crashchaoscats

reflectin' & dissectin', thoughts on "detransitioning"

A Woman Can

I wrote “A Woman Can” about three years ago, when I was twenty-eight. Just being able to put my experience into words was a big deal because there was hardly anything out there at the time that described what I’d lived through. In the communities I’d been a part of so much of my experience was seen as categorically un-woman, un-female. Claiming experiences like transitioning, living as a man, seeing one’s self as a third gender and so on as things a woman could experience was very helpful and healing.

This piece appears in the zine Blood and Visions: Womyn Reconciling with Being Female, a collection of writing by detransitioned and re-identified women. Copies of the zine can be ordered here: http://www.greenwomanstore.com/blood-and-visions.html

 

Three Old Posts from NoGoingBack

These are some old posts I made on NoGoingBack, a listserv for people who stopped their transition, stopped taking hormones and/or detransitioned. Most the people on that listserv still identified as some kind of trans or genderqueer even though they’d ceased medically transitioning. Most of them were females who had taken t but for one reason or another had chosen not to stay on it. I’ve always known of way more people who transitioned FtM and then stopped than those who transitioned MtF and stopped but always saw the latter get way more attention in the media.

I originally joined the listserv when I was nineteen or so, after I’d started living as a man but before I medically transitioned. I wanted to read about the experiences of people who’d physically transitioned and then stopped so I could use that information to help me decide whether to take t or not. After I physically transitioned, I would occasionally post on the listserv when I was having doubts or rethinking my identity. I posted on there a few times during the first time I stopped taking t.

These are the last three posts I made on NoGoingBack. I wrote them over the course of about a year,  as I was gradually coming to recognize myself as a woman again and figuring out why I took testosterone and how transitioning had impacted my life in ways I hadn’t anticipated. By the time I wrote the last one, “feeling like i lost something”, the listserv was almost dead. Luckily for me, another detransitioned woman happened upon my post and asked me if I wanted to correspond. Read the rest of this entry »

Reclaiming Female/Speaking Back

Cut off from myself, wrenched apart, scattered into pieces, I mistook my wounds for what I was. Encouraged to live inside illusions, I gave my life to them to keep them alive and take what protection they offered.

I am a dyke coming back together after being severed and scattered, after learning to fear my own body and see it wretched and not enough, a place under constant threat I had to escape or change to survive in.
Read the rest of this entry »

Detransitioned Women Deserve to be Heard

 

outlinedetrans

I’m happy to see the Outline stand by the article Rachel Monroe wrote about my detransition and the growing detransitioned women’s community. A number of trans people have objected to the article, calling it, among other things, “irresponsible” and “transphobic garbage”. One gets the impression that if these particular trans people had their way, the story would not have run or would be heavily altered to bring it within their comfort level. I got the sense reading these and other responses that these particular trans people only viewed detransitioning in regards to how they think it affects them, how it could harm the trans community or affect their access to hormones and surgery. They were unable to consider detransitioned women on our own terms, as a group with specific interests and needs who of course will act to advance our own well-being. If that means telling stories and truths other people find uncomfortable, so be it. Read the rest of this entry »

Trauma and Transitioning

Transcript (edited for clarity):

Hey there. I’m Crash and I want to talk about how sometimes women take on a trans identity and transition due to trauma that we lived through. So I want to talk about a few things I think people should know about in regards to this.

First off, that it happens cuz I don’t think many people know this. My transition was largely a reaction to trauma that I lived through. I know a lot of other women who feel like their dysphoria or trans identity or transition were motivated as, they were a reaction to trauma. And for those of us who transitioned, we didn’t go into our transitions like thinking that we were reacting to trauma. We saw ourselves as men, as trans, as genderqueer, as non-binary. We had dysphoria that we were attempting to alleviate by changing our bodies. But somewhere during the course of our transition, we came to a different understanding of what our problems were. We realized that trauma played a significant role in how we saw ourselves and what we were doing. and then you know, we kinda shifted in how we thought about our problems and how we dealt with them.
Read the rest of this entry »

Getting in the Media

I got profiled by a journalist and she wrote an article about me you can read here. She talks about how I came to transition and detransition. This is the first article that I know of to talk about female detransition in depth. This is the first article on detransitioning I’ve seen that makes connections between dysphoria and trauma, dissociation and internalized misogyny. She talks about dysphoric women, acknowledging that having dysphoria does not necessarily make one trans nor does transitioning always relieve it.  It’s exciting to see this experience and information get out to a much larger audience.

