TransLash Zine Vol. 6: Anti-Trans Hate Machine

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#AntiTransHateMachine TransLash Zine Vol. 6: ANTI-TRANS HATE MACHINE
A Collaboration with POC Zine Project

TransLash family,

This special edition of TransLash Zine is a companion for the launch of Season 2 of our podcast series, The Anti-Trans Hate Machine: APlotAgainstEquality.

Day by day, the attacks on trans kids grow louder, and more anti-trans bills keep moving through state legislatures. In this season of the #AntiTransHateMachine, we illuminate how the right wing has fueled these bills by generating a breathtaking and wide-ranging disinformation campaign.

Christian Nationalists are manufacturing pseudoscientific theories and using the entire anti-trans hate machine to pipe them out into the mainstream; creating a rationale for these bills. And it’s catching on. In Season 2, which dropped on Trans Day of Visibility, March 31, 2023, we show you how their anti-trans propaganda is working; ultimately being laundered by some of the most powerful newsrooms in the world.

Within the pages of this zine, you will experience the personal impact of the #AntiTransHateMachine on trans lives: the ways in which folks have survived ideological detransition and conversion therapy pressures from their family and society at large. Some of our contributors for this edition have chosen to remain anonymous for safety reasons, and we respect their choice.

Through our contributors’ writing and art, we hope to shine a light on both the terror and pain inflicted by the anti-trans hate machine––along with the strength and beauty of TGNC (trans and gender nonconforming) folks who are fighting back; through their activism and how they simply choose to live their lives.

These stories might be triggering to some so we invite you to read this edition and come back to it at your own pace. However we believe the fundamental story of hope and resilience within these pages will shine through. It’s why we’re telling these stories.

The aesthetic for this zine was inspired by the work of our amazing cover illustrator Theodoor Grimes, whom you may know as @ggggrimes on Instagram.

TransLash tells trans stories to save trans lives.

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Theodoor was asked to create something that represented an unplugging from The Matrix of the #AntiTransHateMachine and our collaboration as TGNC people and allies to destroy it––for good. You’ll also find three more gorgeous, original illustrations by @ggggrimes within these pages that will serve as a #transjoy visual feast for your eyeballs to see you through ‘til the end.

Beyond Theodoor’s lush, vibrant art, you’ll find even more #transjoy in the form of watercolors, comics, and more! We’re honored and grateful to be able to compensate all of our contributors for their creativity and labor. You can purchase your very own print edition at for yourself and loved ones. All proceeds help us with the costs tied to producing our zine series.

Look out for the chapter on our Guide to the #AntiTransHateMachine; there you’ll find even more resources to help you unpack the ways that antitrans bills keep moving through state legislatures––and how to help stop them. And don’t forget to scan the QR codes for some fun surprises….

With Love & Strength, Team TransLash

COVER ART TITLE: Destruction (2023)

ARTIST: Theodoor Grimes

ARTIST BIO: Theodoor Grimes is a Black digital artist known for his vibrant illustrations that center the queer experience under the moniker ggggrimes (pronounced Grimes). Based in the Bronx, NY, Theodoor is entirely self taught. ggggrimes’ work is known not only for its dedication to uplifting queer people, but also for its brilliantly colorful, lush, and peaceful depictions of life and queer sex. Theodoor often describes his work as a portrayal of queer people of color living happy, beautiful, and sexy lives: highlighting joyous and free worlds that every queer deserves. Theodoor’s range has led to collaborations with well-known brands like gc2b, Opening Ceremony, Huffpost, PRISM, Everpress, GRAV, Lyft, Gucci, OKCupid, VICE, OGX at Gov Ball, and HBO Max at Art Basel. Theodoor’s main goal in collaborations is providing a means for visibly trans people of color to be seen in the mainstream. In 2023, Theodoor turned their sights to galleries now that they’re back in NYC, with work in group shows at La Mama Galleria and Lehman College Art Gallery. Theodoor spends their days in their attic apartment in the Bronx with their nonbinary partner, Callum, and their cisgender cat daughter, Mildred. His daily activities consist of painting on his iPad, doing pilates on youtube, watching anime, and reading horoscopes for Leo risings.

STATEMENT: "Destruction" shows three trans people of different races preparing to fight against a machine that spews trans hatred, using warped religious ideology as fuel. It’s a reflection of the powerful systems that brainwash us everyday to hate ourselves and each other, while making money from our suffering. The fashion for this piece was really important to me, blending futurism with modern trends. I also wanted the weapons to feel like an extension of the subjects, to show that trans people of all means can fight against this machine with the tools they have.


Instagram: @ggggrimes

Twitter: @ggggrimes


Commission portfolio at


Since 2019, TransLash Zine has been a collaboration with POC Zine Project founder Daniela “Dani” Capistrano (they/them), TransLash Zine editor-inchief. @POCZineProject has been helping to make zines by people of color easy to find, distribute, and share since 2010. POC Zine Project is going through a rebrand process and will remove “POC” from the title in 2023 to honor community feedback.


Healing from Conversion Practices & Ideological Detransition by Ky

Climbing the Mountain by Aaron El Sabrout

TransLash's Guide to the Anti-Trans Hate Machine by Daniela “Dani” Capistrano for TransLash

Tone It Down by Adunni

Rediscovering Who I Am After Conversion Therapy by Arielle Rebekah

A Life in Many Genders by Kalil Cohen

Recloseted by Anonymous

I Survived My Own Children Being Turned Into Incentives For Me To Detransition by Alysha V.

Smoke. Kill. Stay. A Non-linear Detrans Narrative by

The Burden of Trans Grief: Finding Solace Through Spite by Anonymous

Ugly by Lee

Where are the Trans Angels? by Shanisia Person

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ARTWORK TITLE: Love in Solidarity

ARTIST: Theodoor Grimes

ARTIST STATEMENT: This piece shows a white transfemme and Hispanic transmasc hugging. Their love helps each other thrive despite the powers against them. A lot of my work focuses on trans people of different races and gender identities in community with each other. I would not be where I am today without the loving support of my trans community.

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Community Opportunities Acknowledgements

Healing from Conversion Practices & Ideological Detransition

My old group, the detransitioned radical feminist community, made up many of our own theories and methods for dealing with gender dysphoria. We associated with anti-trans lesbian feminist communities which isolate themselves from both mainstream and queer/trans culture. Practically all the information pertaining to my old group is writing by myself or other people who’ve left or from journalists or researchers we’ve spoken to.

Still, over the years since I retransitioned, I’ve managed to find many ways to heal.

I want to share what’s worked for me in hopes that it’ll be helpful for other trans people who’ve survived conversion practices. While some of what I discuss will be most relevant to conversion practices based on anti-trans feminism, I believe some will be more broadly applicable. I hope at least to show that healing from anti-trans conversion practices is possible. Often just knowing that another person has dealt with the same kind of suffering and gotten though it to a better place is enough to find relief.


Before I could start healing, I had to cut ties with my old group. I stopped talking to members of my old community and wrote to a few people who’d abused me and told them not to contact me anymore. I also blocked many transphobic detrans people’s social media accounts, both people I’d known and those I’d never met. I needed space and safety from my old group and transphobic detrans people in general before I could start healing.


Once I’d done that I could start working through intense feelings connected to trauma from undergoing conversion practices and belonging to a high-control group. I’ve mainly done this through meditating and writing, both of which help me process my emotions. I’ve sat with feelings of grief, violation, sadness, regret, guilt, horror, rage, disappointment and shame. I’ve written a lot about my feelings and experiences, both in private journals and also writing that I make public to inform people about what going through ideological detransition is like.


As I work through my trauma, I learn to feel compassion for myself, recognizing and caring for how I’ve been harmed. Feeling compassion for myself helps me develop empathy and solidarity with trans and queer people from a variety of backgrounds. I push myself to make connections with people who are different from myself, while also discovering commonalities. I use caring for myself as a starting point for connecting and working with others. After spending years living according to a strict interpretation of lesbian separatism, I savor the ability to connect with people from diverse backgrounds and experiences.


Connecting with trans people after years of distancing myself from the trans community is healing but difficult. I spent a season working on a farm with lots of queer and trans people, which was an amazing experience but brought up a lot of grief. I realized how much I’d lost in my years of being disconnected from other trans people and how distorted my views

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I spent around 6 years living as a detransitioned radical feminist and engaging in conversion practices based on anti-trans feminist theory. Healing from that can be difficult because there’s not a lot of resources or information about anti-trans conversion practices in general, much less those based on anti-trans feminism.


A picture I took of some ghost pipe flowers that came up in a wooded area near to where I used to live in Amherst, MA. That summer many mushrooms ended up coming up and also those ghost pipes. That forest was a refuge for me while I was working through a hard time in my life and seeing the ghost pipes seemed especially auspicious, since they only come up in the right conditions and don’t last very long.

PHOTO DESCRIPTION: A cluster of ghost pipe flowers that have come up in a forest.

They're translucent with a pinkish, blueish white tint and look ethereal.

became under the influence of anti-trans feminism. Both were hard realizations but necessary for me to heal. I’ve also made connections with trans-friendly detransitioned people, who I still have much in common with.


Acting on my compassion for others means taking responsibility for harm I caused while I was a detransitioned radical feminist. I work to change myself and make up for my past actions. This includes apologizing for harm I’ve caused, both in general and to specific people. I also do opposition research and share what I know about the antitrans movement with trans researchers, journalists and the larger trans community to help resist antitrans activism. Recognizing that I’ve hurt people is disturbing but taking responsibility for that harm

is ultimately freeing. I can’t start acting differently if I don’t admit to myself that my past behavior was wrong and damaging. Owning my past actions helps me move forward with my life. It’s some of the hardest and most healing work I’ve done.

I’ve worked to unlearn transphobic and transmisogynistic beliefs I internalized while I was an anti-trans feminist. I’ve learned more about trans women’s history in feminism such as reading up on how activists at Camp Trans challenged the transexclusionary Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (which I presented at as a detrans radical feminist). I read the work of radical trans women activists/ feminists from the 70’s onwards, learned about trans-supportive cis and genderqueer lesbian feminists, and trans men who lived as lesbian feminists before transitioning. Contrary to what TERFs may claim, trans people have always been part of feminist and lesbian communities.

