connection with others and daily happiness. But you have to be selfish sometimes!
- You have decided you’re ok with other people not understanding you. That’s great! It is absolutely a strength to get comfy being misunderstood. It is a strength to be able to be calm while other people think you’re nuts, to be calm while other people think you’re stupid, to be calm while other people think you’re much less of a person than they are. Now, you don’t want to get too comfortable in that kind of degrading relationship- you need to know you deserve to be treated like a full human with dignity and agency. But most people on the planet don’t get treated that way. When sweatshop workers organize unions, they get looked at like they are crazy, nuts, and less than fully human. You gotta learn how to be calm while being viewed that way so you can make strategic moves that force other people to treat you with like a full human being.
I definitely think these are three strengths of mine that I’ve leaned on a lot while detransitioning. I’m glad I have them. So yay for younger me, doing that thing I really regret! She was turned around, but there was some real shit she was on.