November 1, 2013
Guest Post from Gregory:
I have tragically come to realize my story is fairly typical of most MtF persons. I was molested by my “trusting” grandfather at age 3, father was killed at age 5 and while my mother remarried; you could essentially say I grew up without a “father figure” or role model. By 10 or 13 years old; the gender confusion had begun. Only I didn’t know its origins. I was frequenting the gay neighborhoods by 16; assuming this emptiness and sexual craving was a signal of who I was. But, it wasn’t gratifying; and always left me disgusted. By 25, I was cross dressing in earnest. Buy, purge, buy, purge this repetitive cycle of self hatred continued unabated. For the next 15 years I was married and divorced twice. The root of the failures I believe some bent up anger and feeling of inadequacy stemming from a childhood I had no control over.
By my late thirties, this feeling of a “feminine core” continued. It led me to purchase online and experiment with Estrogen and an Anti-Androgen. My body slowly started to feminize. I dieted and exercised feverishly and got my body down to an acceptable female weight. I felt great; this must be who I am?
I remarried again in my early forties to a wonderful woman. Yet, the programming in my mind was so scrambled by then that it was difficult to differentiate between reality and fantasy. By the time I started seeing a gender therapist and a surgeon they were as convinced as I was that I was female.
Since I was already on estrogen, the endocrinologist felt morally/ethically obligated to continue that same protocol and at least monitor it and prescribe it legally. I received my first letter for surgery after a year and the second after two years. My childhood issues were jotted down by the therapists almost as if a side note. (A very common failure in approving surgery.) At no time did I tell my family, consider my career or even consider talking to the love of my life of my plans. This “sickness” and it is a sickness, consumes and takes over your life! You will lie to everyone around you as you continue to lie to yourself to get it done.
The first six months post-op SRS were wonderful. By the eight month, things were changing. Now my interest was finding out how to end my life. That is called REGRET. How long it takes you to come to this point is subjective; probably once the excitement wears off. You realize this was completely wrong. You have destroyed everything in your path to get it done and no-one in the medical community will stop you. How can they? You lied to yourself for so long. Fooling them was the easy part. Or did they even care? “When would you like your next appointment?”
The recently published WPATH Version VII has simply allowed the medical community to open the “floodgates” for this very tragedy to unfold. To get on cross gender hormones and then have surgery has become almost as simple as going to the convenience store for a pack of gum. If the client wants it, give it to them. “Real Life Test”? Maybe, maybe not, depending on your circumstances, occupation, etc. It is a billion dollar industry that thrives on your illness.
Get help. Don’t mutilate your body. The psychiatrist, psychologists, and surgeons will enjoy a wonderful life. You, however, could end up with a tortured life, ending up penniless, possibly unemployed, without family or friends and maybe even homeless. And that’s if you haven’t tried or committed suicide by then! All so you can become the girl you “think” you are inside and wanted to be! People, God or whatever you believe in made you in the correct gender. It is encoded in your very DNA. If you think differently, get real help; but, DON”T CHANGE IT.
This essay was previously published on REtransition.Org.
Thank you Gregory.
October 24, 2013
The following is a list written by a detransitioning woman outlining the missing factors in the care they were provided by medical practitioners, advocates, and the trans-supportive community at large.
Much lip service is paid in transgender political lobbying around the difficulties in accessing “care” for transgender people. Yet this “care” is profoundly, singularly directed towards modalities that proscribe misogynist, heteronormative, and indeed transphobic(!) adherence to sex-based gender roles and the pathologization and medicalization of sex-role nonconformity.
Increasingly, this narrow focus of “care” is being directed towards children as young as 18 months old who are being diagnosed as medically disabled and “gender defective” and are celebrated as such for their “bravery” in the face of developmental sex-role deformity by the mainstream LGBT community as if they were contestants in a queer “special gender olympics” version of Toddlers and Tiaras.
What of the individuals like Nathan Verhelst for whom such treatments abysmally fail to diagnose or cure? What treatments are available for gender dysphoric individuals for whom cross-hormone and cosmetic surgical options are medically contraindicated? What “care” is available for those many individuals suffering after “transition”?
When Joel Nowak of Retransition.Org contacted WPATH (the premier medical lobbying group for transgender psychiatric and medical care) regarding resources and information for those who need to discontinue cross-sex hormones for various reasons they were told that WPATH had “no idea”. NO IDEA. “That is a very good question” he was advised. This organization has presented itself as the worldwide cutting-edge authority in medical and therapeutic treatment for transgender individuals for decades, and is recognized as such by legal and medical and governmental agencies globally. Yet they had “no idea” how to advise transgender medical consumers on how to safely desist cross-sex hormone therapy, and “no idea” where to refer such transgender persons.
While continually citing the suicidality, morbidity and psychiatric and medical emergency of gender dysphoria, the carers and advocates for transgender persons- including those of the highest professional, therapeutic, academic, political and activist standing- have decided that care should be confined to those who can (and want to) medically and psychologically tolerate gender normative “treatment” and all other transgenders who suffer from sex or gender dysphoria can literally be damned.
