The In-betweeners?

August 10, 2015

the in-betweeners

Initially I didn’t even bother clicking to read the unfortunately titled piece “The In-betweeners” by Daisy Dumas in the Sydney Morning Herald because I assumed it was yet another tedious lifestyle post on the young adult “genderqueer” social trend.

It’s actually a pretty in-depth profile of a handful of the thousands of transgender folks who eventually tire of the whole trans schtick after a number of years living in their target sex-role and decide to medically and socially detransition to varying degrees. This is a fairly unusual article because the transgender community responds to detransitioners who speak publicly about their experience with terrific hostility, threats, and harassment.

In the case of sportwriter Mike Penner, who transitioned to his “Christine” persona and then changed back, the withdrawal of support was so severe that he committed suicide. Other public detransitioners have been targeted with years of public derision and obsessive stalking by transgender activists. Mark Angelo Cummings, an FTM activist who stated this year that she no longer believes herself to be “male-brained”, was deluged with violent death threats, including a Vancouver “transwoman” who posted their intention to drag Cummings on a chain behind his truck until dead. Cummings lost the sponsors of her long-running Transition Radio program and was also removed from Lynn Conway’s “Transgender Success Stories” website. Heath Atom Russell, a woman who was interviewed about her detransition for a local cable-access TV show, had her tires slashed and car vandalized, and was stalked so severely by one local “transwoman” that she was forced to get a restraining order. I could list dozens of other examples, but you get the point.

Reversing the transgender narrative is not only a common occurrence, but one that is utterly taboo among the transgender politic, and also, shockingly, among those who have appointed themselves as the “gatekeepers” of transgender care.

When author Joel Nowak of contacted the World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH) for help, he was told that the group, which bills itself as the “world authority on transgender health”, did not have a single resource or drop of information to offer those who wish to halt or reverse the medical or surgical process of transition. Nothing. Nada. Not only did the “world authority” have nothing whatsoever to offer in terms of medical and surgical guidelines or standards of care, but they also had no knowledge of anyone who did. They also had nothing on psychological adjustment or social support.

This utter failure of care is unimaginable in any other field of health. Can you imagine a “world authority” of endocrinology responding, “We have no information on that” to a patient who asks “What do I need to know about stopping my diabetes medication now that my blood sugar is better controlled after weight loss?” Can you imagine if the world authority in diabetic health care said : “We have no information on that medical process and we don’t know anyone who does. We have no idea, and we also have no idea where to direct you for information or care.” Such glaring and irresponsible failure to provide care from a self-described health authority in any other field would be described as malpractice, neglect, or even deliberate disregard. In the world of “Transgender Medicine” however, it is business as usual, with an emphasis on “business”.

Detransitioners are left to cobble together anecdotal information from others who have white-knuckled through their own medical and social detransition alone, scanning the internet for posts from others, and sharing notes in low profile self-created private support forums away from the gaze of the now hostile transgender community that once supported them, lacking all professional medical or therapeutic care. GenderTrender, although a general audience website covering trends in gender, has become the most heavily trafficked online source for detransition information. “How do I stop T?” “What happens when you stop testosterone?” “Reversal of neovagina”. “FTM going back to being a woman”. “Stopping estrogen transgender”. “Living as male after SRS”. “Going off testosterone body hair”. Searches like these come in every day.

The hostility and neglect that transgender detransitioners are met with, by their own community and the organizations tasked with their care, is appalling. The complete and deliberate lack of regard for their welfare (which is putting it mildly) is astounding.

What is perhaps even more astounding is that a few of the people who are working their way through detransitioning have the courage to brave the abuse of their own community and the former support systems which have now turned against them by increasingly reaching out, and speaking out publicly to share their stories. I’ve been following this trend for a long time and I have to say that the one thing that these people all have in common is that they want other detransitioners to know they are not alone. That they have options. That there is hope. Reversing transgender transition is possible socially, and also medically to a varying degree (some changes are irreversible). People are coming together and sharing solutions. They are working through dysphoria. People are detransitioning. Lots of them. And they’re doing so without judgement of the choices of others and without a political or religious agenda. If you’d like, you can be one of them.

