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]
“the worst part is, nobody in the community knows who I am anymore, so when I speak my mind and they yell at me, they just say, you don’t know, you’re cis you couldn’t possibly know.
but I know. I know too much and I wish I didn’t.
“I’ve spent the last couple of years obsessing over the idea of medically transitioning. For the past few months I’ve spent more and more time analyzing why I felt those things, and I’ve spent a hell of lot less time absolutely hating myself. It’s still a struggle because I’m not completely comfortable with my body, but at least I’m not lying to myself about feeling like a man anymore.
“They always say “there’s somebody out there for everybody!’
I have a hard time believing it. At least when I was calling myself a lesbian in the trans community there was this expectation that you could be a bit different, socially speaking. Now, I dunno. I realize now that I’m a heterosexual male. Straight women always want me to be more masculine, more like a real man. It’s not going to happen.
I don’t know, this maybe isn’t all that coherent, it’s just irrational thoughts maybe.
“There’s something brutally funny about, hormonally speaking at least, basically being on my third puberty. In all seriousness though, I need my natural hormone production to level out again. Mid twenties is just too damn old for this shit.
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August 9, 2012
Shockingly, GenderTrender, although a general audience site, is one of, if not THE top resource for varied transgender detransition information online. Although common, the strong taboo against detransition leaves many trans people isolated and alone as their support networks turn their backs.
Some interesting detransition thoughts from an well-spoken “transwoman” on Reddit.:
submitted 1 day ago* by detransi
I socially transitioned on hormones, no surgery, a few years ago. While I never felt “trapped in a male body” pre-transition, I was very uncomfortable with my gender. Particularly, I completely disliked how I looked, particularly going bald, and hated how people treated me and expected from me as a man.
After initial hiccups with my transition, for the last 2 years I have absolutely enjoyed my social gender as a woman. I made a lot of friends like I never used to be able to make as a man. However, my career was a disaster as a woman and will take a lot of work to recover. Luckily, I transitioned in stealth, so I don’t have to un-come-out to anyone professionally if I detransition. I might need to come out as FTM to some, but I can transition back in stealth by simply relocating to a new city. Living as a woman, my dating confidence improved significantly! My dating life was always a disaster as a man for two reasons – I was very self-conscious about my appearance and I was extraordinarily shy. However, living as a woman and having lots of women friends has changed everything. Besides, the hormones have changed how I look, which gave me a new perspective – now when I look at my old photos as a man, I think I looked very handsome.
These days, I don’t really care what gender I look like when I’m alone at home. I have even shaved my head and use a wig to present as a woman. When I’m at home, I’m shaved bald and it does not bother me. I still pass exceptionally well as a woman when I need to. I can also pass as a man. I go out grocery shopping in some remote grocery stores as a man and everyone treats me very well, like nothing’s changed. In general, I don’t care about gender anymore and I can theoretical live as any. I’ve effectively become a public cross dresser.
The biggest reason I want to detransition is to have a family. Every time I hear my friends telling me about their little kids or when I see their kids who look like them, I feel like killing myself. Every time I see the picture of a baby, I cry for hours and hours because that’s what I want. I want to have my own biological child (I stored sperm pre-transition). I want to be married to a woman. I understand these are possible even if I live as a woman. However, there are difficulties which seem insurmountable.
It’s really tough for me to date lesbian women. They typically think I’m very pretty, but most disappear when I tell them I’m trans. I break up with the rest because I know that I look like a man if I remove my wig and that’s not what they want. And I have a penis and I love it, which is likely to also be an issue for many of these women. So I drop out instead of the futile exercise of coming out to them about all this.
I think I have better chances of having a family if I detransition fully and go back to living as a man full-time. Yes, I have breast tissue and don’t have facial hair, but I’m sure there are other genetic men with one or both of these situations. Besides, my testosterone level was above the male range pre-transition and even now spikes high if I skip any estrogen dose. I’m sure my testosterone will do some work for me if I detransition.
The big decision I need to make is whether to go off hormones or not. This is where I need any suggestions, ideas, references, etc.
If I don’t go off hormones, I will need to explain that to my spouse, if I ever find her. If I do, I might look too masculine again which might cause relapse into gender dysphoria, or so I fear. I also wonder if my natural sperms will ever be healthy again. I have only taken estrogen and DHT stoppers for 3-4 years, never used an anti-androgen to stop testosterone.
What are the chances I can produce healthy sperm again? Does dysphoria return if someone trans goes off hormones? What are the challenges of reintegrating as your birth gender if you would decide to detransition?
