Trauma and Transitioning

by crashchaoscats

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.

So I see this as one potential transition outcome among many. It’s hard to tell sometimes if trauma is among the things that are informing your sense of self or your decision to transition. Cuz a lot of times people are in denial  or dissociated. You can be blocking out feelings or memories that are too uncomfortable to deal with. Like you might nor be in a place in you life where you can deal with that. And sometimes transitioning causes changes,  you know, there’s the trauma in the background and then you transition and then the changes that happen in your life because of your transition create a situation where you can then deal with the trauma. Like basically you don’t realize that your transition is an attempt to work out trauma but it can turn out to be that. So y’know, I’m talking about this partially cuz I think everyone who is struggling with dysphoria or considering transition should know about this so they can make better informed choices. I want people who have realized that trauma played a significant role in their trans identity or decision to transition to know that they’re not alone. ,And you can get through this. You can come out in a better place.

So yeah, so some women end up identifying as trans or transitioning because we lived through trauma that is in some way connected with us being women, with having a female body. So a lot of us survived sexual violence. We were raped or survived some other kind of assault. A lot of us are child sexual abuse survivors. Some of us were attacked for being lesbians, for being butch, for otherwise not conforming to feminine stereotypes. My mom’s suicide played a huge role in my trans identity and decision to transition. Like there’s a lot of different ways, lot of different types of trauma that can factor into this but almost always there’s some connection between the traumatic events and being female and being a woman. And so in reaction to that trauma we separate and dissociate from our womanhood and from our female bodies and try and create this new self and try to change our bodies to change our reality in a way to, we’re trying to adapt to a reality we have learned is very hostile to us. So we’re trying to make our lives better by doing this.

So transitioning, it’s like I said, how I dealt with my own trauma. When I was a girl I was attacked a lot for being too “masculine”, being too weird. I was attacked for being a butch dyke. People said messed up things about my body cuz they thought it was like too “masculine” and, and “sexually ambiguous” and freakish. As I mentioned before, my mom’s suicide played a huge role in how I came to see myself as trans and transition. So transitioning, it didn’t solve my main problems cuz my main problem again were trauma. But it helped me deal with some of the suffering and some of the symptoms that I had because I was traumatized but it didn’t get at the root. It did however create, end up eventually creating enough changes in my life that I found myself in a situation where I could deal with my root problems.

So I kinda, and I do think it was a weird, I didn’t know I was trying to work out my trauma at the time but I kinda was. That’s what I was sorta doing. I was, that was the best or seemingly the best option I had at the time. And that’s one reason I don’t, like, don’t really regret transitioning or regret isn’t the right word to describe how I feel about it. I know a lot of other detransitioned women who don’t regret their transition because we feel like it was the best thing we had, that we knew of at the time. And we don’t regret doing something that helped us stay alive and function. And we don’t regret doing something that eventually put us us on a path where we did find find out what our real problems were and figure out how to deal with them. We just wish we had had more information and options when we were younger so we could’ve made different choices.

So trauma,  traumatic memories and feelings, they can resurface in a lot of different situations when one is transitioning. I know some women who, their transition was partially motivated, they partially came to identify as trans because they had been sexually assaulted and then after they transitioned they were assaulted again and that brought up the original trauma. And they realized that was why they had transitioned in the first place.

My trauma started resurfacing after my life stabilized a lot. It was after actually I had gotten a lot of the physical changes I had desired from taking testosterone. I got the body that I was trying to achieve and that gave me a sense of power and control. I had, at that time in my life I had a really good supportive partner, I had a lot of good friends, I felt like I had a supportive community overall. I had a really good job that I liked with a cool boss who was super trans-friendly. I felt like I had some sense of social and material security and that made it safe for me to deal with these very upsetting feelings and memories. They started coming up on their own I think because then I could handle, my life was stable enough that I could the psychological disruption they would cause. It wouldn’t fuck my life up to have these memories and such come up. So I think that’s one of the reasons why they came up then. So both finding more success and stability in one’s life can cause trauma to resurface. Also getting re-traumatized can cause traums to resurface.

So, if you discover that your trans identity or your transition is a coping mechanism or is a reaction to living through traumatic events, you have nothing to be ashamed of. That doesn’t mean that you’re weak or broken or fucked up or crazy. It means something really bad happened to you, probably one or more people hurt you, and you found a way to survive that and cope with that. That means you’re resilient. You have s strong will to live and overcome hardship. And  transitioning, doing whatever you need to do to stay alive, that’s a whole lot better than dying or committing suicide. So good for you for making it.

And try to have compassion for yourself. And like I said you’ve been through enough. Like you have, there’s no need to attack yourself for your past choices, for how you survived. The people who are fucked up are the ones who hurt you. They’re the real problem, not you. You’re not the fucked up one.

And y’know, if someone, if some asshole is like “Oh, I told you so”. You tell them that you figured out that you transitioned due to trauma and they’re like “oh, I always knew your trans identity was made up”, if they’re disrespectful towards you, like fuck that. You don’t deserve that. Like you don’t, having, being traumatized, having a history of identifying as trans, having a history of transitioning, that’s not a reason for anyone to disrespect you or treat you as less than. Like you don’t need people who are going to treat you like that in your life.

So identifying, like figuring out that your dysphoria or your trans identity or transition is rooted in trauma, that is actually a positive development in the long run. It can feel really shitty when you’re first figuring that out. It’s usually not a fun discovery to make. And a lot of times a lot of the feelings and hurt and pain and past memories that you were blocking out before, that you were dissociating from, they can come back really intense. That can be pretty overwhelming and unpleasant but you can make it through that, alright. You can come out ok of that. You can come out of that ok.

