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.
January 6, 2013
Dr Richard Curtis, the 45 year-old woman in charge of London’s largest private “sex change” clinic is under fire as accusations of misdiagnosis and malpractice pile up. Dr. Curtis is a heterosexual female GP (General Practitioner) who underwent medical and surgical procedures in 2005 to “affirm” her belief that she was a “gay man trapped in a woman’s body”. She was the first transsexual practitioner to be registered by the General Medical Council after passage of the UK Gender Recognition Act.
A staunch anti-feminist, Curtis’s public statements have long reflected a profound belief in sex-based social roles. About her own “sex change” she has said “”I’ve never been particularly in touch with my emotional side. I’ve never wanted children, or a white wedding like most women dream of, or a man to take care of me. Instead, you were more likely to find me fitting a kitchen or tiling the bathroom.” Curtis on the purpose of her own “gender change”: “It’s to stop people being confused about who and what you are.”
In 2006 Dr. Richard Curtis took over the private practice of the infamous psychiatry consultant Dr. Russell Reid, once the UK’s best-known expert on transsexualism. Reid was found guilty of gross professional misconduct for authorizing inappropriate surgeries for gender dysphoric and body dysphoric clients, including the amputation of healthy limbs for BIID clients. One of Reid’s clients was authorized for “gender treatment” because she wanted to “become Christ”.
From The Guardian today:
Doctor under fire for alleged errors prescribing sex-change hormones
A woman who alleges that she was inappropriately prescribed sex-changing hormones and then wrongly underwent a double mastectomy is one of several complaints being investigated by the General Medical Council about the doctor who oversaw her aborted gender reassignment, the Guardian has learned.
The GMC, the doctors’ professional regulator, has received at least three separate complaints against Dr Richard Curtis, a London GP who specialises in the treatment of gender dysphoria, particularly transsexualism, concerning the alleged inappropriate administering of sex-changing hormones to several patients and at least one allegedly unsuitable referral for gender reassignment surgery.
It is claimed that Dr Curtis, who provides private treatment to patients seeking gender reassignment, has failed to follow accepted standards of care and breached conditions placed on his practice by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS), the GMC’s arm’s-length disciplinary body.
The allegations include commencing hormone treatment in complex cases without referring the patient for a second opinion or before they had undergone counselling, administering hormone treatment at patients’ first appointments, and referring patients for surgery before they had lived in their desired gender role for a year, as international guidelines recommend, with one patient allegedly undergoing surgery within 12 months of their first appointment. He is also accused of administering hormones to patients aged under 18 without an adequate assessment, and wrongly stating that a patient seeking gender reassignment had changed their name.
One of the most serious cases concerns a female patient who regrets switching to a male role. She underwent hormone treatment and had her breasts removed. The woman is one of the complainants in the current GMC investigation.
Other cases include teenage patients who were allegedly prescribed hormones when they were just 16. Although the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust in London, which specialises in the treatment of gender identity difficulties in children, does offer hormone treatment to under 18s on the NHS, it is alleged that Curtis lacks the specialist knowledge and skills to adequately treat such patients on his own.
Read More Here:
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]
August 31, 2012
Guest Post by Violet Irene.
To those who are looking for this information because you are wondering if you made a mistake starting “T” and are looking for guidance: know that you are NOT alone. Even if the people on the FTM forums say it’s incredibly rare and basically no one does this, that is NOT TRUE. I personally know a TON of women who took T and then for a variety of reasons changed their minds and went back to living as women. Some identify as lesbians, some are bi, some are straight. Some look butch, some look androgynous, some look completely “average” for their community and assimilated. Personally I identify as a bi-dyke and while no one is ever surprised to learn the “dyke” part, because it’s who I am and I don’t try to hide it, I also pass for just a matronly sensible feminist mom type too and no one would ever know I had spent time IDing as FTM unless I told them. If you want to stay more androgynous more power to you, but if that is NOT what you want, don’t feel like you have to! It was hard emotionally figuring everything out but pretty much as soon as I wanted people to see me as a woman again, it didn’t take much to get that.
