Friday, August 2, 2013

How to Help a Friend Who Is Considering De-Transition (Part 3 of 3)

First, I want to thank my readers for being patient with me.  A lot of personal issues have been going on.  But the waiting is over...

Earlier on, I wrote two other parts to this series.  The first part can be found <here> and the second part can be read <here.>   This is the third part of that series.

Say you have a friend who has told you that she is expressing doubts about her transition, and even doubts about her own so-called "gender identity."  You might hear her mention that she's been experiencing side effects of the testosterone that she doesn't like (these side effects could be physical or mental).  She could be mentioning that in addition to negative health problems (high blood pressure, reproductive failure, etc) that she isn't feeling great about the transition changes.  She doesn't like her new high libido or her porn habit.  There could be other issues going on as well.  If she is pre-operative, she may express doubts about getting surgery, or keep coming up with reasons not to have surgery.  Basically, she is just very unhappy at this point and she's coming to you for advice.

Now what?

There are a few things you can say/do at this point.

1.  DO remind your friend that she can always "go back."  A common lie that trans rhetoric spouts is that transition is "PERMANENT!" and that you can NEVER go back, and that feminists are EVIL and lesbians are EVIL and will NOT WELCOME YOU BACK.

This is a flat out LIE perpetuated by MtTs and even some FtTs who have never really researched or spoken directly to lesbian feminists.  Remind your friend that while mistakes are often punished by the trans community, that feminists don't feel that way.

2. DO direct your friend to the (very limited) amount of resources available, such as Dirtywhiteboi67's blog, my blog, get her into contact with Sheila Jeffreys, Lierre Keith, etc.  Get her connected to feminist friends that can comfort her.

3. Ask your friend if (and how) she intends to quit hormone treatment if she is still currently on HRT.  If she is, advise her to talk to her doctor, however, at this point your friend might be HIGHLY skeptical of doctors for enabling this type of "treatment" in the first place.  If that is the case and she is apprehensive of seeing the doctor, encourage her to see a different physician or even preferably a female herbalist practitioner.  It is NOT RECOMMENDED to quit testosterone cold turkey as this can shock the system.  When ceasing hormone treatment, it is best to taper off of the drugs (as with most other big-pharmaceutical drugs).

4.  DO encourage natural healing.  On the subject of herbalists, many herbal stores sell tea blends and tinctures that contain various herbs known to help repair the female reproductive.  Ask for tinctures that help with the female cycle and with menopause.  Some women who have never transitioned ever and just go through natural menopause sometimes don't want synthetic estrogen, and so they take the herbal route, which honestly seems to be a lot safer in the long run than synthetic man-made lab-created bullshit.

5.  DO be prepared to help her with backlash as she WILL be met with hostility and she will be turned away from her former trans community.  She might lose a few friends over this.  She might get harassed in person, on the internet, etc.  Be supportive of her and help her deal with bullies.  Get law enforcement involved when needed.

6.  DO explain to your friend that it will take time for her body to heal and to be patient.  Hormones take about a year for everything to regulate itself again.  It takes 7 years for every cell in your body to become a brand new cell.  In terms of binding, despite what the trans cult says, there is no such thing as safe binding.  It doesn't matter if you wear a properly fitting binder.  It doesn't matter if you only wear it 8 hours a day.  It just DOES NOT MATTER.  No matter what, you will still find yourself with rib damage and rib pain.  Binding is ONLY supposed to be a short-term thing.  Binding is supposed to in theory keep you "passing" until you can afford and/or want top surgery.  Usually this is a timeframe of about 5 years and definitely no longer than 10 years.  The only difference between "proper binding" and "improper binding" is how long it will take for your ribs to become weakened and warped.  No different than corsets to be completely honest.

7.  If your friend is scared or doesn't know what to do, the best I can say is just keep being there for her.  Keep encouraging her to make healthy choices.  Offer kind words of support.  I know for me, there have been some very distressing days in which I was barraged with harassment from morning to night and it was kindness from my friends that reminds me why I put up with the crap in the first place.
I do this to help.  Others may not want or care about my help but I'm here because I'm living proof that people make mistakes and there is nothing wrong with me trying to help otherwise healthy young women NOT make those same mistakes.  I was a teenager too not very long ago and I thought I knew everything too.  Not being stubborn goes a long way because in the end you're only hurting yourself.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Heath for writing this. I do know of a couple of women who have detransitioned, or waivered on that line. It's so the rage here to transition, that there's incredible pressure on Butch/Tomboy Dykes and women to transition, breast bind, take T and/or do breast surgery, almost a one up man ship with that crowd, that they dont' hear the stories from us lifelong Female Proud Butches, treating us like we're retrograde and just don't 'get' the trans/genderqueer line and need to be 'educated'.