“The In-betweeners” by Daisy Dumas at the Sydney Morning Herald profiles a few of these folks, and is worth a read. Please check it out by clicking here:

If you are considering / or have / detransitioned and would like to receive (or give!) support and information, you can check out these resources. The following are all non-judgmental, non-religious sites created by detransitioners themselves. There are other sites as well, and they can show you where to go.

These first two sites are FEMALE ONLY.

Redress Alert “If you’re reconciling with being female after a period of dis-identification–including transition or not–I am here for you.” – This woman is fantastic. I personally call her for advice on a regular basis. Good people.

23xx at also, Detransition Support and Information for Women Only: Smart, thoughtful, fierce, and also very very funny. She will hook you up with some serious support and information.

These next two sites are Mainly male perspective but open to all:

REtransition.Org – Run by Joel Nowak, who is featured in the article! Joel is great! I email him every day. Or mean to. Don’t be afraid to say hello. Also his twitter: @retransition

Third Way Trans – “alternate ways to think about gender dysphoria, gender identity, retransition, detransition and transgender issues from a former trans woman and psychology grad student”.


52 Responses to “The In-betweeners?”

  1. stchauvinism Says:

    Reblogged this on Stop Trans Chauvinism.

  2. keeva99 Says:

    “In-betweeners”, while definitely a tad cringe-worthy, does highlight the need for an addition in our lexicon to terms regarding people with gender dysphoria. A word that allows people to move away from the ideology of the absoluteness of transitioning, and the use of “Trans” (which offers with it a sense of community and belonging), and introducing the idea that gender dysphoria is not something that needs to be fixed (with hormones or surgery), but rather embraced and reconciled with societal forces that are determined to pigeonhole people into ideals of gender. I hesitate to mention “Two-Spirit”, because of the very specific cultural meaning it has for Native Americans, but perhaps the term can be used as a guide to creating a similar term in our vocabulary for people who feel “in-between”, or have a disconnect between their bodies and the conditioning of their mind to what society tells them a boy/man or girl/woman should be?

    • Loup-loup garou Says:

      The problem with creating a term for people who “have a disconnect between their bodies and the conditioning of their mind to what society tells them a boy/man or girl/woman should be” is that it tacitly upholds the belief that there’s some sort of normal, default personality type for males, and another one for females.

      It also locates the problem in the individual, not in the society that insists on maintaining social sex roles.

      • Guls Says:

        ‘It … locates the problem in the individual, not in the society that insists on maintaining social … roles.’

        The name escapes me, but there was a doctor that (re)defined insanity as ‘trying to survive in a world that doesn’t make sense’, or words to that effect; I’m paraphrasing. I’m no RadFem (obviously) but this (consistent) understanding is precisely that which makes your works so compelling. Liberal/Queer/Post-Modern philosophy, by contrast is riven by contradiction.

        When Germaine Greer first directly and explicitly adressed Transgenderism (in Pantomime Dames) it appeared in The Whole Woman, which is apt: when you meet a person, you meeet the whole person; as much as we are individually riven by contradictions, there is little sense to be divined by splitting our characteristics into feminine/masculine.

    • FreeFromSexPozzies Says:

      Why not just call them people with BDD?

  3. Charlotte Says:

    Awesome post Gallus, thank you. And you are SPOT on about there being no help for detransitioners. Mark, whom you cited in your article, got violently ill when trying to stop T. Because Mark had her ovaries removed she has no organ to naturalize her hormones.

    Mark is a life long lesbian and feminist, the arguments of radical feminism helped her greatly in seeing the damage the trans community was doing to women, and as a woman, felt it necessary to speak up for her sisters.

    The treatment Mark received from the trans community she helped build was horrific to watch. People were threatening to kill her daily, falsely smear her as a pedophile, threatening her friends on FB (of which I am one and thus got my fair share), all kinds of terrible shit.

    Mark feels betrayed, used, bewildered and regretful in many ways. Mark is truly a humane soul, a deep questioner, very emotive, tries to be brutally honest, compassionate, and deserved far better treatment than received. Especially after sharing a life of traumatic abuse which was in part what caused much of her dysphoria.

    Mark’s partner, Lynna, was also very brave in admitting to autogynephilliac feelings, surviving a life of religious fundamentalism, regret for what happened to the family, and trying to understand on honest terms what caused it all, owning the bad behavior which caused some pain.