One thing I would change is that I wish she had at least briefly mentioned that I am very critical of transitioning and trans politics. When we were still emailing back and forth, before the actual interview, she made it clear that she wanted to focus on my experience of transitioning and detransitioning, so I’m not surprised that she didn’t bring up my political views, even though we discussed them when she interviewed me. Overall I’m fine with that choice because detransitioned women are not especially visible and my story says a lot on its own.

Still, it would’ve been nice to spread the idea that one can be critical of ideas and practices advanced by the trans community while still having a stake in how trans people are treated in the larger society because we face the same challenges. As I’m quoted saying at the end of the piece “[f]rom what I’ve found, it doesn’t matter if you’re currently identifying as trans of not. Having a trans history, having ever transitioned, can definitely impact how people see you. They’ll objectify you, treat you disrespectfully, see your body as freakish. Coming off as gender non-conforming can cause a lot of hardships, no matter what you call yourself. Our lived experiences are similar in a lot of ways. We deal with a lot of the same problems.” I am also one of those detransitioned women who agrees with many of the criticisms Janice Raymond and other radical feminists make about trans identity and transitioning because their analysis fits with my own experiences. And I believe that people should be able to do what they want with their bodies. Including my critical perspectives along with my respect for personal autonomy and the observation that I still have much in common with trans people would’ve complicated the neat categories a lot of people try to sort this particular debate into. What I’ve lived through has made me very critical of transitioning and how many trans people understand dysphoria and gender and it has made me realize that all people with a history of transition and/or who don’t fit into gender norms face specific problems and struggles in this society. I have much in common still with trans people, particularly trans men and other female-bodied trans and genderqueer people. I would love to see more nuance in these debates and discussions, more recognition of common interests and experiences and less demonizing and black and white thinking.

Also worth mentioning is that many of the detransitioned women who went to Michfest did so not only with the intention of meeting other women of the same experience but to participate in or attend a workshop on detransitioning that I led with Redress. We presented our workshop the last two years of the Festival and it was very well-attended and warmly received. Many of us found that connecting with other women and experiencing a space centered on the experience of being born and raised female was deeply healing and empowering after spending years dissociated from our female bodies and womanhood.

All in all though I think this article is very important and I like how it came out.

The writer of this article, Rachel Monroe, is getting criticism and charges of “transphobia” from trans people on twitter for even writing about this topic and bringing up issues and opinions they find uncomfortable. If you like the article and think making detransitioned women’s lives more visible is important consider showing her some support and giving her positive feedback. Don’t bother going after those attacking her, their actions speak loud enough on their own.

Years ago, before I met another woman who’d transitioned and then stopped, when I was feeling incredibly isolated and was hunting for whatever information I could find about detransitioned women, I never thought I’d one day represent this experience in the media. I never thought I’d be telling my story to a journalist and telling her about the emerging community of detransitioned women. I hope this article helps complicate people’s understanding of gender, trans issues, and how people sort out who they are versus how their society forces them to exist. I hope it reaches women struggling with dysphoria, women with a history of FtM transition, and people questioning their transitions and/or trans identities and makes them feel less alone

 

 

Journal Entry from 12/8/12

I wrote these notes near the end of my twenty-sixth year, a few months before I started corresponding with another detransitioned woman I met online. I had already worked out quite a lot on my own. I was still living as a man when I wrote this. A few close and trusted friends knew I was questioning what I was again and that I was starting to think of myself as a woman/dyke more and more.  I’ve added a few notes for clarification. I’m not sure why I put quotes around word transition.