Healing from Conversion Practices & Idealogical Detransition by Ky Schevers

from Conversion Practices & Idealogical Detransition by Ky Schevers


I’ve done research to better understand what I went through and dissect my old beliefs. I’ve read about conversion therapy, the ex-gay movement, cults/ high control groups, hate movements, ecofascism and abuse. Two books on cults have been particularly helpful. In Bounded Choice, Janja Lalich describes how cults control people’s psychology and behavior while acknowledging that they still retain some degree of agency. Matt Remski’s Practiceand All is Coming was helpful because of how he connects cults with abuse culture. His book helped me make sense of how some members of my old group reacted once I left and began speaking out. I’ve also dug into the history of ideologies that inspired my old group, including lesbian separatism, ecofeminism, Neo-Paganism and Dianic witchcraft. Understanding where and how ideas develop helps me detach and look at them more objectively, so I can come to new and better perspectives.

In a more cathartic moment, I ripped up my copy of The Transsexual Empire. Internalizing the transeliminationist ideas in that book caused me years of suffering, so it felt good to tear it apart.


After spending years processing trauma and grounding myself, I felt ready to reread old journals, emails and other writing from when I was a detransitioned radical feminist. Rereading that material was hard and brought up a lot of feelings but helped me deepen my understanding of what happened.

Realizing that I wasn’t “crazy”, that instead I’d been abused and manipulated took time, reflection and research. Another struggle has been realizing that how others hurt me still counts even if I harmed other people and that acknowledging that doesn’t mean I’m dodging accountability.

Throughout my healing process I’ve been learning to trust my inner voice and talking back to the internalized group norms and voices of specific abusive people. At the beginning the internalized voices were very loud but now I hear my own voice much more clearly. It’s an ongoing process that connects with creating my own story/ understanding of what happened, as distinct from the story people in my old group wanted me to tell. Retransitioning has meant integrating both my transition and detransition, giving myself space to let my feelings about gender evolve, to figure out what I am and what I need. I experimented with packing and binding, two practices that were stigmatized in my old group as “self-harm”. While giving myself freedom to be whatever I am, I also practice giving that freedom to other trans, genderqueer and gender-questioning people. Everyone deserves the space to be whatever they are.


More close to home, I’ve happily supported my husband Lee’s choice to take testosterone. S/he stopped taking T partially under the influence of propaganda from my old group. After spending years in radical feminist groups that exaggerate the risks of HRT, I admit I was nervous when s/ he decided to go back on T but seeing how s/he benefited helped me work through and challenge what I’d internalized.

It’s taken me years to fully understand how people harmed me and how much of my suffering was caused by their actions instead of being my fault.

Healing from Conversion Practices & Idealogical Detransition by Ky Schevers

In the years since I left and started healing, I’ve been patient with myself, knowing that it’ll take time to heal from six years of conversion practices/ ideological detransition. I take my time working through things, not pushing myself. My old group claimed to have solutions ready to deal with my problems but instead their ideas and methods ended up creating more suffering in the short and long run. So now I give myself time to figure out what’s actually going to help. I might spend a lot of time feeling confused or like a mess but over time the work I’ve been doing pays off as I find more healing and clarity.

To sum up, a lot of what’s helped me is working through and processing feelings, self-education to understand what I went through, creating a new story of what happened, taking responsibility and working to repair past harm, connecting with others and participating in queer/trans communities. It’s all part of a larger process that helps me reclaim myself, my voice and my life.

AUTHOR BIO: Ky Schevers is a retrans genderqueer butch dyke who writes about surviving conversion practices/ ideological detransition. She also does opposition research monitoring the anti-trans movement and works to create better resources for detrans and retrans people.


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ARTIST BIO: Aaron El Sabrout (he/him) is an Egyptian/American transgender artist, writer, gardener, and lawyer. He currently lives on unceded Haudenosaunee territory. Aaron has spent time living in Cairo, Egypt and Doha, Qatar, as well as throughout North America. His work considers Arab, African, North American, and Indigenous cultural perspectives in creating a decolonial framework.

As a trans person, he is always trying to challenge rigid binaries and categorizations. In his professional life, he is an abolitionist lawyer supporting movements and incarcerated people. In his artistic life he combines poetry, illustration, and comic-making as a vehicle for collective liberation. Most days he is out tending his garden, harvesting wild medicines, and learning from and being with the land.

STATEMENT: I’m a trans guy who grew up Muslim. I was repeatedly forced to de-transition by my parents including getting plastic surgery I didn’t want and being sent to a conversion therapist. I have since transitioned but remain gender nonconforming. In creating this piece I wanted to focus the attention away from the harms that trans youth experience. Trans youth go through so much between repressive parents and society preventing them from transition or even de-transitioning them, as well as the pressures of cis-sexist society that force us to try to pass once we do transition. While those pressures are still present, I wanted more to highlight resilience and growth. That’s why I chose to refocus on the character growing and changing rather than the forces that want to prevent them from doing so or control their journey. They might be in a dry and lonely place, they might have people trying to hold them back, but they've come very far and the light is starting to break over the mountaintop.


Socials are: @toreachpoise.


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figures and extreme ideology driving the anti-trans backlash across the country.

We are exposing a highly-organized political apparatus, which is trying to make the future darker for everyone. Hundreds of anti-trans bills have been introduced in 2023 alone.

By listening to Season 2 and Season 1 of The Anti-Trans Hate Machine: A Plot Against Equality, TransLash Media’s podcast mini-series, award-winning journalist Imara Jones breaks down everything you need to know about this disinformation ecosystem constructed by the Christian Nationalist movement; the anti-trans lies being laundered through some of the biggest and most respected news rooms in the country, and how this effort creates a world where the existence of trans people is questioned.

Trans people are in crisis and America is in crisis. These two stories are inherently linked. That’s why this season, we’re charting how over 40 years of focus by the conservative movement have brought us here.

It’s a story of how anti-trans ideas are dressed up as pseudoscience by Christian Nationalist groups, and at each stage of the process, they traffic in the notion that trans people aren’t real, that we aren’t human. They create the cultural arguments and environment necessary to generate public support for the hundreds of anti-trans bills we’ve been seeing in state houses over the past few years, inching us further towards fascism.

On this journey we center the voices of trans people, as well as their families, who are victimized by this hostile movement––with Imara guiding us along the way. This edition of TransLash

Zine is a companion reader for the ATHM podcast series, animated films, as well as infographics, and features the personal stories of some TGNC folks whose lives have been directly impacted by the #AntiTransHateMachine. In this guide you’ll find some key terms, visual aids, and tips for fighting back against The Anti-Trans Hate Machine.

To understand all that’s happening right now, we need to travel back in time more than a half a century ago: we have to begin with conversion therapy.


According to HRC, "Reparative" or "conversion" therapy is a dangerous practice that targets LGBTQ+ youth and seeks to change their sexual or gender identities.

So-called “conversion therapy,” sometimes known as “reparative therapy,” is a range of dangerous and discredited practices that falsely claim to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Such practices have been rejected by every mainstream medical and mental health orga nization for decades, but due to continuing discri mination and societal bias against LGBTQ people, some practitioners continue to conduct conversion therapy. Minors are especially vulnerable, and con version therapy can lead to depression, anxiety, drug use, homelessness, and suicide.

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When we talk about The #AntiTransHateMachine, we are describing what is happening behind the curtain of the dark money, right wing organizations, radical

A recent report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law estimates that 20,000 LGBTQ minors in states without protections will be subjected to conversion therapy by a licensed healthcare professional if state officials fail to act.

So, how did we get here, to 2023, where LGBTQ+ youth and adults are still being abused and exploited through conversion therapy?

For much of the 20th century, “homosexuality” was a psychiatric diagnosis. It was an umbrella term for anyone operating outside of gender norms, whether they were gay, trans, or bisexual. Those diagnosed with “homosexuality” could be sent away and subjected to all kinds of quack medical treatments –in an effort to “correct” the condition – with electric shocks, hysterectomies, even lobotomies.

What’s astounding is that after nearly 50 years, LGBTQ+ youth are still victims of the latest version of these practices. In fact, nearly 1 out of 12 LGBTQ+ adults in the US have endured some form of conversion therapy in their life. That’s according to research from UCLA’s Williams Institute. This means that almost everyone knows someone who has experienced it.

Homosexuality was effectively removed from the list of psychological disorders in the 1970’s. One psychologist though, James Dobson, was mortified by this change. And he made it his personal crusade to rewind all of this progress. That’s why he founded a group called Focus on the Family.

In addition to Focus on the Family, Dobson founded the Family Research Council. It takes the goals of Focus on the Family and translates them into policies that are pushed by politicians all across the country at every level. It’s been labeled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center actually, and is one of the essential pieces of the anti-trans hate machine.

But Dobson didn’t stop there in his campaign against sexual orientation and gender identity. He added a third prong to his pitchfork.

In 1988, Dobson also created a group called Love Won Out. The point was to elevate people who said they were ex-gay and ex-lesbian as part of a ministry to spread the idea that queerness was a

choice, and could be changed. And they were keen to put people in front of the media.

If homosexuality is natural, is intrinsic to who people are, then it could be accepted. The only answer then is to say that it is made up. That’s where the ex-gay movement comes in.

From the 1970’s until the time he stepped down in 2009, Dobson was creating the infrastructure to spread misinformation about queer people. And his influence still looms large. Even today, Focus on the Family maintains a Christian Counseling network. They claim to have referred more than 300,000 people to therapists, who are required to agree to its policy on “counseling for sexual identity concerns.”

To learn more about Conversion Therapy, scan this QR code to access the audio and full transcript for ‘Conversion Therapy: The Disinformation Blueprint'

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are many reasons that people can decide to detransition. Physical safety, family exclusion, financial security, including housing and employment access, can play an important role in trans people’s assessment of what’s right for them. And for even more personal reasons trans people often choose to stop, rework or reassess what transitioning looks like for them. But we’re not talking about any of that. We are addressing ideological detransition.

Transition describes the social,psychological,and/ or medical processes by which a transgender person realigns themselves towards the gender with whichtheyidentify.

Today, Christian Nationalists have teamed up with TERFs, and even Dianic Witches, to find people who are “ex-trans” in an attempt to show that transgender people aren’t real. Those whom they target are at potentially vulnerable stages of their gender journey. And Chrisitian Nationalists exploit these sensitive moments for political purposes.

