Thursday, September 1, 2016

Being Told You Have Gender Dysphoria as a Lesbian

Hello readers,

It has been about 2 years since I've posted anything on here.  A lot has changed for me.  I'm still a detransitioned woman, but even that is fading and becoming more of a memory as time goes on.  Each day that memory of being "detransitioned" or a "detransitioner" fades, and each day me being the actual female I was born as gets stronger and stronger.  Honestly, I don't want to be known as a "detransitioner" for the rest of my life.  I would like this to become a part of my history.  Just like you wouldn't call me a "former cutter" anymore. You would say that I have mental health issues with a history of cutting over 5 years ago.  I do not want this detransitioner business to be a defining characteristic of who I am as a person.  I let my identity as a man go on for too long, been there, done that, and it just doesn't consume me the way it used to do.

I've moved on from all of this. I'm just a regular woman.  I have facial hair, chest hair, whatever, but I am just like any other woman.  I'm not "cis" and I'm not "trans" and I'm not "genderqueer."  The only two labels I have are "woman" and "lesbian."  That's it.  Sorry I don't fit into the boxes of trans-cis-queer identity politics.  That's just not who I am. I exist outside of the millions of your gender boxes.  That's reality. For years I genuinely thought I was transsexual; I thought that I was a man.  I fit the criteria (and still fit some of it), but back then I strictly fit all of the criteria.  I followed the trans narrative and did everything legitimately - I had the symptoms. Yet, here we are!  Maybe sociologists and psychologists and doctors in general can do studies about people like me, as long as they don't try to convince me toward transition again.  I know that butch lesbians are seen as an eyesore in society, but you cannot change me. Kicking and screaming you will not change me.  Not for a million bucks. I'm much too happy these days to go through any of that ever again.  No concerns here of re-transitioning!

In light of all of this, I wanted to share with you all a piece I had written to a website, which unfortunately wouldn't publish it, due to the fact they do not consider Gender Dysphoria a mental health issue (but it is).  I hope this piece will show you all where I am at now in my life.

I’m not like Chaz Bono or Caitlyn Jenner or Jazz Jennings, although I share something in common with all three of them. I’m not the story of the transgender person you hear about on the news or from your friends. 
I will, however, tell you who I am. I am a woman with a turbulent past, with many layers within. I have survived severe physical, emotional and mental abuse at the hands of both my parents. I have grappled with a past that included me realizing I had attractions to women when I was as young as 8 years old, all while listening to the Baptist church I attended at the time talk about how gay people were going to hell and that gay marriage is an abomination. 
I developed complex post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, chronic depression, sleep disturbances, dermatillomania, dermatophagia and more. Even now, nearly 20 years later, I am still coping and trying to navigate in a society that isn’t quite sure what to make of somebody like me with my past, both in terms of my history of trauma and in the choices I made along the way. 
As I realized in my teen years my affections for women weren’t going away any time soon, coupled with my mothers increasing rage over my sexual orientation, and further exacerbated by my own hangups about my physical female body, I was diagnosed with gender dysphoria (then called gender identity disorder) in 2010. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) lists the diagnostic features of gender dysphoria as “a marked incongruence between their birth gender and their experienced/expressed gender.” Based on that criteria alone, I still fit it, but that isn’t how I see myself anymore. 
I spent a couple of years prior to receiving my diagnosis binding my breasts with a compression binder, wearing my hair short, and wearing stereotypical men’s clothing. I often imagined and looked forward to how I would look “as a man.” In 2011, I was given my first prescription for testosterone as part of a hormone replacement therapy (HRT) plan. The idea was for me to begin physically transitioning from female to male. I did all of my research and knew what I was signing up for, at least I knew about as much as anyone else undergoing transition knows. 
From the testosterone injections I received, I grew full facial hair which I still have, my body fat redistributed to a more male pattern, my voice changed (got deeper), my periods stopped. For a while I felt so much better. Finally I felt some peace with my body, but the more things changed physically, the more that I wanted to blend in as a male. I also felt more comfortable passing in society being seen as a straight man as opposed to a lesbian who breaks norms around femininity. 
Eventually, I began experiencing health effects I didn’t like or want. For the first time in my life I began experiencing heart palpitations. My ribs hurt from binding my breasts even though I was doing so as safely as I could. I worried about whether I was doing damage to my internal organs from the hormone usage. Worst of all, my emotions became dulled from the hormones. Try as much as I physically could, I simply couldn’t cry — it just was not possible. 
So, in late 2012, I decided to quit taking the hormones and stop my chest binding. My periods returned, my hormones leveled out and I began to experience a more diverse range of emotions again. 
During my time of detransitioning back to my birth sex, I faced transgender people silencing me, as if my decision to detransition had any bearing on their identification as transgender or transsexual individuals. People who were my friends and who were initially very supportive of me transitioning in the first place did not want me speaking openly about detransitioning. As a result, I rebelled against the transgender community and became a radical feminist. I was interviewed for a couple of books and for The New Yorker magazine. I joined a cult. I had fallouts with both transgender people and radical feminists. I rebelled, endlessly, against everyone. I went on tirades and became flippant in my interpersonal communications and isolated myself from new friends and new experiences. 
Basically, I became a mean-spirited person and hurt a lot of people along the way, and hurting people emotionally is the thing I regret the most from all of my “transition regret.” These days I just try to live my life and not hurt anybody any longer — so far, I am being successful with this. 
I have found that it is easier and more beneficial for me to focus on my own happiness, my own self-acceptance, my own body-love instead of focusing on what others are doing. I have learned that it is okay to legally have a “man’s name,” be in relationships with women, participate in “men’s” activities, wear the clothing and hair I want, wear makeup or not, shave or not, etc and still be a proud female. By taking this new path where I focus on positive self-growth instead of fighting with others, I have been able to embrace my whole self, facial hair and all! 
I am not cisgender, transgender, genderfluid or any other gender identity. I’m not what the mental health specialists would like to classify as afflicted with Gender Dysphoria, simply because I defy what society expects of me. I am a woman with a complex past, various mental health issues, who also happens to be a lesbian. 
I am Heath, and it is a pleasure to meet you. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

As Seen on Lesbolution's Tumblr Blog

small (and some large) changes you can make to live a more female-centric life:
  • value female friendships
  • prioritise art made by women, including music, movies, books, visual art, etc.
  • get involved in all-female group activities, whether it just be chillin with ur gal pals or having full blown feminist meetings
  • be extra friendly and helpful to female strangers
  • compliment the women in your life on things other than their appearance
  • be vocal and unapologetic about your feminism
  • listen to the wisdom of your female elders
  • consider getting involved in women’s spirituality
  • consider political celibacy if you’re heterosexual. this is an extreme measure and not for everyone, but it is powerful
  • love and support all the women in your life. this includes yourself.

    Original post:

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Personal Note on Butch/Femme and my Thoughts

Despite this article last year where I described myself as a "Butch Lesbian" while having no real idea what a "Butch Lesbian" is, and frankly, neither do other self-proclaimed "Butch Lesbians" I'm going to let people know that I don't think I'm really a TRUE "Butch Lesbian."  I'm just a regular run-of-the-mill dyke, or a really ugly and uppity lesbo feminist, depending on who you ask.

For the sake of not naming names, there are two rather prominent "Butch Lesbian" activists who have taken to publicly trashing me (one of them numerous times).  It seems they enjoy brow-beating other women who do not narrowly conform to their ideas of gender, and yes, this is all gender, but for more on that, read the link below.  To those women, sure, I don't fit into your little club, and I don't want to anyways.  I will, however, find your antics juvenile, despite both of your ages, and will not hesitate to call bullshit when I see it.

I'm tired of brow-beating from fellow women on the topic. I'm just a fat dyke, and I express myself however the hell I want.  So for the sake of expressing myself, here is an expression: gender norms are fucking asinine, and those who support gender norms and "othering" of breaking gender norms through endless meaningless labels are hilarious.  That includes the labels of "Butch" and "Femme." When really, both of you are dykes, and both of you are women. Get over yourselves, your egos, and your vanity/gen(d)eral issues!