I just want you to know you are NOT ALONE and you do NOT have to hate or blame yourself or feel like a freak or an outcast. You still have options. You still have a future. The rest of your life is waiting for you, there is ALWAYS hope. I thought I had ruined my life but now I have a beautiful family and amazing friends and a happy life and things DID get better. Hang in there—you’re strong and BRAVE—it takes so much courage to face yourself with the idea “I made a big mistake”–and you can make it through this terrifying moment.
And a disclaimer: I took testosterone for less than a year, so if you took it a lot longer, the effects may take longer to reverse for you. On the other hand, they might not take that much longer at all. Every body is different, some respond really strongly to female hormones or male hormones or both, etc. All the advice and experience here is just about what I lived through, I don’t claim to represent a universal or scientifically validated “what to expect.” Take it for what it’s worth because there’s not a lot out there. I hope others who have been through this will feel emboldened to come forward, too, with their unique experience. Also, I did not have any surgeries. I got pregnant less than a year after quitting T, and that I am sure had some influence over how the physical changes went for me, too. I quit T seven years ago as of today, spring 2012 (so I quit in 2005).
So physically, about three weeks after my last dose of T (I had been taking injections at the standard dose every 2 weeks) I started to feel hormonally weird, like a really strong PMS. This intensified over about the next month, as my ovaries got back into gear and produced I am sure a lot more hormones than usual to try to balance me back out. I felt every symptom you can think of associated with both PMS and menopause—hot flashes, sweats, crying jags, nausea, itchy skin, cramps, and migraine headaches. This was the really rough part because I was also struggling a lot with the emotional implications of what was going on. About 2 months after the last shot, I had a period. I then had another regular period the next month, and in general things started to even out at that point.
Let me warn you about that first couple of periods—they were really, really painful and intense. I think this has to do with the fact that your body has to overproduce the female hormones to bring things back into alignment, but I don’t know. I got a prescription strength NSAID from my doctor and that helped a lot. After that, my periods were like they have always been—bad but not horror show worthy.
About the time I got my period, my breasts started to look more like they used to. “T” had made them kind of deflated and floppy. At this point, they started to plump back up and eventually went completely back to normal. The facial and body hair that I had gotten on “T” stayed put, but the growth noticeably slowed down within about 5 months of quitting. I still grow hair in places I didn’t before (ie some patches on my wrists and thighs) but within a year-ish it was no longer coming in dark and coarse like male hair, but had changed to fine and light like the body hair I have everywhere else. My “beard” ditto—it changed over to that downy, fine stuff most women grow especially as we get older, with the odd darker, wiry hair. Because I prefer not to be scrutinized for it, I shave it off with an electric razor about every couple of weeks.
My voice was lower on T but I think not as low as it would have gotten. For a long time after quitting, I was stuck with a kind of awkward register, with a break in it so I had trouble singing. I couldn’t sing high, I couldn’t sing low, I had to cough and clear my throat to cover for some pretty awkward sounds when singing. When talking I just had to watch that I stayed in my mid-register for a while, going higher or lower would make me sound like a teenage boy. They SAY that never changes back, and maybe it doesn’t always. For me, though, while I don’t have the same voice I had before T, it sounds a lot higher and more decidedly female now than it did right after I quit. And the break went away. Because I love music, I kind of nurtured my singing voice until I got a normal low-alto that doesn’t break or crack anymore. Lower than average but not unheard of for a woman. I still sometimes get misgendered on the phone when I am trying to sound serious (so talking very low and authoritative) but I just correct them and try not to dwell on it.
When I was on T I had a lot of problems with my sinuses and blood pressure going up when I was stressed. The sinus problem cleared within two weeks of quitting. The blood pressure thing took longer.
