Hey anon —
I took 13 years with this, sorry. My inbox is a disaster-zone and I get a little overwhelmed when I see a ton of messages I haven’t been able to get to. Here I am, though! Answering your question!
This might get long, so I apologize in advance for the inevitable hardscumblrrhea. I think the mention of the “pink bra” was from a reblog of a viral post, but the curlers? Helps me keep on top of my coarse, curly hair without more than 10 minutes effort, as my hair’s natural texture straddles that arbitrary (and patently racist, considering the populations this oft-unwritten rule primarily affects) line of “professionalism” in so many workplaces. Practicality aside, let’s hit the real questions.
You’re correct in guessing I learned a lot of the femininity rituals post-detransition. Sadly, it has not been nor ever will be “comfortable” to engage in feminizing rituals, because femininity is meant to be restrictive, time-consuming and punitive. This is where much of my gender-abolitionism was born from, actually.
During transition, and especially after stopping T, I was androgynous at best. More often than not, I was treated like a butch lesbian. Occasionally as a gay man. Sometimes I’d be read as an MTF in early transition. Basically, no matter which way somebody read me, I was spared very little in terms of grief or headaches. There was no conditional male privilege conferred based on perception, which is one of many reasons why I rally against the idea of so-called “FAAB privilege” in trans***** politics.
In fact, despite T alleviating some of my sex dysphoria, I had become so ambiguous that it made my day-to-day life harder than it already had been. My dose was appropriate, my serum tests came back as expected, but T took its sweet time to do anything. I suffered extreme economic violence, was verbally threatened by strangers on a near-daily basis, followed, etc. The decision to detransition wasn’t solely fueled by these difficulties (which is why I never discount the effects of transphobia,) but it sure helped seal the decision. If you’re curious about some of the other reasons, well: concerns about my health, my budding gender-abolitionism, understanding that I’d never be male and that I’d always be traveling under the demarcation of “female” and treated thusly in many institutions, and probably some other shit I cannot remember because it’s six in the morning. The mild alleviation of sex dysphoria I had on T (because without the external validation, it can mean very little in terms of your day-to-day quality of life) did not make it worth continuing in the face of so many risk-factors.
Unfortunately, I had to live in the world as I was detransitioning. To help people “make sense” of me, I learned makeup. I perfected my hair-cutting, shaping, and styling techniques. I utilized the very knowledge that helped me hide my curves to dress in a way in which my body alone would mark me as unremarkably female. I found ways to hide my facial hair.
I dropped much of the ritualized femininity once nature took its course and my face rounded out, my curves fluffed up, etc. These days, I’m often still looked at as gender non-conforming, and most things compelling my ~doing femininity~ are directly related to my survival. For example: I wear purses because upon a suggestion from a colleague that I ditch my messenger bag to avoid making potential freelance clients squirrelly by fooling them into thinking I’m normative, have money, etc. Lo and behold, I was and still am taken more seriously when I carry a leather tote over a neat, but socially-deemed “masculine” messenger bag. It’s that weird thing where society deems those who conform to gendered norms as more mature. Especially for women, as femininity is a way of denoting you’re “in your place” due to its often punitive means of execution and the attempt at impossible standards means you’re “open for scrutiny” or something. It is fucking weird.
Anyway, as to how I started transitioning? Sex dysphoria. I can identify some of it as socially-fueled, as during childhood, I often imagined (and saw!) femininity rituals resulting in something akin to the Spritz-Heads in Hothead Paisan. Uncomfortable, restricted, heterocentric and otherwise restrained. There’s still sex dysphoria I cannot place nor name the etiology of — some could be related to trauma (as a rape survivor,) but I remember being uncomfortable with many of the aspects that demarcate me as female from a young age. I suspect a lot of the betrayal I felt by my body during puberty was a.) the escalation of lifelong, punitive restrictions on my life all because i was born female, b.) the beginning of a lifelong fight with an extremely painful gynecologic disease, c.) internalized lesbophobia born from a society in which lesbians are still reviled and treated like shit, even by others in the “alphabet soup” of LGBT.
Let’s put it this way: I bucked a lot of gendered norms growing up and despite being close in proximity to LGBT-specific resources, queer theory started making its rise during this very same time period. My un-femininity was considered transgressing “my gender,” both by the straight classmates who relentlessly harassed me, to the queer “communities” I sought advice from. From my young and vulnerable position at the time, it felt as if I had no other options to survive in this world. Spritzhead or T.
This was long and probably a little winding, but I hope I clarified some things for you. Should you have any follow-up questions, feel free to drop by again. :)
Have a great day!
- auntie hardscum