Women who used to identify as transgender men explain why they detransitioned
Four women who once identified as transgender males have shared their experience of transitioning to the opposite sex and back again as part of a new project aimed at broadening the discussion around transgenderism.
In a 'Detransition Q&A' on YouTube, Helena, Jesse, Dagny and Chiara of the Pique Resilience Project speak at length about the confusion that surrounded their transition into men in their teen years and their perceived lack of support from the trans community when they started to question their trans identity.
The experience of the girls in desiring to be men is similar - from begging their parents to let them start on testosterone, the conviction that they wouldn't regret it, to feelings of isolation and confusion around their sexuality and self-identity.
They also agreed that in hindsight, it would have been better to take things more slowly rather than rushing into medically and socially transitioning.
Jesse, who was on testosterone for around a year-and-a-half until the age of 19, said that transitioning to be a man was almost like a 'forbidden fruit'.
'I completely regret jumping into it, I should have just chilled out,' she said.
'The feeling of wanting to prove myself completely overrode any thought of like, hmm, maybe I should slow down or maybe I should think about this a little bit harder. I just wanted to feel validated I suppose,' she said, adding that she had 'wanted to feel as though my dysphoria experience mattered and that transition actually would fix it'.
Dagny, who was on testosterone from 17 to 19 before deciding to detransition, recalled being really nervous and afraid when she went to get her first hormone shot.
'But also I had gone so far that I did not want to back out of it,' she said.
She said that the support of her parents might have even encouraged her further down the path of transgenderism.
'I think that if I had been made to wait until I was 18 when I was just on the verge of going to college I would not have started hormones, so I think that just having that sort of go ahead from my parents, that parental support to go into HRT (hormone replacement therapy) just sort of solidified this feeling of like, ok this is happening, like this is going down,' she said.
'I dont think that I would have actually gone down that route if I had been 18, gone to college, and hadn't had that easy access through my parents and our financial situation at home to be able to transition medically.'
Helena identified as trans from the age of 15 to 19 and took testosterone from 18 to 19. She said that she had lots of doubts about her body, her transition and the trans community in general, but she had felt unable to find a sympathetic ear for these questions.
That made it 'so hard for me to think outside of transitioning and so hard for me to consider any other path,' she said.
'Since those questions were so vehemently shot down, it kind of disabled me from being able to question anything about myself as well, so I definitely had a lot of questions I was afraid to voice and in the end it was not good for me,' she added.
Chiara, who never went through with a medical transition but identified as a trans male from 16 to 19, was similarly critical.
'As soon as you start to maybe move away from a trans identity or start to voice things, they call you a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) or they instantly ostracise you and call you a traitor and fake, so it's very hard to voice doubts and that contributes to not allowing you to voice that or realise that about yourself,' she said.
Asked whether there were any pros or cons to their experience of transitioning, the girls admitted that for them at least, it had been overwhelmingly negative.
Jesse said it only compounded her existing mental health issues and was even 'psychologically damaging' as it prevented her from properly addressing her symptoms as she became increasingly fixated with her trans identity. She also recalled feeling a 'pseudo sense of liberation' that she could live in the world as her true self.
'It wasn't genuine,' she said, adding that her years spent living as male were a 'confusing and deluded time'.
Dagny admitted that part of what had driven her desire to transition had been 'this horrible fear of stagnating as a person'.
'I think that transitioning both socially and then later medically became this way to inject positive change over my life when at the time I had no control over my life and was super sad. But looking back it was probably the most stagnant period of my life so far. I made no new friends, I was miserable all the time, my grades were dropping, I was self-harming,' she said.
'I think what I saw as positive change was actually the thing that was dragging me down the most in my life at the time so I honestly can't see any pros to, at least, my experience with social transition.'
To hear their reflections in full, watch the video here: