The spotlight is now on transgender people more than ever. With the media circus that has taken place around Caitlyn Jenner and the numerous films and TV shows, it seems that the trans community is making strides toward acceptance.
Among many personalities who have publicly transitioned, one you may have missed is Will Franken. Around the same time Jenner was making her transition public, Franken was transitioning from Will to Sarah. However, after living seven months as a woman, the American comedian, currently living in England, recently made the decision to transition back to Will.
Franken recently wrote an essay for The Independent about the decision:
“Yet, by the end of my seven months as Sarah, I was frightened, angry, lonely, confused – and, perhaps worst of all, bored. Utterly bored with the topic of transgenderism. Another redeeming aspect of my experience was the development of firsthand empathy for what minority comedians endure once the journalism and entertainment industries reduce them to their marketable externals: race, gender, or sexual preference.”
As someone still attracted to women, the romantic isolation from women felt lonely. He also felt like a spectacle, whether it was blatant discrimination from transphobic boys in East London or the stares from gawking tourists.
He wrote another essay for Beyond the Joke that detailed his anger toward these reactions:
“One night, I complained to a trans-female friend about the abuse I had been receiving. She mentioned that hormone therapy had helped her deal with similar situations by lessening the testosterone-fuelled temptation to react. This was illuminating to me. Because I knew then that I had no desire to lessen my testosterone. I wanted to preserve the violent feelings of justified anger towards something that was clearly wrong. The irony now, of course, is that because I'm no longer Sarah I no longer have that abuse and consequently no longer have that need to react.”
After his experience as Sarah, he was hesitant to chalk it up to a mere learning experience. It was a huge process in his self-discovery, which ultimately led him back where he began, as Will.