We’ve had some amazing responses to our most recent podcast episode about trans issues. If you haven’t heard it yet, or read the letter we got from the mom of two trans kids, check this out.
A letter we got yesterday was completely fascinating to me. There’s really no reason for me to write a long intro for it, because the author (who asked to stay anonymous) explains her story in great detail. Suffice it to say, the culture of blanket trans-affirmation can be destructive.
I’m sure you’ve had plenty of feedback recently about transgenderism, but it’s really been weighing on me to tell my story too. Maybe I just need to get it off my chest and talk about it, since I never actually have. It’s not nearly complicated or intense as some others, but it definitely affects me, especially as this becomes a subject that is in the news constantly now. I am 41, and grew up in the 80s and 90s. I certainly heard about transgenders and transvestites, but it was absolutely not as common or mainstream then as it is now. To be clear, I am not transgender. I was born and have always lived as a female. However, I shudder to think what could have happened if I was 20 or 25 years younger. As a child, I definitely felt like I wanted to be a boy. Or rather, that I didn’t like being a girl. Yes, I had some dolls, but I preferred to play with my brother’s Matchbox cars and Transformers. Many of my friends were boys. I even was part of an all-boys “club” in early elementary school. It was just a group of friends who always spent recess and lunch together, but there were absolutely no girls allowed. I dressed like a girl and had long hair; everyone knew I was a girl, and I didn’t deny it, but somehow I made the cut.
Anyway, though the years, I realized I was different than most of the girls. I was, and am, quite tall for a female, and maybe that contributed to it. But I also enjoyed (and still do) watching sports. I loved sports cars (still do). And for the life of me, I still can’t figure out how to wear make-up or why so many women do. I hate wearing skirts and dresses. For many, many years I wished I was a boy. I felt more comfortable around my brother, dad, and male cousins than around my mom and sister. I felt like I had more in common with them, and I just never felt like a “good” or “correct” girl. I didn’t like things that girls liked, but I liked things that boys liked. I often wondered if I was transgender. I daydreamed about what it would be like to be a boy. I pushed back against wearing girly clothes. And to this day I hate the color pink because it still screams girl to me.
By the time I reached college, I still had those thoughts. I didn’t talk about them, but I did my best to project myself as a strong woman, but absolutely not a girly one. Many of my clothes were men’s clothes. Not that I was wearing a suit and tie, but a lot of my pants were men’s pants (because that’s all I could find to fit me), and most of my shirts and sweaters were men’s. It wasn’t until I was almost out of college that I finally began to accept myself for who I was. I am a woman. Always have been, always will be. But that didn’t mean I had to be just like other women. It was ok that I liked sports and fast cars. It was ok that I didn’t wear make-up or the color pink. That didn’t mean I was a man, it just meant that’s who I was as a woman. For all the hate that colleges, and especially liberal arts colleges like the one I went to, get, I truly believe that atmosphere (20 years ago) is what led me to accept myself. There is absolutely something to be said for a place like that where everyone is welcome and made to feel that they are perfect the way they are.
I don’t think that’s the way it is anymore. I can only imagine how different my experience and my life would have been if I were a teenager today. With the way transgenders are celebrated and cheered and called heroes, how far would I have gone? And if I had attended that same school today, would the effect have been the same? I doubt it. I suspect that now, instead of convincing me that I was perfect how I was, it would have convinced me that something was wrong, but that it could be fixed. By taking hormones and having surgeries. By trying to change my physical being instead of fixing that mental issue. Sure, I thought about hormones and surgeries when I was younger. But I am eternally grateful that it was in an era where that wasn’t celebrated. Where it was mostly looked down upon and was difficult to accomplish.
All I needed, like so many that are de-transitioning, was someone to convince me that I was ok the way I was. Some certainly need professional counseling to get to that place. I am blessed to have been able to get there with the help of friends and a wonderful college community. Do I still struggle with it occasionally? Yes. There are certainly days where I wonder what my life would have been like had I been born a male. But I also know that changing my physical body doesn’t change that. It doesn’t make me a male. More importantly, I also know that the way I dress, or the way I cut my hair, or the hobbies I have also doesn’t make me a male. I can be 100% female and “do me”.
Perhaps that’s the message that has been lost in all of this. Love yourself. Accept yourself. Be yourself. But understand that you are who you are. Male/Female, Black/White, Gay/Straight. Just because you aren’t like every other female that you know, doesn’t mean you were supposed to me a male. It just means you have different interests or a different style sense, or whatever it is that you think makes you different. Loving yourself and accepting yourself doesn’t mean changing anything. Not your physical self, not your interests, not your looks.
I feel like this movement started in such a good place – encouraging people to accept themselves. But like so much else in this world, it has gone off the rails. Now accepting yourself doesn’t mean getting help if you need it. It doesn’t mean actually accepting who you are. It now means changing everything about you to (hopefully) make yourself feel better. And forcing everyone else to go along with it. It started in a place of love, and has become a movement of hate. Hate for the old self. Hate for anyone who tries to actually help, those that recognize this as a mental illness. Hate for anyone standing in their way.
I’ve gone on long enough. I will just close by saying I certainly sympathize with those who do feel they are transgender. I’ve been there. Not to the extent of most of them, but I’ve been there. I’m just so thankful to have been there before it became so celebrated, while I still had a chance to understand what was really at the heart of the problem. I am so grateful to have accepted myself for who I am, without the pain and heartache of transitioning and de-transitioning. I can only hope we get back to a place where mental illness is treated as such, and transitioning is not the first answer, but a last resort.