Transgenders who medically detransition, or whose dysphoria is uncured after “treatment” – and the percentage is large- are not only completely rejected from care but are shunned, and even attacked by those claiming to promote care for sex and gender dysphoric (transgender) persons. Supportive medical and therapeutic care for these particular transgenders is considered non-imperative as their distress is deemed inconsequential and their experiences and outcomes disposable.
Below is the list provided by a detransitioning woman (now negotiating medical and social de-transition without care or support, because none exists) listing the elements that she identifies as missing in her pre-transition care.
Sadly, this woman has been subjected to a barrage of harassment and intimidation by individuals (also identifying themselves as transgender) who want to silence any sex or gender dysphoric individuals who share information on gaps in existing care for transgender people.
Anyone who is genuinely concerned about providing care for transgender individuals – perhaps especially families struggling with “transgender children”- would do well to take note of the items on this list.
From her post:
“As someone who views transsexualism as a medical condition, I believe everyone should exhaust other alternatives and transition only as a last resort. That is what I did. The thing is, I didn’t have the resources to utilize that I could envision in a better world. Transition was the best option at the time for me, but I can think of a lot of things that would have allowed me to make a better decision. Some of these things are:
- Knowledge of the existence of detransition
- Realistic, accurate, and honest information about detransition
- Visibility of detransitioned folks sharing their story
- Information on alternative options for dealing with dysphoria such as meditation and exercises to re-align my self of self with my body
- Knowledge of radical feminism
- Knowledge of how trauma can influence one’s sense of self
- Trained, knowledgeable support for my trauma
- Someone to guide me into addressing my trauma, instead of letting me go through therapy thinking it really didn’t affect me in any significant way
- Better role models to look up to who exemplify living confidently as a gender non-conforming woman
- More accurate information on the effects of testosterone
- Honest discussion on the mental effects of testosterone
- Parental support in being gay
- Parental acceptance of my being gender non-conforming
- Better support by non-parental figures in being gay and gender non-conforming
- Knowledge of how deeply misogyny can affect females
- Acknowledgement and information about internalized misogyny within the FTM spectrum
“Last resort” is a misleading phrase here. I think virtually all trans folks are in a compromised position where better resources could be available, but are not. Detransition has been entirely taboo to talk about anywhere. It has been dismissed by trans folks and framed as cautionary bullshit coming from transphobic people. That one aspect alone puts anyone considering transition at a significant disadvantage if they are ignorant of the possibility of detransition.
Am I against transition altogether? Until these sorts of support and resources are available to the majority trans people, that question does not apply. We do not live in a world where these things are prerequisite to transition, so how could anyone know if transition would still be necessary if better support and resources were available? Sexual trauma is completely ignored as an influence of transsexuality by most therapists in an effort to be “PC”, and that is appalling.”
Read the rest of her post and more of her thoughts here: http://twentythreetimes.tumblr.com/
[Bolding by me not the author- GM]
October 21, 2013
August 11, 2013
I first became aware of Don Ennis due to his wild claims of having suffered a spontaneous and mysterious “sex change” in middle age (after a long heterosexual marriage and fathering children) through a miracle process heretofore unprecedented in existing medical literature. Perhaps “suffered” is the wrong word. According to his blog “Life After Dawn”, Ennis claimed that his penis suddenly retracted into his body and became a vagina. That must have been a shock. He speculated that this transformation might have been caused by his mother, whom he accused* of dosing him with puberty blockers in childhood in order to extend his pediatric career as a bit-actor in advertisements. Rather than seeking medical advice, “Dawn” decided to deal with this dubious happenstance by wearing a wig, make-up, and sexualized women’s clothes, an accommodation he documented via scores of cleavage heavy “selfies” which he dutifully posted each time he acquired “hot” new outfits.
I always thought his moniker of “LifeAfterDawn” (he had multiple accounts across various social media in this name) was a bit awkward. No, not for the lazy name change or the fact that he refers to his crossdressing persona in the (objectified) third-person tense (both of which are common in transgenderism) but because of the convoluted timeline. Surely he meant “Life After Don”. Or “Life After Becoming Dawn”, or “Life After I Changed My Name To Dawn When My Dick and Balls Spontaneously Became a Vagina Which Is Actually Pretty Convenient Since My Tastes Run Towards Cross-Dressing and Forced Feminization”. It just read awkwardly. It reads much better now that Don has publicly announced his intention to “purge” his transgender autogynephillia activities not to mention his wardrobe. Which is good because he is still using the accounts featuring that moniker to post “anonymous” comments on stories about himself as recently as yesterday. “Life After Dawn” indeed.
