How Androgynous Fashion Tricked Me Into Being Transgender
It was a mirage to think that I needed transition to be my funky self.
About the Author
is an American artist, writer, and speaker who shares her experiences with de-transition and healing through advocacy and activist work. Becker was featured in the documentary “No Way Back,” has been interviewed across media, and traveled internationally speaking on the harms of the “gender-affirming” model of care. Becker can be found on Substack, Twitter, and YouTube (@funkgodartist), and her “De-Trans Awareness” and “Free Thinker’s” collections of apparel and home goods are available in her Etsy store.
From a young age, I always stood out among my peers, labeled as “the weird girl.” It seemed that natural gender deviations were a part of every child’s experience. But for me, it was amplified. I never quite felt comfortable in my own skin, whether around boys or girls. My eccentric behavior drew attention without my intention, and I quickly learned that if I wanted to be true to myself without facing negative feedback, I had to retreat into isolation, making myself smaller and hidden.
Despite my insecurities, my inherent bold nature couldn’t help but shine through, even if it meant facing criticism. Much of this struggle was tied to my physical appearance, as I matured early and was among the first girls in my grade to go through puberty. By the tender age of nine, I found myself grappling with the discomfort of developing breasts and the need to wear a bra—a turning point that marked the beginning of a tumultuous journey.
At the age of 11, as symptoms of depression, anxiety, and social/developmental delays became more apparent, the underlying reason for my eccentricity finally came to light—I was on the “Autism Spectrum.” A child psychologist diagnosed me with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (Not Otherwise Specified), a diagnosis that no longer exists as a separate category in the DSM-5. PDD-NOS served as a catch-all term for individuals experiencing social and emotional delays without meeting the specific criteria for conditions like Asperger’s. This revelation left my family perplexed, and I found myself grappling with a mix of shame and ambivalence about being labeled “autistic” since I didn’t seem to share many similarities with the Asperger’s kids I encountered in school. Nevertheless, I remained distinctly different, embracing my offbeat and funky nature.
Here is the evolution of how androgynous fashion tricked me into being transgender.
Baby Funk God (Preschool)
When I was quite young my mom dressed me in cutesy girly clothes like bows, dresses, and tights. Oh, how I hated having to pinch my legs to get on a pair of tights, put on a “nice” dress for church, and close my legs and sit properly. “What’s with the fanfare and ceremony of having to sit on a bench bored out of my mind for an hour?” I thought. I didn’t even like having my hair brushed or doing anything besides the bare minimum of putting on a shirt and pants.
Funky Cat (Kindergarten)
Although in kindergarten my favorite colors were red, pink, and purple, I soon thought of them as “too prissy,” although I could never deny my obsession with my cousin’s flamboyant glittery rainbow shirt… (foreshadowing.) By early elementary, my mom gave up trying to feminize me and let me wear whatever I wanted, including the awesome red and black tribal dragon shirt, boy’s outer space footie pajamas, and glow in the dark neon blue and gold sneakers from the boy’s section. I liked cool shit, and the boys’ section seemed to offer that. I increasingly became averse to the motifs, colors, styles and accessories that had expectations of femininity or “girlishness.”
Life in the Funk Lane (11)
A second-grade play was the last time I was willing to wear a dress, and a mandatory 5th-grade dance was my last appearance in a skirt. I knew in elementary school that I was not thought of as “pretty” and assumed no boys would have a crush on me because I was not interested in things the other girls were: makeup, earrings, nail polish, hairstyles, skimpy (uncomfortable) clothes, or trying to impress other girls with style.
Once at school, we had a “makeover” day of activities and I was interviewed (with my name misquoted) about the events in the school paper: “I like the hair dye, but I don’t like the nails, ‘cause I don’t like being all fancy.” When my mom read the paper she said, “Who said this? This sounds like something you’d say, Laura!” Even being misrepresented, people were very much aware of my words, tone, and opinions.
By age 11 I was fully into puberty, becoming more extreme in my phobia of femininity. I wore only basic athletic shorts and cotton t-shirts, very angry that the new bare minimum for me was wearing a sports bra, having to shower, and wear deodorant. I routinely absorbed the message from peers and family that my preferences were not normal nor attractive.
Start of Bad Funk (13)
In middle school I experienced a drastic and detrimental change. I was not having regular menstrual cycles, and was having emotional meltdowns and mood swings. I felt constantly irritable, lethargic, uninterested, and awkward. I was aggressive towards my family, and moody and isolated at school. With peers I was unimpressed and did not have the energy to try and play along with all the new social rules, games, and fads.
