Donna Rose

Transition Regret - Some Thoughts

Filed By Donna Rose | October 27, 2008 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Media, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Christine Daniels, Los Angeles Times, Mike Penner, transgender, transition, transsexual

Last week news became public that Christine Daniel's very public transition as a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Times had come to an end. She quietly returned to work as Michael Penner. The pressures and high visibility of her transition put her in a very awkward position and those of us who have known her over the past year or so have recognized the difficulty she has been having in recent months. To be honest, I'm not surprised by this news. In some ways, I'm relieved by it.

I have found the reactions to this news very interesting. Some respect it. Some find ways to justify it. Some seem to find ways to apply her decisions to their own lives, or feel somehow threatened by it. Some seem to feel that he's confused or has somehow been forced to "turn back". Some seem almost hostile as though she was one of us but turned out to be a double-agent or something. I have my own thoughts on this entire topic of "Transition Regret".

To start, I fully support the Standards of Care as guidelines. They were developed to help ensure that people made the best decisions possible before undergoing permanent procedures that could not be undone. I believe far too many perceive them as simply unnecessary barriers and as a result find ways to circumvent them. These people are making a serious mistake, as the key element in these Guidelines may not be anything specific to the Standards so much as the passage of time that they require.

As far as I'm concerned the true destination of this journey we call "Transition" isn't just to cross the gender line to get from one side to the other. That's far too simplistic and only touches the surface of the profound nature of the trip. It's to find personal happiness and fulfillment. That's the goal that somehow seems to elude so many. Changing genders is simply the pathway that some of us need to take to find our happiness. I call it the road less taken....

I approached my transition as my opportunity to finally make decisions about my life based upon personal experience, and not upon fantasy or fear. Until you start living the day-to-day reality that is transition you have no basis upon which to make good decisions. You find yourself hoping, wanting, dreaming, fantasizing - but none of that really provides the information you need to make intelligent decisions about your life. That last sentence implies that this is somehow a rational decision - and in part it is. But a key ingredient in all of this isn't rational - it's emotional. Often, emotion trumps logic.

To be transgender is a difficult life. Those of us who get to the point of publicly proclaiming the fact that we'll be transitioning need to be comfortable with that decision because it's one we can't un-make. Sure, we can go back to being a woman or a man if we decide that transition isn't what we thought it was but the life that we had before our revelation is gone. Our relationships are forever altered. Our sense of ourselves is forever changed. The decision to transition is in and of itself profound. Where it leads us doesn't diminish that.

There is no one "right" way to transition just as their is no "easy" transition or any one "correct" way to be transgender. Those who approach it like that are asking for problems from the outset. Surgery doesn't magically solve problems. It's not the Nirvana that so many people want to believe it to be. For some it makes a difference - for others it doesn't. The key is to make your journey your own and to follow it, not to go through the motions to arrive at some pre-determined destination only to find that you were simply a spectator to your own life. The spectrum of outcomes is as broad as the number of people who travel the path.

I sometimes half-joke that any transition where you can emerge feeling some semblance of "happy" at the other end, and can truly feel as though you're proceeding with your life without regret, has been a successful one. It's not a test. It's not something where turning back is some sort of "failure". To turn back or to stop along the way is not a measure of character, courage, need, desire, dedication, or passion and those who somehow judge it as such are sadly misguided. Any transition, regardless of the outcome, is a deeply personal journey.

Some people seem to feel that there is one path to happiness in their lives and it's their job to find it. I don't believe that at all. For most people there are infinite pathways to happiness just as there are infinite pathways to whatever the opposite of happiness is. At the same time, I'd argue that for some people there are no pathways to happiness - they'll be unhappy and unfulfilled no matter what they do because that's just how they approach life. The key isn't what happens or what doesn't happen - it's how you approach it.

I know what it's like to abort a transition - to make decisions to turn back. I did it, too. That didn't mean that I was any less transgender at the end than I was at the beginning, or that my needs were any less compelling. It simply meant that the pressures of my transition reached a point where I felt cornered and needed to make decisions based on simply existing for another day. Thankfully, the right things eventually happened the right way.

