First of all, a disclaimer. I am not a writer. There's a reason why for my degree I chose computer science instead of English. So, I apologize in advance for my waffle. I hope that you can bear with me. :)
One of the main motivators for me creating my Twitter account was because a lot of trans people online seem to be purposefully dishonest, or bend the truth in order to cope with the harsh realities of transition. They speak in codes, they fling shit at their ideological opponents (so-called "TERFs"), all while they continue to lie to themselves and each other. "Uterus transplants" this, "neopronouns" that, these people live in la-la land and are doing everything they can to avoid a grown-up conversation.In fairness, transition is not an easy or straightforward thing to do. They all have reasons for pursuing it which make sense in their own heads - so did I, for a long time - but transitioning is simply a coping mechanism for the way in which this world treats the gender non-conforming, or for trauma, OCD, ASD etc.. For some FtMs, and this is third party information since I am not FtM, it can even be a coping mechanism for the way in which society treats women in general. For other people, it's the manifestation of a sexual desire. It could even be a mixture of all of these things, and that is often the case. The perfect dysphoria cocktail.
Whether or not pursuing a lifetime of hormone therapy starting from adolescence until you die (early), with a never-ending future of intrusive cosmetic surgeries is the correct way to treat these scarred teenagers is an issue of particular concern to me. It doesn't sound ideal, does it?
So, I want to be honest. I want to speak "uninhibited by cope" on the issues faced by the kind of kid who wants to pursue transition in this day and age. No one will learn anything by lying or shit-flinging. Honesty is the best policy.
I also respect that writing a literal autobiography in this manner and publishing it on the internet expecting people to read it is a pretty insane thing to do. I just have so much on my mind and no idea how to convey it without setting up prior contexts from throughout my life. Sperg on, I say.
In all honesty, I have no idea what events in my childhood could have contributed to my transition in the future. I suppose everything that ever happens to you at any point contributes to who you are today, but that would be a bit of a mouthful. Here, I will try and list off some key points which while I'm not sure if they are important or not, may possibly be of interest to some psychologist of some description reading this. Let it be known that I do not seek sympathy. I only seek to make sense of things. This section is completely skippable, and will cover things up until I was first exposed to pornography.
I was born in 1998 to a mother aged 17, and to a father I never knew. Certainly an accident, my Mum was still living with my Grandparents and dropped out of high school to take care of me. Not to complain; this is a family that loves me dearly, and I love them. Naturally, my Grandad took on the role as my sole father figure. I admire him very much. He's an ex-military man (a hard-ass, with a heart of gold), and as such was an early adopter of computers after being exposed to them in the armed forces in the 60s & 70s. I used to sit on his lap while he would use this huge beige tower of a computer every day to perform menial tasks, and I would be mesmerised by it. He taught me how to use it from when I was three years old - and use it I could. A few years later when I was six, he bought himself a new laptop and left the old desktop PC to me to keep, and use for any reason I wanted. It was mine, and it was awesome. I'll come back to this.
Also when I was six, I had a new little brother to a different father who was gone a year later. My younger brother would visit him every other weekend. Feeling left out, I went off to my grandparents' every weekend (this was after we had moved out from there). My younger brother had behavioural issues that became clear to us very early on, and my mother sought a diagnosis "of some description". He was diagnosed with ADHD and autism.
As for me, I was a very quiet kid. Very anxious, struggled to make friends. I choose carefully when to speak and what to say. Often thinking very logically, speaking with blunt honesty. I was well behaved and did well at school. When I was eight or nine, I was called "gifted" and was given extra work to do. I was happy that they recognised that the work was too easy for me, but being given extra, harder work did not mean that I didn't still have to do the easier work to begin with. I rejected the extra work, even though I liked it, because it was a time-sink. My school was very angry with me for wanting to leave the "gifted program" and my Mum had to argue for me to be removed from it.
Due to my brother taking precedence with his actual behavioural issues, I have not been diagnosed with any kind of autistic disorder. This is despite, in my opinion, showing many of the signs. As an adult, I tend to reject most lables. I've considered pursuing an evaluation, but ultimately I do not care that much.