It was then when my mom took me to the child psychologist, where it became evident that I was suffering from symptoms of an emotional and social delay. I was also taken to the pediatrician where bloodwork and ultrasounds were performed to determine what was going on with me hormonally. My prognosis became more complicated and less optimistic when my family learned I had cysts on my ovaries, a condition called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
Overwhelmed, hormonally dysregulated, and out of my social depth, I had no choice but to survive through becoming depressed. To reduce complications, I chose to opt-out of as much as I could, keeping to myself, living in my own world. I stuck up my nose at the emerging middle school trends of low-cut tops, skinny jeans, makeup, name-brand clothes, or whatever else my peers were into. I just didn’t care about the trends, pop culture, or conformity. A girl in orchestra once commented that my look was “very homey.” In retrospect, I call this The Depression Aesthetic.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Blues (14)
The final traumatic ingredient in the adolescent cocktail was added with the escalation of verbal, psychological, and emotional abuse by a parent. While I always knew I was being abused, I didn’t realize until much later that I had developed symptoms of PTSD from the relational trauma, which still affected my mental health and core sense of self and relationships into adulthood.
By age 14, my self worth and confidence was decimated. I was a suicidally depressed, socially awkward teen girl who would only wear black AC/DC shirts (I still posit that AC/DC is one of the most autistic bands of all time–ALL their songs sound the same) or Judas Priest (existential crisis, much?) plain black jeans, and black Converse.
I call this The Autistic Aesthetic.
Spikes ‘n’ Studs (15)
After several rounds of birth control, being numbed out on antidepressants, and attachment wounds later, my survival mechanisms shifted a little positively in a social and creative direction. I was using Tumblr with great success, finding like-minded girls with the same music taste, and having an outlet for my dark humor, poetry, and fangirling. I evolved into pure 80’s heavy metal fashion adding home-made spikes and studs, a Rob Halford-esque leather cap, and a denim jacket with rock and metal band patches that my grandma sewed on. You know, ‘cause all the high school kids were doing that in 1983, I mean 2014. I was out of my time and place, but at 15 two things happened that shifted my identity: I started smoking weed, and got into melodic, optimistic dad rock like Styx.
Through marijuana, my social anxiety started to lift, and with my newly expanded psyche, increased energy, and confidence, I began my experimental “queer” phase.
‘American Fag’ (16)
I started to embrace being weird and instead of unobtrusively going about my business, I flaunted my quirkiness, wearing the gaudiest shirts from the men’s section of Goodwill, and finding some of my favorite way-too-big-for-a-5’2-female Hawaiian shirts. I had a friend pierce my ears, but only ONE because having two earrings would be “too feminine.” I pierced one ear seven times and put studs in each slot. I got a new hairstyle for the first time in my life, and started trying out many…autistic-looking homemade hair dyes.
This is when I discovered the concept of “gender-identity” on Tumblr and relished in the label of “genderqueer.”
In its novelty, it was a wonderfully freeing and creative time of expression as well as the first time since elementary school I felt socially accepted by a peer group and had real friends. I affectionately titled my five-person friend group “The Queer Stoners.” We were a configuration of 1 openly gay boy, 2 bisexual queer/questioning boys, 2 bisexual girls, and me—the straight girl who was somehow deemed the “faggiest” of all. We had a lot of adventures as a motley crew escorted by my wacky self who everyone viewed as “gay” or a “faggot”—a term of endearment. I felt like one of the pack. I had belonging within the safety of these few people, filling part of the Great Attachment Void from previous years.
Being a stoner meant skipping school and buying overpriced weed in the local cemetery, but being “genderqueer” meant liberation from social expectation, norms, values, behaviors, and roles that I had never been interested in participating in. It was a deconstruction of normativity that I had always failed to inhabit and thus rejected entirely in favor of a rebellious, tongue-in-cheek absurdity. It meant unashamed and open sexuality, passion, emotionality, and creativity.
Depressed and Confused (16)
However, when the reality of my sexual orientation and tangible failure of relationships and mental instability caught up to the circus of reckless gender-abandonment (being led on by my “queer” friends who were really just gay and using me as a stepping stone), I couldn’t cope with the cognitive dissonance of knowing I was going to be judged as “just an ugly weird girl” no matter how beautifully ambiguous my spirit felt or how much I tried to go beyond my depressing existence.
