Grief as a factor contributing to female transition

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.

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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.

–@enchantedpen (twitter)

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About Amethyst Menace

lesbian feminist. detransitioned from years as living on testosterone. View all posts by Amethyst Menace

One response to “Grief as a factor contributing to female transition

  • Moon

    This is a very moving testimony…
    Thank you so much for writing this.
    I’ve thought for a long time I was a trans too, that I had been born in the wrong body because I didn’t fit the traditional pink box. I’m still struggling with the excruciating feeling of hatred towards my female body (cursed to menstruate, open to abuse…) and the dead-end desire to acquire a male biology, which would made me feel at last as a real human being, instead of a subhuman. Because it’s how our culture represents men and women: men are the neutral, the capable, the heroes, the geniuses, masters of their own lives, while women are the margin, the incapable, the crazy, the servant, the inessential. I wanted to be essential, at least in my own eyes, and I still have the irrational culture-induced feeling that I am essentially inessential even to myself because of my sex. Moreover I was born the second child in a family of three daughters; and I’ve always heard people pitying my parents for not having a boy, and my mother wishing she had one. “If I had a boy, I would… If only I had a boy, he…” And I wanted to tell her: I’m the “boy” you always wanted, just give me the chance to be “him” if you simply dared to look at me this way. Because I felt deep inside that I had no less potential to be one of these true human beings full of endless possibilities that “boys” were supposed to embody.
    And Transgenderism tells me: just go through the wonderful journey of transitioning which will solve everything, and then be happy ever after! And spread the good Word in the entire world, apostle!
    It’s fascinating how it can truly think of itself as an empathetic and sane answer to our real issues while dismissing any bit of real, concrete experience of the world we live in – like your actual life, or mine.
    For a very long time, my intellectual capacities made me feel “not a woman in my head”, because we women are not supposed to be that rational, and we’re supposed not to be able to shut out the whole tantrum of our powerful emotions in favour of a clearer, unbiased, fact-based reasoning. Yet, it’s how my brain – the sex-less brain of my female body – works. And quite powerfully, I must say. And I can’t really get how so many people can still buy into transgenderism when you analyze the whole amount of absurd bullshit they write when you start to scratch the surface. When I talk to transgenderism’s apostles and disclose a bit of my own inner struggles, some of them try to woo me into their ready-made narratives, while others dismiss my personal account and label me “TERF” and claim that I can’t understand their so-special-more-inclusive point of view because I’m a “cis”, in spite of my own struggles since childhood, because if I don’t agree with their ideology, it cannot be because I have a very different, stronger political reading and political stand than them, it must be because I’m inherently incapable of feeling what them-very-special-people feel. Which is kind of hilarious, when you know what kinds of feelings I’ve dealt with for ages and still deal with.
    I’m sick of it. I’m sick of their navel-gazing, post-modernist, ultra-liberal, pseudo-scientific waffle that makes sense only when removed from any connexion with concrete material and social reality.
    I’m sick of their twisted minds claiming that any word in language has only the meaning they find convenient for their own ends, breaking the necessary function of language as a collective tool for effective communication.
    I’m sick of their over-sophisticated attempt to re-write reality as a simplistic narrative in which gender is something you can opt-out and opt-in instead of a brainwashing tool of oppression which is made to keep females under male thumbs, forever available and forever in service.
    I’ve thought for a long time I was a trans too, but thanks to radical feminism, and especially texts written by lesbians, I’ve finally understood I was just a full human being with a complex personality and a powerful drive to live free from unnecessary limits born in an unfair world organized so that I’m expected to get the worse on my shoulders because of my very real random biology. And I rebel against this since I’m 4, and this is the most normal and healthy thing in the world. I wasn’t born wrong, false and broken; it’s the outside world which goes crazy, and the top of the social hierarchy which breaks people’s minds to make them submissive.
    And it enrages me that a minority of nonsensical and self-absorbed hijackers are now draining of its substance the only political movement which was invented to break this hierarchy: feminism.
    I want feminism back. I want global revolution, not individual surgery.

    Liked by 1 person

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