My first prompt is to describe the moment I decided to go back.
There was no one moment when I gave up. The decision I grappled with was whether or not to tell any of my care providers – and my friends, family, my audience. I spent several months debating whether the feelings I had were strong enough to bring to their attention. I believe I told myself I didn’t want to alarm them unnecessarily, but it was at least as much down to shame. As I contemplated turning around and going back, what I felt was terror and shame.
I was afraid that I would never recover from transition – that I would never look like I had before I transitioned, that I would never look normal, that I had lost claim to normalcy and beauty.
I was ashamed to have failed my transition – to have offered up a false positive. I felt as though I was disappointing my care providers, almost as though I was dropping out. And so when I considered telling people, it wasn’t so much a decision to go back as a decision to confess my desire to go back.
I’m not sure I made an independent decision – when I met with my doctor and therapist in turn, and when I spoke with my sister and parents, and when I took my friends out to coffee to explain, I was seeking guidance on what to do next. I needed to see their reaction before I made my decision.
But to talk about those feelings – I can’t remember when I started to have misgivings. Or, not misgivings. Periodic depression. Low feelings. Exhaustion. Inchoate sadness, unattached grief. I remember being startled when I caught myself in the mirror.
In retrospect, these were consistent, if intermittent feelings. I should have considered them, and I should have alerted my caretakers. At the time, I saw them largely as a problem to be dealt with, or hidden until they could be sent away. I worried that I might be depressed, but I did not consider that I might be depressed as a result of transition. I did not consider stopping transition.
I don’t remember when I reached a crisis point, or when I realized – or decided, or admitted – that these feelings indicated a serious problem, that they might mean I wasn’t really transsexual. I know that it was some months after surgery. I also know that these feelings predated surgery.
But I didn’t want to acknowledge them.