The fresh social exploration and unrequited limerent obsessions triggered my underlying fears of intimate and sexual rejection, pervasive feelings of loneliness and emptiness, and obsession with “being loved” oxidized with my undiagnosed and unhealed childhood trauma to create a mirth of anxiety and a hyper fixation on my appearance, sexed body, all under the umbrella of “gender.”
This is when the symptoms of “gender dysphoria” expedited and I questioned everything through continuous self-flagellation, self-doubt, and several cataphoric toxic relationships for the boys who, through bizarre relationships with me, realized they were homosexual. It was nothing short of devastating to me.
Queer Stoner (17)
I had initially loved being gender-non-conforming and expressing myself as an androgynous female, but I grew to despise and lament the ambiguity of gender, the revulsion of my female body, and the curse of being a straight woman who believed in a fantastical way that I’d likely have had more overall life success as a gay man.
My oversized plaid shirts from the men’s department no longer felt good enough to me with my large breasts obtrusively pushing against the straining buttons, which “ruined” my boyish aesthetic. I became aware of my hips and how even in long shirts and neutralizing jeans I still appeared awfully feminine, something I never felt reflected who I was inside. I longed for a beard and facial hair to compliment my short little “hobbit” legs and feet, perhaps in part so I’d have the option of covering my round fat face like every other mediocre-looking guy.
I became even more critical of femininity and threw away any female designated clothing and accessories, advancing a much narrower masculine expression. I cut my hair shorter and refused to wear anything that was not marketed to men.
First Day Wearing Binder (18)
When I was 18, I started wearing a binder to hide my large chest. I even slept in it. I had previously worn sports bras in a similar way, so this compression binder I ordered from a trans-friendly website felt only slightly tighter and I got used to it quickly. For a Halloween costume that year I wore a dress and went as “a woman who had been betrayed by her man and was so furious that she turned into a demon and sought revenge on all men every Halloween night.” Projection? Never heard of it.
A few months later I came out as a “gay trans man,” and while I would still allow myself to wear flamboyant outfits if they were from the men’s section, I was increasingly suicidal, hopeless, and lonely. My complex PTSD symptoms were catching up with me as I entered young adulthood.
One Month Before Surgery (20)
At 19, I walked into a trans-friendly clinic and told them I was experiencing gender dysphoria and was interested in getting testosterone. I told them an abridged version of the history described above of autism, PCOS, depression, suicide ideation, substance use, and they gave me a free bottle of testosterone. I injected 200 mgs weekly into my thigh as my mental health deteriorated even further, resulting in a mental breakdown that caused further PTSD.
I was harrier, my voice deeper, and I had a magical sense that I was going through male puberty. Six months later, at 20, I had a double mastectomy to remove my breasts. It did nothing to improve my mental health. For the next two years I coped with these traumas and the ones before, wallowing in shame, confusion, and loneliness. At 22 I was finally diagnosed with PTSD, and my growth process began.
Newly Detransitioned (22)
Part of why I eventually detransitioned at 22 was because I realized that apart from not having breasts, having a lower voice, and calling myself a gay trans man, I really was exactly the same person. I was wearing the same clothes, had the same style and interests, my personality was still neurotic, creative, quirky, and sensitive. The label and how I thought of myself might have changed, but I was still doing the same behaviors, and so I was the same person. I noticed how before, during, and after transition I still liked the Hawaiian shirts and fun colorful aesthetics; I was only trying to find a body to “match” my personality and preferences because I was insecure about having a female body with those preferences and traits.
Detransition was me accepting that I could be Me with all my eccentricities, while also being a heterosexual woman. I didn’t need to be a gay man to have my personality, preferences, sexuality, mental health issues, and everything else that atomized my soul.
Reevaluating, I recognized and honored different aspects of myself that had previously been neglected and formed new identities: being a woman, having PTSD, and having autistic traits. Those seemingly elementary yet tangential experiences helped ground me in rational thought and begin healing from the crises and confusion of my formative years. It was through those major roots that I was finally able to grow, cultivate, and accept the identity I had been searching for all along: being an artist.
Whether it be the archetype of The Eccentric Genius, personality theory of having extremely high openness to experience + extremely high neuroticism traits, or the romanticism of the Sensitive Unconventional Idealist, accepting that I was an artist and creative person regardless of any other label, diagnosis, condition, background, or identity, is when everything started gradually making sense (or at least as much sense as the chaos of the universe can).
