Doubts, Decisions, and Detransition
When deciding transition steps, a lot of trans* guys are worried about doubt, either current doubts or about doubting their decisions in the future. Some guys begin to doubt steps they have already taken instead of steps they have yet to take, and consider taking steps to detransition. Detransition, in this article, means doing anything purposefully to undo steps one has previously taken in their transition. This can mean legally changing your name back to your birth name, going off of testosterone, or going back to wearing “female” clothes, but it doesn’t always mean that one no longer identifies as transgender, gendqueer, or male. Steps to detransition can be temporary or permanent. Here’s some advice, resources, and information on dealing with doubts and detransitioning:
-Be aware of what sort of decisions are reversible and which ones are irreversible. Coming out as transgender, changing your name, and going by male pronouns are, while sometimes difficult, expensive, or awkward to go back on, are reversible. Top surgery, however, is not. Certain changes on testosterone are reversible, while others are not, here’s a good video that explains which effects are which. Don’t rush into anything irreversible, particularly surgery. Don’t pressure yourself into doing anything you’re not comfortable with, and go with your gut feeling. Research all of your options, from partial transition to socially transitioning without hormones or surgery.
-Keep in mind that the detransition narrative we hear is usually rather biased. Yes, there are trans* people (ftm, mtf, genderqueer, and anyone in-between) who regret their transitions entirely, realize that they do not identify as transgender, and detransition to live entirely as the gender they were assigned at birth. However, this is not the most common detransition situation (I’ve read that the above scenario occurs in 5% of cases or less). People partially detransition (go off of hormones, etc.) often because they wish to partially transition, because they are having job or family issues, because they wish to have a biological child, or because they are having health or medical issues that require them to go off of hormones. In short, there are a lot of personal reasons why someone would fully or partially detransition that have nothing to do with regret, not actually being transgender, etc. This isn’t to say that you should feel comfortable transitioning without deeply examining your feelings or weighing your options, just to recognize that it is unlikely you will be filled with regret about your decision years from now if you don’t see any red flags now.
-There is a lot of stigma against detransitioning in the trans* community, which is unfortunate because individuals who struggle with doubts about their transition or are curious about detransitioning feel they cannot communicate those feelings. People worry that they will be seen as “not trans enough” or as no longer being members of the community if they admit that HRT really isn’t for them, or any number of similar things. One reason that detransition is so controversial is that it is so often used against us by those who wish to undermine the trans* community and use it as fuel for their transphobia. However, this is grossly unfair to the people who wish to detransition in any way and feel they are stuck between a community that is uncomfortable with their decision and haters who wish to make examples of them (particularly since some people who take steps to detransition do so while still identifying as transgender or genderqueer). There are a few places to find non-judgemental support through detransitioning or doubts about transition, one such place is FtMtF on tumblr. There are also a few people on youtube who have talked about stopping testosterone for various reasons, which may be helpful to watch, some of whom later decided to go back on T and others who did not (“Stopping Testosterone,” “Why I Stopped T-abnerbean,” “why I stopped t-uppercaseCHASE1”).
The transition path is different for everyone. Some people view their transgender status as a medical condition or birth defect, others see gender as fluid and their gender identity changes over their lifetime. There’s a huge variety of people under the trans* umbrella, and transition is not an easy decision for many of them. While physically transitioning can be a lifesaver for some, it also can be incredibly anxiety provoking as people worry they will someday regret their decision. While it is clear that some people end up regretting their decision, it is far more common for people to fall into a grey area where they continue to identify as transgender and value the androgyny that their transition has brought them but wish to halt their transitions or undo certain aspects of them for various personal reasons. It also seems as though the vast majority of trans* people who elect to physically transition are happy with their transitions and do not experience regret.
It is important to not rush into anything and reflect on things for a long time before deciding to do anything irreversible, but also to trust one’s gut feelings and go with the decision that feels right for them. Also it is important to understand that detransitioning, in its many forms, happens, and it does not always mean that one made a mistake that they regret or are trying to undo, but rather can be a part of partially transitioning or a part of allowing one’s gender to ebb and flow throughout their lifetime.