A retrospective and some advice for newly out and younger trans people

//Content warning: transphobia, depression, suicidal ideation//

When I look back at my life, I have one major regret: that I didn’t transition earlier. I learned what trans meant at 15, back in 2005. I didn’t come out before 2014 and, because my country’s trans health care is slow as all hell, I didn’t start my physical transition before 2016.

Two things prevented me from accepting myself and made me put off being authentic for 9(!) years. The first was being told I couldn’t have a relationship with the Divine if I was trans. I have always, my whole life, had this deep longing for the Transcendent that nothing else could quench. An existence without it felt like a fate worse than death. So, I chose for a long time not to risk it.

Eventually, I lost my Christian faith. This allowed me to finally accept my transness but life felt empty until I found religion again. Of course, you don’t have to be religious. But if spirituality is important to you, don’t just accept that the Divine (regardless of whether you view Them as One, Many or kind of both) won’t accept you for who you are.

Visit progressive and accepting mosques or churches or Pagan temple or whatever else is associated with your particular tradition. Read books with different perspectives. Pray and turn inwards, away from the hate others are trying to make you feel about yourself. Don’t give away the right of interpretation to some religious authority.

That’s my first advice. My second advice is stay away from TERFs. I speak here from experience.

Shortly after leaving my church, I happened to befriend some women who can accurately be called TERFs (trans exclusionary ‘radical feminists’) and some even wore that title like a badge of honour. TERFs are most known for hating trans women and transfeminine people with a blazing hatred (warning: mention of extreme transphobia). But they also like to try and convince trans men and transmasculine people that we’re just self-hating women.

Their basic argument centers around the idea that gender dysphoria in AFAB people is a socially constructed phenomenon. That because society looks down on women and because female gender roles are restrictive, that the dysphoria we feel is a symptom of internalised misogyny and that transitioning is a destructive act of self-hatred.

The problem with that argument is that gender dysphoria doesn’t happen because of what society thinks or because you have what it deems a ‘masculine personality’ in a female body, or vice versa. It happens because you have a brain wired to function with a certain type of body which doesn’t match your actual body.

That’s it. That’s the whole thing. It’s not because you have certain hobbies or how you like to wear your hair or the kind of toys you played with as a kid. That just sexist bullshit and if you transition because of shallow stereotypes, you’re probably going to end up regretting it and detransitioning.

But the thing with TERFs is that they don’t actually care about your well-being. Maybe a few of them are simply ignorant and misguided and actually think they’re helping. But a lot of them just really like to hate.
And perhaps because I was already feeling like absolut shit every day of my life, I believed them when they told me I needed to accept that I was a self-hating woman who would be cured of gender dysphoria if I just accepted their ideology. When you’re depressed, you easily believe others when they tell you it’s your own fault you’re suffering. Thankfully, I didn’t stay friends with these women for long. But it still delayed my coming out by a couple of years.

Now I look back at my life pre-transition and it amazes me how I managed to survive over a quarter of a century in a body that felt like a foreign object. It amazes me just as much that I now have a body that feels like mine, with the exception of that last small part bottom surgery will soon take care of. I look back and I see how I went from feeling constantly tired, depressed and suicidal to being happy and hopeful about the future. I went from an existence that felt like being forced to live someone else’s life to thriving and enjoying being alive.

One of the worst lies TERFs tell is that dysphoria isn’t helped by transitioning. I know it’s a lie because the treatment worked for me. If I’ll one day be 100% free from any dysphoria remains to be seen after I’ve had bottom surgery. But even if it doesn’t go fully away, the distress I feel now when I’m dysphoric compared to how it was before is like comparing the pain of stubbing your toe to the pain of breaking your leg. My quality of life was immensely improved by medical transition and I’m so grateful for it.

But I’m aware I got lucky. I’ll be 32 this summer. A lot of people I knew didn’t make it this far. I met quite a number of trans folks who ended up dying from suicide, substance abuse or self-medicating with black market hormones. Most were under the age of 25.

On top of dysphoria, most trans people have to deal with discrimination and oftentimes abuse. In later years, it has become trendy among conservatives to hate on trans people. It feels like every day, a new fearmongering news article comes out spreading lies and misinformation about us. It’s quite honestly exhausting.

That’s why it feels more important than ever for us who survived to help those who struggle. Being open with my story, I hope will help someone out there see that things can get better. It certainly did for me.

2 reaktioner till “A retrospective and some advice for newly out and younger trans people

  1. Thank you for your article! It has helped me a lot. I understand the need for a transcendent experience and I need an entirely different type of church, as you say progressive. I cannot stand most of Christian churches now because of their teachings. I also learned about TERFS from your article. I completely agree with your views about trans people. Wishing you the best.

    Gillad av 1 person

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