If you’re hoping to have a baby, this is my experience on that. I got pregnant about 5 months after stopping T, after three normal periods. I “charted” my cycle to know when I was ovulating but that’s it. Stopping T can actually make you REALLY fertile as your body cranks out extra estrogen to compensate, so if you are active with men and don’t want to be pregnant, be REALLY careful. I chose not to tell my midwives about what I had been through. It was just too hard. If you want to disclose, please be careful and have outside support, because a lot of medical professionals WILL treat you differently or like you are crazy. It sucks but that’s reality. I learned the hard way, with a counselor and a doctor. You can seek out professionals who work in the lesbian community and sometimes, but not always, they will be more sensitive. Or you can keep it secret, because once your system has cleared the hormones it’s hard to say if there’s any lingering effect they need to know about. I had a normal pregnancy and a natural delivery. We had one unusual kind of complication happen, it wasn’t of consequence long term and we are fine now, but it is one that women with PCOS are at higher risk for so I did wonder if it had anything to do with the androgens that had been in my system before I conceived. I tortured myself about that, but since my child is fine now I have to just put it in the column of “if I had known differently, I would have done differently” and forgive myself. I didn’t have that problem with my next pregnancy. I was able to breastfeed normally and breastfed my baby exclusively for many months.
The hair on my head took a long time to get back to normal, oddly enough. I had a crewcut when I was trying to pass as male, and when I decided to quit it was important to me to start growing it out right away. It took a long time. I’ve had short cuts since then, while on my natural hormones, and before that, and they all grew out a lot faster. On T my hairline had started to recede just slightly, yes even after less than a year. So it grew back really, really slowly. If I’d thought about it back then, I would have tried taking some vitamins and using jojoba oil shampoo—those can both help a lot to bump along the female pattern hairgrowth as it comes in.
People say that when you quit “T” your sex drive will shrivel, but I didn’t find that to be the case. Once my female hormones were up and running I felt just fine, and still do. Everything went back to the way it was before as far as my personal odor and my vulva and so forth, too. Some sources claim it will be harder to orgasm when you quit T but I didn’t find that to be an issue at all.
My face softened up again within a couple of months, and my hips padded back out too. I may have lost muscle mass but if I did, it wasn’t noticeable, I stayed active and that was good enough.
I hypothesize that a lot of why things went back quickly for me was my cycles started up, so I was getting bathed in the normal levels of female hormones right away. If you have trouble getting your cycles back, I would advise that you see an endocrinologist or gyn about it because that’s going to help a lot. Maybe birth control pills could help, if nothing else.
7 years down the line the only evidence I ever took T is stuff only I would notice, like some body hair that wasn’t there before but which has lightened and softened up, a little extra soft facial down, and a slightly lower vocal range.
Social, emotional, and practical thoughts:
This part is where your mileage may really vary from mine. I’m not telling you what to do, just what worked for me.
It was important to me to immediately stop being seen as a guy or a trans person. I wanted to know that I COULD go back to how I was before, I was terrified that I had ruined parts of myself that were really important to me. I feared that I was locked out of “women” forever. I went through the seven stages of grief, for what it’s worth, and still to this day have feelings of essentially having survived a loss and a trauma. This is a big deal, so be kind and gentle to yourself.
In the “bargaining” and denial phase one thing I said to myself and others was “I don’t really care what I am seen as, I’m neither male nor female, call me whatever you want.” You might go through a stage like this too. It’s ok to then move on and say “no, really, I DO care.” You’re not “selling out.” You’re coming to terms.
I went and bought some really fancy, padded, push-up bras. For me, this was really helpful while my breasts were still really flaccid. It gave me the shape I was used to seeing before, and helped people realize that despite some androgynous traits, I am a woman. If you have had surgery or have very small breasts, you might consider going to a lingerie shop that helps women who have had breast surgery or masectomy, if you think this might help you.