To learn more about Detransitioning, scan this QR code to access our infographic:

Scan this QR code to stream ‘Detransition Pseudo-Science and Misleading Examples' on Spotify: join us as we follow Ky Schevers and her journey into the depths of the detransition movement. We will learn how her story was seized upon by pseudo-scientific groups and the harm it caused both to Ky and the community she loves.

Access all of our #AntiTransHateMachine content:

AUTHOR BIO: Daniela “Dani” Capistrano (they/them) is the founder & CEO of DCAP MEDIA LLC, an NGLCC Certified LGBTBE® Enterprise that leads digital & content strategy, audience development, brand consulting, and strategic partnerships for TransLash Media and other BIPOC and LGBTQIA-led nonprofits, B2Bs, and B2Cs. Dani is proud to be a latinx, queer, trans non-binary storyteller, entrepreneur, and co-parent. Learn more about their latest initiative: Non-Binary Entrepreneurship with Daniela Capistrano, a podcast series that applies a non-binary lens to startup ecosystems, unpacking the ways that transgender and cisgender founders innovate and collaborate.

Learn more:

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Tone it down

Just the exact way you say it to remind us of outdoing the box,

An imposing call to order, reminding us that we might just be doing too much.

After all, we paid dues with our heads buried under the waters And dreams dying in thoughts.

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Yet, we are advised to tone

it down!

Denying ourselves of existing at their comfort,

While we are made aliens in our birthplace, homes and even to ourselves.

They say, the more the normality, the better the acceptance.

We have been taught to

who we are,

of what we've become and

at anything that takes our form.

They say you do not have to be out and loud but you, you… While you stay flourishing in the regretful corner of your heart, your freedom is to impose restricting opinions on our expression of self.

PHOTO DESCRIPTION: A candle light reflecting a bright to dark spectrum of lighting on the face of a person.

PHOTO CREDIT: Adunni’s photo archive

POET BIO: Adunni is a trans writer who reflects her sociocultural and political experiences through writing.

Her writing is inspired by her reality, being a woman of trans experience openly living out loud and advocating for trans rights in Lagos, Nigeria.

This piece reflects on the experiences of Trans people being advised and forced to conform, forced to silence, while actively questioning our body autonomy and our existence as trans femmes persons-–a trigger to gaslight us into questioning our existence in society and within the LGBTQ+ community at large.

Support her work:

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be afraid
beat down

Rediscovering Who I Am After Conversion Therapy

It’s National Coming Out Day 2013, and I’ve finally decided–psuedo-impulsively, but not without months of repeatedly talking myself out of it–that it is time to share my truth with the world (or at least with my isolated microcosm of the world). My parents recently enrolled me at Carlbrook, a therapeutic boarding school in South Boston, Virginia. Though nestled in an ultraconservative enclave, the seemingly progressive staff and student body had felt generally supportive of queer and trans folks up to now.

I’d had a concept of my girlhood since I was four and my parents bathed me alongside a family friend, a cis girl around my age. From that moment on, I longed to one day wake up in a body that looked like hers, but felt totally isolated in my deep, inutterable pain. At the time, I lacked the slightest inclination anyone else could relate. The word “transgender” would not even enter my vernacular, my girlhood into the realm of possibility, for nearly a decade.

At Carlbrook, we close each evening with “Last Light” where the student body sits sprawled across the carpeted floor of the commons building as one or more students sits in an armchair facing them and shares a vulnerable piece of their life. On this evening, I take the stage in front of 130 of my fellow students and staff and tell them I am transgender. I tell them I intend to transition while at the school, and undergo gender-affirming surgery as soon as I graduate. Many of my peers offered words of support, but looking back on that evening, I realized the staff completely avoided addressing it.

After a suspiciously calm week, my therapist approaches me in the dining hall as I finish my dinner. As he walks me across the pond for my weekly parent phone call, his face sinks into that condescendingly

sympathetic therapist frown (you know the one). “There’s something I have to tell you,” he begins. My heart pounds against my chest. Never a good start to a sentence. “I had to tell your parents what you shared during Last Light.” My heart sinks.

We walk the rest of the way in silence. As I pick up the phone, my parents are stern and accusatory. Though at first unclear why, I soon understand my therapist had assured them my coming out was merely a desperate ploy for attention rather than an important milestone to be taken seriously.

His outing me to my family was the first of many egregious violations of my autonomy and trust at Carlbrook.

Over the next few weeks, I slowly come out to teachers and other staff, and several of them agree to use my name and pronouns. This goes smoothly for about a month until I notice that one day, all at once, everyone who had previously been naming and gendering me correctly suddenly stops. I do not understand why a group of folks I thought were my allies seemed to do a 180 overnight, but the change is far too synchronized to be coincidental.

Before long, I discover what had happened. During a staff meeting, a school administrator who had caught wind of my request to these staff members forbade them from using my correct name and pronouns or else risk being fired. Around the same time, another administrator held a meeting where he emphasized an expectation he held for the school’s therapists—“do not indulge anything regarding gender.” At one point towards the end of my stay, the headmaster admitted they were afraid

A cool October breeze blows over the hill as I trudge meekly down toward the white pillars that stand at the entrance to Carlbrook School’s commons building. “You can do this,” I reassure myself. “You just have to get up there and start talking.”

Rediscovering Who I Am After Conversion Therapy by Arielle Rebekah

ARTWORK TITLE: Protect Trans Kids

ARTIST: Theodoor Grimes

ARTIST STATEMENT: An illustration of a Black trans child smiling. I wanted this child to be dark skin, as dark skin trans folks are underrepresented in art and media. It was also my goal that they radiate joy, safety, and peace. This child is an embodiment of the kind of confidence all trans children deserve to have.

of how other students’ parents would react if they found out Carlbrook had a transgender student.

Any attempt to transgress the gender-based rule system in order to manage my worsening gender

dysphoria earns me the label of “troublemaker” and I am made to feel guilty for it. When I try to grow my hair past the allowed length for “boys” in order to look slightly more feminine, I am swiftly coerced into a barber’s stool with the threat of detention.

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Rediscovering Who I Am

When I try to sit with other girls at school assemblies, staff enforce the school’s sex-segregated seating policy, telling me I should “know better” and publicly humiliating me until I comply. When I try to sit next to two of my female friends on one particular school trip, an ultra-conservative male staff member asks me to move. When I rebut, “but I’m transgender,” he looks at me and sternly warns, “Do not fuck with me.”

A few months before graduation, I practically beg my new therapist to let me so much as speak with her about being trans. In response, she asks me to complete a writing assignment detailing why I would “never be a complete man nor a complete woman.”

Carlbrook’s abusive reprogramming tactics are rarely as evident as during our workshops. During each of these multi-day marathon group therapy sessions, an unlicensed and often untrained “therapist” would lead us through scripted activities designed to wear us down to the point our self-concept becomes malleable. Many of these activities involve being forced into the middle of the room with loud music blaring as staff and peers verbally attack or humiliate us. Others are designed to physically and emotionally exhaust us, which combined with sleep deprivation and severely delayed meal times means we are extremely emotionally vulnerable. Once it becomes clear our spirits are sufficiently broken, staff seize the opportunity to reprogram us into believing what they want us to believe. For me, this means forcing me to “reconnect with that little boy” inside me and making me feel guilty for “pushing him away” with “all this gender stuff.” At one point, I am publicly belittled and angrily kicked out of a workshop for asserting my truth to the conservative Mormon woman who is acting as the lead therapist, even though she herself is not licensed to practice therapy in the state of Virginia (nor anywhere else, to the best of my knowledge).

After sixteen agonizing months of pleading with the school administration to allow me to live my truth, I finally graduate. Only by this point, I am more doubtful than ever about how or even if I want to

transition. They’d spent years strategically sowing the seeds of doubt, forcing me to put my trust in them and positioning themselves as the authority on what I need. When it’s finally time to trust myself, I find myself unable.

After finally beginning to socially transition in summer 2015, I spend almost a year afraid I’ve made a terrible mistake. Carlbrook’s invalidations echo inside me on an endless loop, perpetuating the noisy self-doubt that had taken permanent residence in my brain since I was a child. I even briefly consider detransitioning but fear that if I do, I will never be believed about my identity again.

In the half decade following my graduation, fellow survivors and I gradually unearth a treasure trove of seedy stories about Carlbrook, and specifically its origins. We discover our school was descended from Synanon, a notorious cult from the 1970s that masqueraded as a “drug rehabilitation” program while practicing attack therapy and violently abusing children. Though Synanon was ultimately disbanded in the 1990s, the concept was replicated in the form of CEDU schools, whose treatment philosophy became the foundation for Carlbrook and a number of other teen residential treatment programs. Though Carlbrook shut down in 2015, descendants of CEDU still exist to this day, engaging in the same baseless and manipulative “treatment” tactics I and so many others have endured.

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It isn’t until I begin meeting with a trans feminine therapist in summer 2016 that I finally begin the process of finding peace with my decision. Even then, it takes several years of unpacking Carlbrook trauma before I finally learn to trust my instincts, decision-making, and self-knowledge.

Rediscovering Who I Am After Conversion Therapy by Arielle Rebekah

I need folks to understand that tactics stemming from conversion therapy are shockingly prevalent, even today. While some programs explicitly and shamelessly refer to themselves as “reparative therapy” programs, others are more insidious, using the playbook of conversion without ever showing their hand or revealing their motives. My parents genuinely believed they’d found a program that would guide me toward happiness. School staff were experts in controlling the narrative: we were gaslighted into believing our daily experiences were normal, our families strategically taught to trust the administration above their own children.

I have thankfully been able to find peace and a healing, but many survivors still suffer. While I came home to a family who has learned to accept me, and a community that has my back, many survivors return to the same chronically invalidating environments they left. I long for the day reprogramming is a thing of the past and no one again has to suffer through what so many of us have endured. Together, I know we’ll keep fighting until that becomes our reality.

