Quite bizarrely, I’ve been faced with an obvious reality of my situation that I previously hadn’t paid attention to: my detransition is not defined by its starting point and outcome. Child-man-woman, it could be, or cis-trans-cis, or trans-trans-trans. Hindsight is never very clear in those cases. It wasn’t the first time a trans person pointed it out to me, indirectly, by implying I was outside of the strict definition of a detransitioner. I wasn’t cis, after all, and I called myself non-binary. This irritated me, not because it was an intrusion into my narrative, but rather, because I do know what makes me a “detransitioner” alongside with a non-binary person. On my long and winded path, I have experienced two feelings that set my metamorphosis apart from just ongoing transformation. My storyline is marked by disappointment and loss.
What disappointed me was that my transition had turned out not to quench my primal thirst, hadn’t made me whole, hadn’t healed me. I had become something, yes. A reasonably handsome young man to some, but to me, a half-person. Only the half, the other half would still come out at night sometimes. It’s just so hard to keep a living part of yourself away from daylight. And then, I experienced loss.
One truth about transitioning that seems silent is that you have to let go of a part of yourself for it. You abandon an older version of yourself forever, and you can’t go back to it. Of course, the same happens to all of us while we go through our inevitable life cycle: we lose our childhood, our youth, our adult age. Some never recover from losing their innocence or their prime. I tried to find this past, younger woman-self when detransitioning, but I only ever found her old documents and pictures. They don’t call it deadname for no reason. A part of me actually died, physically, it has been cremated. A part of this Jewish daughter of this Jewish mother has been burned, went up in ashes. The regret and guilt I feel over this is partly about my collaboration with it, but mostly, it’s my survivor’s guilt.
Why did I, Otto, get to live? And she died – what was her name again?