Q&A With Lauren

Age 29, Female

USA

Interviewed February 2022

 

Hobbies, interests, and/or favorite school subjects:

Piano, painting, skiing, reading, anything psychology, star-gazing, anything creative, board games/ttrpg

Dream job / dream career:

Self-sustaining artist

Favorite quote:

Everything you ever wanted is on the other side of fear

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

My only agenda is to live authentically and to help others do so as well.

 

History with Transition and Detransition

Age when first identified as trans: 19

Age when first started cross-sex hormones: 21

Age when stopped identifying as trans: 27

Age when stopped taking cross-sex hormones: 27

 

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 taught that the first humans were Adam and Eve (the myth where woman was born of man) and was indoctrinated into fundamentalist Christianity. I was taught that women were “womb-men” and that our purpose is to bear and raise children. I was forced to wear a dress and itchy stockings, and in the church, only men had positions of authority. I didn’t have strong female role models and even my mother told me that men were better than women. I saw how boys were allowed more freedom and agency.

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

My first boyfriend came out as a trans woman and educated me about it. She also psychoanalyzed me and came to the conclusion that I, too, was supposed to be the opposite sex and should transition. I had left the Christian faith after much soul searching, and was left spiritually homeless. I believe that gender ideology fulfilled this need during that vulnerable period. I wanted to be male and was excited to hear that it was possible to become one.

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?

My SO introduced me to the idea, and was “sure” that I was trans and would ask me questions like “did you think you were a boy as a child?” and “how would you feel if you woke up tomorrow and had a male body?” They interpreted my difficulty fitting in, struggle with depression, and the fact that I believed it would be better to be male and had more male role models to be evidence of gender dysphoria. When I saw a therapist, she had me read a book called “phallus palace” about ftms.

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 thought that because I really wished I was male, early childhood gender confusion, and envy towards men to mean that I was really supposed to be a man. My thought processes were heavily influenced by my SO at the time, and my envy can be chalked up to internalized misogyny from growing up in a patriarchal religion and household. My female body was always shamed, whether it was through sexual harassment from strangers and classmates, or my mother telling me what I could and couldn’t wear.

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

If you transition, you will always be trans, and will struggle relating with most cis people, including those of your target sex. Medical transition comes with long term health risks. The brain isn’t fully developed until your mid twenties; you change so much during your twenties and it would be wise to try to treat the dysphoria through less invasive means until you reach stability. Consider it akin to cosmetic surgery, but more holistic. Medically unnecessary, but improves the lives of some.

 

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?

Yes, the therapist was old school and seemingly did not leave the twentieth century. She had me read materials dating back to the eighties and had me socially transition for a year – “Real Life Experience” – before considering writing a letter for hormones. She had me watch surgery videos, which helped me to avoid surgery knowing how intense it was. At times she was very condescending and I got fed up with her and quit therapy. I saw a nurse practitioner later to go on T.

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. I had “Gender Identity Disorder” and the process was going to a gender therapist and answering questionnaires; this was so long ago. My therapist wasn’t advocating for medical transition, and, to me at the time, seemed obsessed with my history of anorexia. She did provide reading materials about transition, though outdated. I also thought she was condescending, and my friends and SO (significant other) were convinced I should transition.

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

Make sure you have rapport with and trust your therapist. Be openly honest about everything you’re feeling and remembering, and be careful not to stretch the facts or entertain false memories. Avoid ideologically motivated therapists. Do journaling in between therapy appointments.

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

Consider whether there is unprocessed trauma. Consider their family, social, and work/school environment and how these spheres may be causing or exacerbating dysphoria. Never sugarcoat transition, but be careful not to come across as transphobic or dismissive. Educate yourself, and curate educational materials that are as objective as possible to share and discuss with the patient.

 

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?

At about four-five years on HRT. I was backpacking and became ashamed of my weekly steroid injections. I realized I couldn’t escape my sex, and that I may not be able to obtain exogenous hormones in the future. I realized that while I didn’t want surgery, I didn’t want to hide or be ashamed of my body anymore.

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

Take your time, do a lot of journaling, see a therapist, try out detransitioning with a close friend(s). It’s never too late. Detransition is hard, and, like transitioning, you need to be as sure as you can be that it’s something you want for yourself, not something that someone else wants. You must be working towards authenticity. If you’re trying to repress, you’ll likely end up retransitioning later on.

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 was stealth, so detransitioning for me meant coming out as trans. Many people think I’m a trans woman because of my masculinized voice and features. I am still struggling with this challenge; it’s very painful to not pass as your natal sex. My SO (significant other) and therapist have been my main supports during this process. The detrans Reddit forum is also helpful. I struggle with agoraphobia due to my avoidance of speaking.

What advice would you give to someone who is detransitioning?

Forgive yourself and learn self love and compassion. Recognize that you may be stunted in some ways compared to be your peers, but wise beyond your years in other ways. Don’t make a big coming out announcement unless you want to; casually informing people of your new name should suffice. If you’ve legally changed your name/sex, you’ll have to jump through the same hoops to reverse/change again.

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?

My voice is the biggest challenge by far. It keeps me from going out and socializing as much as I’d like, because I don’t want to use my voice. I’m trying to voice train but it’s an uphill battle even just getting started. I find that I’ve matured significantly through this process and have a unique perspective to offer. I have become an artist as a means of expression.

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

It won’t happen overnight. Find others with similar hobbies and interests so that you can make friends. Stay away from negativity and cut abusers out of your life. You will probably still receive junk mail under your old name years after your detransition. There are many people in this world that will love you unconditionally for who you are. Have hope and believe in yourself; it gets better.

 

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?

Yes. He suggested I was non-binary but didn’t push it. He was helpful by calling me by my chosen name and saying encouraging words and listening to me in a non-judgmental way. I really appreciate my therapist.

What advice would you give to someone who is detransitioning, or considering detransitioning, who is working with a therapist?

They mustn’t push you one way or the other. Take the opportunity to detransition with them before coming out to other people in your life as a sort of stepping stone. Don’t shy away from difficult conversations, as there maybe unprocessed trauma being unearthed as you’re stripping away your persona.

What advice would you give to a therapist who is working with a patient who is detransitioning, or considering detransitioning?

Things will get harder before they get easier. Educate yourself on detransition and try to stay neutral. Your patient will need extra support, and there will be new things, heavy, philosophical topics that they will wish to discuss or vent about. They might say things that sound transphobic, but keep in mind their history if such things come up, as they were hurt by transition; there will be some bitterness.

 

Bonus Question: What is your spirit animal?

Wolf (Yeah, I’m basic)