In terms of toys and play, since that is obviously relevant when we talk about gender, I was never into rough and tumble. I collected Pokemon cards and played with Lego, and was happy with that. Something a child psychologist might have a field day with: at age four in the first few weeks of my school life, I was ran at and tackled to the ground by a much older boy, and cracked my head on the concrete. It didn't knock me out, but I don't remember much else about that day except for the bleeding and the scar I still have. For as long as I can remember, though, I have always avoided rough and active play with other boys. Could this incident have led to trust issues around other boys? It's possible. My Grandad loves football (soccer) and would try over and over to get me into it, but much to his dismay, he would fail every time. I was happy to quietly play with my Pokemon cards on my own in the corner.
I'm a zoomer, of course, so I grew up with video games. Some of my favourites were racing games (like, cars), stuff like The Sims, and fantasy stuff like Pokemon. The most violent game I ever played for an extended amount of time was Tekken, which my Mum introduced me to. One of my stepdads used to play Grand Theft Auto, but whenever I played it, I was only ever interested in driving around and exploring the world. Speaking of stepdads, my Mum went through them on an annual basis. With all due respect to her (she's my rock, and we have a very good relationship) her taste in guys is horrendous. Seriously negative role models. If you were to perform a study on male behaviour using a focus group of 10 men, and you picked the men out from my Mum's ex partners, you would come to the conclusion that men should be required to pay tax on the air that they breathe.
I'm nine years old and it's 2007. Every night I come home from school to go on the computer. I use this brand new website called "YouTube" to catch up on cartoon episodes that I missed, and to look up Lego tutorials. At my school, there's a new boy who just moved here. I'll call him Alex. I don't know this, but Alex is a year older than the rest of us, and he was recently expelled from his school in London for behavioural issues. His Mum moved him out to the countryside and now he goes to my school, a year behind. He's autistic, and has trouble making friends. Me too! He sees me playing with my Pokemon cards all by myself one day, and the next day he decides to being his own Pokemon cards and sit next to me. We have a lot in common - very clued into technology and both play the same games. We become friends. I am a scrawny 4ft tall little gremlin, and he's a towering almost six foot (at age 10) lanky goliath. But we're both equally awkward in a way that complements each other. The teachers thought that I would be a good influence on him. Instead, he would be a terrible influence on me. One day, we were innocently talking about some videos we saw on YouTube. He told me that he had found a new website called "RedTube", which was like YouTube, but it had more videos which were "a lot more interesting". I was really excited to check this website out once I got home.
RedTube, of course, is a porn site. This was the first time I had ever seen the naked body of a female whatsoever. I didn't know what a "vagina" was until this day. The first time I learned about this was in a pornographic context. This is the same story for many boys all over the world. Consider how easily this happened to me in 2007. Now consider how easily this might happen in 2021
Honestly, I didn't know what I was looking at. I knew that girls didn't have penises, but I had no idea what they had instead. Some kind of hole to pee out of. Imagine, though, living your entire life having no idea what girls even have between their legs, and finding out via hardcore porn. I was fascinated to learn about the other 50% of the population. My young mind became obsessed with the body parts that women posessed. Not in a sexual manner whatsoever - none of this was arousing to me, only fascinating. I strictly recall making Google searches asking questions roughly akin to "What does it feel like to have a vagina?"
A few months later, I joined my first online forum, called "Pokemon World UK". Frankly, I have nothing at all negative to say about this website. Yes, it was my first time talking to strangers online, I was definitely too young to be doing that, but everyone was exceptionally nice. People of all ages coming together to talk about a video game that's played by all ages and both sexes. When I joined this site, adopted a name and avatar eluding to a very androgynous character, and I didn't disclose my sex. At some point I said something that prompted the response "wait, you're a girl?", and I told them that I was. I don't know why I did this. It coincides with my intense curiosity for how the other half lives at the time, so I just thought, "I wonder what it would be like". This, for now, was the only place I ever did this. I even felt so guilty that I made a second account on the website posing as "my brother".