Would I have transitioned if my ex-wife had been more accepting and had allowed opportunities to express the part of me that is Donna? Would I have transitioned if my entire family had rejected me, if I'd lost my job, and if I had no opportunity to get another one? Would I have transitioned if my body would never have allowed me to live the kind of life I envisioned for myself? Those are all hypothetical questions that I can't answer. If my life had unfolded differently I may have made different decisions. But those are the kinds of questions that we all find ourselves facing as we move through this. The key is to avoid feeling paralyzed by them. We need to feel comfortable with them.

Typically, as a community, we don't like to provide much publicity to these "de-transitions". Many of us want to perpetuate the notion that our transitions are not choices or decisions that we make - that we're somehow forced to do this. This approach removes any notion of personal accountability from the equation but that aspect is almost always present in anything we do whether we choose to recognize it or not. Our transition pathways don't happen by themselves. Someone needs to be driving otherwise the eventual destination won't be happiness. It will be a brick wall.

I'll tell anyone who asks - in my own life transition was the last choice. If I could have found another pathway to happiness I would have taken it. I truly believe that's one of the reasons I'm as comfortable as I am today. I see so many people - trans and not trans - constantly looking over their shoulders and second-guessing decisions that they made (or didn't make) about their lives. It's easy to doubt, and there are times when all of us need to question. But there's also a time when we need to make decisions, to be comfortable with them, and to move on.

As I mentioned at the outset, the goal of all of this has got to be personal happiness. Is it worth trading the relationships in our lives, our careers, everything we own, and any number of possible futures in order to live the balance of our lives as we felt we were meant to? For some, the answer is no and it's better to realize that before you get to a place of no return.

Christine Daniels seemed to have it all. She was attractive. She had a high profile job, and a very supportive employer. She kept a level head and did her best to keep a low profile. She seemed to have everything so many of us wish we had, and a transition road paved with gold. Perhaps that's why some seem so confused by what has happened.

In the end none of that apparently mattered. Mike Penner made decisions about his life for his own reasons. His decision needs to be respected and appreciated, not second-guessed or judged. Bravo to him for that. It may not be that he "de-transitioned" so much as his transition led him to where he was meant to be all along. We can only hope that he's made the decisions about his life for reasons that will allow him to find his own happiness. There are far worse things that could happen.


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No-one gets a vote in this except Mike.

It's a test for us. We transition, and those around us suddenly get confronted with something outrageous, something they can't understand. Something they think will be the worst thing possible we could do. Maybe they think we'll change our mind. Maybe they'll mourn the loss of someone they love. Maybe they'll be afraid of "what the neighbours will say", that it will make them look bad.

We as TS people face the same issues with Mike's situation.

It's ab education, isn't it? And a test - are we hypocrites, or will we treat Mike with the same unconditional support that we ask for ourselves? Will we recognise that no-one but Mike gets a vote in this, and that it's not selfish of him to ask for that right?

Mike has TS issues to some degree, or transition would never have been attempted. We have not lost a sister, he is our brother, a fellow human being regardless of packaging, and deserving of our support and love in a stressful time. As we all know, support "with strings attached", "conditional" love, is worthless.

I do think that a very public de-transition like that takes courage though.

I guess you did decide it was good enough for here. Bravo. Good posting. One of your best.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | October 27, 2008 1:22 PM

not something where turning back is some sort of "failure". To turn back or to stop along the way is not a measure of character, courage, need, desire, dedication, or passion and those who somehow judge it as such are sadly misguided. Any transition, regardless of the outcome, is a deeply personal journey.

Very well said!!! Excellent post, Donna.

And I agree, Zoe, such a public de-transition takes tremendous courage.

I wish Mike the very best.

I have to admit to a bit of confusion.

You started to transition, but then "de-transitioned." I'm assuming you then transitioned again (or would it be for the first time?).

I'm curious though as to why you decided not to transition if you don't mind telling us. As you said, there seems to be a variety of reasons, but I'd be curious if there's one reason that stands out from the others.

Bil - It's a far longer story than I have room to tell. Let's just say that I learned that there are many ways to do a transition "wrong" the first time around. The bad experiences helped me to understand what NOT to do. I said in my post that the survival instinct is a powerful motivator. If I had to boil it down to a single reason - that would be it. I was scared, confused, I missed my wife and son terribly, the thought of my impending "outing" at work was suffocating, my comfort level at being Donna was very low at that point - it was a buildup of pressure that brought me to the breaking point. I called off my transition and moved back in with my family. That lasted for about 6 weeks....