Several heterosexual male leaders of the transgender movement including Navy man Autumn Sandeen, Dana Beyer (the self-appointed “Executive Director of Gender Rights Maryland”) and Mara Keisling (the self-appointed “Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality”) among others have issued damage-control statements on the subject of Don’s publicized detransition. These statements all follow the same talking points: that despite all evidence to the contrary, the act of adopting a cross-sex persona based on social sex stereotypes is based on an inborn, unchangeable, biological imperative whose etiology is yet unkown. Beyer uses the opportunity to forward his pet theory that men and women who fail to conform to sex-role stereotypes are inflicted with a disease process caused by contamination with environmental toxins. Beyer says published stories on detransitioners “trivialize our lives and the efforts we make to live them fully and authentically.” The second damage-control talking point hammered home by this group is the unsubstantiated claim that rates of detransition are low, even miniscule. Beyer supports this claim in his piece by citing a 21 year-old paper (1992 Pfafflin) that contained a whopping 18 (whew!) postoperative transgender subjects. Great supportive data, Dana. There are no reliable data and statistics on detransition.
The Huffington Post offered a roundtable discussion on the subject which omitted all female transgender participants. Removing all female transgender points of view was not so much as acknowledged. The male-only panel included Keisling, news helicopter pilot Bob/Zoey “women are not competent to fly” Tur, Dr. Maddie Deutsch from the University of San Francisco “Center of Excellence for Transgender Health” (not to be confused by the one founded by Bill and Ted), and former transgender Philip Porter. Bizarrely, the only female guest on the show was not transgender, but was the heterosexual woman Romi Klinger Ray who pretended to be lesbian to get a spot on the television show “the Real L Word” and took flack when she was outed as straight by marrying her boyfriend as soon as the show ended. She took the opportunity to defend herself by saying she was genuinely confused, and offered that it must be “so hard” for Ennis to read critical comments on the internet, as it was for her as a fake lesbian. Strange.
Keisling did his usual “shrug” performance in his understated gray wig. He knows that the world loves gender and all he really has to do is keep his pulse down and phone in his talking points. In addition to the “detransition is rare” and “sex-roles and self-concepts are unchanging and innate” tropes already mentioned above, Keisling, Deutsch and Tur included the assertion that detransitioners are always motivated by external factors, such as failure to thrive in a cross-sex persona in employment, relationships, etc. and never due to a change in self-concept or simply out of personal choice.
Tur, who issued a press release the first day he took a hormone injection three months ago appeared sans hairpiece or laydee-clothes and called out Ennis for harming the transgender cause. Tur also claimed that the American Society of Pediatrics issued guidelines in June on how medical providers can proactively “identify” transgender children. I have seen no evidence of that- if anyone has, please let me know. It appears he just made it up out of thin air. It wasn’t clear whether Tur was implying that Don Ellis and co-panelist Philip Porter would have been “identified” by these mystery guidelines prior to their detransitions or not. He just sort of threw it out there nonsensically as an appeal to authority for the “born this way” meme and a head in the sand refutation of the whole subject of detransition. Must drink kool-aid. Must drink kool-aid. Must drink kool-aid.
Dr. Maddie Deutsch got the most air time. Deutsch is a male transgender physician who has prescribed cross-sex hormones for over 800 patients while bypassing all recommended psychological screening and counseling. Deutsch cited a “less than one percent” detransition rate, which is hilarious. He just flat out made it up. Which is kind of a scary thing for a medical doctor to do. He also accused Don Ennis of directly harming the transgender community by detransitioning publicly, blaming him (and presumably by extension all detransitioners) for endangering efforts to obtain insurance coverage for irreversible surgeries. Deutsch also went on a bit of a strange rant about how he believes same-sex relationships are exactly the same as heterosexual ones because biological sex and the social roles based on sex are of no consequence in the context of relationships (!) and therefor no distinction should be made between homosexual and heterosexual relations, but that the differences in experience of individuals based on their adopted sex stereotypes are socially significant and should be acknowledged. Shades of the old “Cotton Ceiling” there, sir. Lesbians don’t give a shit about your medical experiments sir: We do not want your dick (whether surgically inverted or not) in our relationships or our lesbian spaces sir, regardless of whatever “jendur” bullshit you believe. Sex matters to lesbians and gays, sir – and to heterosexuals, for that matter.
The only “off-message” person in the room (and the only homosexual) was gay male Philip Porter, and not a single panelist so much as acknowledged him. They had no response to him. Porter is a detransitioner who dropped the whole transgender shtick after 32 years of “treatment” which was started in his late teens when he was a gay man in fashion school. By his account he was quite happy and successful living a transgender life: “I was in his office the next day, an endocrinologist office the day after that, and just began my life living as a female. And did that very successfully and very happily for 32 years — I was an NFL cheerleader and I was a topless dancer for many years.” He dropped the sex-change act because being treated the way society treats males started looking like a better deal for his middle age and beyond. No detransition angst there, just mission accomplished, lots of wild times, and now time to return to his birthright as a man. Porter was there undermining the old “external factors cause transgenders to detransition” talking point. For that matter, Don Ennis himself explicitly debunked that trope in the email he sent out notifying coworkers of his detransition: “The new change I’m revealing to you today did not arise because I couldn’t hack it, or people wouldn’t accept the new/real/female ‘me,’ or I had trouble finding shoes that fit (Oh, I found plenty, more than I could afford)”, he wrote. Yet Keisling, Deutsch and Tur kept beating that tired old drum, seemingly off in their own little world. Sandeen and Beyer hit the same note in their Ennis response pieces.