I have to stress that I had no negative experiences on this website. Even after saying that I was a both a "girl" and a minor, which in most online gaming communities would unfortunately cause a substantial amount of sexual harassment, everyone treated me with respect and I was never spoken to in a sexual or derogatory manner, as far as I can recall. I have fond memories of the time I spent on this website, and it was an important part of my childhood.
At some point in this time-frame, there was a show on TV that featured a trans woman getting a makeover. Alex and I discussed it at school the next day, and he told me that trans people "take pills which shrink their penis into a vagina". I told him that I might do that one day. To this day, I don't know why. Likely because of the LARPing I was doing on this forum I went on, posing as a girl. This interaction stuck in my head ever since. I was 10 or so.
Another website I joined a little bit later in 2009, when I was 11, was for an online rhythm game called "osu!". This will be incredibly important later, but for now, my internet connection wasn't good enough for me to take part in this community seriously for another couple of years.
In 2012, Pokemon World shut down, and I was searching for a new community to participate in. I found this in the Pokemon Speedrunning community. Speedrunning is the hobby of racing to beat a singleplayer video game as quickly as possible. This is an awesome, healthy, interesting hobby and it took me to many different places. Figuring out the quickest way through a game is like solving a puzzle and I absolutely loved it, despite never being the greatest at it. It's not required to be a part of the community in order to take part in the hobby, but without other people, who are you racing to beat the game faster than? Who are you discussing with & getting your ideas for beating the game quickly from? I joined their forums and Skype groups. At the same time, a new website called "twitch.tv" had recently come into existence, and "speedrunners" adopted the site as their preferred place to share their record-breaking gameplay. You would stream your attempts at beating the game as fast as possible live, while other people watch and chat. Back then, this was a brand new concept. Nowadays, well, I'm sure you've heard of "live streaming". It's quite popular
In this community, I met someone who described themselves as a "lesbian". I will call them "Nicole", aged 21. Nicole came into my streams every day giving me tips and were very friendly towards me. I was not a very open person - I seldom used a microphone and definitely did not use a webcam, but Nicole put me at ease and invited me to add them on Skype personally, and to follow each other on Twitter. This is when I found out that Nicole was a trans woman, as they would often tweet about trans issues, their hormone regiments, etc. I would randomly reply to them with the unaware humour of the 14 year old that I was, and I became friends with their friends, their girlfriend (also a trans woman), etc.
At this point, I was a 14 year old with long hair who dressed in a very androgynous manner. I was incredibly short and a bit of a little bitch, and I got bullied for these things relentlessly. Needless to say, playing video games and participating in these online communities was certainly an escape from the day-to-day hell of high school. Not having many real friends (Alex was out of my life by this point, btw), all of the positive attention I was getting online from this new group of friends was pretty foreign to me. It was pretty welcome, though. It felt good! Eventually, I had the confidence to post some pictures of myself online which were met with lots of.... positive attention. Nicole said they were "jealous of how pretty I was" and never missed a photo. At this time, I was trying to come to terms with my homosexuality. I knew that my Mum would be fine with it, but not as sure about my grandparents, who I was even closer with. Nicole subtly hinted to me that transitioning was an idea that I consider, much like they did, after I had disclosed to them my past of identifying as female on that Pokemon forum previously. In my trying to "fit in", I had entered a conversation about their transitioning and how I could relate to the things that they were posting. I didn't particularly like being a guy. The effects of testosterone on my body were making me very uncomfortable. I didn't fit in with any of the boys at school, and I was becoming seriously depressed. The thought of being male and becoming a man was distressing to me. I couldn't see myself as a male in old age, and to wear button-up shirts or a suit made me physically ill. The idea of transition was swirling around my head for the next two years.
Eventually, Nicole invited me to follow their secret twitter account. This account was full of pornography. Pornography unlike anything I had ever seen before. The most graphic hentai you can possibly imagine. Gore and urination fetishes, "futanari" and "furry" art. I quietly unfollowed the account, and we drifted apart as I lost interest in Pokemon speedrunning as a whole over the next year or so.
