Today’s read about a Milwaukee woman is gut-wrenching. From Brad Jones, an award-winning journalist based in Southern California. The article appeared in The Epoch Times.
Trauma Survivor Regrets Gender Transition: ‘I Was Looking for Acceptance’
By Brad Jones
November 18, 2022 Updated: November 28, 2022
When Laura Becker was 19, she injected testosterone into her right thigh for seven months before she had her breasts surgically removed at 20 years old.
Becker, now 25, regrets her decision and blames the medical and mental health care systems for failing her as a teen. She describes the experience as both humbling and horrible.
“I had a lot of developmental trauma and it was very obvious,” she told The Epoch Times. “So, even though I was an adult, I still was not of sound mind to have these procedures.”
Becker joins a growing number of detransitioners such as Chloe Cole, Abel Garcia, Cat Cattinson, Daisy Strongin, and others who are speaking out about their cases. Cole’s attorneys recently sent a letter of intent to sue the medical group Kaiser Permanente over her gender transition, including a double mastectomy when she was 15.
As a child, Becker was diagnosed with a developmental disorder that today falls under the umbrella of autism spectrum disorder.
“I have these autistic characteristics that just make things more complicated, socially, mentally, and emotionally,” she said.
Becker also has a hormonal disorder called polycystic ovary syndrome.
“I started going through puberty fairly early, around 9 or so,” she said. “I just wasn’t ready for that. I was very sensitive, and so it hit me really hard.”
Becker was also “verbally, emotionally, and psychologically” abused as a child and developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“When you tend to have a lot of sensitivities to thought and rumination, and then you have adverse childhood experiences, that’s a recipe for PTSD,” she said. “So, I was developing a lot of trauma responses, but I didn’t know this at the time.”
Becker saw her first therapist when she was 11, during a bout of depression and anxiety.
“I was having these intense mood swings,” she said.
Throughout her identity crisis, Becker had difficulty connecting with her therapists, and anti-depressant medications didn’t work.
“I took it to mean I’m just broken, I’m not good enough, and there’s just something inherently wrong with me,” she said.
Becker never cared much for conventionality. She was more of a “rough-and-tumble type of kid,” more masculine in some ways and more feminine in others.
“I wasn’t afraid to get dirty or messy or different things that a lot of girls don’t like. I liked to wrestle,” she said. “I was more androgynous as a kid. I’ve always struggled to connect physically to my body.”
Introverted and imaginative, Becker fits the archetype of a “sensitive, eccentric artist.”
“I’m definitely the type of girl that can get carried away by fantasy, and lives in her mind—a more cerebral person,” she said.
She wasn’t close to either of her parents but had a better relationship with her mother who encouraged her artistic pursuits, Becker said. “It’s sad, because she never really understood me,” she said.
Becker also grew apart from her two younger siblings, who “were pretty ashamed and embarrassed of me,” she said.
She was outdoorsy and fondly remembers camping in the woods along Lake Michigan where her family had a cabin, despite her strained relationship.
“By the time I was 14, I was starting to have a lot of suicidal ideations—feeling afraid to be alone, scared of my own mind, and having a ton of social anxiety,” she said.
Over the years, Becker “came close” to killing herself several times.
“I’ve been an inpatient at the psych ward four times,” she said. “It could have been a lot more than that, but for money reasons I didn’t go.”
Her suicide attempts were a cry for help, but no one really knew how to ease her pain, she said.
Becker was exposed to pornography at about the same age, and she started watching it often.
She saw women as “weak” and “too emotional,” and porn depicting women as “submissive, stupid, shallow bimbos” only deepened her disdain for her own gender and reinforced her “misogynistic view of women.”
She discovered “the world of gender” on social media when she was 15.
“Tumblr is where I befriended other girls that were into the classic rock fandom. Tumblr was one of the weirdest places, especially early on. It was the place to be for people who were ‘genderqueer,’” she said.
Becker saw Tumblr as “cool and extremely artsy.” Facebook, by comparison, was “too mainstream,” she said.
“So, I first identified as genderqueer … the most perfect label for what I was: a kind of quirky, different, artistic person,” she said. “The thing about the autistic traits is that you tend to be ahead, or gifted in some ways, but then somewhat regressed in other ways … so being ahead and behind was just the perfect label.”
