Women transition because we feel, see and experience ourselves as men, as genderqueer, as transmasculine, as non-binary, as not female in some way. Women transition because we’ve felt male our whole lives, because when we were kids we expected to grow up into a male body, because we couldn’t imagine growing up to be a woman or growing old as one. Women transition because we never felt like we fit in with other girls, because we felt like something else, because we always got along better with boys and men and felt like one of them. Women transition because we met a trans person or read about trans experiences and so much of our lives suddenly made sense. Women transition because we talk to trans people and find our lives reflected in their words, go to trans support groups and meet other people struggling with feelings and problems we have too. Women transition because being seen as female feels wrong, because being called “she” stings, because passing as male or genderqueer and being called “he” or “they” feels right.
Women transition because we feel dysphoric, because feeling this way makes us desperate, anxious, depressed, suicidal, because these feelings sound like the feelings others had before they transitioned. Women transition because we experience sex and body dysphoria, because we can’t stay present or connected with our bodies, because everything female about us feels wrong, because we feel a phantom male body that seems realer than our actual flesh, because we sense the presence of male genitalia between our legs, because we feel like we should’ve grown into a male body when we went through puberty.
Women transition because we look at pictures of transitioned FtMs and read about their experiences and feel desire for what they have, feel envious. Women transition because we hang out with trans men who recently started t and as we watch their bodies change we know deep inside that we have to transition too. Women transition because it feels like something we need to do even though it scares the shit out of us and we’d rather find another way.
Women transition because we want the effects of testosterone, want a deeper voice, want facial and body hair, want more muscles, want broader shoulders and narrower hips, want our skin to grow coarser, want our smell to change, want our clits to grow bigger, want our sex drives to increase, want our emotions to settle, want a different face to show the world. Women transition and get top surgery because we never wanted breasts, because they felt wrong when they grew in, because they don’t feel like they’re a part of us, aren’t part of our internal body map, because they get in the way of being seen as male or genderqueer, not a woman.
Women transition and legally change our names and change the sex on our legal documents.
Women transition and take t for a year, four years, ten years before deciding to stop or start taking t and never stop. Women transition and live as men, genderqueer, as something other than women for years, sometimes over a decade, sometimes for the rest of our lives. Women transition and take testosterone for a year or a few years and stop and still consider ourselves genderqueer or still continue to live as men.
Women transition and take t and feel relief from our dysphoria, feel “normal” for the first time, less anxious and depressed, love watching our bodies change, feel more present in our bodies and the world, feel like it’s easier to function. Women transition and hear from other people how much happier we seem now, how much more relaxed and at ease, how we were obviously meant to be male. Women transition and feel our dysphoria grow worse, shift to other parts of our body, find that the more our bodies change the more changes we want to make to them. Women transition and feel satisfaction when other people treat us as male but feel despair over how our bodies still aren’t right, aren’t male enough. Women transition and love all the physical changes but dislike how we’re now seen by other people, feel out of place living as a man, invisible, feel frustrated that we have to pick between being seen as a man or a woman when we feel like neither or both or some other gender most people have never heard of. Women transition and never pass, are treated as token trans people, have trouble finding jobs and basic respect as a human being.
Women transition and pass for male and find ourselves treated so much better, can move through the world safer and more respected and realize how alienated and poorly we were treated before when we were seen as female. Women transition and hear what men say amongst themselves, hear them talk about women like pieces of meat or discuss rape like it’s no big deal. Women transition and pass as men and discover that when we walk down isolated city streets any woman we cross paths with may see us as a potential threat, we find that women are more afraid of us now.
Women transition and love how testosterone makes us feel psychologically, how it makes us feel calmer and more confident, evens out our moods, how it increases our sex drives, makes us feel the effects of stress less, makes us less anxious and depressed. Women transition and feel like testosterone is messing with our minds, makes it harder to think of words, numbs our emotions, over-amplifies our anger, dulls our creativity, our ability to process information in the ways we’re used to, inhibits our inner life in general.
