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Transition, Detransition, Liberal University
Elaborating My Gender Dysphoric College Experience from Genspect's College Symposium, Trans: A Closer Look Speech
In April 2022, I contributed to the discussion on gender transition concerns by giving a summary of my experience as a gender-variant child, mentally ill teenager, FTM trans man emerging adult, and detransitioned woman. Along with speakers like Stella O'Malley, Dr. Julia Mason, Michelle @somenuanceplease, and Aaron Kimberly, I discussed my lived experience with CPTSD-inspired gender dysphoria and transition, and gave my thoughts on the medical and psychological harms I have experienced and heard countless stories of in detransition movement circles. Watch the full symposium by Genspect.org for free here.
I was honored to accompany so many authentic souls and free-thinking minds speaking the truth about the medical and psychological insight into the complex phenomena of gender dysphoria and the transition movement. With hundreds of college professionals including counselors, doctors, academics, and concerned faculty from universities around the globe in attendance, I thought my voice as detransitioned undergraduate student an important one in this conversation.
Many liberal and progressive universities have been delighted to attract more students through their diversity and inclusion initiatives around LGBTQ+ initiatives. My now Alma Mater, UWM, or The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, prides itself on being one of the most LGBT-friendly schools in the country, with an LGBT resource center located in the campus union, a special ceremony for LGBT students called ‘Lavender Graduation’, an annual campus drag show, and prominent, inclusive pronoun and bathroom policies for transgender attendees.
My trans-identified time from 18-22 at UWM was tied with the queer activism of the university climate, including a short time spent dating (weird story…) a male to female transgender student, Justine Kramer, who caused multiple controversies at the school in 2016 when he first demanded access to female saunas at the campus athletic center, see the reporting here, and was then involved in a free-speech debate and attempted shut down of conservative activist Milo Yiannopoulos, who mocked Kramer at a campus event.
My mental health just as poor as my relationships, I struggled with undiagnosed PTSD from childhood abuse and compounded illnesses, and suicidal ideation so severe that the campus police forced me in my freshman year to move from the 27th floor of the dorm tower, to the 1st, when it was reported that I was having suicidal. While these details of my campus experience were not mentioned in my symposium speech, I was sure to explain how I learned of access to unfettered and free testosterone prescriptions from the Howard Brown Clinic in Chicago, suggested in office hours by an FTM trans professor when I was 19.
My purpose in recounting these stories is to show that there were two dynamics at play when I was a gender dysphoric college student.
I was severely mentally ill, depressed, suicidal, socially struggling, and openly seeking counsel, help, and intervention for it.
I was given the impression by campus climate, professors, academic materials, resources centers, peer-support, students, and university policy that gender transition was the go-to management, cure, and lifestyle for gender dysphoria.
These dynamics may create cognitive dissonance when you contemplate for a moment that they do not accompany each other in a… reassuring manner. Simply put, being a 19 year old college student suffering from numerous mental health issues while also experiencing gender dysphoria and seeking help on campus leaves overwhelmingly only one available option available: accept yourself as transgender and transition.
The liberal universities are a haven for mentally ill young people experiencing gender distress. While my story is unique in that it took me 7 years to graduate and in that time I realized I was trans, transitioned, realized it was actually CPTSD, and detransitioned, all while skimming assigned readings and bullshitting discussion posts, it is not an uncommon event for many emerging adults today. And for that matter, college has always been infamous for incessant youth-movements, identity crisis, weird relationships, sexual exploration, and idealistic, theoretical ideas led by angsty, ramped up, immature 19 year olds. The difference in contemporary culture is again, represented in a dynamic of 2 issues.
Youth are increasingly mentally ill, experiencing high, rising levels of depression, anxiety, social phobias, relational difficulties, ADHD, OCD, eating disorders, economic and political stress.
These society-wide concerns are being normalized into culture (through media) with promotion of “acceptance and tolerance” without addressing the root causes, and it is extremely favorable and profitable as a marketing strategy for business like universities to do so.
I wanted to address just one example of social, political, college-based harm done to young students through my story. According to the response at the Genspect college symposium from participants and viewers, it seems many share these concerns and understand that a more nuanced approach to helping students with gender identity issues is needed at many levels of university structure.
I would be remiss, however, not to mention the dissenting voice at the symposium, the woman who repeatedly dismissed detransitioner Michelle’s experience by claiming she was only part of .1% of regretful transitioners, AND who questioned the sanctity of my speech as she asked “where are you getting this from?” My answer to her, and to the world: “I’m getting it from my own mind. I wrote it. It’s in my Word document…”
My lived experience and years of indiscernible pain summarized into a 15 minute speech is worthy of attempting to discern, and now that I have graduated from college, I am going to continue raising awareness about safe-guarding issues for young people in university so that they may receive better mental health and medical care. Even if I get it from this crazy thing called my funky psyche…
Watch mine and Michelle’s speeches and Q&A from the symposium below.
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