She developed a few friendships with other students who were “genderqueer” at school. Most of the others in the clique were casually trying to figure out their identities, and “all the guys ended up being gay,” Becker said.
Becker joined a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA)—now called Gender and Sexuality Alliances—an after-school club at her high school.
As a “confused and overthinking teenager,” Becker continued to explore gender theory and began chatting with other girls online. Becker became friends with one of them who identified as a “trans boy” although they never met in real life.
She wore ’80s heavy metal clothing with spikes and studs, which she saw as “androgynous fashion.”
“I got really into ’70s and ’80s, classic rock and hard rock, and I really emulated those male singers and musicians,” she said. “I was living more in the ’70s mentally. I felt very out of space and time. I really had trouble connecting to people my own age.”
Becker became more self-isolated. She felt “alienated” and “ostracized” and skipped school.
“I never fit in,” she said. “I was very irrelevant in school. No one even really knew what my deal was.”
Gender and Sexuality
As a teen, Becker wasn’t getting the attention from boys that she craved.
“I was confused because I felt I’ve always been a very romantic person, very passionate,” she said.
Because she had been emotionally abused by a man when she was young, Becker developed attachment problems and usually found herself with unavailable men or “whoever was around,” she said.
“It just happened to be these gay friends of mine,” she said. “Two different gay boys used me to sort of figure out that they were gay.”
Becker said the experience almost destroyed her.
“We were just extremely close friends, and we were using drugs together,” she said. “I couldn’t give up my attachment to them as a friend, but they just wouldn’t sexually be with me, and that made me feel completely worthless sexually. I just couldn’t get over it, and so that was a huge part of what confused me.”
She was using “mostly alcohol and weed and also some pills like Klonopin and Ambien, and LSD.”
Becker thought if straight men weren’t interested in her then maybe—if she became more masculine through surgery—gay men would find her more attractive and “lovable.”
Deep Sense of Shame
Becker’s “really awful” sexual encounters with strange men she met online only compounded her emotional trauma and left her feeling worse about herself.
“I was looking for acceptance from men. I was really insecure and severely confused. And I got really hurt and used by a lot of those men,” she said.
Today, Becker is trying to put the past behind her and heal her emotional wounds.
“I’m working through a lot of problems from some of that,” she said. “I have a deep sense of shame.”
Becker rejects the “reductive” claim that people are transitioning because of “grooming,” although, she said, it does happen.
In her case, she said, attachment issues, complex trauma, family problems, relational wounds, feelings of shame, and need for love and acceptance led her to transition.
Though she identified as genderqueer for several years, Becker said she was never completely comfortable in the “queer-trans” community.
“They never felt like my tribe. Maybe there’s a good reason for that, but … honestly, they annoyed me,” she said. “The queer people and the trans people were into social justice issues. I know that sounds ironic considering that I ended up transitioning … but I didn’t like them very much.”
She considered herself a “progressive” feminist at the time but grew weary of identity politics, because she liked comedy and free speech and detested “the policing of language” and “thought control” that came with the territory. Today, she is an “anti-woke centrist.”
When she was 18, Becker’s regular therapist recommended she see a gender specialist, so she shopped around for therapists who specialized in LGBT issues, and about five or six therapists affirmed her trans identity.
“They never questioned it,” she said. “I was looking for someone to help me and tell me what was wrong with me, but I also wanted someone to tell me ‘You’re good enough as you are.’”
“When I was 18, I came out as trans—an agender trans man,” she said.
Her parents had accepted her as genderqueer but were shocked when she came out as transgender. Her mother suggested she get breast reduction surgery as an alternative to the double mastectomy, Becker said.
To conceal her breasts, Becker wore loose clothing, including “flamboyant” Hawaiian-style shirts, and a chest binder from the time she was 18 until she had a double mastectomy at 20.
Becker needed letters declaring her fit for “top surgery” from at least two doctors, and she got them—first from a general practitioner and then from a psychiatrist, she said.
The first doctor “had no business writing this letter at all,” Becker said. “That’s not the way it’s supposed to go, but that is unfortunately the way that it does.”
At her second appointment, the psychiatrist diagnosed Becker with gender dysphoria and wrote a letter stating she appeared to be of sound mind to make her own decision on surgery.