A friend of mine wrote a great piece on this topic, and my thoughts can also be summed up with it too. Definitely read it, it's worth thinking about. "Hate to Break it to You, but Butch and Femme is Also Gender"

Friday, August 22, 2014

24 Hour Truce

Andrea Dworkin once said that she'd like a "24 hour truce during which there is no rape." I want a 24 hour truce during which all men stop hurting all women. This means that no matter what a man's background, whether the color of his skin, the income residing in his wallet, his abilities or disabilities, his sexual orientation, his age, "gender identity," or any other factors which marginalize him when compared to rich white men, will stop hurting women for 24 hours.
This includes men with disabilities who buy victims of the sex trade in order to get laid because they feel they are entitled to women's bodies.
This includes gay men who think it's funny to make fish jokes, to call women "bitches," or to feel up women without consent.
This includes old men who think it's fun to rape young girls.
This includes young men who harass young women in the hallways of their high schools.
This includes men who "identify" as women who commit violent crimes against women, and it includes the men who "identify" as women who support these vile offenders.
This includes poor men who engage in domestic violence against their female partners on the bogus "reason" that they are disenfranchised based on class status, man, and it's really draggin' them down and bummin' them out, maaaan.
This includes men who think they are "allies" who talk over women, or who get pissed off and make threats to leave organizations when women discuss important issues like being PIV-critical.
This includes men who intimidate women by means of financial control.
This includes men who think they have the right to control women's reproductive autonomy for any reason.
This includes men who consume pornography and eroticize the physical and financial control leveled at women in the industry.
All of you. Cut the crap. Knock it off, grow up, and allow us to BREATHE.
A 24 hour truce. Your move.

Petition to Remove Laverne Cox from "Orange is the New Black"

Please sign the petition and share widely!

Monday, August 11, 2014

#TERFweek? More like #LIMPweek!

Men who are Lesbian-Infiltrating Male-Pleasers (or LIMP) are men who are against female-only spaces and against the right of lesbians to say "no" to male-born people as sexual or romantic partners.  Like Dana Beyer wrote recently of the Cotton Ceiling, decrying lesbian females who choose not to sleep with born-males as being "transphobic," I am here to tell you that LIMPs are lesbophobic proponents of rape culture, and just general misogynists to boot.

I'm not saying you should use slurs or insult people, buuuuut since they're not respecting our wishes, insist on continuing to call us TERFs and "cisgender" despite our wishes, and in light of "TERFweek" on twitter, use the hashtag #LIMPweek if you so desire.  For added comedic effect, use "LIMPweak" too.

I am not cisgender, nor transgender, nor genderqueer, nor agender, nor bigender, nor any type of the multitudes of endless "gender identities" there are.  I was born a female, everything else is societal bullshit, and nobody on this planet needs to identify with their birth sex, the opposite sex, or something in between.

Monday, August 4, 2014

My First Michfest Experience

Dear Lisa Vogel,

My name is Heath Russell and this year I was approved to present a workshop entitled “Denying Gender.” I was thrilled to hear this; however, I was much less thrilled when this news came Sunday August 3rd when my friend [name redacted] posted a photograph of your printed program to Facebook. Despite the last minute notice of my presentation, I’m sure I would have been able to put something together had I gone to Michfest this year. I submitted my project proposal late last winter and never received word about whether my proposal had been received, much less approved or denied. So, again, imagine my surprise when I found out it had been approved and that I would be presenting two days later on Tuesday August 5th.

My workshop was called “Denying Gender” because I am detransitioned female. That means I had taken steps to try changing my gender to a man, but hormonally and socially stopped transitioning. Since then, I have taken a Radical Feminist stance on the topic of gender and gender abolition. However, I know that society does not live in that reality, and we are at the mercy of patriarchy, which is why Michfest was started as a way for women to embrace what a culture would look like without males and patriarchal influence. For someone like me, this would have been one of the first times I would have been in a female-focused/female-dominated environment. As part of my journey back to embracing myself as the female I was born as, Fest sounded like it would be a very healing place for me, due to its unique female-only intention.

Given the controversial nature of my topic, there is no way that I would have attended Michfest nor presented without some form of contact from crew. Recently, I spoke at Radfems Respond in Portland Oregon on this very topic. Radfems Respond, as you are probably aware, was met with much protest by the local trans community and I would expect nothing less had I presented this at Michfest. In order to present at Radfems Respond, we required not only our personal security team, but the security personnel of the Multnomah County Library. If I were to present at Michfest on this topic, I feel it is Michfest’s responsibility to inform me that I am speaking, as well as take steps to ensure my personal safety while presenting.

I’m deeply hurt and offended that I did not even receive a courtesy response to my request and instead the only place I saw my name and workshop mentioned was in the printed brochure that my friend happened to post on Facebook. I saw no mention of my workshop listed on the website. I am interested in speaking at Michfest next year if I can get a response from the crew.

If someone could please respond to me as soon as possible regarding this matter, I would be very appreciative!

Thank you very much,
Heath Russell