Leah Peters | October 27, 2008 9:30 PM

I'm sorry you lost me when you said "change genders". How are we supposed to educate the public when we repeat falsehoods like that? Nobody changes gender, we change our bodies to match our gender.

I also don't agree on your philosophy of life either. I didn't transition "to find happiness" as you said and many cisgendered people like to say. I transitioned for ONE reason.... to be me. True, I'm happier being me, but that was not the goal.

I personally don't give a hoot what the public thinks about Christine's detransition. The vast majority of ignorant and will NEVER understand what we go through so why waste my time worrying about what they think? I think this is another example of how we chase after the acceptance of others. We must stop letting that rule us. Time to break that cycle and just best selfish individuals like everyone else.

Christine's journey is hers alone. We should stop wringing our hands and making premature judgements. I wish her well where ever her path takes her.

Leah: I have no problem with the fact that you chose different words to explain our "situation" than I do or that you disagree with my general philosphy on life. I stand by them and am comfortable with them - I do not percieve them as "falsehoods". There is no one right way to approach this or to explain it so mine is no more right than yours. As long as you've found your happiness - that's what matters.

Accountability | October 30, 2008 7:15 PM

Come now Ms. Rose. I am rather surprised at your response to this reader since this isn't your usual style when responding to people who disagree with you. Surprising you didn't use your usual debasing comments such as "you need to look in the mirror" or "you infuse your writing with incendiary terms........." like you did with another trans reader who disagreed with another article you wrote and exposed some corruption.... (Sorry Ms. Peters, not to single you out or impugn you in any way, I'm just trying to make a point here with this author).

As to this discussion topic, I think that rather than focusing on this trans person's personal life (which is really no business of anyones, trans or not) perhaps we need to take a look at the "broader" picture here since the "broader" community seems to be en vogue now by a certain trans political activist / author.

Regardless of who identifies as who or what, the fact remains that many trans people do not have money, power or status when they transition (unless they have help from families or partners)..... A lack of all of these issues causes many people to become demoralized and give up. I mean, how many trans folks were prepared either by their therapists or by the SOC as to what financial problems we would face in funding our surgeries, the peer pressure from our own community that we would experience, the ostracization we would experience if we somehow disagreed with the trans political "status quo" and the deliberate outing that some would face by some trans "activists" who have nothing better to do with themselves then butt their noses into other people's private lives......

In the past 2 to 3 years, how many new trans leaders have emerged ?? How many average everyday trans girls and guys are asked to give talks about their trans experience ?? How many are asked to deliver keynote addresses at functions. The answer is VERY FEW. The power and status is continually held by a select few trans "spokespeople" who constantly feel they have to be in the spotlight while creating a system for everyone else which clearly implies KEEP OUT !! So, its no wonder really why some trans folks either abandon their transitions or not decide to transition at all even though that means severe emotional trauma and in some cases even suicide. Its a clear gamble of which is the lesser evil. I would wager that the quality of life for many trans folks would improve substantially and successful transitions would occur more often under a different trans leadership system, one which fosters INCLUSION, SUPPORT and RESOURCES to deal with the hardships of transitioning.....
The way I see it, this current system that the trans community has in place is not working.

So I ask you Ms. Rose, rather than spending an entire article and 40 comments talking about why some people transition or not, why not look at the "broader" perspective of non-inclusion and celebrity showboating and the constant need to speak for ALL trans people, the very core issues which negatively affect our trans community. Ask any trans girl on the street who has to sell herself just to pay for her hormones and eat or ask any of the trans homeless because they lost their jobs and explain to them why they never get to tell their story at a gala GLBT event while you continue to receive all of your corporate "perks", spend nights in panoramic view suites, attend $ 100 + a plate black tie events, assisting Harvard cronies and then turn around and tell them "they don't get a vote", "look in the mirror" or that they will be personally bashed on a blog just because they disagree with you.

In answer to the issue, I believe a change in trans leadership will help to improve a lot of these issues that we are facing today, starting with the author of this article. We need to give people opportunities to speak, become involved and to share the power and status, no matter what their opinion may be. This current celebrity trans clique just isn't working.

Thank you for your time.

Wow. Talk about nit-picky.

I also don't agree on your philosophy of life either. I didn't transition "to find happiness" as you said and many cisgendered people like to say. I transitioned for ONE reason.... to be me. True, I'm happier being me, but that was not the goal.