The next online community I participated in was the osu! community, in 2014. osu! is a free online rhythm (music) game for the PC. The objective is to click circles placed all across the screen to the beat of a song. osu! is a very community-oriented game, with every single level being voluntarily created by community members. No violence, no nudity, no nothing. Just a (in my opinion awesome) community effort to create and play. People from all walks of life are involved in this game, however it is quite heavily dominated by anime fans. Japanese music is very popular for people to create levels for. A very "hentai"-positive community - it's not a good look for a game that's completely inoffensive in its concept. A shame really.
In 2021, this game has a very high transgender player population. In 2014, however, there was one incredibly prominent and outspoken transgender user. I'll call them "Janice". Janice was very proud of their transgenderism and was happy to answer any questions. And I mean any questions. On the forums, there was a strange thread titled "post your legs". It started off as a joke (I think) and quickly devolved into a deranged thread where people solicited intimate pictures of other peoples legs. "Kneesock" photos and males fawning over people posting whose legs resembled a woman's in some way. This thread had actually been a thing since 2010, long before "kneesocks" became a running gag with regards to transgender women. Janice was a regular poster, with male users fawning over their leg pictures (despite being openly trans, the guys still liked Janice), and Janice/other users encouraging girls of all ages to post their legs. Truly a peculiar thread.
On Janice's profile in this game was a link to a document they wrote talking about their life experience as a trans woman. They talked about how they came to this decision, signs throughout their childhood that they were trans, and advice for readers who were questioning their gender identity. Also in this document was a guide to acquiring hormones online, skipping doctors' approval. Janice also had a donation button on their profile to help them pay for their own hormones. LOL! Once the game's staff caught wind of this, their profile was cleared of this content and it was never spoken about again.
Many, many people in this game's community were coming out as transgender at this time. They were all lonely outcast boys just like me. Some were more sexually motivated than others and addicted to anime porn. Some of them fit in different places on the autistic spectrum. All of us came home from school and hopped on this game to bond over anime and escape from the torment of coming of age. I came out as trans after months of "meticulous research". By this point I was hopping from website to website, youtuber to youtuber. I was a fan of people like Blair White, Shoe0nhead, and another user who will go unnamed (has since detransitioned!). I was going on 4chan's LGBT forum for a while now and it had slowly started filling up with more and more transition talk and less "LGB" talk. There's a joke nowadays that "4chan.org/lgbt/ should be renamed to 4chan.org/tttt/", which I find pretty funny.
I came out as trans alongside two of my friends on this game. Oddly, all three of us have since detransitioned. I was the last to do so. One of them cut me off a long time ago (prior to their detransition) for being "truscum". I hope he's living a great life today.
I came out as trans at the tail-end of 2014 when I was 16 years old. At this point, it was a social transition. My short stature and natural lack of testosterone, combined with skincare and a feminine manner lended itself well to my initial "passing". I had just started at "college" (what we call high school, at least the school you go to from ages 16-18) so it was a fresh start for me. People already mistook me for a tomboyish girl as it was. All I had to do was change my voice, and I seemed to get on well. I was quite happy, and my new college was very LGBT-friendly. It felt as though a huge burden, the burden of manhood, had been lifted off my shoulders. But I had not adopted the burden of womanhood in return. I was still at school, and so had not needed to worry about job interviews or professionalism. No glass ceilings keeping me down whether imposed by class or gender. I had the highest grades in my class by far and I was studying a subject I loved - computer science. I worked hard, got myself a few weeks of work experience and a summer job, and no one seemed to question whether I was a girl or not. Worth mentioning, by the way, that in my class at college there was not a single female student or lecturer. To me this is obviously a regrettable reality in my field, but I'm just some guy, so what can I do? Just worth a note.
After leaving college, I worked for a couple of years still in my home town. I was 18 years old now and decided to take the "trans matters" into my own hands and told my family doctor about how I felt. I was put on a waiting list to be referred to a gender clinic, which would have taken at least a year. Considering that I had already spent two years successful in my transition, I decided not to wait for my turn to come around and dipped my toes into some DIY HRT guides I found online. After all, I was getting older in my puberty and was feeling the effects of testosterone more and more, which I hated. I had no problems with my DIY HRT, and continued to live happily "as a woman".