    They are trying to lead lives where they can be themselves while not hurting others, after years of being much more self obsessed. And that’s a stage few people reach. You would think the trans community would want to cheer lead trans people whom are trying to build bridges between expressing themselves how they want without hurting the group they are trying to join.

    • Dogtowner Says:

      It is possible to “naturalize” your hormones even after removal of your ovaries. Mark should have been able to find a gynecologist to help her transition to her natural hormones and it’s shocking if she was not able to do so. I would guess that using an estrogen cream (you do not want estrogen to be processed by the liver, so oral estrogen is not a good idea) would be necessary at least temporarily. Over time the body will compensate in other ways if the organs are working properly — the pituitary makes some estrogen.

    • gchild Says:

      I hate it that Mark and Lynna are going through this.

      I believe the backlash for detransitioners is always so quick and so severe not because people believe in trans, but because the entire universe rejects it. Everywhere they look their belief is proven false. So they must keep swinging, keep fighting, keep attacking all day everyday to keep the delusion alive. This is so taxing that mental instability, aggression, and rage overtake them and that might be part of the lashing out.

      And it will ALWAYS be this way. Because trans isn’t real (not in the sense that they make it out to be).

      Pretty soon, trans allies will begin to suffer as well. From compassion fatigue. That is when the tide will turn.

      • GallusMag Says:

        I can envision some form of gated community (or perhaps amusement park) where men can live or vacation among their brethren in a place where their gender fantasies are served. I say men because I doubt women (FTMs) would possess either the disposable income or the will to participate in such a community. This 24/7 fantasia fair could serve as a sort of transgenderist homeland, a Borscht Belt as it were, where boutiques carry pumps only in men’s size 14 and errors in pronouns are met with the ringing of bells and shoulder massages. Where vinyl miniskirts are de rigueur couture for retired army admirals and laser hair removal is provided under the local tax base, 89 percent of which would be devoted to inter-community conflict resolution.

      • coelacanth Says:

        Gallus, such places already exist!

        From the “meetings” page on TG Poufbunny’s Parlor:

        And from Trans Toronto:

    • cobston Says:

      I had a radical hysterectomy, they buggers took everything as I was in a bad way and I don’t take anything. I know Mark said he could not take any female hormones but its still possible to live without ovaries or hormone replacement. No extra hair growth so far either and its been 10 years or so now.
      Also he needs to cut down on the male hormones slowly rather than just stop as he did.
      My daughter showed me that news piece as we are in Australia and I did wonder why it was published as its not what some people want to hear is it?

      • GallusMag Says:

        There have been reports of adverse effects of sudden stoppage of high-dose testosterone in females, including internal bleeding:

        Possibly due to elevated hemoglobin levels mixed with clotting effects of rebounding estrogen? Purely speculating on cause here…but female detransitioners have definitely reported an estrogen surge following cessation of testosterone injections, Characterized by extreme menstrual cramps and heavy periods for the first few months and also heightened risk/ability of impregnation (depending on atrophy of reproductive system).

        Stepping down dosage before stopping seems logical but of course this is purely speculation and as reported, the physicians ordering these off-label drugs have done (and are doing) no research.

      • Dogtowner Says:

        Slowly weaning yourself off anything resembling steroids is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. Even when medicos give steroids for seemingly good reasons — overactive immune response, etc — they are meant to be slowly tapered. I’ve taken them when I’ve been stung by 10 yellow jackets, but that’s one dose and it works great. I would never take more than one dose of these very powerful drugs.

        You are absolutely right, cobston, about living with no ovaries. I have no ovaries, which in my case is a good thing as I had pelvic inflammatory disease. Once my hypothyroidism was diagnosed and I was on desiccated thyroid, my body made sufficient estrogen, as I imagine most women’s bodies would who are relatively healthy.

