The following was written by the detransitioning woman known as @enchantedpen on Twitter. It is her account of how and why she decided to “identify as” a man. We hope to share more such stories going forward.
When I first came out as trans, I got challenged on it, asked what it was that had made me think this. A few theories were thrown at me. I was expecting this and was prepared for it, I’d been warned that “bigoted” family members would say things like “isn’t this just a reaction to losing your father?” and so on. I was ready to shut them down without discussion and not even give them a moment’s thought because I knew – I’d been told by trans people who were experts on this stuff – that all of that was bullshit.
And it was easy, because yes, I am absolutely certain that I didn’t start wishing myself male as a result of my father’s death. I was twenty then. I’d already spent several years gradually coming to the conclusion that I had this mystical male essence, that the female side of myself was dead or dying, that this was for the best because she was a loser and I didn’t want to be her. None of this was driven by grief for my father.
It started with grief for my cousin.
He was my only cousin on my father’s side, the only male in my generation on the male side of the family. He was the future of the family name. And he was killed in a car crash when I was thirteen. I knew my family loved me, I never felt unvalued by them, but after his death I heard a lot of relatives grieving the loss of the boy. And I felt hurt. Overlooked. Why couldn’t I be that for my family? Why was it assumed that I would lose my name in marriage? Why couldn’t I keep it, and pass it on, and be the future my family wanted? I was grieving, too, for a much-loved cousin, and I didn’t know how to process that grief, so I turned it inwards and used it to create a male corner inside myself. It wasn’t meant to replace him. Well, not exactly. I mean, I knew he was gone, it’s not like I REALLY wanted to become him. What I was doing was totally different. Honestly. Seriously. For real. It was.
Queer theory told me to shut all that down and not even think it, because it was impossible that my desire to be male could have any link to this mis-channeled grief. It was abusive, practically criminal to even discuss the idea. Anyone who said things like that probably wanted me dead.
Wait, what? This is ME saying this stuff. No one else ever suggested I turned trans because of my cousin’s death. (And that wasn’t the whole reason, it’s also because I liked girls, because I didn’t like sexism, because boys were allowed to do all the things I wanted to do, like be astrophysicists and marry women and play hockey.) Am I abusing myself by analyzing the events that shaped me? I don’t think so. Is it bigoted to think, oh, it totally makes sense that I would have thought this as a result of that? No. I’m having thoughts that make sense. I’m not saying no one is trans, I’m not saying every trans person was turned by death of a loved one at a critical age. I’m saying, this is me. I’m a woman, I don’t want to transition, my head got pretty thoroughly fucked up by grief and adolescence hitting me at the same time.