Never transition for someone (other than yourself), or for something. If you think you’ll like living as a male then do it. If you’re doing it because you’re lonely, either for love or child, then you’re making no less a mistake than those people who fail to transition at an early age and go out and start a family figuring that will fix them.
“Never transition for someone (other than yourself), or for something.”
I feel like I did this the first time, male to female. I did it so that other people would treat me a certain way, as female, and so I would not feel as ugly, and so I could live as a woman, not because I felt somehow female. All I knew was that I did not fit into the male stereotypical gender role. I still don’t fit, but I’m comfortable with that now.
April 22, 2012
September 14, 2011
Fascinating interview with actor and gay man Brian Belovitch, who was legally a “woman” for 14 years before overcoming his gender dysphoria and coming to terms with himself as a proud gay man.
Brian was a “Transgender Teen” who went on female hormones, had black market silicone injections (which later had to be scraped out) and breast implants before ultimately healing and accepting his body and himself. He describes the shame and abuse heaped upon him as a masculinity non-performing man, and the years of struggle to overcome the internalized messages they caused.
[Note- the video goes a bit wonky for a few moments near the start but after that it clears]
Watch these videos soon if you’re interested in viewing them. Detransitioners almost always delete their videos/blogs after a deluge of criticism from the trans community and shunning from those they thought were their friends. Like a cult, ex-members are antithetical to maintaining the one-sided thought constructs required to maintain a faith based genderist fantasy and philosophy. The trans community exists solely to support those who want to submerge themselves deeper into gender beliefs, and never ever to support those who have reached a stopping point, or who turn back. Detransitioners are the pariahs of the trans community. This young woman seems to have been very immersed in the trans trending youtube community, she vlogs frequently -and is often quite entertaining (unlike most of them) – so the loss of that support system might be very troubling to her. I wish her well, and commend her on her bravery of speaking out and breaking the biggest taboo of the trans community. Especially her re-clamation of the word “Lesbian” for herself, which is like fingernails on the blackboard to most of her peers. I was reading something the other day from a young, short, hairy, bald F2T who was discussing “The Oh My God What Have I Done To Myself Phase Of Transition”. Hopefully the young woman featured here will never have to “work through” that “part of the journey” instead putting on the brakes before it was too late.
The first vlog is her response to the public feedback (including a mention on Dirt’s blog) to her first statement about her intention of going off of testosterone which she made briefly at the end of her “One Year on T” video. The second is a follow-up video further explaining her detransition. She sounds like a typical exiting cult member, trying not to rebuke her former beliefs, trying to maintain good relations and a support system with her peers, while still trying to exit the cult trans machine.
Quote from the video: “T was not a mistake. OK I know that you didn’t talk about that or anything like that but I feel like –clarification for everybody. Of course I’ll talk about that in my “why I stopped T” video. But, I honestly believe that it was not a mistake. I feel like maybe I did stay on it for a little too long. And that I started a little too early. But, you know, I wanted to get T and what am I going to do if I want something? I’m obviously going to lie to my therapist. Like, who wouldn’t do that ? I’m sure a lot of other people have done that. And it has to stop. I completely agree of course. I don’t know who I’m agreeing with, but whatever. I agree with that statement that I’m just saying right now. I feel that there are a lot of trans people out there who do start transitioning way too young. Because they feel like they need to transition. Because they can’t, you know, be okay with themselves in their body. Which is absolutely horrible. Because then they might grow up, you know. Of course I truly believe that a lot of trans people are trans. Yes, you are trans. But such transition at a young age and stuff like that. I mean, I honestly don’t think that it’s pressure from the YouTube Community, but I feel – because there’s no one making videos “You Need to Be on T if you’re Fourteen”, you know, there’s nothing like “You Need to Get Surgery Right Now”. No, there is none of that. Maybe once or twice out of a million. It doesn’t happen. But I do believe that younger trans people looking at these videos might look at them and think “Oh my God this person has transitioned and they’re only 17, and they’re already getting their top surgery this summer and they’ve been on T for two years”. Stuff like that. A younger trans person might think “I need to be like this to be happy” when really, they really need to look into themselves. “
Although several of her peers are already clicking the “dislike” button I’m sure her detransition videos will be a source of help and comfort to others who struggle to detransition with no support whatsoever as all their trans peers abandon them. Here are a few comments left on them by other young women:
“hey man i was really surprised when i saw this video but very happy about it. i stopped T also a few months back and i feel the same way as you. theres more of us out there its just not talked about very often.”
