I hated myself ever since I could remember. I never fit in.
Throughout my childhood, I battled through years of being an outcast. I was different. I liked some “girl things” and some “boy things”, but for some reason I could never get along with the other girls. I wanted to — in fact it was all I wanted — but no matter what I tried, however hard I tried to present myself as a normal girl, eventually my true colours would be exposed. My friends would find out I was “weird”, and they would run away…
That’s until I started to connect with male friends over gaming. Terraria was all the rage, and I’d finally found some people who didn’t think I was weird for enjoying it. I would go home and play it with one of my best friends, and those were the last truly happy times I can remember.
Happy virtual world
However, the elephant in the room was always there: I was a girl. That meant I wasn’t included in all the things my friendship group did, and not everyone was comfortable with me at first. I can’t blame them for this, as I was basically alien to them. I was the only girl who enjoyed gaming but, at that time, the only thing that mattered to me was that I’d found something I loved and was happy doing.
I would jump out of bed at the break of dawn to play Roblox Jailbreak. I loved the feeling of freedom as I escaped from the blocky prison using the unrealistically obvious and easy route that was built into the game, and tried to make as much money as possible before getting caught again by a person on the “police” team.
I would run excitedly with every new boss defeated in Terraria. I’d consume hours of Minecraft YouTube and devour books about Minecraft, exploring every facet of the game. That was all I cared about really, and the fact that I happened to be a girl didn’t really matter, as I was the type of kid who didn’t believe that interests had genders.
Unfortunately, puberty interrupted my otherwise happy and peaceful life. My body was growing into a woman’s body before I was ready. I watched everyone around me grow and change and I started to feel self conscious about how I presented to the world. I was this tall, thin, awkward, nerdy girl with glasses, braces and pigtails — the stereotypical outcast.
On top of that, everyone started to have crushes, and dating started to take place. I started to get “shipped” with my male friends. If you don’t know what shipping is, it’s when people imagine two people or characters together in a romantic relationship. As you can imagine, that made me really uncomfortable, and I started trying to conform to the female gender roles that society imposed on me.
I started to try out different interests, and settled on anime. I picked an anime boy to have a fake crush on, so that I could have a “crush” like all the other girls. The only difference between my “crushes” and their crushes were that mine weren’t real, and they were on “boys” that I wanted to look like, I just didn’t know it yet.
I idolised these delicate, feminine boys with female features and builds — they were basically soft-masculine girls. By soft-masculine I mean not overly butch, but with more of a tomboyish look. I tried to dress hyper-feminine but that wasn’t me, and in the back of my mind I was always thinking about how I wanted to look like the anime boys. Soon enough, I found out I could.
My YouTube recommended section became flooded with transition-related content, and I readily took it all in, imagining how my life could be different if I could be a boy. It offered a solution to the problems I had faced as a girl, and I could finally look boyish without shame, or so I thought. Happy, comfortable transgender men spoke about their transition journeys online.
Obviously, the idea that I could be a boy was incredibly enticing to me. It felt like the solution to everything I was going through. The only thing I didn’t know was that the trans life is nothing like the sugar-coated, happily-ever-after fairy tales that trans influencers sold to me; I couldn’t just magically become a boy. But as a 13-year-old who hated herself, I believed what I wanted to hear.
Shortly after finding out that being trans was possible, I tried out the label “non-binary” in my head. I liked it, and even told a few friends that I was exploring, but for me, non-binary was just a transition stage I went through, as I was still unsure whether I wanted to be a boy just yet. Later that year, I decided that I wanted to go all the way and become a boy. I told a select few friends, then my parents, then eventually everyone.
My parents were unsupportive of this path, but I decided that they were “transphobic”, as the internet and doctors told me I could be whoever I wanted. I saw a gender clinic, and they asked no questions; they just told me that I had gender dysphoria and that I could get a binder made to help me with my chest dysphoria. They never asked me about my background, never tried to explore what may have made me develop gender dysphoria while I was going through puberty. They just told me that I had it, and that I could transition.
