It has been about 2 years since I’ve posted anything on here. A lot has changed for me. I’m still a detransitioned woman, but even that is fading and becoming more of a memory as time goes on. Each day that memory of being “detransitioned” or a “detransitioner” fades, and each day me being the actual female I was born as gets stronger and stronger. Honestly, I don’t want to be known as a “detransitioner” for the rest of my life. I would like this to become a part of my history. Just like you wouldn’t call me a “former cutter” anymore. You would say that I have mental health issues with a history of cutting over 5 years ago. I do not want this detransitioner business to be a defining characteristic of who I am as a person. I let my identity as a man go on for too long, been there, done that, and it just doesn’t consume me the way it used to do.
I’ve moved on from all of this. I’m just a regular woman. I have facial hair, chest hair, whatever, but I am just like any other woman. I’m not “cis” and I’m not “trans” and I’m not “genderqueer.” The only two labels I have are “woman” and “lesbian.” That’s it. Sorry I don’t fit into the boxes of trans-cis-queer identity politics. That’s just not who I am. I exist outside of the millions of your gender boxes. That’s reality. For years I genuinely thought I was transsexual; I thought that I was a man. I fit the criteria (and still fit some of it), but back then I strictly fit all of the criteria. I followed the trans narrative and did everything legitimately – I had the symptoms. Yet, here we are! Maybe sociologists and psychologists and doctors in general can do studies about people like me, as long as they don’t try to convince me toward transition again. I know that butch lesbians are seen as an eyesore in society, but you cannot change me. Kicking and screaming you will not change me. Not for a million bucks. I’m much too happy these days to go through any of that ever again. No concerns here of re-transitioning!
In light of all of this, I wanted to share with you all a piece I had written to a website, which unfortunately wouldn’t publish it, due to the fact they do not consider Gender Dysphoria a mental health issue (but it is). I hope this piece will show you all where I am at now in my life.
I’m not like Chaz Bono or Caitlyn Jenner or Jazz Jennings, although I share something in common with all three of them. I’m not the story of the transgender person you hear about on the news or from your friends.
I will, however, tell you who I am. I am a woman with a turbulent past, with many layers within. I have survived severe physical, emotional and mental abuse at the hands of both my parents. I have grappled with a past that included me realizing I had attractions to women when I was as young as 8 years old, all while listening to the Baptist church I attended at the time talk about how gay people were going to hell and that gay marriage is an abomination.
I developed complex post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, chronic depression, sleep disturbances, dermatillomania, dermatophagia and more. Even now, nearly 20 years later, I am still coping and trying to navigate in a society that isn’t quite sure what to make of somebody like me with my past, both in terms of my history of trauma and in the choices I made along the way.
As I realized in my teen years my affections for women weren’t going away any time soon, coupled with my mothers increasing rage over my sexual orientation, and further exacerbated by my own hangups about my physical female body, I was diagnosed with gender dysphoria (then called gender identity disorder) in 2010. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) lists the diagnostic features of gender dysphoria as “a marked incongruence between their birth gender and their experienced/expressed gender.” Based on that criteria alone, I still fit it, but that isn’t how I see myself anymore.
I spent a couple of years prior to receiving my diagnosis binding my breasts with a compression binder, wearing my hair short, and wearing stereotypical men’s clothing. I often imagined and looked forward to how I would look “as a man.” In 2011, I was given my first prescription for testosterone as part of a hormone replacement therapy (HRT) plan. The idea was for me to begin physically transitioning from female to male. I did all of my research and knew what I was signing up for, at least I knew about as much as anyone else undergoing transition knows.
From the testosterone injections I received, I grew full facial hair which I still have, my body fat redistributed to a more male pattern, my voice changed (got deeper), my periods stopped. For a while I felt so much better. Finally I felt some peace with my body, but the more things changed physically, the more that I wanted to blend in as a male. I also felt more comfortable passing in society being seen as a straight man as opposed to a lesbian who breaks norms around femininity.
Eventually, I began experiencing health effects I didn’t like or want. For the first time in my life I began experiencing heart palpitations. My ribs hurt from binding my breasts even though I was doing so as safely as I could. I worried about whether I was doing damage to my internal organs from the hormone usage. Worst of all, my emotions became dulled from the hormones. Try as much as I physically could, I simply couldn’t cry — it just was not possible.
So, in late 2012, I decided to quit taking the hormones and stop my chest binding. My periods returned, my hormones leveled out and I began to experience a more diverse range of emotions again.
During my time of detransitioning back to my birth sex, I faced transgender people silencing me, as if my decision to detransition had any bearing on their identification as transgender or transsexual individuals. People who were my friends and who were initially very supportive of me transitioning in the first place did not want me speaking openly about detransitioning. As a result, I rebelled against the transgender community and became a radical feminist. I was interviewed for a couple of books and for The New Yorker magazine. I joined a cult. I had fallouts with both transgender people and radical feminists. I rebelled, endlessly, against everyone. I went on tirades and became flippant in my interpersonal communications and isolated myself from new friends and new experiences.
Basically, I became a mean-spirited person and hurt a lot of people along the way, and hurting people emotionally is the thing I regret the most from all of my “transition regret.” These days I just try to live my life and not hurt anybody any longer — so far, I am being successful with this.
I have found that it is easier and more beneficial for me to focus on my own happiness, my own self-acceptance, my own body-love instead of focusing on what others are doing. I have learned that it is okay to legally have a “man’s name,” be in relationships with women, participate in “men’s” activities, wear the clothing and hair I want, wear makeup or not, shave or not, etc and still be a proud female. By taking this new path where I focus on positive self-growth instead of fighting with others, I have been able to embrace my whole self, facial hair and all!
I am not cisgender, transgender, genderfluid or any other gender identity. I’m not what the mental health specialists would like to classify as afflicted with Gender Dysphoria, simply because I defy what society expects of me. I am a woman with a complex past, various mental health issues, who also happens to be a lesbian.
I am Heath, and it is a pleasure to meet you.
Nemesis: Thoughts and opinions from a radical feminist that spent 4 years on the path to transition to a man, and is on her journey back.” My blog deals with a range of topics including critique of queer theory and gender politics, transition/detransition issues, various activism projects including the Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF), lesbian issues, and body positivity. Blogspot Twitter @Nymeses. Facebook: Heath Atom Russell