One online commenter was quoted in the show. It was male lactation blogger Dana Lane Taylor, known for sharing his expertise with other male transgenders who wish to induce lactation as part of their transgender experience. His blog explores the process of obtaining and ingesting “not approved for use” black market substances for men who wish to express milk from their nipples. He had his comments read on air under the pseudonym “NunyaBeezwax”, stating that Ennis’s detransition should not be “used against us”.
* If Don’s mother or another family member would like to publicly respond to the accusations of abuse that Don has made against his mother I would be happy to post their statements here.
[bolding by me-GM]
“I saw the breasts and I saw the long hair and I thought, like, that’s what I wanted.” – Jait Jr., former transgender teen now a gay man trying to undo the damage to his body done by hormones and silicone.
“I’m always walking around with a secret”.
MTV “True Life” runs a segment on transgender teens- one male, one female, now forced to undo the damage as they grow up and change their mind about believing they should medically alter their bodies into looking like the opposite sex. “I’m questioning my gender again”- Full episode here:
The incredible sexism of their home environments (“Boys who play with Barbie must be girls”) is astounding and illuminates some of the cultural forces driving the “transgender children” trend. Both of these former trans teens were fully supported into transitioning by their families, and both families cautioned the (now young adult) transgenders against switching back.
“This is what I was afraid of. They don’t get it. They feel like I’m not being true to myself. I don’t know… I just feel like they think that I’m making a mistake.”- Jait Jr on his family’s lack of support for his de-transition.
“Right now I just want to shave off all my hair and be a man so that’s what I’m going to do”- Jait Jr, formerly “Daniella”.
“Detransitioning is what is going to make me happy”- Jait Jr.
“Growing up, I never really felt super-girly and I couldn’t put my finger on why.” -Amanda, former teen transgender “Anthony” now quitting testosterone and undergoing electrolysis to remove her beard.
“I guess my biggest fear is that right now I’ve got it all figured out but that I’m going to get confused again and not know what I’m doing or who I am. Forever.”- Amanda
“I just hope that this is the last transition I make. I don’t want to keep doing this”. -Amanda
“I hope I’m done with gender related surgeries for good this time”.- Jait Jr.
“I guess I kind of feel reborn”.- Jait Jr.
“I haven’t felt this comfortable in a while”. -Jait Jr.
“I think I prefer make-up to shaving because it’s easier and a lot more fun”- Amanda, still a strong believer in gender roles.
Butch Lesbian, Radical Feminist, and Former FTM: Heath Atom Russell on Gender Dysphoria, De-transition and “Brain Sex”
March 27, 2013
Self-described “Unapologetic Butch Lesbian, Radical Feminist and Former FTM” Heath Atom Russell covers a lot of ground in this video as she discusses stopping testosterone and healing from body dysphoria in a woman-hating world. She applies her personal experience to critique the medicalization of gender, YouTube trans-trending, the homophobia of “Queer Culture”, misogyny, lesbophobia, the theory of “Brain Sex”, and the process of becoming a proud woman.
Heath is extremely thoughtful and well-spoken and intends to offer her perspective to others who are interested in detransitioning as well as offering “a word of caution” to the public at large. In the video she discusses the rape and death threats she has received from some members of the transgender community for speaking publicly about her experiences at her blog, which is here: http://nymeses.tumblr.com/
Heath discusses the ill-health effects of synthetic testosterone and breast binders on female bodies, including her own and the cultural explosion of gender-based medicine, especially among youth.
Click here to VIEW.
In correspondence with GenderTrender, Heath stated that what she really wants readers to know is “that doctors don’t always have people’s best interests at heart” and “long term synthetic hormone use is not exempt from the never ending guinea pig treatment that, overwhelmingly, homosexuals are subjected to receiving”. She would like to see more discussion of misogyny, homophobia, and internalized lesbophobia in the LGBT community- particularly their effect on the creation and exacerbation of sex-based body dysphoria and body dysmorphia.
She expresses concern about the medical industry trend towards pathologizing gender-nonconformity in children, adding: “ I’d also like them all to be made aware that the criteria for gender dysphoria is so purposefully vague that it can target ANY child that doesn’t rigidly conform to patriarchal gender roles and that drugging children isn’t the answer – overcoming misogyny and homophobia IS the answer along with letting kids just be kids for a while before messing with their health!”
Heath mentioned that some trans viewers have complained that detransitioners should not be given a platform to speak because they are not medical professionals, or because hearing about detransition may “cause” trans viewers to feel suicidal. GenderTrender disclaimer: Heath Atom Russell is Not a Medical Professional. Please consult your personal physician, not people on the internet, for your health care needs. Also, here is a link to suicide hotline resources and support: http://www.suicide.org/suicide-hotlines.html
I want to thank Heath for everything she is doing. Most detransitioners either choose or are forced into silence which makes it difficult for individuals considering transition to get an accurate view of the diversity of experiences involved. Her video is highly recommended for all female transitioners and for anyone interested in transgenderism. Please give her your full support. Thank you Heath.