Women transition because there seems to be no other way of dealing with our suffering. Women transition after researching it for years, after reading countless books and websites and talking to many trans people and trying out alternative ways to manage our dysphoria. Women transition after weighing the pros and cons of changing our bodies and examining the risks and reading up on people who transitioned and then stopped or changed their minds. Women transition because we try living as men for a year, two years, three years or more and feel more comfortable and decide changing our bodies would make us even happier. Women transition because we go to a therapist and they say we are a textbook example of a “true transsexual” and are eager to approve us for hormones. Women transition because we go to a therapist and tell them what we feel and they diagnose us with gender identity disorder or gender dysphoria and write us letters so we can change our bodies.
Women transition and feel relief and feel like we’ve made the right choice taking testosterone or getting surgery. Women transition and tell other people how much better we feel and answer people’s questions and try to educate people on trans issues and transitioning. Women transition and encourage other dysphoric people to transition too because transition eased our suffering so much. Women transition and befriend other transitioning people and celebrate their first shots of testosterone and help them take their shots while they’re still getting over their needlephobia.
Women transition and help create trans culture, write about our experiences of being trans or genderqueer, go to trans-centric spaces and feel at home among people like us. Women transition and take part in trans activism and fight for trans liberation, argue for transitioning to be made more accessible, fight for trans and genderqueer identities to be taken seriously.
Women transition and become close friends with other trans and genderqueer people and bond over our similar experiences, struggles, joys and frustrations, trust them more than we’d ever trust someone who wasn’t trans, feel like they’re the only ones we can really talk to about some stuff because they’ve lived through it too. Women transition and think of trans and genderqueer people as our people, as the ones who really get us, as ones we feel akin to. Women transition and feel very different from some trans people, but find others who are more like us and think it’s great how diverse the trans and genderqueer community is.
Women transition and think of our transsexuality as medical condition, not an identity, and can’t understand those who call themselves genderqueer or non-binary and get upset with people who think it’s possible to be trans without experiencing physical dysphoria. Women transition and complain about all the people who are transitioning for the wrong reasons. Women transition and call ourselves a “man with a history of transsexualism”, see ourselves as men first and foremost. Women transition and just want to be seen and treated like any other man, live a stealth life.
Women transition and then stop.
Women transition and then stop and go back to living as women. Women transition and stop and live as women for the first time because we transitioned so young and have never lived as an adult woman before. Women stop transitioning after a brief time. Women stop transitioning after many years.
Women stop transitioning and feel like we’ve ruined or mutilated our bodies. Women stop transitioning and feel alright with how our bodies are now. Women stop transitioning and still feel dysphoria and find other ways to deal with it. Women stop transitioning and feel more present in our bodies than we ever have before. Women stop transitioning and some days we feel fine about our modified bodies and some days we grieve the bodies we lost.
Women stop transitioning and become socially recognizable as women. Women stop transitioning and still pass often or all the time as men.
Women stop transitioning and find that people still think of us as some kind of trans person because they hear our stories and think we transitioned twice so we’re “extra-trans” or see our modified bodies and how we present ourselves and read that as “trans”. Women stop transitioning and become frustrated with how other people can’t understand us outside of a trans framework or keep tokenizing us, this time as a detransitioned person. Women stop transitioning and try to make it very clear to other people that we are not trans or genderqueer or non-binary or anything other than a woman, no matter what we look like or how much we changed our bodies or how long we were transitioned or if we still pass for male now.
Women stop transitioning and resist when other people try to use our stories for their political agendas, whether we agree with their politics or not, we refuse to be reduced to arguments or cases studies when we are living, breathing women. Women stop transitioning and get frustrated when trans activists try to dismiss our stories and perspectives as irrelevant to discussions on trans politics and transitioning. Women stop transitioning and develop our own political analysis and theories, do our own activism.