AUTHOR BIO: Arielle Rebekah (they/them), founder of Trans & Caffeinated Consulting, is a transgender writer, coffee enthusiast, and mother to the three most different cats in the world. While their work centers mainly around transgender visibility and education, Arielle is passionate about creating a world where all people have access to the tools and resources they need to thrive. An admirer of media’s ability to shape culture, Arielle’s all-time favorite show is The Good Place. While this sounds like a silly thing to write in a bio, this understatedly poignant comedy dares to dream of a world in which rather than being punished for their mistakes, people are given the love and support they need to do good. As a teenager, Arielle survived 2 years in a supposed therapeutic inpatient program that drew its tactics from the methodologies of cults and conversion “therapy” and has since dedicated their life to making the world a safer place for all transgender people.

STATEMENT: From August 2013 to December 2014, I lived at a therapeutic boarding school in South Boston, VA–a small rural town right on the border of North Carolina, as early talks about HB2 began in the backdrop. Carlbrook, which on paper sought to help struggling young adults live happy, fulfilled lives, used many of the same reprogramming

tactics as conversion therapy and cults. Early in my stay, believing I was finally safe to do so, I came out as transgender. A largely Mormon and Evangelical school staff spent the next year working to emotionally, spiritually, and physically break me to the point that I was malleable, then fed me information about the “man” they believed me to be until I eventually started to believe them. It took a year after graduation to finally begin living my truth, and nearly another decade to unpack the trauma of living through the fear, pain, and trauma of their reprogramming efforts

Arielle recently shared the story of their time at Carlbrook on an episode of The Anti-Trans Hate Machine, a podcast hosted by Imara Jones and TransLash Media. In the episode, Arielle goes into greater detail about the organized and sinister machine of CEDU schools and their personal experiences at Carlbrook

SOCIAL MEDIA: Instagram/Twitter @Ariellergordon, Website:

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a life in many genders

Fifteen years ago I began a life-changing transition process to claim a gender more complex than being a “girl”, which had been automatically assigned to me as someone born female. I have now transitioned once again with the same goal in mind, shifting from being Kalil, a genderqueer trans person mostly seen as a man, to being Kalil, a genderqueer trans person sometimes seen as a man, sometimes as a woman.

For me, being both genderqueer and transgender signifies a complex interweaving of femininity and masculinity – and a blurring of the gender binary. While my gender identities have remained consistent throughout this journey, my gender expressioncontinues to evolve.

This ongoing process of transitioning my gender expression stems from my yearning to be seen in a world that is blind to my multiplicity, to be understood in a culture that lacks the categories to describe me, and to be embraced in a society that is constructed to exclude me. I thought this process was complete when I transitioned my body and gender presentation from female to male fourteen years ago. However, it was simply the end of one life cycle of my gender journey. While it removed the limitation of being seen as unequivocally female and made my masculinity visible, the masculinity others saw was rarely the one I experience. And there was something ineffable missing as well.

The gender evolution of my first 23 years of life culminated in my decision to medically transition from female to not-female. Genderqueer and trans-identified I felt trapped and controlled by the female gender role, my masculinity invisibilized at every turn. And while I admired lithe butch bodies with small chests and no hips, my busty Jewish figure could not comply. And so I eagerly underwent top surgery, thrilled to no longer be weighed down by the DD mounds of flesh hanging from my chest. Forging a new life as a non-female person, however, proved to be more complicated than a few hours of surgery and a few months of recovery. I quickly realized that walking through a binary world as a non-binary person was simply not an option. People still saw me

sterone, just enough to allow me to move through the world as male - a lower voice, masculine fat distribution, and a bit of facial hair. I was grateful for the added benefit of relief from my exceptionally heavy moon cycles, including a month-long period in my teens that landed me in the emergency room because of excessive blood loss. At the same time, I did not like the extra emotional disconnection I experienced from testosterone, especially as an already mind-dominant person. However, this was not a strong enough drawback to dissuade me; I soon grew used to this new emotional state, and it began to feel natural to me. I didn’t plan to take hormones forever, but I was confident that it was the best solution for the time being.

A Life In Many Genders by

Strongly trans-identified, I cultivated a community of trans and genderqueer friends and chosen family. I finally felt seen, understood, accepted, and respected. For the next seven years I explored this realm of gender outlaws, transhuman futurists, and body sculpting visionaries. I played in the infinite colors of gender fabulousness. I mostly gravitated to a butch expression but revelled in my femme side as a performance artist with a fey aesthetic. Proud of my place as a freak, I was glad to exercise the important muscle of evaluating rather than accepting social norms, and rejecting those unaligned with my personal sensibilities. Strongly connected by our shared social marginalization, I bonded deeply with my chosen family.

At the same time, I was now experiencing the other cage of the gender binary, the “man” box. It didn’t bother me at first, because I was so relieved to no longer be trapped in the “woman” box that had plagued me for 23 years. At first, I enjoyed that people listened to me more, criticized me less, and didn’t objectify me physically. But slowly the male cage started to feel just as claustrophobic as the female one had. While the constraints and expectations of being male were not always as offensive, they were just as oppressive. I was no longer allowed to hug children in public lest anyone thought I was a sexual predator. Men teased and bullied me in their quest for dominance. Queerness was more strictly policed, and the homophobia more violent and aggressive. I was also less supported in exploring my emotional world, healing from trauma, and becoming an embodied and balanced person. And even after all my physical changes, I still felt disconnected from my body. While I was no longer measuring myself against the impossible standards of female beauty, the muscular masculine ideal had quietly replaced them. I slowly realized that my body dysmorphia was about more than just gender. It was about living in an anti-body culture, dissociated from physical sensation and lacking mind-body balance.

Ten years ago I stopped taking testosterone. I didn’t want any more body hair or facial hair than the small scruff I'd already grown, and although I really appreciated the benefits of no menstrual cycle and greater muscle tone, it wasn’t worth it to continue just for that. I was lucky that hormones were no longer crucial for my mental health, as I had already achieved the physical changes I desired. Additionally, I'd become more interested in nutrition and holistic wellness and felt growing concern

about Western medicine and more cautious about what I put in my body. I had also started a new selfdevelopment process for my 30th birthday in order to become a more heart-centered person, and hoped that coming back to a female hormonal balance would help me deepen my connection with myself. Little did I know that this would lead me on an entirely new journey of self-discovery, healing, growth, and transformation.

Only a month after I stopped taking hormones, I started to bleed again, for the first time in seven years. On a camping trip and ill-prepared for this novel occurrence, I reached out for help. I connected with a female friend over the rhythms of our bodies as she shared her pads and tampons with me. The experience was somewhat familiar and yet entirely new. During my adolescence, I hadn’t felt allied with my female friends as we were initiated into this rite of womanhood. Not identifying as a woman, I had felt like a foreigner, an imposter. Now I had a community of genderqueer and trans friends who bled, with whom I could explore this experience of body and moon in rhythm together. Now I had a spiritual connection to this monthly cycle, to the opportunity for mindful awareness, reverence for the sacred womb, and the emotional expression that it offers. Now, no longer consuming hormone-laden dairy and meat, my cycle was much lighter than it had been. Now, I knew about the cup and cloth menstrual pads - ways to bleed that were not toxic to me or to the environment.

As I started to settle into the rhythm of bleeding, I opened into a whole world of beauty that I had never known before. I discovered that I have an open door to grief when I’m bleeding - a mechanism to process and digest the pains of my life in a measured and consistent way. I discovered the empowerment I felt when I gathered my blood in a cup - when I could see what was being released. I discovered that this cycle asked me to arrange my life with flexibility so that I could take it easy for the first day of bleeding. And suddenly I felt the supportive, profound, esoteric sanctity of what had once been a terrible burden and insurmountable obstacle in my life.

With this shift came a newfound reverence for my womb and its power. While I had always been a yonicentric person, the rest of my sex-specific organs had always been somewhat mysterious to me. They were vague line drawings from biology class that didn’t have real meaning in my life or self-image. I now felt drawn to deeply know my womb, to embody the

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A Life In Many Genders by Kalil

power residing there. And with these new interests, I slowly became more aligned with people I knew who were on similar journeys of self-discovery. I began to seek out spaces to be with others sanctifying the monthly rhythms of their bodies, most of whom identified as women. And for the first time, I didn’t feel like an alien in these spaces. As a genderqueer, yet male-appearing trans person, I felt accepted and respected as I talked about the spiritual empowerment I had found in my womb and my moon cycle. In these circles I found a shared narrative of defamation and degradation of the bloody potency of our bodies.

Through this process, the question of gender expression emerged to the forefront of my life once again. Still faced with the inadequate constraints of the gender binary and the social reality of being seen as either male or female, I began to reconsider my options. My priorities had shifted, and rather than wishing to demonstrate my non-femaleness as clearly as possible, I now wished to be seen as a person with a womb. And if "female" was the clearest word that most people could summon for such a person, then so be it. My appearance shifted gradually, more slowly than my first transition, as I felt out the significance of this gender reorientation in my life. I began growing my hair out, shaved off my mustache, and welcomed more purple into my wardrobe. For the first time in nine years, some people called me "she" when they met me, and it felt nice and a little daring. As I slowly followed this thread of transitioning my gender presentation, I felt closer to my body, more able to convey my spirit to the outside world.

Next, I started wearing prosthetic breasts made for women who had the same double mastectomy surgery I did, mostly for breast cancer. I tried to lilt my testosterone-lowered voice up a bit, into a more androgynous range. These shifts opened the door to exploring how it feels to have the female aspect of my being recognized by strangers, acquaintances, and friends – to be genderqueer on the other side of the binary gender line. With my hairy legs, no make-up, and the same androgynous wardrobe, I didn’t appear more feminine, just more female. For me, this had a different meaning than it did ten years prior, when I was last seen as female. This time, I was able to reinterpret what people were seeing as not my “womanhood” but my “womb-hood”, not my femininity but my capacity to create life, to connect deeply with the moon, to chart my own fierce

emotional and spiritual pathway. Of course, most people have no such complex thoughts when they see a “woman”, but by reclaiming these aspects of my identity for myself, it no longer mattered as much what others could see of me.