“It was [nonsense] because I was very suicidal and I wasn’t hiding it at all,” Becker said. “I had just been in the psych ward for suicide ideation. I admitted myself into the hospital again for the third time for suicide ideation a couple weeks before I got those letters. The doctors had no good reason to say that I was of sound mind. I was too immature to advocate for myself.”
About seven months before her surgery, Becker began taking high doses of testosterone from a clinic in Chicago where she got free prescriptions,” she said.
The weekly injections had a “horrible” effect on her, escalating her feelings of desperation and hopelessness and making her “more aggressive, more sexual” with increased mood swings and anger, she said.
A couple of months before her surgery, Becker got into fights—some of them physical—with her family.
“I was drinking more. I was doing more drugs. I was driving recklessly,” she said. “I got into a car accident and got into it verbally with a cop,” she said.
The few friends she did have, she lost. “They didn’t want to deal with my toxic behavior,” she said.
The testosterone lowered her voice. It left her with whiskers and a few wisps of hair on her neck.
“The facial hair just continues to grow. It will probably grow for the rest of my life,” she said. “All I got was like a little chin beard. It’s manageable to shave it, but I do shave it every day.”
Becker’s surgeon required her to stop taking the testosterone before surgery, and even though she didn’t want to go off it at first, she complied, and has never taken it since.
In the back of her mind, Becker knew attempting to change her gender was “irrational,” but wanted to try anything that would help heal her or at least escape her emotional pain.
“It had been a long time of wanting to die and hating myself … until I just couldn’t take it anymore,” she said. “I’ve been severely depressed since I was 11. I was very desperate and very hopeless, and very immature, frankly, and also using a lot of drugs and alcohol.”
Becker’s health insurance covered the costs of her double mastectomy, stating the removal of her breasts was medically necessary, but wouldn’t pay for nipple grafts, she said.
The reconstruction of her nipples or having any nipples at all was considered an esthetic choice, so Becker paid out of pocket with help from her parents, and “a couple liberal aunts,” she said.
Even though the grafts “looked terrible,” Becker posted a “pretty gruesome” photograph of her fresh scars on social media but has since deleted the image.
“One of my scars opened up and … left a bigger scar,” she said.
Becker saw the surgeon once or twice before her double mastectomy and once or twice after the procedure. But, in retrospect, she feels she was “rushed” through the process without much consultation.
When large breasts are surgically removed, it’s common for excess fat or “pockets of flabby skin” called “dog ears” to form around the sides of a patient’s chest under the armpits, she said.
Becker recalls feeling awkward when she returned to the clinic for revision surgery to have the “dog ears” removed.
“The medical staff and doctors seemed to go out of their way to use ‘he’ and ‘him’ pronouns,” she said. “They’re doctors. They know what the difference is between a male and a female. They were all just going along with the lie. It was such a masquerade.”
Following her double mastectomy, Becker experienced “profound grief” over the loss of her friends.
“It was a really horrible time,” she said. “I got a lot worse. I was just a mess after the surgery. I wasn’t doing well. I was so mentally ill that I couldn’t even get back on the testosterone.”
She started doing harder drugs including crack cocaine and meth.
“I stayed away from people after that because I had even more shame. The only people that I would hang around with were these much older druggie guys,” she said. “I ended up in this kind of friends-with-benefits situation with this much older man who was a crack addict. I started smoking crack with him. I was just really desperate.”
From 20 to about 22 Becker identified as transgender but suspected there was something else wrong with her.
While researching autism online, she came across some stories about detransitioners. A “radical feminist” invited her to a private Facebook group where she met more than 25 “detrans” women who shared common autistic traits and experiences of trauma and shame.
“That’s how I started accepting myself as a female, and detransitioned,” she said.
Becker requested a psychological evaluation and was diagnosed with PTSD.
“I have complex PTSD from prolonged verbal and emotional abuse, and then the identity crisis itself. The surgery also was complex trauma, and then just living in a state of being suicidal was traumatic,” she said.
Despite her decision to detransition, Becker isn’t interested in getting breast implants.
“I think it would feel very weird and uncomfortable, and I just don’t want to have any more surgery. I don’t trust doctors,” she said.
Healing and Health
Becker remembered the words of one therapist who once told her she could be a woman and still have her unique personality, and that she was feminine, creative, gifted, and smart. She now realizes she was right.
