By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/TRT Columnist—
It is estimated that approximately 1 percent of transgender people detransition. That is, they return back to their birth gender. It may seem strange to think that someone who has put so much effort into transitioning would suddenly detransition. Questions arise, such as: why do folks detransition? Why did they transition in the first place? What went wrong to make them return, or perhaps, what went right to make them return? I cannot speak for anyone who has detransitioned as each individual would have their own reasons for doing so, but I’ve noticed some possible causes for why some might choose to detransition.
First, one may ask why people transition in the first place. Transpeople most often do so because there is dissonance in their gender. The best way I can explain it is that it just doesn’t feel right to live in your birth gender and it feels very right to live in the other gender. Instead of conflict and sadness in being your birth gender, you feel incredible peace in being the other gender. It feels like home. It feels so right that you decide to transition. It’s all very exciting as you are now beginning to explore living your life as you never thought that you possibly ever could. It’s like a dream come true! The confusion and darkness have lifted and there is suddenly clarity and peace. You are now more determined than ever to reach your new goal of living in your true gender. You now know what you must do.
Along the way to your gender transition, you may run across obstacles. Correction, you will inevitably run across obstacles. There will be folks who do not like this idea of you changing your gender. These folks may be your spouse, your children, your parents, anyone in your family, your friends and your co-workers, or anyone else in your life. They will voice their contrary opinion in no uncertain terms and you will have to deal with it. Taking their point of view, these folks want you back as the person who they always knew, as the person who they always loved, and the person who they are used to seeing and enjoying. They don’t want this new version of you. It’s not what they signed up for and they simply will not stand for anything else. They want the old you back in their lives, period. They want you to be as you were.
On the other hand, you are very happy being the new you. You want to share your peace and joy with all the people in your life, and you are very hurt that they do not accept the new you. You understand their very clear message that for you to stay in their lives you must transition back to your birth gender. They are putting the pressure on you to return to being who they want you to be. It doesn’t matter at all how you feel. You want to stay as you now are, but you know that they will not accept you.
You could say that they are actually trying to bully you back into being your birth gender. If you hold your ground, you will have your peace, but you will lose many of these people. If you return back to your birth gender, they will be pleased, but you will be miserable and back in your closet. You are between a rock and a hard place. Do you please them or do you begin your new life without them? Sometimes, you detransition just to keep them in your life.
I have read about some people who have detransitioned. A couple of them say that they are happy, others seem very unhappy, and others have taken their lives.
It’s a very hard road to transition. You finally find peace in who you truly are, and then you have to deal with the people in your life. Some people are very understanding and will accept you, while other people do not understand and will not accept you. Make no mistake, you are very likely to lose some people in your life. The losses can be very devastating. If only they could accept you and share with you in your joy and peace in finally finding yourself, but they will not. They are not interested at all. If you transition, you can only wait and hope for them to come around. Either that, or you detransition to please them.
*Deja Nicole Greenlaw is a local transwoman who has three grown children and works at a local Fortune 500 company. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.