Without a STRONG Dyke community, and especially a strong Female Proud Butch community, it's easy to fall into the whole, when are you breast binding/taking hormones/growing facial/body hair/breast removal crowd.....

We DO care, and the best thing is to put out the message BEFORE they decide to transition, and welcome them back to the fold if they decide it's not the right thing for them, and they want to come back to their full Female/Lesbian Selves!

Anonymous said...

Do you have any advice for someone detransitioing that doesn't want to go back to their birth name? I absolutely hate my BN (I wanted to change it since I was in Kindergarten. It never felt like *my* name.)My birth middle name makes me cringe as well.

Anonymous said...

Also, is it possible for a straight female to use the word "butch" to describe herself? That is really the only word that I feel defines myself. I wear "men's" clothing, have a "men's" haircut, wear "men's" glasses, ect. However from my understanding it isn't correct to use that word if you aren't a lesbian. "Masculine woman" doesn't feel right either. Neither does "tomboy."

Heath Atom Russell said...

Hey Anon, I kept my name. What is the difference between a boy name and a girl name anyways? It is my name and doesn't have the pain attached to it as my old one.

Anonymous said...

Societal differences I guess. It seems like it would be a bit easier with a name like Heath. Heath is more of a unisex name, while a name like Elliott isn't.

Heath Atom Russell said...

Hi Anon,

Not necessarily. ALL names are unisex names. Parents just need to be more courageous and name their children anything they want. I see nothing wrong with naming a boy "Alicia" or "Betsy" just like I see nothing wrong with naming a girl "David" or "Henry."

It's the trans camp that likes to keep pressing the "everything is inherently gendered" card.

Heath Atom Russell said...

Also, regarding the "butch" question. If you're straight, that's not a term for you. "Masculine woman" and "tomboy" are just plain offensive to women, you're right.

Tomgirl. That's vastly more appropriate. But there are women who don't like the word "girl" being associated with nearly as much as its associated with these days. So, you could use tomgirl instead of tomboy.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm the Anon from Dirt's blog again! (OMG, what an insistent little Anon hehe). I've just realized that my biggest fear is not finding love (romantic attraction) or sexual attraction anywhere if I don't transition so my libido goes up. This finding has left me feeling stupid and sad, really. Why don't I have a libido? Maybe I'm a freak, the only person in the world without a libido and VERY unhappy about it. Do you know of any help I could get to accept myself as I am and not crave those wonderful feelings that almost everybody in the world seems to have? Many thanks, you've opened my eyes.

Heath Atom Russell said...

Hi again anon!

If you're struggling with your libido, do you think this might relate to either how you view your body? Or do you think it's more to do with hormones? I know for a fact that the former is 100% a result of porn culture trying to brainwash us all into thinking that even if a woman has stereotypical "beautiful" body she deserves to have that body abused. No woman is safe unless we start making our own safe spaces. Female body hatred is also largely caused by patriarchy dictating that female bodies are inherently gross unless those bodies are being used and paid for and fucked and hurt by men. If it's the latter (hormones), I can tell you that having been off testosterone since November of last year, my body is surging with excess estrogen now...playing catch up and it's draining my energy and my libido. It's OK and it's NORMAL not to be craving sex all the time.

Finding a partner that you trust is also crucial to overall comfort level. However, it doesn't hurt to start with yourself first. Self-love and self-intimacy...ok, masturbation, is a good way to start getting back in tune with your own body. And this should ideally happen before you do things with a partner.

There could be those factors going on affecting your libido. I'd look into it with a trusted therapist, or if that's not an option, do some self-exploration mentally to ask yourself where these feelings are coming from. If it's self-perceived inadequacy, address it. Focus on your self-esteem for a while.

And if it's none of the above, you could genuinely be asexual and not wanting sex from anybody, but to me it honestly doesn't sound like that. It sounds like you crave intimacy, but you're uncomfortable. I'm familiar with these feelings and I'm here if you need more of a sounding board.

Anna said...

Thank you so much for writing these posts, Heath! I came here via snowflakeespecial on tumblr. I asked her about how to best support trans individuals without compromising my feminist values and she recommended your blog. I feel reassured and like I found some answers here, and I will definitely keep following your blog. Thank you again!