Gender Transition and Its Discontents

From Huffington Post:


Over the years there have been salacious media reports about transgender women who choose to revert back to living as men, what we call detransition. Detransitioning happens very infrequently, but when it happens to someone who is or has become a public figure, such as Don Ennis most recently, the story takes on a scandalous air. Misinformation gets bandied about, both by the person involved and the media reporting on the reversion in gender assignment. When that happens, all of us suffer, but the trans community suffers the most. These stories trivialize our lives and the efforts we make to live them fully and authentically.

Let me start by saying that I believe that in an ideal society it shouldn’t matter who you are or how you live gender-wise. It shouldn’t matter whether you transition or detransition, and each person should have the right to self-determination to make her own choices. But we don’t live in an ideal world.

Trans persons, like gay persons, are “born that way.” While the younger generation is now claiming space between genders or negating gender entirely, I will focus only on what most Americans see as the trans experience: persons raised as boys who become women, and those raised as girls who become men.

The most important fact needed to understand this process of physical and gender transition is that the sense of oneself is innate. It does not suddenly transform as we grow, or change with puberty. It is not determined by clinging mothers or distant fathers. It matters not that Mom wanted a girl and got a boy, or that Dad punished his son for dancing. Our sense of self is inborn, and that is to be expected with a sexually reproducing species. Variations in sexual orientation, choices about procreation and the like are irrelevant for this discussion.

So while we may be raised as boys, our brains have told us we’re girls, and vice versa. The process of gender transition aligns the body and social life with the mind. It is, in a very profound respect, coming home. The process has been beautifully described by women such as Jenny Boylan and Joy Ladin.

But while this is a homecoming, it’s the most difficult homecoming one can attempt. Society generally does not understand or support such violations of gender behavior and role. As a result, even young trans children suffer from the signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When you add in struggling that persists for years, and in many cases decades, you have people confronting a huge challenge. We often colloquially call the resulting condition “culturally induced stress disorder,” modeled on PTSD.

Continue reading at:

See Also:

Everything Transgender in NYC: Transitioning and Reverting back, a Media Frenzy

2 Responses to “Gender Transition and Its Discontents”

  1. Susanna Boudrie Says:

    Hi Suzy
    I agree with Dana principle points, but it is now rather common to state, as Dana does here, that “…the younger generation is now claiming space between genders or negating gender entirely…”, as if gender eventually will not be. I disagree. While many might want to live non-gendered or genderfluid, I think many of us actually feel gendered and are comfortable feeling gendered. Our problems might be that society has another opinion about us. For me a ‘hen’, or other gender-neutral words are an insult. And if society would impose gender-neutral pronouns in order to protect those that don’t feel gendered it would hurt me. I think it is necessary to be clear that if people want to be labelled it must be their choice, not others’.

    • Suzan Says:

      Who I am is not affected by who others are. My identity is my identity. I am not harmed by others who have identities that are different from mine. I am harmed by others who demand I be just like them in order to enjoy the same rights to life, liberty, pursuit of happiness and dignity because I do not conform to their ideals of gender.

      It doesn’t matter what those ideals of gender are. As a child I was punished for being feminine. As I grew up I became a bohemian, a hippie. I came out as transsexual and had SRS, yet my personal approach to femininity is very casual at most, indeed that approach is such that most people figure out I’m a lesbian pretty early on.

      I find the gender neutral nouns like ze or hen pretty silly or rather artificial as the majority of people including TS/TG people have a real solid sense of themselves being either male or female. In the real world that sense of self being either male or female is what makes one TS/TG as much as what makes assigned male at birth people “identify as male” or assigned female at birth people “identify as female.

      I’ve always felt gender to be more about the role, how one is masculine or feminine.

      But back to “gender neutral” nouns. When I was growing up the masculine he/his etc nouns were the correct nouns to be used when addressing individuals as part of a crowd. As in let each person find “his’ own way in life.

      This was meant to reinforce male supremacy. Using she or her would emasculate any male person in that crowd.

      As a feminist I fought this battle back in the 1970s and started using “their” as both a plural and singular possessive gender neutral noun.

      But this isn’t really what this post is about nor rather what the posts that this post is a teaser for are about.

      These posts are about the small minority of people who detransition. I was Facebook friends with Dawn.

      I have a life long friend who has transitioned and detransitioned repeatedly over the last forty years.

      Sometime individuals who do things like this actually make the case for the role of therapists in arriving at the place where one makes the decision to come out as TS/TG and physically transition.

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