  4. Zemskull Says:

    Perhaps what’s threatening to the MTT community is that they realize that they’re all accurately described as “In-betweeners.” Even the wealthiest MTTs such as Bruce Jenner will not visually pass as female all the time or erase their male pasts. At most, with a lot of medications, surgery, cosmetics and clothes, a few can fulfill 85% of society’s standards of what women should look like. The MTTs I’ve been around tend to hover in the 60 to 70 percent range aesthetically.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Excellent post! I used to consider myself trans (FTM), a phase of my life that went on for many years before I was finally able to get to the bottom of where my body dysphoria came from (repressed childhood sexual abuse). Luckily, I never had the money to get hormones or surgery, so my body is still intact. I sincerely hope others who are considering whether detransition is right for them will take the time to have a good, hard look inside themselves, perhaps with the help of a trauma therapist, to see if their self-hatred might stem from a terrible past event or series of events in their life that they may have no memory whatsoever of. Your childhood might be generally fuzzy in this case, with few clear memories, or strange gaps where a memory ought to be. Repression of memories is a real phenomenon, one that greatly helps children to maintain their sanity when under massive stress, pain, or fear, but once you are an adult it becomes maladaptive and can damage you greatly (including through gender/body dysphoria that you can’t pinpoint the source of).

    Lots of love to anyone out there struggling with dysphoria and the trans fantasy they have been sold by a messed up culture. Keep questioning, and remember that you are valuable and worthy of love. Every bit of you deserves respect and kindness, even the parts you are having trouble accepting right now.

  6. Dogtowner Says:

    Another excellent piece by GM. But, I would add:

    Endocrinologists are notoriously ignorant regarding thyroid function. They routinely deny hypothyroidism despite glaring symptoms; if they think one is hypothyroid they prescribe the synthetic drug the salesmen tell them is best, which does nothing to help the overwhelming majority of patients. There should be a massive class-action lawsuit against the medical profession for the suffering they have caused millions, mostly women, on this one easily remedied condition alone, but I have no idea how it would ever happen.

  7. dbrvnk Says:

    it seems to me like these kinds of articles focus a lot on the MTF detransition narrative (and then try to compare the FTM one to it, if it’s even brought up), but mtf and ftm detransition are not really comparable to each other and require different perspectives. I mean it’s a good start that they are actually willing to talk about detransition, but I just wish someone would be less male centric, maybe do an article that focuses specifically on detransitioned women or something.

    • GallusMag Says:

      Excellent point.

    • Smits Says:

      I get the impression that this is partly because male detransitioners tend to be in a safer position to actually talk openly, and/or they are more willing to compromise for a wishy-washy article. Most if not all of the detransitioned women blogging on tumblr or wordpress are radical feminists and have a view on gender that is either too much for the press to handle, or something the women themselves aren’t willing to have watered down. And of course the gender cult recriminations against women who point out the emperor’s gonads are much, much worse than what they dish out to dissenting males.

      • Guls Says:

        One might convincingly argue that MtT and FtT don’t even belong under the same Trans* umbrella (socially).I’ve yet to read/hear of a single woman (FtT) whose transition has made headlines like Jenner/Maloney. Generally, behaviour seems to cleave to gender stereotype, so guys (MtT) crave glamour/admiration; women (FtT) wish to escape objectication/abuse/want to ‘blend in’. The agressive sexual element is absent, or at least much reduced for the latter, even allowing for the effects of T. The blanket sexism of the world serves to highlight MtT and erase (pardon the Lib jargon) FtT.

        More to the point, the former is creepy and cringeworthy, the latter, at least understandable.

  8. Radical Grandma Says:

    Could someone explain to me what “feeling like a woman” actually means, other than engaging in stereotyping for one’s own sexual satisfaction?

    I’m a natal woman who would never pile on the makeup, 6″ stilettos and cleavage revealing clothing to “feel” like a woman.

    I just want equality as a human being, what men are given freely and what we women must constantly fight for.

    These “trans” freaks have never, and will never, know what that means.

    • Imelda_66 Says:

      Could someone explain to me what “feeling like a woman” actually means, other than engaging in stereotyping for one’s own sexual satisfaction?

      Nope. No one can.

      Here ends another episode of “Simple Answers to Simple Questions.”

  9. Oak and Ash Says:

    The trans community seems to treat those who detransition exactly the way cults treat those who leave, right down to threats and attacks when they dare to speak out publically. Whether the trans collective calls someone a traitor or a TERF, the intent–as with any cult–is to suppress thought and discourage hard questions.