February 27, 2013
Heart-wrenching post by a man coming to terms with the fact that he drank the gender Kool-aid, got swept up into the “Transsexual Empire” of the psychiatric and medical sex-change industry, and now needs to come to terms with it all.
At the start of the piece Carolynn asks why there are not more voices in the transgender community expressing doubt before undergoing profoundly reconstructive cosmetic surgery on their genitalia? And why are there not more voices expressing the regret and despair that follows?
The answer, he shows us, is clear. Once you have gone that far into the process there is “no going back”. His only choice is to make the best of his life now that what’s been done, cannot be undone. There is no benefit to wallowing in despair. Rates of suicide for post-operative transgenders are high. The only sane choice is to accept what has been done and make the best of it.
From the piece, titled “Did I Make a Mistake?”:
“DID I MAKE a mistake? Am I doing the right thing? Is this the path for me? These are questions we usually ask and, if not, should be asking ourselves. Gender transition is not for the faint of heart. Early in my transition from male to female, I gave little thought to those questions. I was very busy buying new clothes, coming out to family and friends, and getting ready to return to work after a lengthy absence.
I was working on name changes, birth records. I was preoccupied early in my transition. There was a lot of ground to cover if I was to come out and be my true self. Endless doctors’ appointments. Sometimes I felt as though I should have had a tube from my arm connected directly to the blood lab. I had more blood drawn from me in my first year of transition than I had in my entire life, and I was under the microscope of psychiatrists, every move scrutinized. Should I sit in the blue chair in the doctor’s office? Should I sit in the pink chair? I felt like I was under constant surveillance, and worried my male side would pop out. It didn’t. I did a very good job at covering the male side of who I was. After a few years of this—the real life test—I received a letter saying that I was eligible for and had met all the criteria to move forward and have gender reassignment surgery. To say I was happy would have been a gross understatement. There it was in my hot little hands, the brass ring! The letter I had been working toward for the last four years.
For a brief moment, I hesitated to pick up the phone to book my surgery date. I read and re-read the letter countless times. Then it went into my file, and I didn’t look at it again for at least three months. Those three or so months were when the questioning began. I tried approaching people in my support system. Each of their answers was almost scripted: “Well, if you have any doubts then you’re not really trans!” I thought to myself that “You’re not really trans” was an odd thing to say. My question was still not being addressed. I had a new brass ring to reach for. “Is there anyone who has any doubts or second thoughts?”
One would think this would be a very easy question to have answered. It was my experience that it was the hardest question that I ever asked to find an answer for. It would appear that by the time I reached that stage in my transition, the medical community felt I was ready to move onto the next stage—surgery. I was supposed to be ready to take the final plunge into the mystery of becoming a woman. Hard as I looked for one person to say, “Yes, I had doubts; yes, I was terrified; and yes, I questioned if I made a mistake,” I never found them. That one person never appeared.
I knew they were out there. They didn’t speak. Now I had a new question. Why weren’t they coming forth with their experience? Shortly after I pulled the letter from my file again, I made the call to the surgeon and booked my flight. I was very excited to be on my way to have this correction taken care of, but that one question still haunted me. What haunted me even more was where were the ones that had gone before me, that were supposed to help guide me through this rocky period. It wasn’t long after I had returned home from the surgery that I found the answers I was looking for. I found where most brothers and sisters had gone; I found the answers to those nagging questions. The real work began upon my return home. The rigid schedule of dilating, the inability to get to the bathroom without assistance, the blood, the pain. I’ll never forget the pain. My hips and halfway up my stomach were yellow and black from the bruising. The simplest act of trying to watch television became agony. The deed had been done; there really was no turning back. I couldn’t go home now .
I was now in this surgically created wonderland that I called my female body, laying awake at night still asking, “Did I make the right choice?” Right choice or not, this was where I was! Life carried on seemingly uneventfully, get-well cards came, flowers arrived, people phoned. It was almost like I had celebrity status, but that was short-lived. Then again I was alone with my thoughts. That one nagging question rang through my head. Did I make a mistake? I felt a bit depressed so I made a couple of phone calls trying to find a counsellor to speak with. Oddly no-one would accept me. I called my old shrink and he said, “Our work was finished. I was only there to help you until you had surgery. You’ll need to find another doctor.” The hunt began for another psychiatrist. I thought it would be easy, but it was not. Depression by this time had taken deep root; eventually I was diagnosed with chronic depression. What followed was not at all what I had expected. I stopped going outside, I quit playing softball, I closed my kickboxing gym. I became a recluse, subjugated in my own home by no one other than myself. My depression deepened. My rigid schedule of postsurgical care went out the window. Then another nail struck into my coffin of depression! My surgical area had grown shut!
I had less than two inches of depth. I was horrified. What had become of that soulful, full-of-life woman that I had known at the beginning of my transition? Where did she go? How could I get her back? The question of whether or not I had made a mistake was secondary at this stage; my priority now was to find the real Carolynn again. This was a daunting task to say the least. I was lucky enough to have been referred to a doctor by a dear friend of mine. He saw me, and I would love to say that we got off to a great start. We didn’t. He called me obese and said I needed to exercise. I didn’t see him again for at least a year. When I finally did return to see him, I was a complete train wreck. I had put on 40 to 50 pounds, and I was depressed. I still had the problem of the surgical area having grown closed. After some time with this doctor, things started to look a little better. Over the next few years things began to change. I felt my old self returning, I re-opened my kickboxing school, and started to socialize again. Then my doctor threw this at me one day in a session. He said, “Carolynn, you know you can go for a surgery revision and get that fixed.” My jaw hit the floor. I was in shock. I thought it was a one-time shot, and if, like me, you screwed it up—well, you were screwed forever after.
I felt this little fire of hope begin to burn in me again. I had purpose in my life again. This time, I wasn’t going to screw it up! I jumped through all the hoops, made all the phone calls, and reattached the tube from my arm to the blood lab. Honestly, I felt happiness shine again in my life. Finally, the day came for me to head off and have my surgery revision. I remember arriving at the recovery house and seeing another group of me’s from six or seven years ago. They were all driven. They were all happy and they all had no clue what was going to happen after.
Not from a place of ego, but rather a place of a caring sister, I took it upon myself to inform the other guests that this was not my first time. I had to go around and return their jaws to the closed position. I became very close with two of the girls there. One very young woman was maybe 17 and there with her mother, and another was my own age and all the way from the U.K. They listened intently as I told them my story and the pitfalls to be aware of. My young friend even went so far as to take notes. Our surgery days came and went. We all returned to the places we respectfully called home. A few days later, I got a phone call from my friend in the U.K. She was in tears and panicking, saying, “I don’t know what I have done.” We talked for what seemed like hours until she said she was feeling better. It’s been some time since I have heard from her. As for my young teenage friend, I got a call from her mother on several different occasions telling me what her daughter was not doing, and how she was feeling depressed. Considering myself somewhat of a hip person, I started to text my young friend. We worked out some things via texting and email. My life continued fairly normally. I was again into my routine of dilating and postsurgical care. Only this time I had a new-found appreciation for what I had been given, and the question had finally been answered.
Did I make a mistake? The answer is No! I did not make a mistake. Do I have regrets? Yes, of course, I have regrets. I do not feel I would be classified as human if I didn’t. Do I miss my old self? Sometimes. The question of whether or not I made a mistake at this stage is irrelevant. The more pressing and more important question is, am I able to be happy living as I am? At time of writing, I have an afternoon appointment coming up with a personal trainer at the gym. Later this evening, I’m going out for dinner with some friends and there is this very handsome man I met who asked me on a date.
The answer is, yes, I am happy and can live this way. The question I had chased and tried to have answered was the wrong question. After a few years of wrestling with it, the question “Did I make a mistake?” became irrelevant. The question I should have been asking myself all along is, “Can I be happy after I have made these final choices?” People have surgery everyday. Most don’t ask themselves, “Did I make a mistake?” If my own personal experience is of any use to anyone, then ask yourself the right questions first. Don’t ask “Did I make a mistake?” or “Am I doing the right thing?” Ask yourself, “Can I live happily once these decisions have been made?” That question is far easier to answer than the others.
November 28, 2012
“I hope that I haven’t influenced any non-binary people to take testosterone when it wasn’t truly right for them. I’m not sure how I feel about testosterone anymore or the process of taking hormones, I can’t say for sure whether it’s a good thing or not, because I’m probably not someone who should be putting their opinion out there! I’m not sure if I regret taking t or not, even though I said I didn’t in the video. I’m pretty sure I would have taken it no matter what… But I just hope I haven’t influenced people with my videos in the past, that is all.”
[Note to MeepMarmoset: Please post more on this or at least set your "Transgender Regret and some Melancholy I need to get off my chest" video to public so others going through the same thing can view it. Thanks. Also, I again direct folks coming off T and/or experiencing regret to this site where you can connect with others and get support: http://atlasstrawberries.tumblr.com/ -GM]
November 21, 2012
“I’m trying to just get off of it at this point. And my reason for that is because I am not wanting any more changes than I’ve already had. I think the changes that I did have snuck up on me pretty quickly and I hadn’t really thought about what it meant to pass at that point. And now I do pass. And I’m still at a crossroads with that in terms of it being something that I am comfortable with, and it being something that sort of negates an old identity that I am comfortable with that I still feel like I am. Like I still very much feel like a dyke. And so it’s hard being read as a straight white male. It’s got its privileges but it’s also- it’s been hard for me to relate to people just because – I look a little different now. And I think a lot of that was because I had insecurity about being butch enough in the queer scene and also I feel like a lot of people were taking T and I was- I wanted to fit in, so I took T too.”
November 9, 2012
October 29, 2012
From the DailyMail:
“Ms Cooper who was training to be a hair dresser as Bradley, believed at the age of 16 she was old enough to make the life-changing decision to give her ‘peace of mind’.
