I’m putting out a new survey! This one will be looking at how dysphoric females (or those assigned female at birth if one prefers) manage dysphoria without transition. The survey is open to anyone female/AFAB who is dysphoric and is either non-transitioning, reidentified (desisting from social transition or private trans identity while having had no medical intervention) or detransitioned (desisting from medical transition.)
The survey can be found here and will run through March 7th, 2017.
211 detransitioned females were surveyed. The survey looked at their basic demographics, diagnostic history, symptoms and how they found their transition history and mental health to be related. The survey ran from November 2nd, 2016 to December 1st, 2016. Recruitment was mostly done through various social media. Analysis of the results can be found here.
Full results excluding responses to question #8 can be found here.
Full responses to question #8 can be found here.
G-A-I, G-A-N, G-A-U— no, too far. G-A-R. Garden. There it is. Annie On My Mind. My heart pounded as I took it off the shelf. I grabbed a stack of other books, random titles, and stick the novel in the center. I walked to the counter with the spines pressed against my abdomen, trying my best not to run in the library and avoiding turning my head towards a group of my classmates doing chemistry homework at a nearby table.
I didn’t make eye contact when I handed my books to the librarian. I looked instead at the soft, blonde curls piled on top of her head. I wondered if the color was naturally so even or if she’d dyed it. I wondered if she had grey hairs she wanted to hide. And I hoped for the first time in my life that someone hadn’t heard of a book.
When she finally scanned Annie On My Mind she smiled at me and for a moment I thought the world might end right there, with me nervously shifting my weight and clutching my library card up to my face with both hands. Too close to my face. Is that weird? Is she noticing? I handed her the card hurriedly. The world didn’t end. I mumbled a thank you, stuffed my books into my bag (pre-unzipped for a quick get away) and sped out of the library.
“Hailey!” Samantha was eating lunch in the hall just outside the library doors with a girl I didn’t recognize, waving me over.
I approached them, trying to smile, and they launched back into gossiping— names I knew but couldn’t connect to faces. I put my bag down; it was heavy now, and tried my best to pretend to follow along. Courtney, Josh, Davis, Lindsey. Or did she say Linda? I didn’t know any of these people and I couldn’t stop thinking about the book hidden away in my backpack. Eventually Samantha’s friend said it and jolted me painfully back to earth: “I heard he’s gay.” I was painfully aware of my heartbeat.
Samantha wrinkled her nose in disgust. “That’s gross.”
I didn’t decide to react. My body did that for me. Before I’d even processed Samantha’s reaction I’d picked my bag up off the floor and walked off without saying a word. I didn’t cry on my way to Spanish. I think I was too numb.
The first person I told at school was my lab partner in physics: Jacob. I didn’t plan to tell him but when he asked me out I didn’t know what to say except, “I don’t like boys.” So I told him I didn’t like boys.
“We could still go see the movie,” he suggested, “as friends.”
Our parents dropped us off a half hour before the show started. Neither of us had any extra cash so we wandered around the arcade, pretending to play the games and making excessive, silly sound effects with our voices. Eventually he told me about the other girl in our physics class he thought was cute and I told him about Robyn and the way my breathing stopped every time she answered a question in history.
“Man, this is weird,” he said eventually.
“Yeah,” I agreed, watching the intro credits for a racing game start over for the third time while I moved dramatically back and forth on the attached fake motorcycle, “I wish we had some quarters.”
“No, I mean—” He blushed lightly. “—You’re a girl and we’re talking about girls.”
As soon as we were seated and the lights in the theatre went down, he reached for my hand. I swatted it away again and again but he begged all through the pre-film advertisements. “I’m not asking you to be my girlfriend. Just hold my hand for a little bit.”
After the movie he insisted on walking me to my mom’s car. I pleaded with him not to but he followed me anyway and opened the car door for me. This time I did cry.
“I asked him not to do that,” I explained to my mom in between sobs.
“He was just trying to be a gentleman,” she said gently.
A week later he sent a picture of his dick to my phone.
I told one person. And then another. And then another. I started dressing the way I wanted to and cut my hair up above my ears. People knew and things changed.
No one started conversations with me anymore unless they couldn’t avoid it and then they’d babble awkwardly and look away like they were trying to avoid staring at something stuck in my teeth.
