“Let us be clear: there is no such thing as “sex-reassignment” surgery. A mutilated male pumped full of estrogen remains just that—a mutilated male pumped full of estrogen. He has not “transitioned” into being a woman. He can never be a woman.”

(Margaret A. Hagen, Transgenderism Has No Basis in Science or Law)

“At the heart of the problem is confusion over the nature of the transgendered. “Sex change” is biologically impossible. People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women. Claiming that this is civil-rights matter and encouraging surgical intervention is in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder.”

(Dr. Paul McHugh, Transgender Surgery Isn’t the Solution)

“What the fuck is that?”

(Question asked by passer-by about twenty minutes ago)

“You’ve changed, like coming out of a shell. You’re not guarded all the time. You interact with people, you smile more, you’re easier to get along with.”

(Some observations made by my work area manager last weekend)

I have listened to so many arguments, and I have taken good note even of the ones that do not please me at all: of the undeniable limitations of medical transition, of the drastic and never-ending treatments I will face, and of the politically problematic message that perhaps underlies gender reassignment. Morally, I struggle to defend my decision to go from being a gender non-conforming male to a gender-conforming transwoman: it is scarcely revolutionary of me by any measure, and it arguably reinforces the very binary that keeps women (and transwomen) oppressed. I know I do not pass, and I probably never will given my height and bone structure, thus in spite of my conformist wishes I shall likely always be a figure of curiosity (or of scorn, as above). Not to mention that my decision to create within myself a lifelong dependency on synthetic hormones is practically doing a favour to “Big Pharma,” whereas loving my natural body (as I have been advised to try harder at) would be the far more ecological and left-wing thing to do. On many levels, I often feel I have failed. Not as a man, as I never wanted to succeed on that level on the first place, but as a feminist / ally, as a socialist, as a nonconforming artist… even, ironically, as a transgender person / ally, as my obsessive (yet always critical) dedication to this medical transition route  arguably fits me for the category of “Truscum.”

My transition is a surrender, I would not deny. But taking off my armour and letting my guard down has felt too liberating that I am in no frame of mind to take up the fight again. Also, whatever I am becoming – whether a pseudo-woman, an ersatz woman, or not a woman at all but just a “feminized,” “mutilated” facsimile – apparently I am becoming a better (or at least a more agreeable) person for it, and this has to count for something.

15 thoughts on “Shell

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  1. I dealt with some negativity myself this past week. My response was to eventually call them on their abusive commentary. I think you are special just as you are. Perhaps you should avoid teans-exclusionary commentary as it seems to real feed into some negative feelings you have, (like many of us), about yourself. I am attracted to positive, empathetic people and try to avoid toxicity no matter where it comes from. Transmisogyny and transphobia can be found in many quarters. It hurts the most coming from cis women who should know better. I prefer to align myself with intersectional, trans-inclusive feminism. I really think that is the ideology that is the best fit for us trans folk, whether we are trans men, trash women or non-binary.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You are right, of course, and it does feed into my shame (and possibly even internalised transphobia) on many levels, but I do think it says something interesting that even with all of this negativity, people (and not just that manager) are commenting on how much more approachable and positive I am as a transwoman… so I leave you to imagine what sort of neurotic disaster area I was as an untransitioned male. 😉 I emphasise, never ever going back… xxx

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Thank goodness you are a wonderful Trans woman I shan’t even hazard a guess what you’d be like as a man and a “neurotic disaster area!” 😁

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve said this before when commenting here…. I fear that my thoughts are really simplistic, but I’ll share them anyway. 🙂 I think that we all should be who we are meant to be. I also think that as long as we are not hurting anyone, (and feeling aren’t counted here.) we have to make the best choices for our lives. Life is so damn short and can be over before we know it. Once we know what we need to feel complete, whole and at ease in our own skin, it’s unfair to ourselves to not do those things.

    I know it’s easy for me to say this stuff because I’ve never dealt with the judgement and disdain that you have faced. That’s why even though my comment may be simplistic, I do not think these issues are.

    i just said to my husband that what that passer-byer said to you is something that I can’t even fathom. I don’t understand why anyone would put forth the effort to spread hate. It seems like such a wasted life. I’m genuinely sorry that that happened to you Eleanor, you are a lovely, kind person and I can only hope that you have more moments where you are treated with respect than moments like that.
    Hugs to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Life is so damn short and can be over before we know it. Once we know what we need to feel complete, whole and at ease in our own skin, it’s unfair to ourselves to not do those things.”

      That was hugely in my mind when I took the plunge. Andreja Pejic (trans model) had said something similar, justifying her transition against the criticisms of those who felt she was a stronger figure as a gender-fluid male: “Do you want to spend the rest of your life wondering what it would be like to feel completely comfortable in your own body?” I suddenly started asking myself what was I hoping for: reincarnation? Getting to choose my own body in Heaven? And what if this life was all there was? That sealed the deal…

      Thank you for reminding me of that, and I always appreciate your kind comments. The passer-by, as Cal reminded me, probably had a miserable life to go to. He looked as if he came from the homeless shelter up the road, which tends to host ex-army people with no civilian life ahead of them. A shame that some do find malice the easiest way to take out their own inner demons, although if I am to become a lightning rod for male frustration I guess I shall only be sharing that onerous post with every other woman who ever lived…

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Well, you already know that I think you must have cement for breakfast in order to participate in some of the rad fem and gender critical forums that you do. I feel like I need to think more about what I want to say, because I don’t want to reassure you with platitudes. It’s self evident that a trans woman is not biologically the same as a ‘woman born woman’. It’s probably worth teasing out the differences, as you and others do. I don’t want to say “it doesn’t matter” simply because I haven’t thought about it enough.
    It matters. I sort of feel like it would be patronising to pretend that it didn’t. But here’s what I know also: you write beautifully and you always respond thoughtfully & kindly. You make an effort to respond to those who are in pain. You’re funny. You’re knowledgeable. You’re also beautiful and no, you don’t always look like a woman. You look like a marvellous, yet modest creation. I’m sure you’re unsettling for some – maybe even me, if I saw you in the street – but you’re beautiful, nonetheless.
    So, my best off the cuff response at present is to say yes, all of this matters but I for one don’t care.
    Bless you Eleanor 💜

    Liked by 3 people

    1. “It matters. I sort of feel like it would be patronising to pretend that it didn’t.”