Women stop transitioning and still relate to trans people, have the same feelings and experiences, live through the same circumstances as those who keep transitioning or know what it’s like to live through them. Women stop transitioning and still see parts of ourselves reflected when we hear or read what trans and genderqueer people say about their lives. Women stop transitioning and still think of trans and genderqueer people as our people in some sense because our lives are so similar, even though we no longer call ourselves genderqueer or trans. Women stop transitioning and think that the main difference between us and trans people is that we interpret the same feelings and experiences differently and find other ways to deal with dysphoria besides transitioning. Women stop transitioning and think the only difference between us and someone who’s still transitioning is a shift in perspective, in how we make sense of who we are and what we’re going through.
Women stop transitioning and have to question a lot of what we used to believe in, have to reject a lot of what we used to think was true. Women stop transitioning and come to see our transition as a damaging and traumatic experience overall. Women stop transitioning and see our transitions as what we needed to do to survive because we had no better options at the time. Women stop transitioning and come to detach from feelings we used to identify with and see these feelings as reactions to trauma or how other people treat us or coming from other forces outside of us. Women stop transitioning and find that we’ve learned a whole lot about ourselves and the society we live in through undergoing this experience.
Women stop transitioning and come to doubt the benefits of taking hormones and getting surgery to relieve dysphoria and work on creating new ways of treating and healing from such suffering. Women stop transitioning and still believe transitioning could be helpful for some people but not for everyone who’s currently considering or pursuing transition and try to raise awareness of alternative treatments and ways of understanding dysphoria. Women stop transitioning and see transitioning as harmful but still believe adults should be able to make decisions about their own bodies and try to find a balance between respecting others’ autonomy and speaking out about the harm we see. Women stop transitioning and see what happened to us as medical and psychiatric abuse, see transitioning as patriarchal violence against women that must be extinguished.
Women stop transitioning and become radical feminists, find that the experience of transitioning has raised our consciousness about how women are oppressed and exploited in this society and how the concept of gender has harmed us. Women stop transitioning and still have a lot of trans and genderqueer friends we care about, who we’re not sure how to talk to now because what we think could upset or offend them.
Women stop transitioning and continue to support trans politics, work hard to be trans allies and want to make sure our stories can’t be used to restrict access to transition. Women stop transitioning and think of ourselves as exceptional cases and think transitioning is still helpful for the majority of people who pursue it. Women stop transitioning and think our case is exceptional until we start talking to other women who stopped transitioning, until we start comparing and contrasting our experiences and gradually come to see this as a social problem rooted in patriarchy.
Women stop transitioning and talk to other women who stopped transitioning and notice patterns, see the imprint of the same social forces on the minds and bodies of many particular women, warping us in unique but predictable ways. Women stop transitioning and make connections between transitioning and other forms of socially-promoted female self-destruction, other social practices used to control “deviant” women.
Women stop transitioning and talk to each other about ideas, practices and beliefs we encountered in the trans and queer community that hurt us, about the misogyny and lesbian-hating we encountered in that scene. Women stop transitioning and discuss how trans ideology restricted our vision and made it harder to get a clear picture of our situation, got in the way of our healing, of accepting our bodies and our womanhood. Women stop transitioning and finally say what we couldn’t say when we were still a part of the trans community, what we were afraid to say for fear of being punished or ostracized.
Women stop transitioning and talk amongst ourselves about our trauma, about the hardships we endure for being female in a society that hates females, about how this influenced our decision to transition. Women stop transitioning and help each other come back from dissociation, help each other connect to the selves and bodies we previously rejected and denied. Women stop transitioning and connect to each other as women healing, resisting, making meaning of our experiences and creating our lives. Women stop transitioning and share what we’ve learned with other women, what has helped us treat and heal from dysphoria, from trauma, from living in a woman-hating culture. Women stop transitioning and find power in being women, both alone and with other women, with those who also transitioned and those who did not. Women stop transitioning and find our power, in our Selves and in our bodies.
Women stop transitioning and find we were always whole and will always be whole, however our bodies are now.
[This is what I have learned from my own experience of transitioning and then stopping and healing from the dissociation that severed me from my female body and be-ing. This is what I have learned from reading, talking to and getting to know other women who transitioned and then stopped. There will be more to learn as more women stop transitioning.]