In 2010 Ms Cooper- then Bradley- told the News of the World: ‘I hate my body as it is now. I’ve known for years I’m a woman – I think and act like a woman, not a man. I don’t want years of misery.
‘I want it done as soon as possible so I can be the person physically that I am on the inside.
‘People might think I’m too young to make such a huge decision but I know my own mind and this is what I want.’
From the Mirror Online:
Last night child psychologist Karen Sherr, formerly of Great Ormond Street Hospital, said: “It’s absolutely ludicrous for young kids to make such huge, life-changing decisions… and for doctors and their parents to support it.
Ria has come full circle, now stating:
Ria admits to dabbling in prostitution – something touched on by a recent Channel 4 documentary which followed her life over a year. “If there’s one thing I regret it’s that but, as usual, it was all about looking for love and being loved.
Sadly, the second youngest gender patient in the UK, Angel Paris Jordan- who had his testicles removed by NHS doctors at the age of 17- was in the news last August after being arrested for buying crack cocaine.
Ria was only two months away from his scheduled surgical castration and sterilization which was ordered by doctors at the London Gender Identity Clinic.
No word yet if Ria will file a lawsuit against those who diagnosed and “treated” him. In 2009 the Monash Gender Clinic in Australia was shuttered while investigations were made and settlements paid to ex-patients who filed claims against practitioners for misdiagnosis and surgical mutilation. From TheSundayAge, which covered those events:
“’I will never be able to have sex again. Ever’
May 31, 2009
Three former patients of Australia’s controversial sex-change clinic say misdiagnosis and wrongful surgery destroyed their lives. Jill Stark reports.
HE WILL never forget the noise. Lying on the hospital trolley being pushed towards the operating theatre, he heard nothing but a primal wail. He looked back to see his younger sister sobbing, traumatised by the enormity of what he was about to do.
Andrew*, born male, was minutes away from an operation that would make him a woman. Psychiatrists said he had a female brain in a male body. Gender reassignment surgery was the only way to ease the mental torment he’d endured since adolescence.
But as the wheels squeaked towards the operating table he was struck by an unshakeable thought: “It’s not right.” He remembers telling the surgeon: “I think I’m doing the wrong thing, it’s not right, I think we’ve got to stop it.”
The surgeon stroked Andrew’s face, telling him it was natural to feel frightened before an operation. He protested again, insisting it felt wrong. Then it went black. When he woke up he was sure the surgery had been cancelled. The romantic tales he’d read of transsexuals who awoke post-surgery feeling “reborn” convinced Andrew the operation had been halted, because he felt no different.
“Then I remember lifting up the sheets and putting my hand down and feeling it all bandaged and packed. I just started bawling my eyes out and screaming … I remember saying to myself, you f–king idiot, Andrew, how could you be so bloody stupid?”
Twenty years after surgery that left him feeling like a “desexed dog”, the grief can still overwhelm him. Now 42, Andrew tells The Sunday Age the operation he had as a confused 21-year-old has shattered him.
After psychiatrists from Monash Medical Centre’s Gender Dysphoria Clinic referred him for reassignment surgery — including breast implants, the removal of his genitals, and the creation of a makeshift vagina — he tried to make the most of his new life as a woman.
He grew his hair long and wore make-up in a bid to fit in. Doctors told him it was normal to go through a period of adjustment. In time he would feel like a woman. But something wasn’t right. “I remember thinking to myself, what would happen if I admitted the truth to myself? I’m a man and I’ve just been mutilated, that’s all.”
Silent tears fall as he describes the anger he felt towards the doctors who led him down this path. But most of all at himself for believing them. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s when, supported by a woman with whom he was having a relationship, he returned to the clinic seeking help to return to life as a man. He says his psychiatrist, Dr Trudy Kennedy, told him she could not see him.
“I rang her up, I was telling her, ‘I’m suicidal, I’m not coping’. She said, ‘Well, if you’re that bad you should go to the emergency department’.”
Dr Kennedy says she has no memory of that phone call. But she concedes what happened to Andrew was wrong. “I think it was a terrible mistake that he was allowed to go ahead with it (surgery) instead of taking the time to think about it.”
She says Andrew’s surgeon is now dead. But Dr Kennedy, who assessed Andrew’s mental fitness, admitted to The Sunday Age: “I don’t know if he was ready for it (surgery) or not. He said he was ready for it. He’d been hounding us since he was 18.”
It’s true that Andrew thought he was a transsexual. However, the broken childhood that preceded his referral to the clinic is a recurring theme among those who feel they were misdiagnosed. Born to teenage parents, his earliest memories are of being hit and spat on by his father.
Latching on to his mother, he became distraught when he had to leave her to go to school. Confusion about his sexuality was compounded when he was raped by two men at the age of 16. As he aged and started to resemble his father, he began to hate his male appearance. A chance discovery of a book about a transsexual was a pivotal moment. The story resonated with him. Perhaps this was what he was.
Another former patient, Angela*, was also an abused child. Sexually molested by a cousin between the ages of four and nine, she grew up hating her femininity.
