The Best Decision I Ever Made: Essay by Carol

I’ve told my story of detransition many times over the last 2 years. For different platforms, to different people, in every version the pain I’ve gone through is clearly present. But I would like to do a little something different with this essay. At the risk of making my 19-year-old self cringe so hard I can feel it ripple forward in time to me now, I am going to talk about the positives to come out of this horrible experience. See, detransition was hard, it was painful, but it was also the greatest decision I’ve ever made.

I don’t think I’m overstating it to say that I feel like a new woman, or maybe I always was this woman under layers of pain. I hardly recognize the woman who first injected testosterone all those years ago, and that’s a very good thing. That means I’ve grown, I’ve healed, and I’ve become something better. I would have never believed I could have become who I am now. I am unbelievably happy I am here with only the few scars I carry. It could have gone much worse for me, but it didn’t.

I’ve never spoken publicly about this, but I will now. When I was thinking about stopping T and returning to living my life as I was, a woman, I was unbelievably scared. I was deeply ashamed; I had not only changed myself in profound ways, I had changed the people around me. I had made an impact on my family that would never be turned back. I didn’t know how I could go back; I didn’t know how I would tell my wife and son that I wanted to stop this way I was living. I felt like a flake and a complete loser of a human. 

One evening I was standing in my kitchen alone, thinking about all these things, and I suddenly felt the presence of my grandmother who had died some years earlier. It’s almost like I could feel her love and hear her voice, “Carol, honey, you have to stop hurting yourself now.” And I began to sob right there and let go of it. I knew I had to humble myself; I had to let what would happen, happen. I could no longer control and twist my life to hide my pain. I had to take on the responsibility of my decisions of self-destruction and the fallout from that. I had to detransition, it was time. 

So began one of the hardest years of my life. I had to face all the things I had buried since I was a child. I went to therapy to address my childhood abuse, which I believe contributed a great deal to my body dissociation and self-hate. I thought deeply and honestly about the possible root causes of where my feelings came from around dysphoria. I discovered things I had never known before. I threw myself into female-centered spaces. I locked out all maleness. I listened only to female singers for that first year, did feminist art, and engaged with other feminist and detrans women in a kind of consciousness raising. We talked about our experiences as females in this society. Those of us who are lesbians talked about the homophobia we faced and how that impacted our sense of self as women. 

It was hard work, but it was amazing work. And true healing was had through these experiences.  Doors seemed to open; sun shined in. That dark little room I had been hiding in for most of my life was flooded with fresh spring sunshine. It hurt my eyes at first and it burned my body because I had never seen such light. But soon my eyes adjusted, my skin toughened, and I was able to leave my room. I was able to walk in the sun. To feel love, to give love, to be a better parent, a better wife and actually make friendships with other women. I was able to accept my female body for the first time in my life.

The place my wife holds in my healing is head and shoulders above all the rest. Her forgiveness and love is the most beautiful thing I might ever behold. She held me on those nights I sobbed for hours. She listened when I needed to talk. She reassured me that my body was not ugly and unlovable, but still as beautiful as ever to her. We made dark jokes about our experiences, we laughed together and cried together. I listened to her and her pain and I took that on, because I had hurt her and she deserved healing too. We had to heal our relationship as well as ourselves. But two years later, as I write this, our marriage is the healthiest it’s ever been. We are happy, I am happy. No, better then happy, content. I feel settled, I feel at peace. 

I can’t believe I’ve come this far, I can’t believe such healing can be had. I’m so glad I detransitioned. I’m so unbelievably happy that I did that really hard and awful introspective work to reach this point. It feels like an amazing journey, like something out of an epic tale. I feel like a whole person. I know I would have never reached this place if I would have kept living as a trans man. For me it was a mask, and though it helped for a time, it was only a mask. My pain still existed underneath. It’s good to throw that mask off and walk in the sunshine. I recommend it.