Starting to Get My Groove Back (23)
Once I started harnessing my creative energy and leaning into the paradigm of “the eccentric artist,” I started feeling a strange new sensation that I began to recognize as contentment, or peace of mind. I never received the harmony and transcendence sold as “gender euphoria” or “self-acceptance” which was supposed to come from medical transition or gender-affirmation. Instead, the trans identity depressed and skewed not only my body but also my creativity and fluid, curious spirit.
I acknowledged that I had developed internalized misogyny and ironically fallen into sexist stereotypes by shutting out all options for enjoying femininity or even neutral effects that had been gendered as feminine because my distorted self-concept did not allow me to enjoy anything associated with being a woman, even only stereotypically.
When I went on a long overdue shopping spree to update my wardrobe at 24, I found myself apprehensive but eager to peruse the racks of assorted women’s clothing and accessories at thrift stores. I saw that I had been majorly missing out on creative possibilities afforded to women’s attire that had been sorely lacking in the men’s section. Although I still wasn’t interested in many of the cuts, fabrics, and unnecessary frills, the colors, patterns, and simply funky options for putting together an outfit far exceeded those in any men’s department.
Funk God, Realized (24)
I came home to excitedly show my mom the handfuls of cute unicorn, rainbow, floral, and heart print socks and underwear I had found. It seems absurd to me now that I would ever deny the funky goodness and romance of motherfucking hearts and flowers. Who did I think I was to feel superior to leopard print or magenta or hot pink? What was it about floral prints designed to be enjoyed by women that differentiated from the tropical floral prints of the men’s section Hawaiian shirts? It was irrational that I denied myself indulgence in yellow striped socks just because they were located in the dreaded Girl’s Department.
Even though the childhood obsession with Pirates of the Caribbean (mostly wanting to fuck Jack Sparrow, actually a very heterosexual girl thing…) had existed, with my developmental issues and internalized shame, I had forgotten about my other passion with my cousin’s rainbow glittery shirt. These are NOT mutually exclusive, but perhaps my tendency towards black and white thinking and insecurity made them seem as such, along with my subconscious need to always play the part of the “non-conformist” as I felt alienated in any other role.
Hamming and Glamming (24)
Like straight males, I had been socially and emotionally conditioned from a young age to mock, hate, and shame any traces of femininity or things marketed to women. I learned as a child what was “appropriate and typical” for girls and boys, and that being a girl meant you had to be prissy, obsessed with looks, docile, cute, upbeat, positive, and wear sheer, revealing, impractical, and tedious clothing, which was the exact opposite of how I saw myself.
Boys got to have a quick and simple grooming routine and haircut. They could wear casual, fun, practical, and comfortable clothes, shoes, and accessories, and were free to move through the world in a functional and relaxed way, without being shamed for it, something that I was scolded for trying to do.
Even though I had grown up a girl around mostly female friends and even being in Girl Scouts (yes I did think Boy Scouts looked more fun) because I had never felt acceptance from peer groups or conformed socially, I existed (admittedly somewhat self-isolated) within a gender-limbo that I was initially ecstatic to exit via queer identity. The crucial and cruel realization is that queer identity didn’t work for me because I was left still feeling discomfort within the gender-limbo.
Though I had begun healthy self-expression through gendered means, I was lacking a stable foundation of identification with my sex and body, and therefore had no container to house so much ambiguity. I twistedly attempted to re-navigate out of gender-limbo and towards a stable sense of self through the trans identity and transition to something static, but found I was instead destroying the foundation of self that I had, and moving farther away from stability, reason, and authenticity.
Healing Energy (24)
Of course, when I detransitioned and started finding a comfortable and authentic self, this did not mean I immediately started putting on Woman-Face and wearing hyper feminine aesthetics or leaving behind all my male-designed clothes. I enjoyed painting my nails neon colors sometimes, growing out my hair, and wearing an occasional glittery necklace, but I still didn’t wear makeup, dresses or skirts, and I could not sexually signal if I wanted to (regrettably) using low-cut tops, bras, etc., because I no longer had breasts.
Ironically, I limited my creative expression by altering my body instead of expanding it. I was now stuck in a permanent state of androgyny, once believed necessary for survival, against my will.
Facial Hair (24)
I was 24 before I managed to rid myself of the irrational disgust of feminine associations enough where I thought it appropriate to buy a purse to carry around my keys and wallet. It was literally just a bag for keeping track of things, but previously I couldn’t use it because it was something “a woman” did, and I just wasn’t “like that.”
