Proud trans man who once detransitioned blasts ‘fascist’ TERF groups for ‘exploiting’ him
Three years ago, trans non-binary man Toby Pick was speaking at an anti-trans event against gender-affirming healthcare in the UK.
Toby, who once detransitioned, tells PinkNews he was angry at the time with his experience of trans healthcare in the UK and believes he was “exploited” by TERF groups, who he says are no different from “fascists”.
“The narrative of gender critical detransioners is one of the most damaging things that has ever come out of anti-trans stuff,” he says.
In 2020, a detransitioner – backed by various so-called ‘gender critical’ groups – won a court case which stopped the prescription of puberty blockers to trans youth under the age of 16.
It was later overturned.
Toby – who’s 23 and uses he/him pronouns – has had a more complicated coming out story than most.
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He first transitioned socially, then detransitioned and came out as a lesbian, became a self-described TERF, came out as trans for a second time and has since undergone top surgery.
TERF stands for “trans exclusionary radical feminist” and is used to describe someone who excludes all support for trans women from their advocacy of women’s rights.
When Toby was working with anti-trans groups, his anger towards gender-affirming healthcare was made to feel valid by those he was involved with.
“My whole processing of my transition and detransition had that TERF-y lens on it before I had even had a chance to separate any of my own feelings,” Toby says, referring to his time in so-called “women’s groups”.
Toby first questioned if he could be non-binary when he turned 16 in early 2016, but later that year decided he was a trans and non-binary man and came out to his parents.
Initially, he legally changed his name to Percey in 2017 but has since changed it to Toby.
The 23-year-old fell in with what he now describes as hateful groups after he was referred to Nottingham Centre for Transgender Health in 2017 but failed to get the treatment he needed.
By 2019, and still without treatment, Toby had come out as lesbian and became involved in the TERF movement.
He tells PinkNews he feels TERFs exploit people who are struggling with complicated issues.
“The point is that you’ve got somebody there with serious complications, issues or trauma, and they are being exploited by people who want to use that to promote their hateful campaign to eradicate a group of people.
“I mean, it’s messed up at best.”
Becoming ‘more and more hateful’
Toby recalls becoming “more and more hateful” as he was continually contacted by media to talk about anti-trans views.
“When I started out I didn’t have any opinions on trans then it sort of got into this. Once you get into it, it gets more extreme.
“It becomes, ‘Oh, well all trans people are evil and they shouldn’t exist,’ then forming ideas about, ‘Oh, trans people don’t really exist.'”
Toby takes a minute to reflect, then admits he used to argue and misgender people “deliberately and aggressively” on Twitter “just to prove a point”.
“People eat it up because it’s comforting in a morbid way. Attack what you don’t understand.”
The COVID-19 pandemic saw Toby’s participation with the groups grind to a halt, due to no gatherings being allowed to take place.
Looking back at his 19-year-old self he feels he was just a “child” and can recall a lot of the women surrounding him being a lot older.
“I now look back and think: ‘What was I doing?’”
‘There isn’t enough support’
Toby says being let down by a “bad” healthcare system played a part in his struggle to find his true self for more than a decade.
“I was angry at the gender identity clinic and I was angry at trans everything, I had anger in me, so it made sense when I’m talking to these people [gender critics] saying these things and they are validating that it’s horrible.”
According to the NHS statistics, as of May 2022, there were 11,407 people on its gender identity waiting list – with the appointments now being offered to people who were first referred in January 2018.
Toby recalls the healthcare process casting “a lot of judgement around being non-binary” at the time.
Now, having had top surgery in September last year, he is on his way to finding his true self.
But he reveals he has “had to undo a lot of fear” put into his head by the groups he found himself involved in.
He pins a lot of his past confusion on a bad medical care experience: “You can start to resent being shoved down a certain pathway.
“There’s too much gatekeeping. I wasn’t getting where I needed to be, and in other ways, there isn’t enough support.”
He compares some in radical groups he was once a part of to “fascists”, and says: “They believe trans people are changing themselves to fit an idea to be something else, but we’re just aligning ourselves.
“It’s no different than me getting covered in tattoos.”
Tattoos are something Toby has used himself to express his own journey. Of the few he has, he had one done in 2018 of his former pronouns, which he covered up a year later, and a neck tattoo saying “valid”.
“So many people have bad experiences medically, which is a case of bad medical care or the system not being set up correctly.
“I would have liked to be listened to more and not feel I had to pretend or prove something,” Toby shares.
Toby says his identity today is “still a work in progress”, but says he’s in the “best place” right now – despite admitting it’s “probably the hardest position” he’s ever been in.
“I sort of downplayed how hard being trans was. You’ve got a life of constantly having to prove yourself, or more justify and explain yourself,” he adds.
“I’ve always been terrified of dying, but I wanted to live in a way where I was comfortable and existing in a way that made me want to exist.”
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