A Brief Account of My Transition and Detransition
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.
I first heard about trans men and the possibility of transitioning female to male when I was fifteen. Someone close to me came out as FtM and how they described what they felt sounded very similar to things I had been feeling. I could relate to a lot of what they described. Like I had felt out of place among girls for quite a few years at that point and had felt like I had a lot more in common with boys and want to hang out with and play with them and had a lot of, felt more inclined towards masculine pursuits and had a lot of male role models. Puberty had been very difficult for me. I had a lot of discomfort with my body. So hearing about trans stuff seemed to offer a lot of explanations for what I had been feeling for quite some time.
So I started reading about trans men and other trans people and reading about hormones and surgery. And thinking about if I wanted to change my body at some point in the future. Also around that same time, I started passing as a boy, like unintentionally. I didn’t set out to pass but I cut my hair short for the first time and I’d always dressed more androgynously but I started wearing more clothes from the men’s section. And I did this just to feel comfortable. Like I said I wasn’t trying to present as any particular gender. I was just trying to find something that felt right. But people started reading me as male. And before I ever took t my voice was pretty deep too, so even after, I could have a conversation, like if I talked that didn’t expose me as female necessarily. So I passed pretty well and I was actually surprised when this first started happening. I didn’t expect that at all. I was totally shocked the first time someone mistook me for a boy but I was intrigued. I kinda liked it when it happened. I was curious. It was, like I said, it was interesting. I was like “huh, I never thought, I never considered this”. And also, I met, in my teens I met some lesbians who were sometimes mistaken for male and most of them didn’t like that. Some of them got really offended when that happened or really pissed off and I didn’t have that reaction at all and I thought it was kinda cool. So I noted that difference.
I noted that difference because I was doing a lot of, I was really trying to figure out what I was at the time, I was sort of like comparing myself to different groups of people trying to figure out where I fit. Cuz, like I said, I was reading a whole bunch about trans men and I was also reading a whole lot about butches, butch dykes. And I could relate to some of what, to some of how trans guys talked about themselves and I could relate to how some butches talked about themselves. And I kinda felt like in between those two groups. Oh, and I should point out that a lot of what I read written by butches, they weren’t necessarily strongly woman-identified. In fact a lot of them, quite a few of them identified as some kind of transgender person or saw themselves as being partially male or a mixture of male and female. And more female-identified and woman-identified butch were kinda seen as more old-fashioned, like they hadn’t heard the latest trans theory or something like that. It wasn’t, I don’t know, they were kinda seen as more retro or something. And it was, people who, butches who saw themselves as being trans or genderqueer or something, like that were seen as more cutting edge.
Anyways, so I, when I was in my teen years I called myself a boydyke a lot of the time cuz I saw myself as both a boy and a dyke. And people also, like some people saw me as a boy and some people as a dyke so it kinda described how I saw myself and it also described how other people saw me and treated me. And I messed around with my presentation. I tried binding, I tried packing. I changed my name to a more masculine-sounding name. I was trying to see what felt most comfortable to me .
And this was quite a long time ago. Well, like fifteen years ago when I first started reading about trans stuff. So I never thought, I never even considered that I could make any changes to my body before I turned eighteen. Like that was just not a thing that happened very often. I mean I think I knew of a few people, like maybe one or two people, who transitioned in their teens before they turned eighteen. But, I don’t know, most of the other people, I mean I heard of a lot of people transitioning in their twenties. That was pretty common at that time. And I heard of a lot of people transitioning in their thirties and forties and fifties. But like, I just took it for granted that there was no way I was making any permanent changes to my body until I was, until I got to be a legal adult. And that didn’t seem weird at all either. Like I wasn’t upset. Cuz you know everything I heard described it as this huge, huge life changing event. It kinda, you know it made sense to me that I would have to wait until I was eighteen to do it. So yeah, so things have changed a lot since then. Clearly, since now there’s lots of people transitioning when they’re fifteen, sixteen, seventeen. And there’s people transitioning as children now too. So things have changed a lot.
