So one terrible thing about detransition is that you’re left with very specific triggers.

I’m not saying we’re all left with the same triggers. I’m just saying moving through the world as a trans guy is a very specific experience that is intensely shitty in very specific ways. Then it breaks down even more with whether you passed or not, what you had to do to pass, who you passed around, how passing affected your relationships with the people who knew you were trans, etc.

The thing is these are all experiences most people won’t ever get close to having. So when you come out of it and certain things freak you out, the logic of your trauma responses isn’t apparent to other people.

Like, I loathe getting called “dude.” I absolutely hate it. It brings up all these experiences of getting condescended to in this super performative way. Most of the shitty experiences I went through when I was trans-identified happened because I was at the mercy of shitty people who wanted to demonstrate to the world they were “allies.” So, just to say, those people like to add the word “dude” to all their sentences when they talk to trans guys. They will sometimes get fancy and add a “brother.” (When they do that all the birds burst into a beautiful “we’re embarrassed for you!” song.)

I have a bunch of other very specific triggers left over from that time in my life but if I tell you them I’ll look crazy. That’s the basic unfairness to trauma- it makes your reactions indecipherable.

I hate when people comment on how I look, even to give me a compliment. I think I’ve hated that since I went through puberty and started connecting getting creeped on with getting compliments, but definitely all the comments I got on my appearance when I was trans-identified made me hate it even more. And all the comments since. Because when you’re detransitioning everyone in the world- even radical feminists- think what will build you up is being told you’re beautiful.

That sounds like a non-problem. But for me, who obsesses about her physical form and it’s wrongness, it feels like “DAMN I’M AN OBJECT AND THERE’S NO WAY I CAN ESCAPE BEING AN OBJECT.” But you know, mostly when people say “you look good” they actually mean “hey i like you and want you to feel good and the way we make each other feel good in this culture is to compliment our appearances.”

My favorite comment I ever got on my appearance was from a pretty famous radical feminist who, when she was told I was “Maria Catt,” said, “but you look so ordinary!”

Yessssssss. That’s that good shit I like. Ordinary as heck. That’s what I’m aiming for. If I gotta be an object, I want the object to be so basic your eyeballs glaze over in boredom.

All this to say, one frustrating thing about having unique experiences is they leave unique scars on you. They change what feels safe. Because you honestly might just know better than other people how certain things can turn unsafe. Condescension can turn unsafe. Compliments can turn unsafe. Being super noticeable- oooooohhhhhh can that turn unsafe. “Allies-” hm, no, no thank you. The word gives me the creeps. It’s not a rational thing. You say “ally” I’m all ARE THE EXITS CLEARLY MARKED IN THIS FACILITY, MIGHT AS WELL GET A LOOK.

I hope in the future I’ll be able to tell you I am excited about being a strange woman. I hope in the future I’ll be able to say yes I have had such a unique life, and that makes me something like that terrible Dos Equis mascot perv, and he’s supposed to be a role model. But the aftermath of unique experiences, and fingering the contours of the unique scars they left, is tiring. You end up strange and tired. Not as tragic or destroyed as people want you to be, just weird and exhausted.

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2 thoughts on “Strange

  1. I really dig your writing. I’m a trans guy and I feel terribly about the way detransitioned folks are often treated. I’m not really sure what to do about this, but I am listening.


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