Carey Callahan’s relationship with gender is a complex one.
From feeling like a tomboy to jealousy when meeting the first trans man she had encountered to transitioning herself, it already feels like a very full journey — but that’s not where her story ends.
“In October 2012, Carey Callahan began a course of bimonthly intramuscular testosterone injections,’ this video from The Atlantic explains. “After years of harassment and discomfort in her female body, she had made the decision to transition to being male. In the short term, she was happy. But she soon discovered that life as a transgender man was not what she had expected. Her discomfort persisted, as did the harassment. Nine months after her first injection, Carey stopped hormone-replacement therapy. A year after that, she made the decision to return to identifying as female.”
It’s important to note that Callahan — along with most people who detransition — do not think that transitioning is the wrong choice, they think that it was the wrong choice for them. “People had said often to me that when you transition, your gender dysphoria gets worse before it gets better,” she explained. “But I saw and knew so many people who were cutting themselves, starving themselves, never leaving their apartments. That made me doubt the narrative that if you make it all the way to medical transition, then it’s probably going to work out well for you.” Her story was very different. You can hear her speak about it by watching the whole video here:
One of the issues that Callahan finds is that the support people are getting when they transition is so different from what the Standards of Care recommends. “When I look at what the SOC describes, and then I look at my own experience and my friends’ experiences of pursuing hormones and surgery, there’s hardly any overlap between the directives of the SOC and the reality of care patients get,” Callahan explained. “We didn’t discuss all the implications of medical intervention — psychological, social, physical, sexual, occupational, financial, and legal — which the SOC directs the mental-health professional to discuss. What the SOC describes and the care people get before getting cleared for hormones and surgery are miles apart.”
Callahan was brave to speak out about her story — and deal with the fallout from both the right and the left. But while for so many, transitioning is a natural, empowering way to physically match the gender that they were born with and feel comfortable in their body, it’s important to remember that not everybody has an easy experience. And for some, it can be traumatic. It’s a complex issue, but one we need to keep grappling with.