Anyways, when I turned eighteen I went away to college. I went to a small liberal arts school. And I started living as a man when I got there. People who met me, almost all of them assumed I was trans man anyways so I decided to take advantage of that and see if living as a man made me happier. Also the college I want to had a pretty large queer and LGBT population. In fact there were a whole lot of lesbian and bisexual and queer women there. And I didn’t really connect with them. I think that was also significant in forming how I saw myself. Cuz I didn’t really connect with a lot of them. There weren’t too many, like I had a hard time connecting with lesbians who weren’t butch. And that was like, and I didn’t even really, I usually called myself a dyke because that seemed less woman-identified to me at the time. And I saw lesbians as being more women-identified and I didn’t feel like a woman a lot of the time. I recognized myself as female but I didn’t really feel like a woman. So I, like I said I felt different from a lot of lesbians I met including almost all the ones I met at the college I went to. And they also were identifying me as, like they saw me as a trans guy. So there was this feeling of difference that was kind of mutually, it was mutual.
And I was still doing a lot of research. Doing a lot of reading, reading books, reading trans guy’s transition journals online. I hung out on a lot of FtM online communities reading up on what different guys experienced when they went on t. You know, what kind of physical changes did they get. Did they experience significant emotional and psychological changes? What kind of social, what was it like to go from being seen as a woman, usually as a masculine woman to blending in as a man? If they previously saw themselves as a butch lesbian was it a big deal to give that up? Like did they miss being visibly queer if they started passing for male? All kinds of stuff like that. I was trying to examine things from all possible angles to fully understand all the potential consequences and risks so if I did decide to take hormones I would know what I was getting into. So I saw it as a pretty big deal. And I wanted to makes sure I thought everything through as much as I could.
So eventually I did decide that I wanted to take testosterone. And I started taking t when I was twenty. So I had been living as a man for about two years at that point. And also around that time, well when I was twenty my mom killed herself. She had been depressed for years at that point. And that, well, that had an impact on me in a lot of different ways. And in ways I didn’t even fully realize until years later. But. Let’s see, she killed herself about three months before I started hormones. The therapist I saw, I told her, I told her my mom died. And she hesitated a little bit. I think maybe because she was concerned, since transitioning was a huge life change would I be able to handle that after having such a tragic event happen in my life? But I had been planning to transition before my mom died and I had been living as a man for two years and I been masculine identified for pretty much all my life, so she decided to go ahead and write me my letter.
I took me, it took a while for the grief to really hit me. Like I was sort of in a denial state for over a year and a half after she died. But when it hit me, it really hit me. And I kinda was, I was devastated. Like all of a sudden all of these emotions that I had been repressing just flooded into me and it was overwhelming. And that was a big reason why I ended up stopping t after a year and eight months. There was just too much going on. Cuz I was getting, it was very strange to be passing unambiguously as a man. I didn’t, because I had been living as a man for years, for two years and I’d been passing for male for at least five years at that point I thought I had a better idea what I was getting into than I actually did. And, I mean I liked passing for male overall but it was still very strange. It was still a very strange thing to adjust to and then, adjusting to that change and dealing with grief was too much. And you know, I couldn’t stop dealing with grief but I could stop my transition. So I did that.
And I also had some other things I wanted to think about. Like some old memories and feelings had come up. I started looking back over my teen years and realizing that I’d gotten a lot of shit for being the kind of girl I was and for being someone who was really gender ambiguous looking. So I was wondering if that had impacted my decision to change my body. So I felt like I wanted to think about that too.
I stopped for about a year and half, two years or so. And in that time my body changed back a lot and my dysphoria came back pretty hard. To the point where I was like “ok, I have to do something about this”. So I ended up going back on t and was on it for two, two and half years or so.
And I stopped, let’s see, when I was around twenty-six or so. I was on t for around four years total, altogether. And when I stopped I still identified as trans, I still identified very strongly as genderqueer. I was still living as a man, as a trans man. And I just figured after, I had been on t long enough to get all of the physical changes that I needed. I planned to stay active enough that I could retain a lot of muscle mass that I had gained and keep the general shape of my body. Keep my shoulders broad for example. And that would be enough to make me comfortable and keep my dysphoria at bay. And I figured from the get-go that I, there was a good chance that I would be one of those trans people who took hormones temporarily. I had a lot of reservations about being dependent on any external substance. And I knew if I were to stay on testosterone long term then I would eventually need to get a hysterectomy and then I would be forever dependent on external hormones and I wasn’t comfortable putting myself in that situation. So I think I kind of like prepared myself for to be on them temporarily and to figure out how to accept my body as much as I could. I did a lot of that. I kinda was, I’ve always kind of been more of a, even though I was willing to make the radical change of taking testosterone, overall I wanted to make the least amount of intervention in my body as possible for those reasons.
