Recently, the media in the United Kingdom have been running frequent stories in a concerted effort to delegitimize transgender people.
Transphobic media outlets, specifically the notoriously transphobic Times and Sunday Times, who have been known to run up to four anti-trans articles in a single day have waged a misinformation war on trans individual for years. Now, they’re attempting to weaponize a very small minority of individuals who “De-transition” — those who began to transition to their preferred gender and ultimately stopped and discontinued their transition pursuit.
The media covering these stories want you to think this is typical. They’d like the general public to thing that the “Transgender Lobby” imposes an ideology on them or that exposure to trans individuals influences them to take up the task of changing their gender and are then, inevitably, disappointed when they realize it’s not fun. The narrative created around these heavily publicized de-transitioners is that they represent typical results. They do not.
Indeed, there are rare instances where a person decides to change course mid transition, but the media doesn’t often tell you why this happens. It isn’t some sudden realization that they’ve been in the grip of a savage trans agenda that had them brainwashed and they’ve managed to free themselves from; It’s a valid option that some go through tremendous internal strife to reach.
Sometimes, overwhelming rejection from social peers, in the workplace, school, opposition from family can factor into a person’s decision to reverse their transition and stop presenting as a gender they once preferred. The process of socially transitioning can be immensely taxing on our mental health. It requires one becoming vulnerable to uncomfortable lines of question from others, sometimes facing violent opposition, alienation even financial impracticality can cause one to question if they have the endurance to withstand all of the deeply personal struggles that come with the process.
Transitioning is more than just taking hormones and having surgery; Some may even debate whether those are the easy steps. The most terrifying part is presenting as one’s preferred gender in a public space for the first time, figuring out the best way to disclose your decision to loved ones and wait with unbridled anxiety to see if they change the way they interact with you or stop altogether. It can be the moment one shows up at work, or has to ask colleagues and friends to change the manner in which they are addressed- different name, new pronouns. The world suddenly interacts with you in a dramatically new way. Whereas, perhaps, once the person weaved in and out of society throughout their day essentially unseen by a world indifferent to their existence, now everyone is looking. Now, people may stare. Now, the individual has a heightened awareness of the world they occupy and everything about their body; Will my arms give me away? Will they laugh at me because my voice is too deep? Will I get attacked in this bathroom? Are the people in that booth whispering about me? Will anyone date me as I am?
It can be a long, arduous journey to self-acceptance; One that requires the assistance of licensed psychologists to help us maintain some emotional balance or provide us some reassurance when we are stripped of our dignities by a judgmental society, assaulted by malicious stories like those in The Times that brand us sexually perverse, dangerous men who wish to prey on women, guilty of female mimicry or any number of hit pieces rife with misinformation which influences an ignorant demographic to actually hate us. We find ourselves locked in battle with bigoted politicians who want run their campaigns using us as hostile talking points or television presenters such as Piers Morgan who routinely dehumanize us. It can feel like a never-ending battle- one impossible to win.
The media pushing these de-transitioners to the top of their headlines as a means to discredit all transgender people do not want their readers to know this. Sometimes, a person who begins the journey simply finds the terrain to impossible to navigate and believe genuine happiness is unattainable, denied them by the greater world if they don’t fall between the gender goal posts. They find the path less traveled to riddled with thorns and prefer the one of less resistance, saving themselves the perils of potential emotional and psychological destruction.
“I did not detransition because I wasn’t trans. I detransitioned because cisgender people physically and mentally beat me down until I gave in.” — I Detransitioned. But Not Because I Wasn’t Trans- The Atlantic
Other’s simply begin their journey and conclude it is not satisfying them in the way they thought it would. It is a fact that some individuals begin their transition under the assumption that it will fix all of their problems. They think inhabiting another identity will allow them the privilege of leaving all that ails them behind in the shell of their old skin. The belief that it is a coveted do-over or fresh start is a myth; This is realized when they are forced to observe that their body may begin to change, but their history, their sorrows, regrets and perceived inadequacies do not disappear with a prescription and a name change. Sometimes, those questioning their gender identity but not yet wholly committed to the idea can be moved to act impulsively as if it is an escapism from internal struggles that inevitably persist. In these situations, transitioning is usually embarked upon prematurely and with the wrong motive. Ultimately, transition, as difficult as it may be, is an act of running toward absolute happiness and desire for wholeness, not running away from strife.
A lack of education by virtue of limited access to accurate information can result in some to accidentally take transition one step to far. In some cases, a young, masculine lesbian may believe that transition is best suited to make her life easier. The same can be suggested for a very effeminate gay man who prefers flamboyant fashion. They may question whether their gender is an obstacle instead of something they’re entirely comfortable with given it may likely be met with intense opposition from external forces. Transition may seem appealing to consider without a keen understand of the complexities it entails. For these people who may be just gender non-binary or gender fluid, they can mistakenly encourage themselves to take that a step too far which can lead to a later decision to de-transition and reconsider their other option in order to seek self fulfillment.
People who struggle with self confidence when it comes to a desire to cross dress or find it sexually arouses them can often lean too deeply into their fetishes and convince themselves that transitioning will alleviate negative reactions. It is a fact that society demonizes people with sexual interests that cross gender barriers. Oftentimes, these individuals are riddled with shame, are often humiliated when they disclose their proclivities or rejected by potential partners. They feel comfortable in clothing of the opposite sex and may often hide themselves away to act upon those impulses as if it is wrong or indecent. Transitioning can seem a viable option. From they outside they see trans people as figures not entirely different than they are, maybe happier, more liberated, thus they can be mistakenly inspired to move in the direction of transitioning their gender. Usually, they realize quickly they’ve made a mistake and are not in conflict with their birth gender, but enjoy expressing themselves, for a multitude of reasons, in ways that temporarily or under specific circumstances embody the opposite gender- but are happy to return to their own.
I knew a a gentleman who was a cross-dresser and was so distressed by his interests in doing so that he believed transitioning was a viable option. He thought it would allow him to shed his fears of being caught or ridiculed and he began taking hormone injections only to find he didn’t want to be a woman at all. He wanted to be a man who just enjoyed the feeling that feminine things allowed him. In a perfect world, he wouldn’t have felt he had to deny himself these thing, or that he must alter his gender to be granted access to the things he enjoyed.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, extensive research concludes the following:
“Regret after gender-affirming surgery is an exceedingly rare event. Reasons for regret or de-transition are diverse, ranging from change in gender identity to societal and relationship pressures to post-surgical pain. It is not uncommon for de-transition to be associated with surgical complications.”
There are many situations where gender can overlap into other areas of life that implores one to explore transition. It isn’t always the right or best decision and that is a valid, acceptable conclusion that should not be weaponized against the individual making that intimate choice, or the transgender people for whom transitioning is needed to achieve an alignment between their body and their mental mapping. The argument being used is misleading one to believe that people who once were transgender decided they were no longer transgender… when in fact, de-transitioners were most often never actually transgender.
Using de-transitioners to crucify transgender people is cruel and dismissive to both parties. We are being used as pawns by a nefarious actor with a damaging agenda.