If I looked at a girl for longer than a couple of seconds or smiled at a girl in the hallway or was too friendly when I had to talk to another girl in class, her inevitable reaction was some mixture of fear and disgust. Whenever it happened I remembered how I’d felt about Jacob trying to force his sweaty palm into my hand. I wondered if she felt the same way about me.
I avoided going to the bathroom at school as much as possible. When I had to, I looked to make sure no one was watching before I opened the door and prayed no one would be inside when I got in. I knew someone might perceive a boy slipping into the wrong bathroom and I knew no straight girl would want to be alone in there with me.
I heard “is that a boy or a girl?” often. People didn’t bother to lower their voices.
I felt disgusting. I felt wrong. The person everyone was seeing when they looked at me wasn’t me. I didn’t want to be the dyke they thought I was anymore. I didn’t even want to be in my body anymore.
I told everyone to start calling me Daniel and ‘he’ instead of ‘she.’ I make a plan to go to a new school in the fall where everyone will think I’m a normal boy. I’ll be able to blend in. No one will see a weird, disheveled, dangerous lesbian when they look at me any more. I think everything is going to be okay now.
(Note: The events written here are true but names have been changed and dates may not line up perfectly with an objective narrative.)
This survey is intended for AFAB/female people who have desisted to some degree from transition or trans identification. The purpose of it is to determine what mental health issues are prominent among our population, as little is known about co-morbitities in detransitioned and reidentified females.
I’ll be posting a breakdown of the results here when the survey is completed.
The survey can be found here.
In recent years, dysphoric people are not told that there are treatment options other than (what are by all means still experimental) surgeries and hormone therapies. As I’ve gotten older I’ve found tremendous relief from learning not to let dysphoria in or indulge it as a means of validating my gender identity. I’ve also found tremendous relief from processing all of the lesbophobia and misogyny I’d internalized. Mindfulness and exercise have also been a help. I’ve grown. I’ve learned to live in this body. I’ve learned to love myself as a lesbian. But fifteen year old me, sitting trembling and scared in my gender therapist’s office for the first time, didn’t know that that was possible. My therapist certainly didn’t ever tell me it was. Once she’d determined that my dysphoria was real (and, god, was it real,) there was one path. It involved turning my life upside down to go “stealth,” taking testosterone and eventually surgical intervention. I made it through the first two steps before I started to figure out there was another way.
Even if that one path had been right for me, I still would have deserved to know there were others. Everyone who is transitioning deserves to know that some people are able to manage their dysphoria with less invasive treatment. They deserve to know that some people with genuine dysphoria find transition unhelpful, counterproductive or just altogether useless. They deserve to know that some people find transition traumatizing, retraumatizing or to be at least a reaction to trauma. Everyone deserves informed consent. But that’s not what we’re getting. We’re being lied to. We’re being told, “spend the rest of your life taking hormones; have irreversible, major surgery; it’s the only possible way.”
So they position this treatment as the One And Only and, shove us away and onto it and then don’t even research the affects of what they’re giving us. A quick glance over the Society of General Internal Medicine’s 2014 Cancer Risk and Prevention in Transgender Patients makes it clear, repeatedly, how little we know (or at least how little we knew just two years ago:) “MTF individuals receiving feminizing hormones experience breast cancer, yet the degree of risk relative to natal females is uncertain.” “There are no long-term studies on endometrial cancer incidence among FTM individuals.” “No long-term studies have investigated ovarian cancer incidence among FTM individuals.” We don’t know. We don’t know. We don’t know. Or maybe, we don’t care. We don’t care. We don’t care.
Dysphoric people deserve better. We deserve to know every single one of our options. We deserve doctors who will look at our mental health holistically. We deserve medical practitioners and researchers who care if the medication we’re being given is going to maybe kill us someday. If you’re dysphoric and you feel that medical transition is the best option, you should still be angry about this. Your siblings- fellow dysphoric people- are experiencing medical neglect and abuse. You’re being prescribed or hoping to be prescribed something where your doctors don’t/won’t know what could happen or how to help you if something does happen.
We are all hurting and we are all living outside the lines in one way or another and we all deserve better from the medical world.
Detransitioned womyn have/had real dysphoria, aren’t just “fluid” and there are probably more of us than you think.