So stopping t, it wasn’t detransitioning, it was just kinda like another stage in my transition. It was just what I felt I needed to do at that point. And I, I didn’t foresee myself ever not identifying as a trans person or as genderqueer. I had questioned my gender a bit cuz my sense of gender would change, shift around. I always felt pretty masculine overall but like sometimes I felt very strongly as a man, sometimes I felt more like a butch dyke, sometime I felt like a third gender, like kinda both a man and woman and different from men and women at the same time. And this was kind of confusing to me and I actually, like really, it was actually upsetting cuz I felt like I wanted a more stable gender identity. I kind of envied trans guys who just felt solidly like men. But I came to, I just kept having these shifting feelings and even though they changed I felt like I was moving in the same range. I was like “ok, I guess this is just my deal. This is just how I am and yeah, it’s weird by society’s standards and that’s probably why I feel uncomfortable with it because I grew up in this world that says that this doesn’t exist and if it does then there’s something wrong with you.” But I came to accept that and that’s how I felt for most of my adult life. So yeah, I didn’t see that changing.
But a year or so after I stopped taking t, I found myself having a lot of feelings, a lot of doubts and questions. I was starting to feel more like a dyke and being seen and treated like a man was starting to feel kinda off, sometimes. That made it confusing cuz sometimes it still felt fine. Sometimes it felt fine to be referred to with masculine pronouns and sometimes there was something off about it. So I was like “Ok, I’m not really sure what’s going on here but let me think about this.” And again, I started going back again and thinking about how other people had treated me over the years, starting when I was quite young and extending up into the present. How had I been treated depending how someone, if people saw me as male or female or trans or whatever. Cuz I had, I figured that had impacted me on how I saw myself and I wasn’t quite sure how.
And I was, I’d had some doubts over the course of my transition, of who I was or what I was doing. But, I mean they would just come up and I might write them down but they didn’t really linger much. And I heard of plenty of other trans people who had doubts, so I didn’t really think that much of it. But now they were kind of becoming a bit more insistent and I was seriously considering that maybe I was some kind of woman and maybe I had transitioned mainly because of how people had treated me and because of ideas I had taken in from the larger society.
So I started thinking a lot and writing and talking to my trans and genderqueer friends and talking to my partner at the time. And started looking online for other people who had had similar experiences, who had taken t and then stopped, who had questioned their identity, who had identified as trans and then gone back to living as women. I found the writing of some detransitioned women online. There was not a lot out there. This was about three or four years ago, like there was hardly anything out there at the time. There was way less visibility than there is now and I read everything that I could find. I was so hungry for it. I felt really isolated and alone in my experience, that was one of the hardest things.
So I found these women and I started reading their words. And a lot of them were very critical of trans politics and trans culture. And I didn’t agree with everything that they said but some of it, I could relate to that part too. For example, A good chunk of the trans community likes to deny what sex you’re born and raised as has any real impact on how you turn out. Like they deny for example that being born and raised female really counts for anything. And that, I never bought into that idea. That never made sense to me. It always contradicted my own lived experience. I was like “no, of course being born and raised female helped shape who I am”. I didn’t always always identify as female throughout the time I was trans but I knew having that experience was very formative. So these detransitioned women were also saying like yeah, female socialization was huge. It was often a huge factor in why they came to transition, so that really resonated with me.
And eventually I found a woman online who had taken t and identified as trans and then stopped. She was also a lesbian. And we started writing back and forth. We started corresponding. And that was, that was awesome. That was life-changing in so many wonderful ways. I had already figured out a whole bunch on my own at that point. I’d already figured out that I had a lot of internalized misogyny, my transition was partially, was connected to that. It was partially connected to some traumatic events I had lived through, such as my mom’s suicide. And that how other people had perceived me and treated me had made an impact. I already had a lot stuff worked out but having another woman to talk to who also had a similar experience and who could, who saw some of the same things happening, that was huge. That helped me figure out a whole lot more. I don’t think I could’ve, I mean think I would’ve figured out a lot eventually but I figured it out a whole lot quicker with her help.