When I was 15 years old, I desisted for the first time. I think part of it was to do with me being on antidepressants. I was comfortable at that point in time, so I guess I just assumed that I didn’t have dysphoria anymore. I lived as a girl for around a year, originally planning to not change anything about my appearance. I called myself a butch lesbian, but eventually I succumbed to gender stereotypes again.
I don’t know why, but whenever I identified as a girl, I always associated the words “girl” and “woman” with hyper-femininity. And I think that’s a big problem with today’s gender ideology; young girls are being told they can be boys if they want to be, if they “feel like a boy”. And to me, “feeling like a boy” meant feeling masculine. So, when I desisted, I again felt the urge to act hyper-feminine and have crushes on men. I got another crush on the internet, this time a singer, and again, it was someone I idolised beyond a crush who had a mix of feminine and masculine attributes that resonated with my vision of my inner self.
When I got out of lockdown, I presented to society as the hyper-feminine caricature of a woman that I had become, and of course, my dysphoria came back on the first day of school. I imagined myself having a male body and dressing in men’s clothes. So the next thing I did was go back to being trans. I told everyone that I was a boy AGAIN.
This time, as I now went to a public school, the school affirmed me totally. I was taken seriously this time, my pronouns were changed to he/him for most people at school, and I really did feel like I was living as a guy. I planned to try to go on testosterone as soon as I turned 18, and I felt like my life was going to properly start once I looked and sounded like a biological male.
I’d thought my femaleness was holding me back from living as a man, but really the only thing that had been blocking me from exploring my interests was myself, and forcing the unachievable goal on myself that I could ever live as a cisgender, biological man.
I apologise for the life story, but this is why I believe gender ideology is incredibly harmful to youth, especially questioning teenage girls, particularly masculine women. Gender ideology tells us lies. It tells us we can be a man, when transition will only ever go as far as to being able to resemble a cis man. And for me, that’s a deal-breaker.
I would rather go through life as a masculine woman than mutilate myself to look like a male. On top of that, the hormone therapies are not harmless like pro-trans content online may make someone like me believe, and the changes are not always predictable. Not everybody looks how they want to after testosterone, and most of the time, when you remove the breasts, a female chest does not look like that of a cis man.
Transition healthcare is like a roll of the dice and, when possible, learning to accept one’s biological sex is the best option. I do believe transition is the best thing for some people, but we must be sceptical of the vast increase in gender clinic referrals across the globe.
Detransition statistics are also greatly underrepresented in surveys. Many surveys make the detransition number look negligible — see, for example, a survey from a gender clinic in the UK, which puts transition regret at a mere 0.47%, as well as a survey from the US which puts detransitioners at a larger but still small 8%, of which 62% reported detransitioning only temporarily due to societal, financial, or family pressures.
These surveys are plastered all over websites, such as this one, making it seem like detransition is quite a rare occurrence. However, something which is likely overlooked is that many detransitioners go cold turkey on their hormone providers — that is, they cancel all appointments and never look back. This makes sense, as detrans women with their ovaries intact will usually see their bodies go back to producing estrogen without medical assistance. This means that, likely, many, if not most, detransitioners go unaccounted for. Desisters who never started their medical transition are also ignored.
Gender ideology is harmful and pushes experimental cross-sex hormone treatments and surgeries on children before their brains have even fully developed. Because my parents did not allow it, I never went on hormones, and I’m so glad I never did. Unfortunately, I’ve met many who weren’t as lucky, and now have permanent changes to their bodies and voices as a result of going on hormones.
The cause of gender dysphoria is currently unknown, despite many pro-trans organizations claiming that it is a “mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity”. The origins of a person’s dysphoria should always be explored and it is ridiculous that gender clinics don’t ask the big questions. For instance, it should have been obvious in my background that my dysphoria developed due to being an outcast because of my male interests.
This means gender dysphoria is not always a matter of being “born in the wrong body”. Therapists need to toughen up and pry deeper into the causes of self-reported gender dysphoria. Perhaps once these kids discover the nature and origin of their conditions, they can find ways to heal it at the root cause, without the need to destroy the healthy human body.
It is what no one wants to admit, but we are setting our kids up for a very hard life if we keep affirming them.
This article first appeared on the blog of Parents with Inconvenient Truths about Trans (PITT) and has been republished with permission.