Q&A With Emma

Age 28, Female

Northern Europe

Interviewed February 2022

Hobbies, interests, and/or favorite school subjects:

Hiking, sowing, skiing, cooking, reading, learning new things

Dream job / dream career:

Writer – or sailor!

Favorite quote:

Rosa Luxemburg: “The most revolutionary thing one can do is to always proclaim loudly what is happening.”

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself, to be included in your intro?

No

History with Transition and Detransition

Age when first identified as trans: 17

Age when first started cross-sex hormones: 19

Age of first gender reassignment surgery: 19

First surgery was: Mastectomy

Age when stopped identifying as trans: 26-27

Age when stopped taking cross-sex hormones: 25

Early Life, Gender Identity, and Transition

What were some messages about men and women, or about gender expression and sexuality, that you received in your early life, before identifying as transgender? What were your beliefs about those things?

I was subtly exposed to ideas of gender roles, but in practice I was raised in a heteronormative context. My parents never knew any queer people, and the first gay person I met was myself. My mother taught me what feminism was at 10, but I soon passed her. I remember criticising the gender segregation in sports in my school for reinforcing physical differences between girls and boys, my mother and sister told me wrong. It stuck with me, and I found no support in my gender-nonconformity, only tolerance.

How did you learn about transgender identity, gender dysphoria, and transition? What do you think drew you to those concepts?

I learned that it was a truth some people lived – adults – and that they had a hard time. I was out as gay myself, and had a strong sense of justice, so I wanted to educate myself in solidarity with those less fortunate.

What sources (friends, specific websites, specific social media sites, therapists, books, etc) did you rely on the most for information on how a person can figure out if they are transgender? What thoughts, feelings, or internal experiences did these sources say were evidence that a person is trans?

Youtube! I think it was only that. I don’t remember when I went there, I already knew of the concept before, but when I started finding external ideas it was through youtube. I watched the increasing amount of transition videos from young transmen.

What thoughts, feelings, or internal experiences did you have that you believed were evidence that you were transgender? What do you believe now about the origins of those thoughts and feelings?

I felt out of place, I felt like I could never be loved, I often felt like I threw people off with my appearance and comportment. When I got a girlfriend I felt uncomfortable with my body because she treated me like we were the same. I was masculine. I now think that I was just a masculine woman, and that this brings a never ending stream of social conflicts, micro aggressions if you will.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting to wonder whether they are transgender, or starting to wonder whether they should transition?

You can hate being a woman and still be one. No wonder you do, because you live in a homophobic and misogynist world.

Therapy Before and During Transition

Did you work with a therapist while considering transition, or during your transition? What are some things the therapist said or did that was helpful, and what was unhelpful? Do you think there is something that a therapist could have said or done that would have led to a better outcome for you?

I had two sessions with two different psychologists before I came to the assessment at the trans clinic. The first one was very dismissive and said I was just a lesbian and to come back when I had a real problem. I think when I had come that far, there is little anyone could have said, but what do I know. Maybe if my struggles as a gender-nonconforming youth had been acknowledged, I could have expanded my horizon. It sure did NOT help that my psychologist was an old straight white man. WTF would he know.

Did you receive a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, and what was that process like? What beliefs did you have about what your diagnosis meant, and what did your therapist communicate to you about the diagnosis?

Yes, first unofficially from a private practitioner who prescribed me hormones and sent me to surgery. It was swift, as a response to restrictive public services. After a few years I also got it publicly (F64.0) without any real assessment because all of the appointments had been very dismissive and chaotic, a different therapist each time etc. Both of the diagnosers told me it means I am a boy (which I agreed with), and not much else to be honest. No discussion about where dysphoria comes from.

What advice would you give to someone with gender dysphoria who is working with a therapist?

I have no idea, I am very conflicted about the whole concept of psychologists.

What advice would you give to a therapist who is working with a patient with gender dysphoria?

Read up on minority stress, understand that it can be a very real challenge to break gender and sexuality norms.

Detransitioning

When did you first start to question your trans identity or consider detransitioning? What factors do you think led you to no longer identify as trans?

I started questioning the HRT (hormone replacement therapy) after maybe 3 years on T, and slowly decided to stop after 5 years total (continued for 2 years to not be distracted in my studies). Disidentifying has been a slow process for me. I will give some hints as to what happened: I felt assimilated into heterosexuality. I felt disingenuous to my past self. I was iffy about my chest hair. I felt very secure in my social position (steady partner, good friends). I found other butch lesbians. I learned about lesbian history.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting to wonder whether they should detransition?

Don’t stress! Take it slow, you are in no rush. It’s not about finding your true self, it’s about finding out what you want to do with your life. It’s your choice, and you have the power.

What are some challenges you faced as part of detransitioning, and how did you support yourself in overcoming those challenges? Did you have support from others?

I am still in the middle of it. The challenges I have had so far have been about telling other people that my perspectives have changed. I told people I knew would support me first (partner), and they have supported me since. I am considering further medical steps and that will be difficult, but I am giving myself time. I was afraid of my body changing and dysphoria returning, but I am actively celebrating my masculinity in a female body. It helps.

What advice would you give to someone who is detransitioning?

Don’t stress! Take it slow, you are in no rush. It’s not about finding your true self, it’s about finding out what you want to do with your life. It’s your choice, and you have the power.

Is there anything especially challenging or rewarding about life as a detransitioned person? How do you support yourself through those challenges, and how do you take advantage of the rewarding aspects, if any?

I feel like these are all in the future for me. I am still living as a transman in a way, because I look like a man and don’t try to correct people. If I ever start looking like a woman again, I think my challenges and rewards will be linked to living as a gnc lesbian.

What advice would you give to someone who is working on building a good life after detransitioning?

Make it not about gender.

Therapy Before, During, and After Detransition

Did you work with a therapist while considering detransition, or during your detransition? What are some things the therapist said or did that was helpful, and what was unhelpful? Do you think there is something that a therapist could have said or done that would have led to a better outcome for you?

N/A

Bonus Question: What is your spirit animal?

Otter