I think your aside of "true, I'm happier being me..." is the entire point. I doubt anyone would want to become "me" if they knew that "me" would be unhappy for the rest of their lives. That seems to be the whole reason for being "you" is to be happier; otherwise you wouldn't be miserable being someone else...

Had to re-register to post a response to you Bill:

You don't get it. I didn't transition to be happy. As a matter of fact I expected my life to be very difficult. But it was something I HAD TO DO for my own sanity. The continuous pressure of being something you're not will break you sooner or later in you don't address the problem. For example before I faced my issues I was having headaches 5 days a week, with a migraine thrown in occasionally for the fun of it. I loss my appetite over time and by the time I came out I has lost more than 10% of my body weight. I absolutely couldn't function at home and I almost forgot the anxiety attacks. In short I was a mess. I knew that if I didn't do something I might not survive much longer because the stress was killing me.

Transition for me was about coming clean and leading a more honest life. Since that time almost 6 years ago I haven't had a single migraine and my health in general improved dramatically. Finding happiness was an unexpected, but welcome, bonus. Saying I did it for "happiness" is, to my mind, dismissive of the long struggle I went through. It's not about "happiness", it's about being whole in mind, body and spirit.

Hopefully this clears things up.

Right on, Donna. Well said. To which I will add that the (transition) journey will, itself, change you; thus changing your destination.

I found it very useful to divide my decision-making process identifying my gender identity from the result of it. In other words, if I felt that I had no choice but to transition if I were a transsexual, it would have been virtually impossible for me to make an honest assessment about my gender identity. It would be too fraught with consequences.

Once I was comfortable and confident about my gender identity, I could then proceed with deciding what to do about it, unencumbered by self doubt.

That's saying a lot, because I'm the poster child for second guessing myself and buyer's remorse. The one thing I've never had a moment's doubt about is my transition.

To which I will add that the (transition) journey will, itself, change you; thus changing your destination.

Thanks, Rory. That helped put things in perspective.

"Thanks, Rory. That helped put things in perspective."

Geeze, I didn't mean for *that* to happen! (heh heh heh)

I've known multiple trans people who would've benefited greatly from immediate access to surgery and hormones - many more, I think, than would not have.

I feel like the standards of care serves to maybe protect a very few people while harming many more, by throwing up barriers to accessing necessary medical care.

One of the strongest barriers against transitioning is social condemnation and pressure against transitioning, and the SOC serve to reinforce and reify that barrier. They seem to exist primarily to convince trans people to not transition. I think, over time, in their various forms, they've done us - as a group - more harm than good.

In the form the SOC was in back when I first transitioned I also opposed it. Today, as it has been watered down, wiggle room added I now think it's a good idea. Neo-gynophobia runs rampant throughout the TG community to the point on one TG discussion group led by a woman and her crossdressing husband there are constant comments implying that hoards of evil grinning post-op women with sharp objects are recruiting poor innocent crossdressers to wack their wee wees off.

Donna has it right, we don't know the internal struggles that went on here, have no right to pass any judgment on Mike's decision to de-transition and it is ludicrous for any post-transitioned woman or man draw any personal implications from someone else's life decisions. In the long run that's all that matters.

That sounds like almost a mirror image of the "butch flight" fear.

I can imagine on an individual level some trans women pressuring crossdressers to transition, because I have seen that happen, but not on any kind of organized scale, and I can't imagine anyone actually being pressured into transitioning.

And I think a lot of the insecurity about Mike's retransition is how some might take that as evidence about trans people as a group. I thought about posting about him, but I realized I'd just say that I hope he's living a happy life.

This was a very good article - thanks for posting it here Donna.

I'm with Lisa on the Standards of Care. I also think that the gatekeeper setup focuses people more on jumping through hoops than taking a journey of self-discovery.

When you're worried that if you say or do the wrong thing you might not be approved for whatever medical treatment, I think it's easy to get caught up in a standard narrative and eventually lose sight of what transition should be about.