And one thing that was really, really important, from the get-go, was that we were very honest with each other. We felt comfortable being honest in a way that we didn’t always feel comfortable being with other, with people in the trans and queer community. Because we had both noticed that what was supposed to be true in the trans and queer community was often not what was actually happening. I think one of the first things we talked about and bonded over was that we both noticed that supposedly you could be whatever you want and all genders were wonderful and fabulous and blah, blah, blah gender diversity and liberation and all that. But in actuality some genders and identities and presentations were seen as cooler and more radical, more subversive, more queer. There was a hierarchy of identities and trans males, trans masculine identities were definitely ranked a whole lot higher in that hierarchy than butch female ones. And in fact we talked about how even people who were more feminine presenting or identified, a lot of them seemed like they were more likely to call themselves genderqueer femmes or female drag queens than to identify as women. So it seemed like no one wanted to identify as a woman and it just seemed like there was this underlying misogyny under all this supposed “gender liberation”. So being able to talk about that, and both of us had noticed a lot of stuff, but if you speak out, if you say a lot of these things in a lot of these queer spaces, people don’t like that. You’re apt to get yelled at or punished, so we were just happy to find someone else who noticed the same things and also thought it was a problem and also thought it was screwy that you couldn’t say anything about it. That was great. That was a relief. After years of holding some of this stuff in, it was so nice to have someone else I could talk to.
And it was also a big deal to, both of us had pretty intense trauma histories, it was nice to be able to share about that. And share about just all that we’ve been through cuz like I said it’s kinda a lonely experience. Or it was definitely at that time. At that time, like I said, there was not a lot out there about detransitioned women. So I think both of us kinda felt grateful to have the connection that we had, well we still have with each other. We’re still very close.
And that also gave me the courage to come out as a woman. Which was so scary, I was absolutely terrified of coming out. Part of it was like I had invested so much time and energy at that point, I’d given up so many years of my life to transitioning and to living as a man, as trans person, as a genderqueer person. That was, had been so much of my life. And it was, even though it wasn’t, didn’t really feel right anymore, I still, I was used to that. It gave me a sense of security. So giving that up was very scary. All that work, it’s like I did all that work and now I’m just kinda gonna walk away from it. And then I was also afraid of how people were gonna react. Were they gonna think I was crazy? Were they gonna make assumption about what that meant? If I said I was a woman were they gonna assume that meant I was going back to, that I was gonna suddenly become really feminine and start wearing make-up or dresses or whatever? Cuz that, that’s not what I was gonna do. Really I was saying I’m the same person I just recognize that I’m a woman now.
So I had all these fears and concerns and when I did come out, when I came out to my friends and when I came out to my family, it went really well. Everyone was cool with it. It was actually not that big of a deal. I was really afraid of coming out to my family. That was like “How will I ever do that?!” I mean they were, my dad, he kinda fought me at first when I first was identifying as trans. We had a lot of very fierce arguments. But eventually he came around cuz when I started testosterone, it seemed like it was really helping me at the time. He was like “wow, you seem way less anxious and more together”. So he got on board with my transition. So just like, I don’t know it was, it was just scary. Coming out to my family was really scary but it all went well.
Eventually I decided that I wanted to write about my experience and put it out there for other people to read. So I started my blog. My friend who I was corresponding with, at first she was like “you go do that but I don’t have what it takes to put my writing out there on the internet”. But eventually she changed her mind and she started her own blog, which is Redressalert. And through putting our writing out there, we both met a whole lot more detransitioned women and also women who had struggled with dysphoria and questioned their gender and considered transitioning or maybe identified as trans or male or genderqueer for a while but didn’t actually make any physical changes to their bodies. Met a whole lot of women. I mean I’m kinda amazed at how in three or so years it went from a few women putting their writing online, on the internet and a few women talking to each other here and there and now we have a community with hundreds of women. That’s pretty cool. It was pretty awesome to see that unfold and be a part of that. Nothing like it.
Let’s see, so I think that’s a pretty good introduction and I plan to make more videos in the future and go into different topics. Like, I don’t know, what it’s like to be a passing woman, cuz I still, like, how did it affect me to pas as a teenager, what is it like for now because I still pass a lot of the time. Like how do I manage that. And more about how my transition was connected to trauma and dissociation. There’s a lot I could go into so I’ll probably, hopefully end up making a bunch of different videos on different topics. But yeah, I think this is a good overview of my, a very simplified, condensed version of my story of transitioning and then detransitioning. So I’ll stop there. Yeah, take care now.