You might feel like you ruined yourself. Like I know I struggled with feeling like that in the past. Feel like you fucked your life up, you fucked your body up. Just remember you were trying to survive, you were trying to do what was best for you, like what you thought was the best option at the time. You were trying to create a healthier and happier life for yourself. So again, have compassion, have compassion for your younger self.

And now that you have figured out what your real problem is you can deal with that and heal from it and come out even stronger. Many of the detransitioned women that I know have worked really hard to heal and they’re doing pretty damn well now. You do have to be willing to work. You do have to be willing to do the work to get over your past trauma. It’s good to reach out for support. Some people, some women find it helpful to see a therapist who specializes in trauma. I’ve relied on peer support. I’ve talked to and hung out with many other detransitioned and dysphoric women. Even though if you have a good support network, a lot of the work that you’re going to need to do is gonna be on your own. A lot of working through trauma is stuff, it’s work that only you can do. But you, as hard as it may seem, you’re strong, you can get through it. You will come out stronger and with a better understanding of yourself. You’ll likely find it a lot easier to function. I know I, after I did a lot of work on myself, I feel like I can function a whole lot better now. I feel like I have more energy, like I’m more in tune with my personal power. Cuz before a lot of my energy was going into all of these defense mechanisms and coping techniques and now that I don’t need them any more, like I can put that energy into different uses, into realizing my different plans and my life goals and such. So I’m a lot happier now.

And I want people to know who are just figuring out that they have some serious trauma to work through that it can be ok. Like it’s going to be ok. Like, you’re probably going to have to deal with some really upsetting and disturbing feelings and memories and a lot of shit you really don’t want to think about but if you do the work, if you deal with it, you will come out better on the other side. I assure you.

And as you’re working through your past issues and working through your past trauma and trying to figure out your past transition, you know, why you did that, what that was all about, you might come to have a lot of mixed feelings about it. I have, feel very ambivalent about my past transition and my past trans identity. In some ways who I was when I identified as trans was very much me, in other ways it was sort of like a mask or a shell. It was inauthentic in some ways. And transitioning, it helped me survive and function at the time but it was also self-destructive and wasteful in other ways. It helped me learn a whole lot about myself, it helped me learn a whole lot about how gender works in this society. It taught me a lot, it helped me become the woman I am today. And at the same time it was also me acting out my self-hate and my self-negation. I was trying to escape from myself. And in some ways transitioning was traumatizing for me in and of itself. And so, like I said, I have a lot of mixed feelings about it. And I appreciate how it helped me survive and what I learned from it and I also feel like I lost a lot from doing it.  And I’ve had to grieve, definitely had to grieve and I definitely wish I had better options when I was younger. So I think it’s good to recognize anything that you did gain from transitioning and I think it’s also good to recognize any ways that it harmed you too. And integrating the time, that time of your life that you spent transitioning and identifying as trans, that’s part of the overall process of healing and getting whole.

And also if you do realize that your transition is rooted in trauma, you don’t necessarily have to detransition if continuing to live as a trans man is going to give you a better life overall. If taking testosterone is going to give you a higher quality of life keep doing it. There are a lot of different ways to heal from past trauma and to reconcile with being female. You gotta figure out what’s right for you. Most women I know who have figured out that their trans identity is rooted in trauma do detransition. Even many of us who have a hard time being recognized as female out in the world because of the effects of taking testosterone and/or getting surgery. But, like I said, the goal here is to have a good life. So you figure out how to get there. Figure out what is going to work for you.

So I think ultimately I would like to get rid of the source of what is traumatizing me and other women. Get rid of what hurt us enough so that we dissociated from our bodies, from our womanhood and created these trans identities and transitioned in order to survive. So that’s work on ending violence against women, ending rape, incest, attacks on lesbians. Helping to create a world where women can live freely without worrying for our safety, where we can realize our full potential. So that’s a very long term project. I’m basically talking about uprooting patriarchy. Which has been around for thousands of years now, so it’s going to take a long time to get rid of that.

So in the meantime, while we’re working on this grand project of liberating all women, we need better treatment for women whose dysphoria is rooted in trauma. I mean I think part of it is just getting information out that that can be a root of dysphoria and trans identity. Spreading information about that. Which I think a lot of detransition women are, that’s a lot of the work we do. We talk about our experiences so that we can help other women who are dealing with the same problems. And also we try and share what helped us heal and accept ourselves. What’s worked for me, I kinda covered some of this, but like talking to other detransitioned and dysphoric women. Working through my trauma, which I’ll probably talk about some of the more specifics of that in other videos, what techniques I used. Meditating helped me a lot, writing. So we need more information, more treatments for women whose dysphoria is rooted in trauma, who have discovered that their transition was rooted in trauma. And more support networks too. I mean like we already, a community of women has been forming over the years, I hope that continues to grow and get stronger.

I hope it’s clear that my aim is to help other women who are suffering. I see other dysphoric women, women who have dissociated from femaleness and womanhood, women who have transitioned, I see us as a group who that, we don’t have access to a lot of resources and a lot of time our needs aren’t really being met. So I’m trying to help other women like me, like that’s why I’m talking about this kind of shit. I am not trying to hurt an already marginalized and stigmatized group of people. I’m not talking about how trauma can be linked to trans identity and transitioning in order to attack trans people. If you are trans-identified and transitioning I know you’ve already lived through a lot of difficulty, I’m not trying to add to that. I am trying to help people identify what the root cause of their suffering is so they can relieve that suffering, so they can get the healing that they need. That’s my goal. My goal is to help relieve suffering and help people find healing and live better lives.

Ok, so I hope this video was informative and helpful for those who watched it. And I hope everyone is doing well. Take care.