Brenda Jean Louise | October 28, 2008 4:23 AM

Good article and well put. Transitioning isn't for the faint hearted. Yes, it can be the biggest Hell that one has ever gone through. The breakup of a love relationship, the messy divorce, the ostrization of perents, your own kids, siblings, relatives, life long friends, neighbors, coworkers, employers and their management staff, a good portion medical profession. Even the people on the public feel it's open season to mock you and descriminate against you. I know...I've seen most of it. Luckily I didn't have to experience being beaten or threatoned as some. I lost a job because I transitioned and became impovrished because the lack of income. Lucky for me that I didn't have to hit the streets because of a wonderful lover I met who had the wherewithall to keep me in a home, and pay for my needs. I am happy I decided to get the surgery. I got that in October of 2003. I've lived as a Post-op for 5 years and have no regrets. As you've stressed, Transitioning is a serious step and needs to be carefully looked at from both sides of gender living and the possible perils of being out as a Transsexual for the rest of your life.

My only regret about this article is that some rotten misguided bible basher will take Christine/Michael's experience as a prime example of reasons to continue to outlaw or condemn being Transgender and transitioning. We really need our Human Rights assured us (both Federal and State law) and it's the bible bashers who will stand in our way in getting those rights..
Brenda

The whole point of the real life test is to see if transition is the right thing. For some it is, for him is wasn't. Good for him that he found this out before going too far.

Seriously, those who react negatively to this sort of news need to get a life. To my way of thinking, it simply shows how insecure they are with their own situation.

MRM

The one thing Mike needs to take away from all of these comments is that we are all supportive of his decision. However, those who comment on Bilerico have a tendency to be highly educated people who understand this process rather well. We understand the massive diversity withing our community, and the importance to allow people to decided how their lives will proceed without second guessing them.

Unfortunately, there are those in our community who will be pissed off at Mike for turning back. It's part of the "diversity" I mentioned. Others will be pissed because of how they think the religious zealots will use this against us. Personally, I can care less what those religious nuts think. What is important in all of this is Mike and his own happiness. That trumps everything else.

The most important thing is Mike is alive and hopefully happy with his decision.To many of us commit suicide from the pressures associated with being a T and we as a group should be the last to be critical of him and I'm glad that so far I haven't seen anything but support.

Thanks Donna for your post. Once we come out as transgender beings things are never the same. Joanne Roberts in an essay spoke of getting out of ones box and taking responsibility for ones life. In June 2002 I took this message to heart. Coming out to my daughter’s mom (not hidding in a closet) I thought in my heart we could work things out. That some way we could save our marriage while giving me space to allow a portion of Gillian to exist. In the month following my revelation, I lost my marriage, my birth family, and most of the time I had with my daughters. I moved into a one bedroom apartment from the home I had paid for and lived in for almost 30 years.

After finding Gendertalk about a year into my transition – program # 365, I happened upon an interview with Chris Howey. Chris’ daughter Nowell had written a book about her father’s transition. The book is called Dress Codes. I took Chris’ words to heart. ‘ We are not in a race to see who gets to sexual reassignment surgery first. Enjoy your journey. If you arrive at a place that feels right, stay there and enjoy it until there is a need to move on. There is no right place to be on ones journey. Enjoy the journey.”

Six and a half years after that evening when I came out, I am still on my journey. Six months ago I traveled to Bangkok for GRS. I’ve come to realize that my journey will have no end. There will always be new life experiences. Some of these experiences will be happy, others heart-wrenching. All will mold my personhood.

Christine took the next step on her jorurney. I wish Mike the best.

Gillian

Hi Brandi: Although I appreciate your perspective I couldn't disagree more that not having or even wanting surgery is an indicator of a person's "real" transgender nature or makes that person a "she-male". I find it ironic that many of us struggle with being judged by others but then turn around and judge one another in that same destructive way. Finding your own pathway to peace may or may not involve surgery for any number of reasons - all of which are personal and none of which make their situation any less real or valid. To label anyone who doesn't want surgery as a "she-male" is more than simply a gross simplification of something that is very complicated and diverse, it's demeaning and disrespectful to the majority of our community.

You were too kind to Brandi. Rory, on the other hand, added some umph to his response. My thanks to both of you.

I guess by Brandi's standards, I'm a she-male because I haven't had the money or the jobs to give me the $18,000 of discretionary cash. But, I do own a mortgage on a house that I have not missed a payment on, and I'm in a neighborhood that is not losing out. My discretionary cash will come in due time, and I'll still have a nice place to call my own. Seems like a win-win scenario to me.

Hey Monica -

You don't need to justify your surgery status. You can have great reasons, or no reason whatsoever, as you know, to not have surgery. People can choose the path of their own transition. This business of dictating what is an acceptable transition by transpeople who expect their own transitions to be accepted on its face, is getting old. And for most FTMs, lower surgery is just not an option.

