I Am No Less of a Woman: Charlie Evans Interview

Charlie Evans is the founder of the Detransition Advocacy Network. A registered charity, the Network is one of the first organizations set up by and for the detrans community. Following the launch of the Detransition Advocacy Network’s telephone counseling service, team AfterEllen spoke to Charlie about her work.

AfterEllen: In December last year you launched the Detransition Advocacy Network. Tell us about this organization.

Charlie Evans: The Detransition Advocacy Network supports anyone who is re-identified, detransitioned, or desisted. We rolled out our first service this week, which is a telephone counseling service that’s free and international. We’re going to be launching a live chat service over the next couple of weeks.

The charity was launched in response to a speech I did at the Leeds Lesbian Strength rally. A detransitioned young woman approached me afterward. She had been on testosterone for a few years, and she asked me what sort of resources there were. I said I’d have a look for her and get something together.

And then she told a friend that I knew of some resources could give advice on how to legally and medically detransition. After that, I started doing it more publicly. Then I thought it’s time to turn it into a charity. People are coming forward.

AE: What have responses been like? From the wider public and other people who have detransitioned?

CE: Other people who have detransitioned have been very, very positive. It’s mostly relief that there’s something. We’re not perfect at the moment. I haven’t got millions of services. The helpline’s not going to be 24/7 at the moment. But it’s something. There is this huge relief from the detrans community.

Outside that, the general public seems positive enough – maybe just think it’s another gender identity thing and can’t really see what it is. Obviously, I’ve been targeted and doxed by trans rights activists. I was doxed this week.

AE: I’m so sorry to hear that.

CE: I spent a few hours crying yesterday. But I’m alright. It just makes me more focussed, I think. I sort of understand why they’re angry and scared. It’s just fear. They’re angry because they’re scared. People could argue that the presence of detransitioners disputes the idea of innate gender identity. I understand how that could be scary for trans people.

AE: Is there anything you’d like to share about why detransitioning felt right for you?

CE: It wasn’t a conscious decision for me to stop identifying as trans. It’s still something I battle with. But I think it was coming to the realization that feeling like there’s something wrong with my body doesn’t mean there is something wrong with my body, it means there’s something wrong with the way I see it.

“It’s still something I battle with. But I think it was coming to the realization that feeling like there’s something wrong with my body doesn’t mean there is something wrong with my body, it means there’s something wrong with the way I see it.”

And it’s been quite a gradual process of understanding and accepting that how we feel about ourselves isn’t a fundamental truth – we’re biased, especially girls. We’re raised with so much self-loathing that it’s not actually an accurate reflection of us. It’s very easy to feel like ‘I am wrong and I need to be corrected, I need to be fixed.’

AE: You wrote that “a happier healthier future for our society would be one that abandons gender norms entirely rather than propping up the binary by medicalization.” How do you believe we can build that future?

CE: Oh, that’s a big question. I think it starts with good role models. I think it starts with us. Me, you, the [AfterEllen] team. People who are out and defending gender non-conforming children’s rights. Because we’re being looked up to. By letting ourselves break boundaries of gender as much as we can, by confidently and proudly saying ‘I am no less of a woman because I don’t shave, or because I like trucks and mud and boxing and girls. I am female.’ I think that’s where it starts.

Actively teaching kids to overcome problems with the way they see themselves, instilling that confidence quite young, and giving them good role models – I think that’s important.

AE: What’s next for the Detransition Advocacy Network? What would you like to see happen?

CE: I would like a 24/7 helpline, which I know is massively ambitious. But I would like detrains, desisted, and re-identified people across the world to go there – perhaps with a question about changing their birth certificate back to female. And they’d be able to phone the helpline, get directed to a specialist in their area, have free and completely impartial advice about how they do that in their country.

Or they might have a question about ‘I’ve been on testosterone for 12 years, when will my facial hair stop growing?’ And they’ll be able to phone the helpline and be put through to an endocrinologist. That’s my eventual aim. I’m aware it’s a really long term aim. But the next service to be launched is advocacy – helping people write the letters they need to their GPs. We’re putting together resources about, for example, if you’ve had a hysterectomy – what type of estrogen do you take and do you take it orally or with patches. These questions.

Basically, I want to establish a standard of care for detrans people.

Follow Charlie Evans on Twitter and visit her blog to read more about her personal journey to detransitioning.

Follow the Detransition Advocacy Network on Twitter