I found it was helpful to immediately purge some clothing and accessories that I especially associated with “trying to pass as male,” like double-reinforced sports bras, baseball caps, etc. It’s not that those are male clothes—clothes are just clothes—but it was about what they meant to me. Getting rid of them and replacing them helped me feel more confident that I was really going to be able to come home. I do find that a lot of FTMs rely heavily on things like baseball caps to help them pass as male, too, so taking off the hat can help people see you better too.
It was helpful to me to dress more “feminine” than I otherwise might have, for a while, to get some confidence that I was going to still be “allowed” to be a woman in society. After a while, I felt assured enough I could wear more casual clothes like I usually do again, but that phase was helpful to get me out of despair. Once my hair grew out I kind of ended up using it as my crutch, to the point where I surprised myself by completely emotionally freaking out the next time I got it cropped short for the summer. Just something to prepare for, if you might be like me. That and a few other things are basically trauma triggers for me, if I am confronted with unexpected reminders of that phase of my life, I can have an emotional reaction that is rather overwhelming. No one warned me to expect this, but it seems pretty logical to me now that I think about it.
Another thing that helped me feel more “in control” of the kind of chaotic situation was learning to recognize the hormonal patterns in my body using fertility charting (aka natural family planning or fertility awareness method.) You can find books or web info on this.
I don’t feel like I can advise on handling the social aspects because I don’t know that I handled it well. I just survived through pure stubbornness. I told my mom and we cried together. She had always felt it was wrong and disturbing, my dad had always been all for it and relished bragging how he had a “son.” He pretty much wouldn’t speak to me after I went back. Other than that, I didn’t announce anything except to friends who I chatted with online. I just changed my name back, changed my presentation back, and basically gave off “FU” vibes that made it clear no one should dare to give me shit about it or ask any questions. I know a lot of people in my family decided at that point I was truly crazy, disgusting, depraved, and have treated me like garbage ever since—not surprising since a lot of the same folks were homophobes to start with. My really good friends I was able, eventually, to really talk to, and they stood by me. Pretty much all my other friends ESPECIALLY those from the genderqueer and queer political circles—I lost them. Slowly, painfully. They weren’t interested in me, they were interested in The Trans Show and once it was over, they were out.
I was called some horrible names and yes, threatened and told that I was an evil person, that I should kill myself, that I was a menace. Not by fundamentalists…by “queer radicals.” And some people claiming to be feminists. I don’t talk about this much unless I can be anonymous, as a result.
It was hard going from being essentially invisible in a good way, passing as a male, to being seen as a woman again, dealing with street harassment, having guys basically try to shoulder and elbow their way through me, having to fight to get my whole seat on the train, etc. I do still feel some grief, pain, and a lot of anger, about the freedom I lost and the fact that women are not yet free.
I haven’t really gotten into why I started T or why I went back, maybe we can talk about that another time. But this is a sample of what the experience was like, for one person. If you are looking for advice, please just listen to this: no matter what the specifics of your situation are, you can survive this. This is going to be a strange, scary rebirth. But you will make it. A day will come where you don’t think about it everyday anymore, every time you look in the mirror or sign a check. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and if a day is too much to take at a time, take it an hour at a time. Make a list of things to do and get the little rush from crossing out each item on the list. Write a rant and post it online. Pet a dog or a cat. My dog saved me, again and again, because she didn’t see the clothes or the labels, she just loved me. Eventually it WILL get easier, and before you know it, you will be OK.
April 13, 2012
“I can barely think right now….
I had FFS 9 days ago in Boston. I’m not supposed to decide whether to jump off a cliff for another three months. I posted about this a while ago… the post is probably still on here.
At 9 days I’ve already decided that this is a nightmare. I should have never had FFS. I wasn’t ready to transition. I wanted to be James still too much. There are warning signs all along the way.
October 30, 2011
Yes that IS (ex-transsexual and post-op SRS regretter) Walt Heyer, in second vid.
Good One Walt! Marci B. got kicked out of Trinidad btw.
October 28, 2011
October 26, 2011
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]