This was my first real foray into womanhood. Even though I was socialized as a girl, I never experienced adult “womanhood”. I went from girlhood to a genderqueer adolescence, to a transgender adulthood. At puberty I only felt disconnected and let down by my body, without any way to experience an empowering sense of womanhood. This is partially because I did not see a pathway toward embodiment that reflected my genderqueerness, one not madeup and lacy, objectified and disempowered. But it is also because of our cultural disconnection and dismissal of wombs, the power of bleeding, and the potential to physically grow another human. While the feminism of my youth embraced the notion that women could do and be anything, it did not include a spiritual component or a way to understand the sacredness of my female body. And yet, this newly defined womanhood was inevitably rife with the heartbreaking limitations of being truly understood and seen in the world. And the misogyny I experienced in the “woman” box is just as painful as it was the first time around.

After three years of proactively choosing to be seen as female in the world, I shifted into a more inbetween appearance by removing the prosthetic breasts I had been wearing. This one small change caused some people to start calling me “he” upon meeting me once again, while others continued to use “she”, and some people began to avoid using pronouns altogether, or to ask my preference. This current reality of having different aspects of my gender and selfhood being seen by different people feels like the closest I can get to being fully understood or visible to dominant society.

This is a given in casual encounters where someone will never know how I identify or what those identities

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As a genderqueer trans person, I have an overarching life experience of most people not fully understanding my gender.

A Life In Many Genders by

mean to me. But it is often true in relationships with colleagues and cisgender friends as well. Before transition, I thought that if I could materialize the reality I felt inside, making my physical body part female and part male, people would believe me when I told them that I was trans, would see that I was non-binary. But what most people believed instead is that I wanted to be male instead of female, or that I just “thought” I was male.

Our culture has a long way to go before we will have a shared understanding of gender identity and expression, and how these relate to bodies and biological sex. So, gender variant folks navigate the systems in which we find ourselves. And as my desires shifted and morphed over time, so have my strategies for playing this gender game. Now, some people say “he” and others “she”, and I don’t correct them. Neither option is right, but neither are they wrong. In another few decades perhaps everyone will know how to use non-binary pronouns like “they”, “ze” or just my name. For now, my chosen family and community of trans and genderqueer folks and allies understand the complexity of my gender, and most of the rest of the world doesn’t.

Even though it might appear that I’ve “gone backwards” or “de-transitioned”, that is not my experience at all. My gender expression is a continually evolving aspect of myself, and I am wholly different than I was 15 years ago, when I was last read as female by strangers. My deeper voice feels so natural to me, like a true reflection of how I would imagine sounding. And even though I don’t drop into the depth of my low range as much anymore, I still enjoy the resonance and sound of my testosterone-lowered voice. Top surgery has turned out to be a more complex aspect of my journey, however. I continue to enjoy the convenience and contour of my flat chest, but I now feel conflicted about the loss of my mammary glands, an important aspect of my reproductive capacity and life-giving abilities. And while many people with intact mammary glands are unable to nurse, I am sad that this intimate experience of parenthood would not be an option for me.

And yet, I don’t regret physically transitioning. I don’t regret transitioning like I don’t regret former romantic partnerships. Even though I am no longer in love with my ex wife, I don’t lament the six years we spent together, and am grateful for how that experience has shaped the person I am today. I have gone through

a lot to get to where I am now, but every part of this path has been crucial to my development as a person navigating the gender binary. The level of self-acceptance, comfort with my body, and connection with my spirit that I now enjoy is priceless.

I don’t know how all of this would have unfolded without the years of living as male. What if I had gone on my womb reclamation journey while still feeling frustrated and trapped by the label of woman? What if I had never experienced the feelings of being trapped and frustrated by the label of man? While it is difficult to transition socially again, I don’t think these deeper understandings could have occurred without the invaluable experiences of the past. Now that all this has come to pass, I know that this may not be the last time I write words such as these. I now truly understand that expressing my unique gender and navigating this culture of gendered limitations and assumptions will be a lifelong journey for me. I am curious to see what else this path has to teach me, and how I can help illuminate the complexities of gender for us all.

In sharing my story with you, I hope to expand the narrative of what a life in many genders can be. This journey is uniquely mine and represents only one of a multitude of trans and genderqueer experiences. Also, I am grateful for the economic privilege and social agency that have allowed me to make these ongoing shifts to my appearance, and to how people read me while maintaining employment and familial connections throughout my journey.

Author Bio: Kalil Cohen (ze/zir/zem) writes personal narratives and poetry to heal and beautify the wounds of personal and ancestral trauma. Ze also leads rituals to support folx in connecting with Transcestors and ancestors. Kalil’s short films have screened at film festivals from Minneapolis to Mumbai to Melbourne. As a gender rights advocate, Kalil has appeared on Democracy Now! and Current TV, and written for online and print magazines including Bitch and The Progressive.


Instagram: ritualsforresilience


I now know that this is not the case. Some unfortunate people come out of the closet only for the people around them to force them back in and lock the door. I was one of these people.

When I came out to my father, he was serving as the bishop of our ward – the man in charge of the spiritual wellbeing of the local church congregation. He was always busy, and when he wasn’t at work or at church, he was tired, too worn out to interact much with us.

So I made the foolish choice of coming out to him while he was sitting behind the desk in his office at the churchhouse.

I claim it was my choice, but I do feel like my hand was forced – the appointment had been set weeks ago by the ward clerk. It was supposed to be a meeting between me and the bishop, checking in on how I was coming along in finishing the goals of the former “Young Women’s” program, which the girls of the ward were being encouraged to complete before it got phased out for a new program.

He had set up these interviews with all of the Young Women, seemingly in order to turn up the pressure and get as many as he could to finish the goals.

Participating in Young Womens, especially when it came to working on the program’s goals, was always a source of discomfort and dysphoria for me, and I had no interest in completing the program, but my father, unaware of my emotional inhibitions, had been pressuring me for weeks, both as my father and as the bishop, to complete the goals. It felt like every interaction we had revolved around those goals, and every time I talked to him I had to choose between lying about intending to complete the program, or being truthful about why I wasn’t going to work on it anymore, which was a conversation that would inevitably lead to me being forced to reveal

facts about my gender identity and lack of belief in the church that I was afraid my father would not have welcomed.

For a long time I chose to lie, and it weighed heavily on me. So with the meeting looming, I decided that it was just a matter of bravery. After all, isn’t telling the truth always the right thing to do? And aren’t parents supposed to love and support their children unconditionally?

Bolstered by this naive reasoning, I resolved to come out to my father during the interview. When he asked how my work on the goals was coming along, I told him the truth: I hadn’t worked on them for a long time and I had no intention of finishing the program. I told him that the program’s foundations of developing the skills of successful women and mothers were not things that I was comfortable with, because I did not feel they applied to me. I told him that I was actually a boy, and that I had felt that way for a long time.

The look in his eyes chilled me to the bone. It was anger and disbelief and righteous indignation all rolled up into one icy glare. He was silent for a few heart-pounding moments, then he spoke.

At first I thought, against all the odds, that he was going to be supportive, but over the course of the conversation it became clear that he thought my trans identity was just a “struggle” I would have to overcome, a trial placed in my way to strengthen my eventual faith in the gospel and happiness in womanhood. I tried to hold out, to be assertive and show him that I was who I said I was, but it was to no avail. In the prayer he gave to end the meeting, he asked God to guide me through my confusion. Afterward he hugged me and told me not to worry, that even with all that I was “struggling with”, I was still a “beautiful daughter of God”.

I used to think that once the closet door had been opened, it couldn’t be closed again. Coming out had to be an irreversible act. Surely, no one would choose to return to concealing their true self after having felt what it was like to live authentically, right?

I was devastated and disappointed. And that was only the beginning of the mess.

That night, he told my mother about our conversation, despite me never giving him permission, and despite the fact that anything said in the Bishop’s office is supposed to be confidential. I could hear her sobbing. The sound still haunts me.

Over the next few days, my parents kept cornering me and instigating conversations. They asked me who else knew about what I was “struggling with”. I made the mistake of mentioning a friend at school who was agender, and they started insinuating that maybe this friend had influenced me into doubting my womanhood. I told them that I knew I was trans before this friend came out to me, but that didn’t sway them, and they continued to show their suspicion and distrust any time I talked about any of my friends.

They told me I shouldn’t say anything about my gender identity to my little brother, because they didn’t want to “make things hard for him”. A few days later, they heard my brother calling me by my nickname (which has the benefit of being gender neutral as well as three syllables shorter than my given name) and they told him, while I was obviously within earshot, that he should use my full name because "it’s a beautiful name" and "it shouldn’t go to waste".

Once, after a long argument in which I kept trying to explain why being seen as a boy was important to me, my father asked me if I ever felt unsure or doubtful of whether I was really “not a girl anymore”. I fell into his trap, trusting that his question was genuine, and I admitted that there were moments when I wondered if it might be easier to just try again living as a girl. He told me that those thoughts were my “true female spirit” crying out against the cruelty I was doing to her by pretending to be a boy.

When I continued to be stubborn about my gender, they insisted on taking me to therapy. Eventually, I agreed, hoping that a qualified therapist would take my side, or at least be able to help my parents see that their actions were harmful. I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up.

The “therapist” they took me to worked for Family Services, a church-run organization, and I doubt he was actually a licensed therapist. He asked me what

name I wanted to go by but never once used it. He dominated all of our sessions talking about how he thought I should think about my “gender challenges”, and the few times he did let me talk or ask me questions, he would tell my parents exactly what I had said at the end of our sessions.

I learned to stay silent or nod and smile when he asked questions. I grew to despise everything about my situation and wanted nothing more than to stop going to therapy, and I viewed the arrival of Covid-19, with its office closures, as a blessing.

That feeling didn’t last. With office closures came school closures, and I was stuck at home, with no respite from the relentless attack from my parents. Eventually, I grew tired of fighting a battle I was never going to win. I stopped correcting them when they intentionally misgendered me. When LGBTQIA+ issues were shown on the news or talked about around the dinner table, I kept my head down and my face blank.

Later, when they asked me if I’d found comfort and peace after my “confusion” and if I was okay being “our [birth name]” again, I put on a smile and said “of course”.

It was official. My trans identity, in their eyes, was only a phase. They had sheltered their cherished daughter through the storm of the adversary’s lies!

In reality, their actions brought me to the brink of destruction. Those moments when it seemed like it was worth trying to live as a girl again? They were unbearable. They didn’t come because I actually felt like a girl, but because I was so emotionally exhausted by trying to prove my gender to people who would never accept it. But at the same time, I was afraid of the idea that any part of my brain would want to try to be a girl again. What if that meant I really was a girl?

