People who decide against transitioning also face obstacles

August 8, 2022
Protesters at a Trans day of visibility protest in Sydney, in April. Photo: Zebedee Parkes

There is a stigma associated with detransitioning, when someone takes a step to halt or reverse one or all aspects of their transition. However, those people face many of the same issues faced by transgender people, such as a lack of access to medical and social services. Green Left’s Nova Sobieralski spoke to Adelaide about their experience.

Tell us a bit about your gender journey? How do you feel about your transition and how do you identify now?

I was assigned female at birth and came out as a trans man when I was around 11 years old. I picked a new name, started to dress more masculine and attempted to start puberty blockers. I didn’t end up taking any steps to medically transition until I was 15 years old, and then I started testosterone.

A year after that I had top surgery. At first I was extremely happy with my results and felt much more confident in my body. Then this past year I began to really feel unhappy again. I really feel like I regret almost all of my transition. 

Now I identify closest to a non-binary girl, but I’m still figuring out my gender identity.

How did the pressure to conform to cisgender standards, or “pass”, impact your transition?

When I was first starting to look into medical transition, I stumbled across the “transmedicalist” community on Tumblr. I started following a lot of transmedicalist blogs and even started my own. 

The overwhelming attitude in that community was that being transgender was a medical condition and the only treatment was to transition. This made me feel like I had to transition as soon as possible so I would be considered a “real guy”. Also, a lot of transphobia is based around trans people who don’t pass and my goal was to be “stealth” and avoid that stigma.

What difficulties do you face as a detransitioner? 

I struggle a lot with being misidentified as a trans woman, it causes a lot of people to view me as less of a woman or be actively transphobic towards me and my girlfriend. 

It can be really hard to find any sense of community as well. It sometimes feel like you’re stuck, because trans communities can be hard to fit into, but cis society isn’t very accepting of visibly detransitioned people. It can be really lonely and I’m lucky to have a few detransitioned friends.

What is detrans pride?

To me, it’s just about taking pride in my struggles and journey as a detransitioner. It’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve gone through in my life. 

I’m also just proud to say that I have transitioned before and then detransitioned, simply because it’s a very important part of my identity and affects my everyday life.

How could medical services be improved for detransitioners?

Anything that is done to help improve medical care for those looking to transition, will help improve medical care for detransitioners. Any reconstructive surgery, hormone supplementation or laser hair removal is still gender affirming care that trans, detrans and cis people all use. 

Improving the medical system for trans people improves it for everyone.

One thing I believe will help people who detransition is to remove the idea of a scripted and streamlined path to transition. There should be no expected path for those who transition because everyone’s gender goals are different.

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