Two years later, it's 2018 and it was still not my turn to be seen at the gender clinic. I decided to go off to university with the intention of getting an Bachelor's degree and becoming a high school teacher. This was my first time away from home. I was 20 and moved to a city with a trans-friendly student medical practice and a gender clinic next door, which once I had told them that I was already on the waiting list for a gender clinic somewhere else, they fast-tracked me into this one and I was officially prescribed my hormones.
It had now been four years since I initially came out as transgender, and it was only at this point when I started actually mixing with women my own age. I felt like an outcast again, but I was generally quite happy with my "existence" and people didn't seem to have any issues with me and my trans identity. I was at university after all, full of young and "accepting" people. But girls would often talk about and say things that just didn't click with me. I would often draw a blank face in conversations. I just never had the "female socialisation" to fit in now that I was actually mixing with other women. A lot of trans people don't have the self-awareness to realise this. A lot of them do display autistic traits, after all. It took me four years to become self-aware myself.
This whole time, in the back of my mind, my depression lingered. My transition was supposed to cure my depression, but I still hated myself. I thought my transition was supposed to fix that? I had started the endless pursuit of "becoming a woman". A goal which is impossible to attain. This made me even more upset. By the end of my second year of University, which itself was ended prematurely due to the start of our current pandemic, my attendance had dropped below 30%. Combined with the virus I decided to take a year off and I would live with my grandparents to look after them throughout COVID. I was questioning my transition for about half a year before this, and you can read a short piece I wrote about my "peaking" and desistance here.
I feel the need to say that I learned a hell of a lot in my time spent "on the other side", which I find incredibly valuable. A lot of feminists I have seen will say that we can never know what it's like to truly be a woman, and they are completely right in saying that. However, I do have a lot of empathy for you all thanks to some of the things I did experience. I have been sexually harassed, touched inappropriately, cat-called, and so on without trying one iota. I had always dressed very modestly so as to avoid any potential "clocking opportunity", and this still became my reality. I learned just how different men and women truly are in how they solve problems and the things they value in life. I suppose this is such a massive topic and I've already waffled on enough, but the point is: Whether you think I could experience anything close to what life is like as a woman or not, I still empathise with your plights.
I must stress that I am so very sorry for infringing on your spaces and rights. The onus is on me to own up to that, and I hope we can somehow work together in the future. I can list a thousand and one situations which were so difficult to navigate for my socially awkward self. Things like being asked to join the womens' volleyball team at my university by a female friend of mine and not giving a reason for my refusal! :-S
I was never a trans rights activist.
It needs to be mentioned that this is my story, and I can only speak for myself. I began my transition at a very specific point in time, and the landscape is wildly different now even less than 10 years later. I fell into this trap before Reddit, before "Sissy Hypno Porn", before the absolutely bat-shit TRA culture. Now, my heart aches for the kids who are preyed upon by predatory vultures in this world. The internet is a tool so fantastic, and it's inevitable that pedophiles and groomers will use such a fantastic tool as a means to get their repulsive kicks. They will hijack innocent communities.
My opinion on transition, since many people will say that they transitioned and did not have this depression spiral I describe so this whole document can be waived off, is this:
I don't think that transition is a healthy thing to do to your body, and it further marginalises the already marginalised group that is: women.
Transition should not be idealised or glorified as it very much is today. You should seek to put right everything else in your life and rid yourself of any issues that may be amplifying your feelings of dysphoria. Transition is a coping mechanism for dysphoria, and a very intrusive one at that. It's self harm. You are setting yourself up for an entire lifetime dependent on expensive hormone treatments. You will become a lifelong patient. The risks of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones are well discussed.
If you're a feminine guy or a masculine girl who is uncomfortable with how society treats you based on your sex, I feel for you. Every day I am harassed (by men) for my femininity the same way that a tomboy might be harassed for short hair or the refusal to wear a dress. Just last week as of writing this a drunken man tried to inspect my penis in the gents' toilets. It's OK to be a feminine guy, though. It doesn't make you a woman. It doesn't detract from you being male. It's OK not to fit neatly into a stereotypical box. You can find peace and be loved just by being you.