My Dalliance with Detransition
At the emotional low point of the pandemic, I tried becoming a woman again.
When I came out as trans in the summer of 2016, my then-boyfriend was irreproachably supportive. We had one heartfelt conversation about my identity, sitting on the couch in the night, then he shifted into using my new pronouns the very next day, after which he never mistepped. He complimented my short haircut and the button-up short sleeves I bought from Forever21’s men’s department.
At some point he took his friends and coworkers aside and quietly had the Conversations with them, if it seemed necessary. Anyone who seemed too tertiary he let just naturally figure it out, their eyes widening the first time they re-met me, with my new look and lower voice. A few times, people introduced themselves to me as if they’d never met me or heard of me before at all.
My boyfriend approached my new identity the way he tried to smooth out every conflicting desire in our relationship: by subtly, quietly pulling this corner and that one into place, and avoiding friction everywhere else he could find it. He tread carefully. But for all the work he did, and in spite of all the effort I put into trying to be thankful, there was no resolving things. He was a straight man, and that was not changing. When we met he had complimented my perfectly feminine body. I was appropriately terrified of how my shifting physical form and rapidly clarifying self-concept would drive him away from me.
We both tried to pretend the inevitable wasn’t happening. My wardrobe changed and my chest flattened and I started hanging out almost exclusively with trans people, but we did not talk about it much. I never even told him when I started T. I just started sneakily coating my body in the gel every morning while he slept, at first just testing out how it felt. Then, once I resolved to keep taking it, I started leaving the boxes out on a shelf where he could see them and stopped burying the torn packets in the trash. Then one day, after at least eighteen months of this pathetic game of don’t ask, don’t say I didn’t tell, I talked openly about the hormone’s effects to a trans friend on the phone while he tidied his closet a few feet away.