What if my dad was right, and I was fighting against my own “female spirit”, and destroying my relationship with my family in the process?

Recloseted by Anonymous

The battle between the part of me that wanted to give in just to finally gain some respite and the part of me that was repulsed by any notion of being a girl put a massive amount of stress on me, causing very strange emotional responses.

I began to overanalyze everything– all of my behaviors and every interaction I had with other people–all on the basis of whether it might reveal that some inner “female spirit” existed. Ismywritingstyleagirl’s writing style? Do I walk like a girl? Is my relationship withmybrotherthatofanoldersisterratherthanan olderbrother?Whereisthedifference?DoIthinklike agirl?

I withdrew even further from my family. I stopped being able to enjoy reading, which had always been my escape from my world, because I was convinced that something in the way I experienced reading was inherently female, and the idea sickened me. I wasn’t safe inside my own brain. For a long time, the only relief I could find from this onslaught was when I was asleep, because it was the only time I wasn’t constantly thinking in circles, obsessing endlessly over every tiny detail of my life. I eventually became able to compel myself to go to sleep. For hours each day, I would force-shutdown my own brain, consigning myself to the groggy sickness that came from oversleeping rather than trying to deal with my racing thoughts.

In short, I was miserable. In trying to coerce me into seeing myself the way they thought I had to be, rather than trusting that I knew my own heart and giving me freedom to be myself, my parents had sacrificed my wellbeing at the altar of their worldview.

It took me a long time to get better, but I eventually did. The first step, in my case, was the vital choice to stop fighting. Acknowledging that I did not have the ability or the energy to change my parents’ minds at that time gave me space to rediscover who I truly was, rather than just who I’d morphed myself into in my attempts to resist being rewritten by my parents. I was able to step back. I told myself, “whatever I am–a boy, a girl, or anything else– that will be okay.”

With that foundation, I was finally able to start healing from my spiraling, cyclic thoughts, letting them go rather than grabbing at them to hold under scrutiny. I was able to be compassionate with myself. Gradually, I even regained the “ability” to read without feeling dysphoric and sick.

I was once again healthy. And I knew who I was. I was still the guy I had always been.

I have found the lasting impacts of being recloseted to be quite interesting. For one thing, experiencing authenticity, no matter how brief and costly it was, made it harder to go back to how I’d been living.

When in-person school resumed, I could never quite fight the feeling of being one degree removed from all of my endeavors. After all, it couldn’t really be me playing a song up on stage or walking at graduation when some other kid’s name was on the program. Nor could I help the feeling that I was lying to every person I met right out of the gate, the moment I introduced myself.

The feelings of separation and falseness I dealt with as a result of being recloseted have since receded, just as the spiraling thoughts and obsessive selfscrutiny did back then. Just as I did back then, I evaluated and accepted that I did not have the ability to safely change my circumstances, then gave myself compassion and space to feel whatever I needed to feel and be whoever I needed to be while I waited for my right time to act. With this approach, already tried and tested, I was able to survive until I could move out and begin to live as myself.

While I wish that I’d never had to go through the pain of being recloseted, I can say that the authenticity available to me, hand in hand with the coping skills I learned along my journey, have felt all the more rewarding and well-earned because of it.

So, to anyone who’s found themselves back inside a closet they did their best to leave behind: Be wise, and bide your time if you must. Be as patient and compassionate to yourself as you can. The reward is worth any wait.

AUTHOR BIO: Anon, a 19 year old transmasc, attended his first year of college at an institution located in an area where the majority of the population adheres to a religion that is antiLGBTQIA+, often explicitly so. They grew up in a religious, conservative, higher-income household, which gave them a lot of mental baggage to unpack and a lot of concepts to deconstruct and relearn. Anon is not on social media and we are respecting their privacy boundary.

I Survived My Own Children Being Turned Into Incentives For Me To Detransition

My parents turned my children into incentives for me to detransition as I lost in-person access to them – and access to them in any way practically entirely.

First, my parents refused to let me see my own children in their presence unless I detransitioned. (I had to rely on them in order to see my children.) Then, I didn’t get an agreement on any of 14 other individuals willing to take my parents' role to enable me to see my children.

When I came out to my 9- and 7-year-old, they were fine with me being a woman. And there weren’t any issues after that. An issue arose only after my parents, like me, attended a basketball game in which my 7-year-old was playing and my 9-year-old was there. I entered the school where the game was going to take place, where I brought sports drinks (as I always did when I could see my children) and cute chocolate and pretzel critters for them. I saw my parents there. (They didn’t attend any game in the immediate preceding season – and they rarely, if at all, had attended any of my children’s games, to my understanding).

Just after I arrived, my mom pulled my children onto a stage in the gym where the game was going to take place. Only after my mom finished talking with them, did my children take opposition to me.

Only after that did my 9-year-old limit her communication with me to a total of some sporadic Facebook messages over two occasions per week. And only after that did my 7-year-old refuse to associate with me except for one 25-minute period where he sent me some Facebook messages.

I didn’t get an agreement for me to attend any games, either, after my parents and I fought. That happened after my mom probably fostered antagonism in my children on that stage, estranging them from me and thus making them incentives for me to detransition.

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I Survived My Own Children Being Turned Into Incentives For Me To Detransition by

In a call with my parents – the first big one with them after I came out to them – my dad said I needed to “be a man” in order to see my children. As I told them, I am transitioning. Beyond socially transitioning, I am legally a woman in both gender and name and I am currently in the process of medically transitioning. I already wear breast forms and hip pads every day.

In an effort to regain my time with my children, I did outreach, seeking friends who would help me see my 9- and 7-year-old. In response, 14 friends stepped forward, which I appreciate at the deepest level. However, I didn’t get an agreement on any of them. I was told that folks who are parents should be with me. As I told the person who didn’t agree with me, 12 of the 14 are.

Several also have training that certainly put them in the very top echelon of the types of people who are best to be with children. Several, including an

ecclesiastical leader recently, also share the religious beliefs of the person who didn’t agree with me. They are the same person who required that my parents be with me when I was with my children. They are a person who said that my transitioning is “a massive change” when I’m simply aligning myself as much as possible with who I have realized I am at my core. That person also said that my children would need to go to therapy for me transitioning –and that I would need to pay for half the cost. That person also told me that I need to repair my relationship with my children. I have no idea what they were talking about.

That person also only agreed to video calls for me with my children for a rather limited time after I transitioned before agreeing to only the precious little Facebook messages. And after the basketball game, I was limited to messages except for two rather brief calls with only my 9-year-old. However, one was because I was making a huge life change in moving to the Los Angeles, Calif. area. With the other, this Star Wars fan was hung up on while in the middle of sharing the moment of being in Galaxy’s Edge, AKA Star Wars Land, for the first time. It was also my birthday.



ARTIST: Theodoor Grimes

ARTIST STATEMENT: Modeled after crying statues of the Virgin Mary, Innocence shows a transfemme, crying while being swallowed by a void that ebbs in and out. The Virgin Mary is a holy figure of womanhood, while she herself supernaturally surpasses the biological capabilities of a cisgender woman by giving birth while remaining a virgin. At the same time, religious people tell us what the body of a man or woman should and should not be able to do. They police the bodies of trans folks and deny our gender identities. Meanwhile, religious texts globally are full of stories of people surpassing “biological reality.” The aesthetic of this piece is based on film noir, a genre popularized between the 1920’s and 1950’s that has an idealized vision of womanhood. Women in this genre are often portrayed as precious and worthy of protection. Similarly, transfemmes, and more specifically trans girls growing up, should be allowed to express the full range of their identities and emotions while being protected.

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It’s quite possible my children were even flat-out told to not associate with me unless I detransitioned.

I don’t doubt for a second that the person, their supporters and my immediate family know that the one reason I would theoretically have detransitioned is so I can have my children in my life. Thus, those adults are trying to incentivize that. And that started with fostering antagonism in my children towards me, at the least.

However, I know who I am.

Without hardly any access whatsoever to my children (and a host of other negative fallout in Utah from transitioning) and in being a freelancer, I asked myself, “Why am I here?” My answer being “I don’t know” is why I moved to the Los Angeles area, where I feel completely safe 100% of the time.

There’s a lot to be said for that. And it stands quite in contrast to my struggle to survive the pressures of detransitioning.

AUTHOR BIO: Described by a rival community newspaper as a “big-city cousin,” Alysha V. Scarlett (she/her) has had 101 bylines in USA TODAY, Screen Rant, Bleacher Report, Patch, or The Good Men Project. She was a screenwriter for “Before Your Time,” a theatrical feature film. She also wrote “‘Star Wars' Is Still Intact: Re-finding Yourself in the Age of Trump,” which was published by Thought Catalog Books. She has won 13 writing awards over five years of applying for them. Also, she can write at any time for That Hashtag Show and frequently writes for Medium. Her coverage of Green River, Wyo., drew ire exclusively of the governments in the town. She also has reported stories like whether a Green River ordinance lined up with state law; what a lack of town halls in the wake of the 2016 presidential election said about members of the U.S. Congress; former Rep. Mia Love using campaign funds for outof-state fundraising at Disney World; former President Donald Trump rejecting non-traditional media in Utah after fighting against traditional media otherwise; and a Kaysville, Utah videographer getting a film onto the big screen. And that Love still owed $372K, as required by the Federal Election Commission. None of the media in Utah, where Love’s district was, reported that.

Alysha also spent time with Queer Friends to get to know the Utah group, as part of a roundup of three progressive affairs in right-leaning Utah.