    It doesn’t surprise me that medical professionals in the gender industrial complex don’t talk about detransitioning, since the reality of detransitioners threatens both their profits and their belief that they know what they’re doing and are acting in the best interests of their patients. After all, companies who benefit from defense contracts don’t say much about disarmament, do they?

    • nonny Says:

      Detransitioned female here, 100% confirming what you say about how we’re treated by the trans cult. Once they find out, it’s like I’m like a walking living breathing challenge to their delicately crafted coping mechanisms, and I have to be shut down, dismissed, or humiliated.

      Of course I do not support transition, but with FTT’s I have sympathy (think of what women are coping with when it comes to bodies). With MTT’s, however, the reaction is f-ing WILD, (and crazy, and scary) because their reasons for transitioning are totally different! To those guys, even worse than a “radfem” is a detransitioned one, because as they see it, she KNOWS their bs gender theory from the inside.

      • Oak and Ash Says:

        I’m sorry for what you’ve had to put up with. Although I never considered myself trans, I certainly had moments as a young woman when I thought it would be so much easier for others to see my abilities if I were male–and I wouldn’t be catcalled in public–so I completely sympathize with FTT’s. Between the body issues and lack of respect, most of us deal with some sort of dysphoria at one time or another.

        And then, as you say, there are the MTT’s–male entitlement in drag.

    • Elle Says:

      This seems relevant:

      Ratings for I am Cait dropped by nearly half in the second week the show was on air, and Caitlyn faced harsh criticism for allegedly being out of touch with the needs of the transgender community.

      Jenner has since enlisted the help of the Human Rights Campaign and social media to revamp her image.

      “The Human Rights Campaign is helping Caitlyn to repair her image and is making sure that everything she says from now on in is congruent with the ultimate view of the transgender community as a whole,” a source previously told Radar.

      • GallusMag Says:

        So even more boring now. They should just CGI him.

      • michelle Says:

        gawd, that article shows how much it really is just all about playing dress-up for them. Skipping therapy to focus on dresses and being photographed in them…he’s very apt to be another Mike Penner before everything is said and done.

      • Smits Says:

        “the ultimate view of the transgender community as a whole”

        Brucehilda to be assimilated into the Borg collective. There is only one mind, one view.

  10. hearthrising Says:

    Very good post Gallus. Sums up the situation and gives enough background for the newly questioning. De/re-transitioners who no longer have ovaries or testes may need some hormone therapy to recreate what would be healthy levels for them. Are they getting hormone therapy with health, rather than transition, in mind? And after years of high levels of estrogen or testosterone, the body may or may not come back to a healthy stasis on its own. Is data being gathered regarding this issue?

  11. amazondream Says:

    When did existential angst become gender dysphoria? I read through these stories and I see folks struggling with the same questions “who am I and where do I fit in” that were originally answered by hard work and honesty to try and find and fit ourselves in a world that routinely denies humanity to all of us.

    I was eight years old when I had my first crisis. I didn’t know I was struggling with anything, who does at that age, but what I do remember is the thought that pushed forward in my mind was that I was going to be a boy when I grew up, it would happen later and I derived a huge sense of relief from it. Then it promptly went away and I didn’t remember it until much later as an adult. The relief from ‘knowing’ that my future would be ‘better’ gave me the psychic space I needed to deal with the world. It was like my future opened up for me again.

    As an adult I came to recognize that I was a child living in the housing projects of west Los Angeles and surrounded by women who had been betrayed by men and trapped by their biology and lack of education and lack of jobs into having kids and horrid lives. That trap must’ve terrified me as a child.

    • FreeFromSexPozzies Says:

      Angst became gender dysphoria once childhood became so strictly gendered on every level. Once pornification made women feel even more inadequate than usual, and pushed men further into autogynophelia.

      It’s also part of the backlash-Once they named a common phenomenon trans, and got medical and social groups pushing it, there was a powerful antidote to both women’s lib and gay rights.

    • Dogtowner Says:

      amazondream: I read through these stories and I see folks struggling with the same questions “who am I and where do I fit in” that were originally answered by hard work and honesty to try and find and fit ourselves in a world that routinely denies humanity to all of us.

      The truest, most meaningful thing I have read today — thank you.