      Exactly how I feel. Shooting down all debate on these points feels weak, but those RF forums seem to be as guilty of that for their part as the “wacktivists” they disparage. They are also wantonly cruel, though the manner of their cruelty can be telling. I recall a cadre of them tearing gleefully into Laverne Cox – assuredly one of the most feted trans celebrities – for having big, obviously manly features in their view. If the glorious Laverne can’t quite climb out of the “uncanny valley,” who among us can? This is a real conflict for me, I can’t deny. My ideal situation would be being able to blend in and just live my life as a woman. I have no desire to make a big spectacle of myself. But I have missed the perfect passing window, and I doubt even FFS (if it ever comes to that) could completely grant me physical assimilation. If “O” did choose the early HRT route, I would be a hypocrite not to completely empathise with him.

      Still, we make the best of what we have, and if I can do no better than help to define a “new normal” then I shall do just that. 🙂 And the way I make porridge, I practically do have cement for breakfast, which might explain a bit. 😉

      Love you, and thank you for inspiring me again. 🙂 xxx

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Wow, this post is so inspiring. You touch on content that I hadn’t considered. As a cis female, and trans-ally, it never occurred to me why someone wouldn’t move forward with physical transition (if so desired). I understand more clearly now some arguments against, but it makes me feel sad that someone’s very personal decision (about THEIR body and livelihood) would come under criticism by those in their very own community. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experience, I learned so much in reading this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have never been mired so deep in political arguments in all my life. Exciting, in a way, though I could wish the negativity would rub off on me less… but on the other hand I keep meeting kind and wonderful people as well. 🙂 xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love what your mgr’s observations of you! I am not thinking you “changed” at all. You become who you’ve always been on the inside. You feel more comfortable in your own skin. Maybe we all worry too much what others (who don’t really matter) think. Those who do matter will see you for who you truly are.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. xxx 🙂 I wish I could remember the whole conversation, as they made many more observations, but I think that was more or less what they thought. Apparently, from their POV “male me” was a total introvert and an enigma, just shutting people out all the time. I hadn’t really noticed the process of it, but apparently now I am much friendlier, which can hardly be a negative, and I certainly do feel a lot more comfortable and less self-conscious out and about. 🙂 Come to think of it, I get fewer nasty comments out and about as well. Being a visibly gender non-conforming male could often be very nerve-wracking in this chavvy old city. It seems that a transwoman (even an obvious one) is a much more ordinary sight, and that suits me just fine…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I know that some individuals are going to “pick” me out from the rest of the herd because I “don’t look” quite right to them. Humans are apex predators. I’m one too. You can SAY whatever you like about me. I was bullied as a kid so that name calling crap is nothing to me. Get inside my “personal” space and make it physical? Hope you have your affairs in order. I do. I am already dead. I am tired of war. I have NEVER known a day of my life without it. NEVER. I am a Veteran. I will turn away from violence whenever I can. I have enough nightmares as it is. What makes the Human experience worth experiencing? I know that no matter where I am, or what I am doing, there is a good chance someone I don’t know, someone who is not like me, some one who is deeply religious, someone who is has never raised a hand against anyone in they’re lives, will stand by my side and say “Not here. Not today”. Sure, there might be those “predators” out there that want to cut a “weak” member out of the herd. Bad idea. The herd protects itself. We have young ones. They deserve the chance to grow and know life and find a better way. They MUST be protected and will be. At all costs. So Mote It Be.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I just can’t see your transition as a surrender. It is instead a triumph of your desire for authenticity.

    Fine, your version of yourself is shaped by cultural norms of femininity. So what? Most of us in most cultures are pretty gender-conforming and feel okay about that. Culture is powerful. You’ve gone through so much, and still get unnecessary shit from absurdly narrow-minded and judgmental people. It just seems to me like letting go of the political arguments about what is the “right” (or left) thing to do might be helpful. Then you can focus on the happiness it brings you to express who you really are, a happiness which is visible to your manager and probably to many others.

    My friend’s stepson is transitioning to stepdaughter, at age 16-ish. There are still a lot of issues, but my friend says she has never seen her stepdaughter this relaxed and light-hearted. It’s a great blessing to know who you are and allow yourself to be that person.

    On the bright side, at least you will never have to undergo surgery for pelvic organ prolapse. 🙂 Many hugs, Q.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have heard of post-op complications, but that one could certainly be fairly unlikely…

      I have kept out of the political arguments lately, which has in turn kept any grief from coming my way. It seems there is no nuanced position one can take. I have seen trans friends who were complete and total allies of gender-critical feminism still accused of being saboteurs, or being told that since their allyship might turn away real women from the cause, it was not welcome. My absence at any rate is a concession I am ready to give, though I do dread the thought that any action of mine could be detrimental to women’s rights.

      Still, when all’s said and done both Cal and me know exactly what your friend’s stepdaughter means, and I am overjoyed for her that she has support at that age. 🙂 That will save a lot of wasted life and youth trying to please other people, which most of the time seems to be a wasted endeavour in any case.

      *Hugs* always welcome. xxx 🙂


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