things i think contributed to my decision to “transition”
living in a patriarchal society:
-getting a lot of shit for being a “masculine” woman
-getting treated better when i passed as a dude
-making more sense to people when seen as a trans dude rather than a girl
-internalizing standards of male masculinity [As opposed to “female masculinity”, which was still a concept I used at the time. I was referring to how I tried to fit in with men, those born male and raised to be masculine. How I measured myself against the men in my life and depictions of men in culture and media.]
-people didn’t know what i was and would remark on it, assume i was a hermaphrodite, that i had a dick, etc
-not wanting to be treated like most women are in this society
-wanting to be respected by men and treated like “one of the guys”
-not having many cultural or media references depicting women like myself
-not having many butch women as mentors or role models
-identifying with cultural depictions of men, specifically queer men because i could relate to them a lot better than depictions of women
-feeling like dyke sex wasn’t as real as hetero sex [For example believing that what two women do together isn’t real sex or isn’t as real as sex between a woman and a man. I remember kids I went to high school telling me this, that lesbian sex isn’t real. Having sex with women who mainly had sex with men was a big deal to me because it “proved” I was as good as a man sexually.]
-threats of rape from men
-feeling invisible in this society, like people like me don’t exist

Psychological factors:
-self-hatred and depression
-became a coping mechanism and obsession
-using t as anti-depressant
-looking for meaningful, transformative experience
-wanting to separate myself from my mom and her illness
-dissociate from the past and a self i despised
-discomfort with my body
-curiosity and self-exploration
-obsessed with idea of body modification
-anxiety, wanted to become more real, felt my masculinity wasn’t substantial enough
-trying to become a new person/kill off an unsatisfying sense of self

trans/queer culture:
-trans issues were hip and cool, talked about a lot in academic scene i was in
-queers expressed discomfort with my gender ambiguity, wasn’t sure what i was, rumors at my queer group that i had tits and a dick [the queer group mentioned was one of two that I attended in high school]
-queers and others assumed i was trans because of my name, appearance and presentation, used he/him pronouns for me without asking my preference
-many trans dudes at the time hostile to genderqueerness [At the time of writing I still identified as genderqueer. The hostility I encountered towards genderqueers pushed me to more strongly identify as male and transition to prove my “realness”.]
-most dykes i met didn’t like being mistaken for a dude [In contrast, I found it intriguing and generally liked passing for male. I concluded that this made me something different from these women.]
-gender crossing, transsexuality fetishized in academia, trans people as holders of secret knowledge from changing social genders and hormones, body
-being trans friendly, to trans guys at least, was hip so i got treated well as a trans guy, though also tokenized and “othered” too

Capitalism:
-society teaches people to be dissatisfied by their selves/bodies
-sells idea that if you buy shit, undergo procedures you can have a “perfect” body or one closer to it at least
-sells technology as solution for unhappiness
-promotes the idea of changing the person over changing society

A Brief Account of My Transition and Detransition

Transcript:

Hey there, I’m Crash. I write the blog Crashchaoscats on wordpress and on tumblr. I decided to start making videos about my experience being a detransitioned woman. This is an introductory video. I’m going to briefly go over my past transition and how I came to detransition.
Read the rest of this entry »

Sitting with my Twenty Year-Old Self, Remembering She is Me

I got my letter to start hormones after two visits and I got it even though I told my therapist that my mom had killed herself a few months earlier. I started testosterone about three months after my mom’s suicide. The therapist I was seeing expressed some concerns but decided to go ahead and let me start hormones because I’d already been living as a guy for about two years at that point, had always felt “masculine” and had been identifying as some kind of trans for five years. I’d already decided I wanted to transition before my mom killed herself. As far as I know, my therapist made no connection between my trans identity and the trauma of experiencing my mom’s depression and death. I think she was more concerned with how transitioning is a major life change that can be hard enough to handle without having to deal with a tragedy like your mom’s suicide on top of it. Read the rest of this entry »

Guest Post: A Response from a Reader to My Open Letter to Julia Serano

Dear Crash,

Thank you for your open, honest, and important letter to Julia Serano in response to her post, “Detransition, Desistance, and Disinformation: A Guide for Understanding Transgender Children Debates.”

You expressed so much of what I have felt, for years, but have not shared publicly, regarding the desire to transition. I agree that Julia’s clinical, logical, data-driven explanation for transitioning overlooked an important aspect–the effects of trauma–which you intelligently and eloquently addressed. Read the rest of this entry »