Alysha is an outspoken ex-Mormon. She is also the first person in a rural Utah county to have their name and gender be legally affirmed, as reported by The Heroines of My Life, KSL NewsRadio and Xtra Magazine


Facebook: @aly.val.scarlett

Instagram: @alyscarlett

Twitter: @rhettrites

That Hashtag Show website:

Alysha V. Scarlett website:

Medium profile:

I am a woman.
I realized that in easily the most profound journey of my life. And I will never allow my core self to be taken from me.
#AntiTransHateMachine PAGE 26

Smoke. Kill. Stay. A Non-linear Detrans Narrative by Shaawan Francis Keahna

Smoke. Kill. Stay. A Non-linear Detrans Narrative by Shaawan Francis Keahna

Smoke. Kill. Stay. A Non-linear Detrans
Narrative by Shaawan Francis Keahna

Smoke. Kill. Stay. A Non-linear Detrans Narrative by Shaawan Francis Keahna

ARTIST BIO: Shaawan Francis Keahna (he/him and she/her) is a transient storyteller somewhere east of the sun, west of the moon. His art is currently on display at the Watermark Art Center in Bemidji, MN, as part of the Miikanan gallery. His other art can be found in A Howl, by Native Realities Press, R.I.S.E. Vol IV, and The Asian Cyborg and Other Othered Bodies.

STATEMENT: “There is a reality of the body.” This is what my trans ex wife turned best friend says. There is a reality of the body, a lived experience, a truth to the horribly politicized “biological realities” and the stigmatized self-determination we all fight for. My art exists in my unreal body. Sometimes I joke that it’s like someone made me up. I feel invented, so I make comics. I feel comical, so I invent. My art is fueled by love and rage, joy and spite. I wrote recently that I never really had a choice when it came to my gender. I was put on oral steroids for what later turned out to be an estrogen allergy, which most doctors hesitate to diagnose, because what “woman” is allergic to estrogen? They put me on the steroids to treat the symptoms, but the steroids did exactly what they wanted to keep me from—they lowered my voice, redistributed my fat, changed me. I went into my treatment a 17 year old girl, a prom queen, a tall, hyper-feminine entity, and once the pharminduced amnesia hit, I came out on the other side a 19 year old boy. For this reason, some members of my family worried about me transitioning. Some thought I was being irrational and impulsive.

My cousin, a trans woman, had known she was a girl since she was 3 years old. When it came to me, the question was “where did my granddaughter go?” I went on T when I was 19 out of pragmatism and dysphoria. I stayed on it and stayed identifying male. I got into an abusive relationship with someone who told me I had to be a lesbian because of how complex my gender was, how imposed it seemed. I went off T spring of 2020 out of pragmatism, too. I was disabled and terrified of going to the pharmacy when the pandemic was in full swing. I watched my body reshape itself into the woman’s body it never got to be, and was amazed. It wasn’t me, though. In spring of 2021, I flared up so bad I couldn’t walk anymore. I found out I had something called Estrogen Dermatitis, that I was allergic to Estrogen, and that it was mixing with my other autoimmune issues to make me sicker. I went back on T, got top surgery in June of 2022, and I am so much happier and healthier.


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The Burden of Trans Grief: Finding Solace Through Spite

Grief is a reaction to loss, and in that regard, it puzzles me that the mere act of claiming my autonomy causes such a feeling in others. In the eyes of our family and friends, the prospect of someone they know transitioning can often be the same as them dying. Maybe it is for this reason that our screams, cries, and pleas for help are ignored or met with indifference- our living bodies are put on display in an open but soundproof casket, anything that happens to us after no longer mattering. Dead bodies decompose, and so it should follow that living trans bodies do as well. To cis society, the mandate of our suffering needs not be stated. Instead, it is assumed to be a natural consequence of our transition, for we have already submitted ourselves to death through the desecration of our sex.

I don’t quite know how best to describe the strange, deeply uncomfortable experience of being alive while simultaneously the object of grief. I remember with intense clarity the tremored voice of my mother, desperately pleading for me to bring her baby boy back, trying to claw a nonexistent spirit from my body. I am still haunted by the disappointed, deadened and distanced expression worn by my father in all of our interactions after coming out. My parents had never left the denial stage, doing whatever they possibly could to maintain a semblance of control.

At 15, after having come out to friends at school and online, I was forced to detransition and institutionalized. Strict limits were put on my friendships, connections were forcefully severed, and I was made to change schools multiple times. My parents had openly declared that their love was conditional upon my compliance to their rigid expectations.


When I thought I couldn’t lose anything else, I did. Over and over and over and over again. With each passing day, my parents became more and more emboldened, encouraged by men and women in suits and lab coats who couldn’t give less of a fuck about the well-being of a me, a mentally ill faggot child.

Though the water appeared increasingly boundless, my ability to traverse through it was not. In some sense, I do think I experienced a death; a death in my emotions as I feared yet more loss and clamored in an act of self-preservation. I lost during that period some of my ability to love, accept love, and form close bonds with other people; the immense dissociation I was forced to utilize to avoid suicide cannot be understated. It is only recently after two odd years of separation that I have begun to fan out the haze clouding my every feeling.

Grief is a universal experience. As time passes, eventually everyone loses someone they care deeply about, forced to reconcile with the finitude of life. After being disowned by my family, I’ve had a lot of time to think about grief, particularly as it relates to trans people.
#AntiTransHateMachine PAGE 32 CW: discussions of depression, child abuse, suicide, transphobia, ableism, and misogyny

I often find myself now referring to my parents in the past tense. I think that just as much as they view me as having died, maybe I too view them as having died on some level. After I came out, they forgot to be my parents, instead insisting on becoming my savior, releasing me from the gripping hold of the “transgender cult” I unwittingly walked into. However, it was never me that was in the cult, it was them.

When I became a teenager, we moved from a diverse small town in the southwest to an evangelical rural suburb in the Deep South. Despite my agnostic parent’s conservatism, they didn’t quite fit in with our neighbors. They chose to assimilate into evangelism and become born-again Christians, in some part I suspect increasingly motivated by their discomfort with my coming out. They chose the convenience created by blindly accepting the hate, transphobia, homophobia, and racism of our community, heightening their distaste towards what they viewed as their ever-increasingly immoral son. My begging them to open their eyes, ears, and heart, recognize not only my humanity but that of my friends only inspired further contempt against me, against the evil ghost that they were convinced had stolen their son from them. To them, none of my words could possibly be my own, for I was an easily manipulatable child, incapable of making any decisions for myself. The only plausible explanation for my desire to transition was that I must have been overtaken by a spirit or social con. I killed their son and was their son, and thus became the simultaneous object of both their grief

My own grief at the loss of my parents was rendered invisible to them by their own over my constructed death. They repeatedly chose to ignore the pain they were inflicting against me and construct their own narrative of my life. As their child, I was their property, and any act of self-actualization was to be interpreted as a punishment against them. As far as they were concerned, not only had I taken their son from them, but I was a threat to their social status, a belligerent challenge to the ignorant values imposed on them by their parents, and their parent’s parents, and so on. My refusal to accept their beliefs and bend to their will meant I was doomed to become the black sheep of our

family. I hope by doing so, I have begun to break the sickening cycle of harrowing dysfunction, senseless hatred, and irrational fear.

Unfortunately, my story is not unique. Nearly 13.5% percent of trans youth experience conversion therapy nationwide, with the rate being as high as 25% in states like Wyoming. Among the trans friends I have, parental rejection is the norm, acceptance is the exception to the rule. Transitioning often means having to pick between constant dissociation and having a family, shelter, and food to eat. I would have become homeless were it not for my queer friends up north. Even people who are usually otherwise indifferent or even somewhat supportive of trans people frequently become bitter and hateful upon having one of their family members transition.

Sympathetic portrayals of our plight, our grief remain scarce in corporate media, with many of these companies seemingly in a competition to see who can kill the most of us. Much of the mediascape primarily depicts trans adults as rapists and predators, or trans children as the victims of “grooming” by outside forces (often trans adults) nevermind that with each trans adult preceded a trans child. This grooming narrative serves as the perfect fascist apparatus: If any exposure to transgender people is “grooming”, then lawmakers are justified in censoring textbooks. If teachers

The burden of grief we bear is often invisible. We are rarely afforded the luxury of being able to express it, and this is institutional. When we grieve our trans siblings, killed by murder or suicide, or when our rights, our autonomy are taken away, our anger, our grief are consistently interpreted in the worst faith possible.
The Burden of Trans Grief: Finding Solace Through Spite by Anonymous

are “grooming” trans children by not ostracizing them, then lawmakers are justified in cutting funds and undermining our educational system. If trans children are the product of “grooming”, then the term “grooming” loses all purpose and power for child victims of sexual abuse.

These conservatives believe themselves to be free from bias, their opinions informed by only the most objective of evidence. They position themselves in sharp contrast to hystericism, to progressivism, mocking any pro-social positions as utopian. One of their catchphrases, “Facts don’t care about your feelings” has become something of a meme for them, a masturbatory celebration of their supposed commitment to “hard truth”. However, those who utter this phrase are, ironically, also subjugated by their own intense feelings towards us, fueled by disgust and fear. They rely on highly emotional, manufactured narratives of our lives that serve to support their bigotry.

Every accusation by these politicians and pundits is a confession. While attention is increasingly drawn towards transgender children, many of the states imposing the harshest trans laws are the ones most lenient on child marriages. If proponents of the groomer narrative genuinely cared about children, they would not continue to allow them to be groomed into marriage with adults. They also would not be ignoring the role of favored institutions in child sex abuse, like the SBC and Catholic church. The fallacious linking between trans women and sex offenders is a very intentional deflection from the real-world harm they enable. Unfortunately, this baseless fear mongering is as deadly to us as it is financially lucrative to them. With the media reinforcement of the public’s worst biases against us has come hate crimes, increased stigma and suicidality, further perpetuating the systemic and interpersonal violence that cause us so much of our grief.

Unfortunately, indifference to our humanity, to our feelings, to our grief is the default. It is imperceivable to our cissexist, ableist society that we could possibly be the bearers of true emotions, for we are supposedly wrapped up in delusions. Delusions about ourselves and our bodies, we are regularly denied the right to tell our own stories. Our words are lies unless proven otherwise. Our lives are de-

tailed in only the most grotesque language, every aspect of our existence pathologized. Life-saving surgeries and treatments are described as mutilation; our transitions framed as acts of self-hate. That transitioning could be an act of self-love is impossible, for transsexuals are not deserving of love.