“i definitely think you’re right that young transguys suffer unconscious pressures from within the community itself to transition medically with hormones and/or surgery. as a young transperson myself, i watched hundreds of transition videos where young, attractive, desirable transguys documented their experiences on t, their changes, and i wanted to be like that. i wanted something to happen in my life that would make me happy and i thought transitioning was going to fulfill that.
i thought that by transitioning and going on t i would share the same experiences of happiness and fulfillment i saw in these videos. but i was disillusioned by these experiences. i equated t with happiness. i saw top surgery as a way of feeling better about my body. and it is 100% certainly in no way ever the fault of the transguys who post these videos. it was 100% my deal. i had issues with my body and my life and my self-esteem and i was looking for a way to cure that. it seemed logical that by transitioning, i would experience happiness, because i saw it in so many other people’s videos.
their stories of happiness due to going on t and finally gaining the male sex characteristics they desired made me WANT those sex characteristics (i’m talking facial hair, low voice, body fat shape, etc) because i wanted to be happy, to fit in, to find an identity (which is so intrinsically linked to medical transition and taking testosterone in the ftm community) which i could relate to.
but my identity is my own, and i realised that t wasn’t going to make me happy – “becoming male” wasn’t going to make me happy (because that’s how i saw it; i saw myself as an unhappy person stuck in a female body and a female “role” in society wanting a trans body and a more liberal “male” role). only i could make myself happy. i felt trapped in the whole female role thing, i saw these transmen gain (SOME) privileges when they transitioned with t – they were unequivocally (in some cases, not all) read as male in society now, and they gained, or at least i thought they gained, a lot of privileges through that. i wanted to be male so i wouldn’t have to be female. but i realised, i don’t have to be either. even if people read me as a female, it doens’t mean i AM one. i wanted to transition because i wanted to find a recognisable space where my identity was accepted. non-binary, transfluid, genderqueer, agendered identities are not universially accepted or recognised in this age and time and i felt lost. i felt like i didn’t have a place, and i felt that by transitioning medically (and socially, tbh) i would gain the self-acceptance and fulfillment i saw in the vlogs of other transguys. but not every transperson is the same, and we all certainly want different things and think in different ways. yet i equated happiness with transition. and it was an illusion, and i realised that i didn’t HAVE to go on t to experience that.
and for the record, i am an XX-born person raised female as a child. i realised my rejection of a binary female identity from an early age and i came to (re)claim my identity as queer in both gender and sexuality from around the age of 14 or 15. i realised that i was at least genderqueer and/or wanted to do something about this around aged 17 and bought a binder, adopted a more androgynous style (although i was always dressing like a dorky skater boy wannabe anyway), and lived this aspect of my gender out online properly. (gender-neutral pronouns, neutral nickname/screenname, etc) it was only until the summer i turner 18 that i made the decision to transition to male. yes, “made” the “decision”. i decided to transition because i was unhappy with my life and i knew i would be starting university soon and i wanted to get an early start so i could avoid any awkward “oh btw you all knew me as a girl but i’m becoming a guy now thx” mid-semester transitions. yes.
i was pressurised into transitioning because i felt that people wouldn’t take me seriously if i STARTED uni as a girl and then transitioned to male. i thought i would be ridiculed or it would be harder for me, so i started uni as male. right from the word go, male pronouns (or at least, i tried, heh), male name, name gender on uni records. i threw myself into something that i thought was going to make me happy, but it made me miserable, socially anxious to a horrendous degree, and in a worse off position that i was already in. i felt pressurised to conform to a binary identity and a binary, “traditional” transition by getting an early start, going on t, changing my name and using male pronouns, because i thought nobody would take me seriously otherwise and because i thought it would cure my unhappiness. lo and behold, it didn’t. and again, this is in NO WAY the fault of ANY transguy who posts his transition on youtube. it was my own lack of self-esteem and self worth which made me think i had to change a major physical and social aspect of my life in order to be happy. but instead, it took me about a year and a half to realise that happiness comes from within. and just because i’m not using a male name or pronouns anymore, or have no desire to commit to medical transition any time soon, it doesn’t mean i’m not trans*. i’m still trans*. but now i’m just myself as well. and it doesn’t bother me that my identity isn’t recognisable. i’m just me. SOOOOOOORY for the huge mass of comments! i think i probably took up a whole page of comments, heh… in retrospect, it probably would have been better to post this to your page wall or message you, but i publicly wanted to express my experiences with the things you are saying because they relate a lot to myself. i’ve been looking for an outlet to get rid of all these thoughts because a lot of my friends don’t get it, and yet it’s so central to my history. so THANKS, and stay awesome, you <3”