She recalls punching her breasts and working out obsessively at the gym to “remove anything that reminded me I was female”. She was a 22-year-old university student when she was referred to the clinic by her GP, depressed and struggling with her identity. Dr Kennedy diagnosed her as transsexual at the first assessment, prescribing her male hormones and suggesting female-to-male surgery.
Within months Angela’s body was covered in thick hair, her voice deepened and she had a full beard. She had to shave under the covers every morning to hide the truth from her conservative Catholic parents. Two years later she had surgery to remove both breasts and was scheduled to have a full sex change. Angela could no longer conceal the truth from her family and began living as “David”. Thankfully, she says, she realised there had been a mistake before undergoing full genital surgery.
“I remember at one point looking at myself in the mirror with this beard, my breasts gone and thinking, ‘Oh my God, what the hell am I going to do?’ … I felt ugly. I was the classic bearded woman, a monster trapped between two worlds.”
She claims her pleas for help were also ignored by the clinic and her return to life as a woman was a nightmare that involved two years of painful electrolysis to get rid of facial and body hair and surgery to reconstruct her breasts.
Now married to a “wonderful” man, Angela has three young children and has slowly rebuilt her life. Looking back, she acknowledges she gave consent for the procedure but believes it was not informed consent. She feels she was mentally ill and that her childhood abuse played a part in her gender confusion.
This nature or nurture argument is at the centre of the controversy surrounding the Clayton clinic. Like many psychiatrists, Trudy Kennedy maintains people with gender dysphoria are born with a genetic predisposition. While the condition is classified as a psychiatric illness, they believe it has a biological basis and can be cured only by gender-altering surgery.
They reject suggestions that a history of abuse, conflict with parents or underlying psychological problems can cause gender dysphoria. Indeed, just months ago, Melbourne scientists added fuel to this argument with the discovery of a gene that seemed to be responsible for feelings of being born the wrong sex.
But what worries other psychiatrists is the mounting evidence that surgery may not actually improve the lives of those who feel they were born with the wrong body. A review of more than 100 international studies of post-operative transsexuals by the University of Birmingham found there was no scientific evidence that surgery was effective and, in many cases, patients were left feeling more distressed. Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University — which housed one of the pioneer gender clinics — no longer performs sex-change surgery due to such concerns.
A recent British review found suicide rates of up to 18 per cent among people who had undergone gender reassignment surgery. Doctors from London’s Portman Clinic say they see many patients who feel trapped in “no-man’s land” after surgery, finding themselves with a body which is no longer recognisable as male or female. Psychotherapy, the experts believe, may have saved them from such a fate but few gender clinics offer it.
Reviews of the Monash clinic found psychotherapy was rarely, if ever, offered. While a patient would require a diagnosis as a “true transsexual” from two psychiatrists before being offered surgery, both opinions were from inside the clinic — one that operates under the fundamental ethos that surgery is the only cure.
Andrew describes his experience as like “being on a conveyor belt” — prescribed hormones on the first visit and getting breast implants and a nose job within months. He says he consented to the procedures, and the sex-change surgery, because he believed it was his only option.
Another former patient, a 66-year-old man who was sexually abused by his mother as a child, had his genitals removed in 1996 after a referral from Dr Kennedy, who said the abuse played no part in his feelings of gender confusion. The man says his GP described him as a “walking cloud of despair” following the operation, which he says he will never get over.
However, Vikki Sinnott, a Melbourne-based psychologist specialising in transgender issues, has seen many clients who have benefited from surgery. She believes the regret rate in Australia is “tiny … between 1 and 2 per cent”. But she concedes no studies have been conducted to test this.
Indeed, one of the most glaring problems uncovered by the government reviews of the Monash clinic was lack of patient follow-up. Ms Sinnott says this could be due to a lack of funding. “But it’s also about people’s willingness to be involved. Quite often people will say, ‘Thank you very much, I’m happy with where I’m at, I’ll now go and continue with the rest of my life’,” she says.
None of the misdiagnosed patients spoken to by The Sunday Age deny gender reassignment can be beneficial to people who are correctly diagnosed as transsexual. Some have even offered to be part of any research conducted by the clinic. However, the transgender community has harshly criticised them for telling their stories, accusing some of lying to doctors about their transsexuality in order to get surgery they later regret — an opinion voiced in the past by Dr Kennedy.
Angela’s husband, who has campaigned for years to make the clinic accountable for his wife’s ordeal, says even if that were true, a competent psychiatrist would detect the deception and conclude an underlying psychological problem was driving it.
“When patients report feeling like the opposite gender, that is genuinely how they feel at the time,” he says. “They are no more lying than someone with anorexia is lying when they say that they feel fat.”
For Andrew, it’s the small victories that keep him going. “I will never be able to have sex again. Ever. It’s taken a long time to come to terms with that, but now I can say it without crying,” he says.
“You can’t be angry forever. You’ve got to let it go for your own health, and the people who love you.”
*Names have been changed.
Here is the documentary covering Ria’s life as a “Transgender Child”
September 29, 2012
Is this the coolest dyke ever? She is hilarious.