Our grief, our stories, are ignored; we are much too unreliable narrators. For trans women, our validity (if any is afforded to us at all) is determined by our fuckability and availability to cis men as sexual objects. Either we are depraved, dangerous perverts getting off to the idea of being feminized, days away from victimizing a cis woman in a restroom, or a man so effeminate and beautiful that our caricature is just substantial enough to approximate “real” womanhood. Inherent in our feigned acceptance is misogyny — our beauty becomes the necessary threshold upon which we are accepted into womanhood, our legitimacy based upon our availability for cis hetero men’s consumption (and disposal). Nevermind our feelings, our thoughts, our love, for our love cannot be anything other than twisted and self-serving, fulfilling a sick fetish. We are expected to be grateful for any minuscule amount given to us by cis men cheating on their cis wives and girlfriends, for we are not even deserving of that.

#AntiTransHateMachine PAGE 34
The Burden of Trans Grief: Finding Solace Through Spite by Anonymous

I am of the opinion that if we are denied even the most universal of emotions, grief, love, belongingness, maybe we ought to turn to spite. After several failed suicide attempts, I began to find solace in this feeling. Spite is often seen as a negative emotion, but I reject this; I believe it has been a powerful motivator for me. My desire to spite our corrupt society, to spite everyone who has ever made me feel like my existence is wrong and unwelcome has done much to keep me alive in the moments I felt closest to my coffin.

When I felt like nothing mattered, like my life was meaningless as I had been told so many times both implicitly and explicitly, I had spite. Spite was there. Spite and anger over the injustices thrown at me, at my trans siblings, and every other wicked oppression in the world have been a constant, unrelenting force that energizes me, bringing me life and purpose. As such, I had no other option than to declare that I would make every effort to become the best person I can, claiming my liberation and happiness despite societal pleas that I end my own life and cede my narrative.

Trans joy, trans love, trans empowerment are a threat to our manufactured traditionalism, to patriarchal power, and it is for that reason that society attacks us so aggressively. If a man can become a woman, a woman can become a man, and men and women can both transcend the gender binary, what does that say about the validity of our social constructs? What does that mean for the delegation of gender roles and the nuclear family, created to empower cis white men, maximize capital and create generational wealth for the ruling class? Inherent to our existence is proof of the fictitious naturality of our fragile gender norms. Within each of us lies a beam of light, not one that we ever asked to wield but is inherent in our composition nonetheless. Through our mere presence alone, our collective glow shines brightly to the eyes of patriarchy, blinding it and making evident its decrepitness. We terrify these “traditionalists” because our joy, liberation and empowerment expose cracks in the structure that forms the base and justification of its power. Transphobia is based just as much in ignorance and hatred as it is in fear, fear of difference, fear of change, and fear of our strength.

I was born in 2002. My generation, Gen Z, was promised a better future. Six years before my birth, HIV, an illness that had long been ignored by those in power and was responsible for the hundreds of thousands of deaths of queer people, became a manageable condition with access to the right medication. Under a year after my birth, sodomy laws, which criminalized same-sex intercourse were made invalid through Lawrence v. Texas. Twelve years later, gay marriage was finally made legal through Obergefell v. Hodges. Two years after that, the World Health Organization declassified

I knew that if I killed myself, I would be displayed in an open casket, my lifeless corpse assaulted by scissors and suit, incapable of defending itself. It would be more tragic than my death itself, painfully ironic and humiliating. The same systems, the same people that would have driven me to such a death in the first place would be the same ones able to construct their own narrative, absolving themselves entirely of blame.
The story of my murder would have been erased, the blame inevitably deflected onto my queer and trans siblings for my supposed indoctrination. With that infuriating realization came the ladder of spite, daring me to climb it.
The Burden of Trans Grief: Finding Solace Through Spite by Anonymous

The Burden of Trans Grief: Finding Solace Through Spite by Anonymous

“gender incongruence” as a mental illness. All of this was only made possible from the tireless work of queer people before us.

Unfortunately, only eight years after marriage equality, states nationwide are now passing laws that ban public trans existence. Queer youth, like me, are still subject to dehumanizing conversion therapy, and as states criminalize transition, victims of the practice are likely to increase. It would be an understatement to call the rapid erosion of our rights infuriating and cruel. But just as those before us have done, it is now our duty to bear the weight of the mantle. We cannot afford to lay docile and permit the degradation of the hard-earned rights by our queer elders.

AUTHOR BIO: (She/Her) I’m a 20 year old trans woman from the southern US. I hope you enjoy this piece! If you did, you can find me on medium under the moniker "TransFem Essays" where I will likely be posting more of my non-fiction and faux-academic writing/ rants in the future.


I know it is tempting to give up and end it all. I have become well acquainted with that temptation; unfortunately, it’s as alluring as it is vain. That being said, death is an inevitability and rushing it is fruitless. If we are ever to improve our conditions and achieve true liberation, we must not give credence to the lie that this fight is futile. We are worth fighting for, as is the next generation of queer people that will come after us. The political pendulum may be swinging further and further to the right, but we can come out triumphant, empowered by righteous spite and anger.

#AntiTransHateMachine PAGE 36
If we acknowledge our history, it is evident that if we continue being bold in the face of adversity, we can one day shed ourselves of the invisible, overbearing grief that seems to cloud our community.
PAGE 37 #AntiTransHateMachine
PAGE 39 #AntiTransHateMachine

ARTWORK TITLE: Where are the Trans Angels?

ARTIST: Shanisia Person

ARTIST BIO: I am a NonBinary AfroLatinx Multimedia Artist. I try and do things as DIY as possible, mostly because it is what I’ve had to do my entire life, because of this my art takes on whatever medium or shape it must to express what I need in the moment. My main focus is the erotic, which to me is not about a raunchy or hyper sexual viewpoint, but instead encompasses almost everything corporal and spiritual about the way we connect with our bodies. Our gender, sexuality, sensuality, aesthetics and practices. It is intimacy, instinct, it is from my point of view how we identify our own individual.

STATEMENT: In the same vein as ‘Why aren’t there any Black Angels’, there also aren’t any Trans Angels. For the queer people sent to an early grave from being forced to be what they are not, for the queer people who see their physical form as ever changing beings of light. Two bodies encompassing diversity holding each other up as they stand in their truth. I am painting these trans bodies as deities, Angels being the kind of heavenly bodies I grew up knowing. Not just because being made to detransition, being sent to places that try to bend your mind and body until you do not recognize it, has literally ended the lives of so many Queer people. Not just because I hope someone seeing a body like theirs in divinity might help them if they are being told that they don’t know who they are, that they are wrong about who they think that they could/should be. But also to show that our conceptions of our physical bodies are surrounding these incomprehensibly dynamic beings of pure light. Sacred ever changing souls that are all godly and worth showing off in any stage they may be in.


Instagram: shanisiaperson

#AntiTransHateMachine PAGE 40

community opportunities

TransLash Media tells trans stories to save trans lives. Want to get involved?

Here are a few ways to collaborate with us.

Submit your writing, art, and photography to be featured in the next issue of TransLash Zine! Scan this QR code or visit for information on how to submit.

Contribute YOUR story to

Be a contributing writer for News & Narrative, TransLash Media’s personal essay and journalism platform where you can find stories by transgender and gender non-conforming people that get to the heart of what what’s happening in our community⁠— and the world around us. Scan this QR code or visit for examples of the writing we are looking for. If you have a story idea, send it to us with your contact information:

#TransBodiesTransChoices, our film series and storytelling initiative centering the importance of reproductive justice for transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming people through Trans Bodies, Trans Choices. What have you experienced navigating healthcare systems as a TGNC person seeking trans-affirming healthcare and/or an abortion? Share your story publicly or anonymously through our submission form. Anonymous stories will be shared on our social media channels, website, and in other media formats. If you provide your contact information, we will follow up to collaborate on the best way to share your story in 2023 and beyond. Scan the QR code below to access the form:

LEARN MORE: Discover more trans-affirming resources:

PAGE 41 #AntiTransHateMachine
Subscribe to TransLash Podcast with Imara Jones on Apple Podcasts and leave a review to help us drown out the anti-trans trolls! Scan the QR code below or visit


This special edition of TransLash Zine is a companion reader for our podcast series, The Anti-Trans Hate Machine: A Plot Against Equality. Season 2 is available now; find us wherever you listen to podcasts.

Team TransLash would like to thank all of the contributors to this issue, as well as all of those who responded to our call for submissions with their art, poetry, and photography. Our team had such a difficult time making final selections; we appreciate everyone who shared their creativity with us! As with every issue, we made it a point to pay each contributor because we believe in paying TGNC creators for their labor. To support our cultural production, send us a tax-deductible gift today: donate

TransLash Zine would not be possible without the support of many people. Team TransLash thanks @POCZineProject founder Daniela “Dani” Capistrano (they/them) for helping us launch our zine in 2019 and being editor-inchief. Learn more about Dani by subscribing to their new podcast for intersectional entrepreneurs & allies fighting for trans rights:

We also want to thank Meredith Hutchison for helping us through her design talents, collaborating to bring Vol. 6: Anti-Trans Hate Machine to life.


Daniela “Dani” Capistrano


Adunni, Alysha V. Scarlett, ANONYMOUS [Recloseted], Arielle Rebekah, Imara Jones, Kalil Cohen, and Ky Schevers.


Aaron El Sabrout, Lee, Shaawan Francis Keahna, Shanisia Person and Theodoor Grimes.


Art Direction by Daniela “Dani” Capistrano and Illustration by Theodoor Grimes. Theodoor also created three beautiful interior illustrations.

Special thanks to everyone else involved in the #AntiTransHateMachine campaign.

Learn more:

Design for this issue by Meredith Hutchison

TransLash Media is the publisher of TransLash Zine. Read digital versions of every issue for free and purchase print editions as single or bulk orders for your organization to support our contributing writers and artists:

#AntiTransHateMachine PAGE 42

TransLash media tells trans stories to save trans lives.

TransLash Zine Vol 6: Anti-Trans Hate Machine is dedicated to all the brave TGNC folks who shared their detransition and conversion therapy stories with us in 2023 and beyond. This edition is also dedicated to everyone at TransLash who worked on the #AntiTransHateMachine campaign, acknowledging the psychological and emotional impact of this work.

We hope you enjoyed this special issue of TransLash Zine, a collaboration with POC Zine Project. To learn more about how to access print editions of this issue and past issues, visit

Copyright © 2023 TransLash Media. All rights reserved. This zine or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever for commercial use without the express written permission of the publisher, TransLash Media. Learn more:

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