In the past 2 years I’ve had to reckon with my choices to create (with many other very cool women and some cool men) a new public gender identity. Many detransitioners have to push back with medical professionals during their detransition with the assumption that we are genderqueer, or nonbinary. That we are leaving a binary gender identity and claiming a more fluid one. There are people for whom occupying a nonbinary gender identity really WORKS. They are able to be more fully themselves, calmer, happier, more free because of those identity options, and that’s a really positive impact of those identities.
Then there are those of us who need to call it on the whole trans thing. Whose happiest life lies past the realization “oh this is the wrong path for me altogether.” For people like us, having the gender identity of “detransitioner” is a helpful shorthand to quickly share our experiences and find other people who have been through similar circumstances.
However, the people in the trans community who have responded to detransitioners as if we are ONLY an ideological threat have a real point. I spent a lot of years minimizing the ideological threat we inherently represented, and more than that how some of us have actively fashioned our personal stories into the most threatening stories possible.
I both don’t want to exaggerate how much I did this and I don’t want to let myself off the hook for this either. I tried to walk an impossibly careful middle line in terms of my writing and speech, so a lot of my actual words I feel I can stand by and feel proud of. (I’m sure I made some regrettable tweets, but I honestly can’t think of a specific one I regret.) However, many female detransitioner friends let me know that my makeup and long hair were cringey in those initial Youtube videos I made so many of. I felt very defensive of my right to perform femininity if it made my life easier. But- I was wrong, they were right. I was making the active choice to be a visual symbol of a new gender identity, and that makeup and hair was cringey. Those visuals were telling a story of reinforcing gender norms, as much as I wanted to argue against that reality. I wasn’t dealing with the baggage of my belief that I had to do some kind of hard work to become a visually acceptable person to others to access safety. Whether that hard work was testosterone to masculinize or makeup to feminize, safety and what my physical form looks like with minimal effort did not seem to me to co-exist.