      • amazondream Says:

        Thank you, dogtowner. I grew up always feeling outside of events around me and I came to understand that like a Coyote I was quite capable of feeding and protecting myself in this world in spite of those events usually being lined up against womyn like myself.

        Cognitive dissonance is the weapon most often used against us, it weakens and paralyzes us and leaves us willing to take the first offer of ‘help’ that promises us nothing but more of the same.

        Resistance is not futile!! Engage the bastards and they disappear like a bad dream.

  12. belinda Says:

    I knew Mike Penner irl, and he was chiefly very distressed that, after his transition, he wasn’t a young woman. He was extremely unrealistic, and was devastated at the results of his transition.

    • stchauvinism Says:

      That’s tragic, I’m sorry for your loss.

    • This seems to be common with trans people especially trans women. They expect that they will look like the person they imagine themselves to be. But surgery and hormones aren’t magic. A male body stays male. It’s not possible to change big hands and feet, broad shoulders etc..

    • Annoyed Bi Chick Says:

      My condolences. I wish I could say I were surprised, but I read his initial “coming-out” piece (along with half the internet) and I think I left the only dissenting comment on it, because what I read was “I want to wear skirts! I want to wear high-heeled shoes! I want to carry a purse! I want to be pretty!” I said there’s nothing wrong with a man wanting to do these things, and that I thought he had sex and gender all mixed up in his head, and that I wasn’t hearing him say “I wish I had a woman’s body instead of a man’s,” but “I wish I could do ‘girly’ things.”

      I wish he’d been able to express his desire to be “pretty” in the way that suited him without feeling that he had to change his body, or be so confused about sex and gender. I think the toxic masculinity in sports culture probably didn’t help any, there. I’m not sure what sports culture would have made of a cross-dressing sportswriter who basically said, “This is how I like to dress, and fuck you if you don’t like it,” but I wish we all could have seen it. (Now that would have been a victory for gender equality.)

  13. Amethyst Menace Says:

    I am recently detransitioning after 7 years on testosterone and 10+ years of living as FTT. Like many FTTs, I survived years of csa and was told over and over there was no reason to think there maaaaaybe miiiiight be a connection (!!!). I hope to blog about the experience more soon, and I am happy to talk with any female questioning transition at any stage on Twitter as @detransition or on my blog at amethystmenace.WordPress. (latter inactive due to family issues, but hopefully live again soon.)it’s never too late to find a different, better way to thrive. Even if “successful” with transition as I was….if you feel you have no choice, you’re not choosing freely!

  14. Radical Grandma Says:

    This article really angered me. The threat is to natal women, not these paraphilic freaks. I will never use a public bath room with a male–ever.

    Transgender rights advocates ‘going to battle over bathrooms’

    Bills preventing trans people from using bathrooms matching gender identities are a threat, says a leading activist

    Of course, the trans are battling other males on the right wing in this pissing contest, and women, as usual, have absolutely no say in this matter since the boys will always get what they want, whether RW or trans (sometimes they’re the same).

  15. FreeFromSexPozzies Says:

    OT- Gallus have you seen this? Just another important, status job going to a male- but this time they can add to their diversity stats by calling him a “trans women”

    You don’t have to post, I just wanted to see this.

  16. R J Says:

    If you don’t look or can’t afford to look the way the gatekeeper except you to look – as one we’ll know Boston medical center provider said – “No credidiable surgeon in the country will help you ” basically your doomed

  17. atranswidow Says:

    A doctors perspective. Very interesting reading……..

    ”My Disservice to My Transgender Patients”

  18. Chippy Says:

    This is so revealing. It makes my heart ache for those who are misled into transitioning and for those who are seeking the support to detransition.

  19. Margie Says:


    Great post. That’s the first I had heard about Mike Penner suffering abuse at the hands of trans activists. Would it be possible to provide some more details about what they did? I ran a search and I don’t believe that this has been covered previously on GT.

    BTW, as far as I know, these de-transitioners are *not* anti-trans activists. There is one detransitioned transgender named Walter Heyer who is a conservative Christian, and he certainly is anti-trans. But most of these people just realized they made a mistake and want to fix it and get on with their lives. So for trans activists to become so enraged at these people really says something about their psychopathy.

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