In fact, I think it's unnecessary to disclose surgery status unless you're going to get naked with someone. Saying you're post-op is often a way to 'pull rank' among transpeople.

It seems as if some MTFs insist on validating their own decisions by having everyone else make the same ones.

Hey, er,

what the hell is an "mtf?"

And I think it's fair to point out how viciously and consistently society tries to invalidate trans women as women when mentioning that some trans women are zealous. Please don't start stereotyping us just because someone's being disagreeable. She's disagreeable because of what she's saying, not because of who she is.

"what the hell is an "mtf?"

"Please don't start stereotyping us just because someone's being disagreeable. She's disagreeable because of what she's saying, not because of who she is."

Huh? You're taking umbrage as a member of a group that you claim you not to understand the initials for, and that I didn't disparage? That's tricky.

I didn't say that Brandi said those things because of her status. But it does add to the irony.

Thank, Rory. You always seems to cut through the crap.

* Geeze, and I thought we were doing so well being respectful in this discussion; and then I saw this comment.

" ...I also believe that it is of the utmost importance to follow the SOC I consider it the Bible of Transition and even though it is as it states it is only a Guideline its a guideline that in my opinion should be adhered to with greatest of care."

* Blindly adhering to a guideline as if it were gospel can be just as detrimental as ignoring it. There's a good reason it is a guideline and not a rule. Many people try to circumvent it because it is too often applied rigidly and without judgment.

"it is the reason Christine was able to go back to being Mike... "

* Are you suggesting there's a deadline for de-transitioning? If Christine had surgery she couldn't transition back? That's ridiculous. Whose going to tell her no? By that logic, no one can transition before having surgery.

"I know and I sure of you do too someone who went around the safety gates put in place rushed through transition only to find that they AREN'T Trans."

* I think transitioning back means that transition isn't for them; not that they aren't trans. I don't know of anyone who de-transitioned who didn't have gender issues.

"I do not however accept the fact that one can suffer from Gender Identity Disorder and choose NOT to have GRS It is my belief that if one truely suffers a Dysphoria with ones body then there is NO WAY this person can desire to have let alone use their male genitalia."

* First, you don't get a vote. It is arrogant and judgmental for you to apply what might be true for you, to anyone else's journey. It is this type of thinking that the community is fighting for the DSM reform with the psychiatric profession, who at least have medical degrees, unlike you.

* Second, leaving aside that insisting on absolutes whenever human beings are involved is fraught with danger, you are completely discounting the FTM experience.

"This goes against the core diagnosis for gender Identity Disorder. I feel that if you TRUELY are a sufferer of this condition then you will be driven to find away regardless of the cost whether that be financial or emotional to have Surgery or you’ll die trying too find a way."

* I don't think it's a requirement for anyone to be psychologically obsessed beyond all reason to be eligible for transition. That's its own illness. And this "truely" (sic) business smacks of some sort of purity/holier than thou test.

"There is Factional Research to Support that the Brain Gender of a person who TRUELY suffers from GID... "

* Again with the "truely" (sic). So your position is that no one should be allowed to transition if they don't meet your standard?

" ...as having the brain gender of the gender they Identifiy with and are living in were as the Brain Gender of say someone like a shemale is in my opinion that of a male."

* The only usage I know of for "shemale" is in sexualizing transpeople in porn, or as a slur. It is not a medical term, nor a community group. Using it is belittling.

"To me what they do is more a Fedish it's not a gender Identity Condintion They do what they do for totally differant reason then does a person suffering from GID."

* Again, you don't get a vote, and you're not an expert.

"The Shemale acts out of sexual gratification... "

* Now you're just making shit up.

* It's ironic that some transpeople are so judgmental of others while expecting their own acceptance from others.

Claire Jennifer | October 28, 2008 12:21 PM

Thank you so much Donna for writing these thoughts down.

So many people believe that when I use the word "choice", with regard to my continuing transition, I label myself as a paraphiliac or a sexual deviant. Just as we know that sexual orientation is not a choice, so many of the public still believe it is, and the same is often true for those who question their gender. If we have any choice then why not choose to not transition.