This narrative is nothing original to many women and girls—noticing that to be a girl is performative and to be a boy is unbothered, and I must caveat that I don’t believe something like wearing a glittery necklace is an innately “female behavior”; it is cultural and we must contend with stereotypes while also enjoying them. Yet, due to the wonders of “modern medicine” and “science,” my experience of rejecting sex roles and cultural formalities resulted in being encouraged to believe I was, could be, should be, or could attempt to live as, the opposite sex to be free from judgment or self-hate.
After detransition I saw that it was a mirage to think that I needed transition to be my funky self, and that I had actually imprisoned myself within restrictive gender expression, limiting and preventing me from achieving a more comprehensive human experience of openness and appreciation for a diversity of forms of expression, despite my sex, and in relationship to my sex.
‘The Most Non-Binary Looking Person I’ve Ever Seen’- Girl at a Club (24)
Now that I was grounded in my female body AND mindful of harmful gender socialization AND cared less about what other people’s judgements or assumptions are of my gender nonconformity (and have the excuse of “artist”), I was truly liberated to have fun with gender and expression in ways I never thought possible with a queer or trans identity. It is insane to me that this so-called feminist and radical person wouldn’t even buy a bag because it had too many feminine implications.
Of course, when I finally acquired the purse, it was within the same month that I also bought a toucan-headed pimp-style cane and a pink cabana hat, for the aesthetics’ sake. Paradoxically to popular narratives, not being queer or trans, and accepting being a regular “cisheteronormative” woman, had led me to the deepest embracement of ambiguity with the least amount of gender distress. I was now thankfully funking on all cylinders, but man, it took a lot of bullshit to get there.
Why does an androgynous outfit mean you aren’t your biological sex? Why are people bending over backwards to use they/them pronouns for someone looking “different”?
Life Goes On (25)
As I continued my healing process that including weekly therapy, acceptance and rage therapy, studying Jordan Peterson, obsessively learning about trauma, abuse, and the madness of the gender world, I gradually became comfortable with not only myself as a female, but as a Woman. An Adult Human Female. At 25, I began to distinguish myself from the category of “emerging adult” into just “adult,” my rites of passage through grueling healing work and taking responsibility for bettering my life.
With this acceptance of womanhood, I became appreciative of my femaleness, my unique feminine gifts, and understanding my values growing into the future. Acceptance allowed me to move from simply surviving in my body to embracing the archetypal role of the female in nature and spirituality, and finding solace in groovy female traditions like shamanism, mysticism, artistry, and maidenhood. I began to feel comfortable wearing light makeup to enhance my natural features, and wearing form-fitting clothing that revealed and appreciated my feminine curves, even if some of them had been taken away by surgery. I started wearing a padded bralette which brought me confidence to wear more types of clothes without worrying about my scars showing.
Funky Lady (26)
Although my aesthetic, style, personality, values, and journey will undoubtedly evolve, as I write this now at 26 I can close this piece with an understanding that Being is something we must embrace. We cannot fight it. Whether born as female or male, we have the burden and honor of accepting life and making the most of our unique gifts.
As the joke goes, “the de-trans to trad-wife pipeline is real.” This means that troubled girls in adolescence, even those who go through medicalization and trans identity, will likely end up growing into adulthood and making the most out of being female. For me, and many other women, this means valuing a loving relationship and having a family. I never thought I would want to be a mother, nor be stable enough to have children, but as I have experienced cognative and social emotional development, I now feel at peace with my female body and the unique position it is in to create and nurture life.
While I have average complaints about my flaws, beauty, or health, I have no distress around my female body, besides that parts of it that I sacrificed to a brutal nihilistic body-modification cult. Growing up is always a battle, as is claiming the sacredness of the body amidst the simultaneous pain of life. Medicine and government making this maturation process even more complicated by lying that one can cure mental health issues through body modification is at the core of our societal destruction.
As I have learned on the rollercoaster of my young life, an attack on women’s bodies is an attack on children, families, and our spiritual health as human beings. We must be free to express our personalities and adorn our bodies without harming them or causing trauma.
De-Trans Awareness (26)
Along with my highest goals of creating a loving family and healing fully, articulating the disastrous myths of gender ideology for young women and girls is my priority. I speak on these topics despite how painful and complicated they are because I refuse to submit to lies, illusions, or manipulations any longer. I cannot look at my inner child and want to take away a future of adult wholeness for her by removing her feminine organs before she even matured enough to appreciate their significance.
My message to girls like me? You can be a funky spirit as a woman. You can be even funkier by accepting truth and creating a life based on authentic expression.
Follow Laura “Funk God” Becker’s writing on her Substack below.
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