About two years ago, after ending a toxic relationship with a straight man, Becker found a new therapist and has been clean and sober ever since. She has spent her time healing and completing her bachelor of arts degree, she said.
Becker has lost weight, is wearing clothes that fit, and is taking better care of herself.
“I just started to feel more comfortable in my body, and now I have a pretty feminine style,” she said. “I feel more confident.”
Though she still has her demons, she has finally faced them.
“I’m still working through the really deep core wounds that I developed as a kid—feeling not lovable, not good enough, like I don’t belong,” she said. “I still have a lot of trauma that I’m still working through, but overall there’s been significant progress.”
Becker has a passion for most things artistic, including painting, photography, poetry, music, and writing.
Becker’s art is showcased on her website. Her “funky” art reflects her pain, loneliness, and spirituality, she said.
Absurdity is also a theme in her art.
“I’ve just been some through some really absurd things. Cutting off your breasts to try and improve your mental health is very absurd,” she said.
Today, Becker doesn’t believe a woman can become a man or vice-versa.
“That was never really possible, and I really don’t think that it’s necessary even if it was possible,” she said. “I’ve always been heterosexual. I never wasn’t a woman. I’m just accepting reality now.”
Becker opposes gender transition surgery for anyone under the age of 25. She sees it as the “medical mutilation of healthy, functional body parts.”
To her, transition means “cosmetic disfigurement,” she said. “I don’t believe that transgender is real. I believe that transgenderism is an illusion.”
She sees the growing list of fluid identities not as genders but as varying degrees of androgyny.
“There’s a spectrum of androgyny … or how you express masculinity and femininity,” she said. “It’s like yin and yang. We all contain masculinity and femininity inside of us.”
She wears a yin and yang ring to remind herself, and as a symbol of self-acceptance.
Becker has found a sense of peace and meaning through meditation and studying Buddhist, Christian, and other beliefs.
“I haven’t found the entirety of the self, but I have found a lot of purpose such as an appreciation for my natural gifts,” she said.
She believes transgenderism is an imbalance between technology and nature.
“We try to control nature too much, when we really should be living with nature,” she said. “I view it as a sin of pride. We’ve flown too close to the sun. We’re trying to play Mother Nature and play God. We’ve become too arrogant about what we can do, and we’re not considering if we actually should be doing these procedures.”
Experimenting with real human lives, especially the youth, is a mistake that comes with logical real-life consequences, she warned.
“This experience has humbled me,” she said. “We can pretend. We can live in our abstract concepts as much as we like—and I certainly am guilty of that—but when it comes down to it, I have to look at myself every day in the mirror, and my body is not normal. It sends an alarm bell to my brain because there’s nothing there … because it’s not right. I’m damaged.”
Becker believes transgenderism is a “body modification cult,” and a reflection of nihilism in Western culture that has impacted youth the most.
“They’re feeling that there is no meaning,” she said. “The obsession with identity groups, identity politics, and especially gender identities, is to fill a spiritual, existential void.”
While schools of the past were seen as too rigid, today they are “too fluid” with “no grounding in reality whatsoever,” she said.
Becker rejects the “gender-affirming” model being pushed by trans activists and the politicians who support them.
“There is a lot of bad therapy out there,” she said.
She is disappointed with mental health professionals whom she claims didn’t look deep enough into her psychological problems and other comorbidities before affirming her as a trans man and recommending her for medical transition.
“Proper mental health treatment takes a really long time. It’s very in-depth. It’s the opposite of the affirmation model. I don’t agree with the affirmation model. I don’t believe in affirming a trans identity,” she said.
Becker urges parents to look to “traditional wisdom” about how to help their children feel secure in every way—body, mind, and spirit—and to understand and embrace the positive biological roles of men and women.
Becker is afraid her medical conditions and testosterone injections could have caused fertility complications or left her sterile. She worries the “disfigurement of her female form” has pushed her further away from her dream of getting married and having a family.
“I have a lot of fears and doubts about ever achieving that. I’m not quite ready. I have so much spiritual growth to do, but it is something that I think about a lot, and it really hurts,” she said.
“Probably more than anything in the world, I want to have a loving and intimate relationship. I’ve never had that,” she said. “I’m very lonely.”
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