I often find that when I say I was born this way, (transgendered), my friends, family, neigbors and colleagues accept it with little question because it represents a medical condition. When I say I am choosing to transition from male to female they argue that I should be able to fight it, suck it up, and live in my birth gender. Why would I choose to upset everybody near and dear to me.

As you say, even if we choose not to transition, we are still transgendered, and for many of us transitioning or not is a choice, and surgery is a choice. It does not diminish who we really are.

In my case a lifetime of often painful experiences, taught me that it is the only way I can achieve real happiness. As you say, if there was another way to achieve the same happiness I would gladly do so, because this "choice" I made to transition is really difficult for me, my family, and those who still love me.

I question my decision every day, because I no longer suffer from GID and so I no longer have that anxiety to transition, as I live as a female. I continue, because I know this is the right choice for me, and I know I could never go back.

So thank you again for clarifying the definition of "choice" so succinctly for me.

You say it so much better than I ever could.

Claire

I guess that was a too hard of a question for her to answer.

When Angie Zapata was murdered, Brandi made a point to blame her death on Angie "not transitioning properly," that is not following the standards of care.

I think it also came out that Brandi had surgery before she started HRT, or even living as a woman, which means she didn't herself follow the SOC.

Claire Jennifer | October 28, 2008 3:35 PM

Thank you so much Donna for writing these thoughts down.

So many people believe that when I use the word "choice", with regard to my continuing transition, I label myself as a paraphiliac or a sexual deviant. Just as we know that sexual orientation is not a choice, so many of the public still believe it is, and the same is often true for those who question their gender. If we have any choice then why not choose to not transition.

I often find that when I say I was born this way, (transgendered), my friends, family, neigbors and colleagues accept it with little question because it represents a medical condition. When I say I am choosing to transition from male to female they argue that I should be able to fight it, suck it up, and live in my birth gender. Why would I choose to upset everybody near and dear to me.

As you say, even if we choose not to transition, we are still transgendered, and for many of us transitioning or not is a choice, and surgery is a choice. It does not diminish who we really are.

In my case a lifetime of often painful experiences, taught me that it is the only way I can achieve real happiness. As you say, if there was another way to achieve the same happiness I would gladly do so, because this "choice" I made to transition is really difficult for me, my family, and those who still love me.

I question my decision every day, because I no longer suffer from GID and so I no longer have that anxiety to transition, as I live as a female. I continue, because I know this is the right choice for me, and I know I could never go back.

So thank you again for clarifying the definition of "choice" so succinctly for me.

You say it so much better than I ever could.

Claire

This is great information to help us allies understand the process of transitioning. Thanks, Donna.

"Well Donna that's why we live in America so we each can have our own view on things."

Yes, you can have an opinion, but not a veto. It's bad form to be judgmental when you're in such a vulnerable position.

And you side-stepped the matter of your use of "she-male".

What's all this nonsense about "shemales" that you're pulling out of nowhere?

On what expertise do you get to diagnose anyone as "fetishists" or "shemales" or any of that?

Also, why are you deliberately perpetuating the use of a hypersexualizing, objectifying slur (shemale) that's used against trans women to delegitimize us (as a group) as "real women" and defining us solely as objects to sexually gratify men? What do you get out of perpetuating that kind of misogyny and transphobia against other trans women?

Donna,
Yes, great article.

You had these two essays at the same time - the one on Mike Penner, and the one on the gene research.

I think there might be a tie-in between the reaction of some in the community to Mike's choice and the research effort.

I know a lot of folks who view success in the search for a genetic cause to be "validation" for us -- a medical reason why we need (and should be allowed to and insurance should pay for and all the other "should"s) to transition. And there are so so many folks who have very moving, heartfelt, and sincere accounts of how strongly they were motivated to transition. I completely sympathize and understand - as you said, it's a choice that, regardless of the benefits to us, is accompanied by a lot of difficulties, so it's not a choice we make easily.

So, when someone de-transitions, what does that say about genetic causes? Do the folks who see the trans gene as "validation" now feel threatened or less validated because some of us publicly de-transition? If these folks had the gene, how could they de-transition?

I'm wondering if that rationale might have something to do with why de-transitioning bothers some. Personally, I agree with the idea that this is just our path. I almost transitioned twice before getting where I am today (partial, but doing great, thanks much). And if someone wants to transition and de-transition several times in their life, what an interesting journey that would be. Maybe one day they'll invent nano-machines that when injected do all the changes for us, and we can go back and forth at will.