Ellie's Story

As a child, I never felt like a girl. I had typically male interests and was different. At age 20, I saw a counsellor and explained how this feeling of difference had always caused me distress. He asked if I’d heard of gender dysphoria and said he could refer me to a clinic for support. I went home and found videos online of people discussing how they’d never felt like their birth sex, a feeling that felt painfully familiar. Suddenly, everything clicked.

My counsellor referred me to a gender clinic, where doctors asked me what toys I played with as a child and what sex my friends were. I was soon diagnosed with Female-to-male Transsexualism. However, due to long wait times, I was soon seen by another clinic where I was prescribed testosterone. I felt amazing starting this treatment. I had more energy and didn’t feel suicidal anymore.

After a few years, I began to feel lost. Something still didn’t feel right. I wasn’t often read as male: I was the same person inside but looked different. I had facial hair and a deep voice yet hadn’t become the man I felt I was. I asked myself why I didn’t feel right and eventually decided that I no longer wanted to transition. It wasn’t helping my dysphoria and, in some ways, had made things worse. Eight weeks before my double mastectomy, I rang the hospital and cancelled.

Soon, a member of the hospital team I’d never met called me repeatedly, suggesting I adopt a nonbinary identity if I no longer wanted to fully transition. My doctors received a letter from this stranger, claiming I was mentally unstable for re-identifying as female. I would get no support unless I wanted to continue my transition. I’m still shocked by that letter. I read it back a month ago and cried because I remember just how lost and appalled I felt.

It took a year before I felt comfortable being in public. I grew my hair and began shaving my face. I trained my voice to be higher but could only raise it so far. When I confided in friends about my detransition, few were accepting. However, some became hostile toward me. Luckily, I have now managed to find some support but have also encountered instances of extreme hate against people like me, for simply sharing our experiences.

I am learning to make peace with my choices. However, I can’t help but feel that if I understood myself better, especially that there isn’t one way to express yourself as a woman, I wouldn’t have pursued transition to try and find self-acceptance.

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