Exclusive: Will Franken On Changing Back From Sarah To Will

Editor's note: Earlier this year comedian Will Franken made the decision to become Sarah Franken. He has now decided to revert back to Will Franken. In this exclusive essay he explains his decision.


By Will (formerly Sarah) Franken

Firstly, I must remind – at least myself – that I owe no one an explanation. Nevertheless, I have chosen to offer one. Perhaps some of you have read the recent John Fleming postings in which I alluded to the possibility of reverting back to Will. Though some preliminary hints were given via way of captured dialogue in those blog entries, underneath I will enumerate more fully the main reasons for the switch. In short, throughout the last two months of my life as Sarah, I had begun compiling a pros and cons list of the transgender lifestyle and had to face the fact that the cons, in my case, heavily outweighed the pros. Here now are the cons: 


Life Became A Stage; I Became A Verbal Punching Bag

I had to admit that living as Sarah incorporated more consistent fear and resentment in my daily life than ever before. On my own, away from friends and supporters, I was rarely able to feel completely at ease with the world around me. Whether I was being called “gay-boy transsexual faggot” by Asians in East London or whether young female tourists were asking to get their photo with me as if I was the Ronald McDonald clown, rarely did a day go by where I was not molested in some degree by the fickle interference of others. Paradoxically, the only time I felt I could relax was onstage.

And that perhaps is one of the few “pros” of the experience. I was looser, more free to improvise and riff, knowing that the last place anybody was going to judge me was in a theatrical setting. But these negative experiences with strangers in my day-to-day life are interrelated with another issue I mention further down which is that I never intended to undergo hormone therapy. 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. 


Niching Myself From Female Companionship

As Will, I have always been a bit shy and socially-awkward (perhaps passive-aggressive) when it comes to dating. Being Sarah intensified that shyness. Despite the familiar admonition from well-meaning friends that women are attracted first and foremost to confidence, I found that no matter how confidently I presented myself as a female, nothing could avoid the inevitable confusion I would encounter when it came to when, how, and even who should make the first move. Not to mention, most women who knew me only as Sarah presumed that I was attracted to men. If I had been attracted to men, perhaps the transition would have been easier.

I've conversed with a few trans-women who told me that in their prior existences they had lived as gay men, for which I considered their decision to fully transition more understandable. Admittedly, there was a sense of belonging when the girls would invite me for tea and ask me what I thought about a boy's text messages. And, perhaps out of a sense of tact, I would only admit my sexual preference for women if directly asked, lest my appearance be misconstrued as some sort of grand infiltration of the secret female world. But very quickly, I became consumed with a terrible loneliness – almost as if I had unwittingly become the court eunuch. It's one thing to feel lonely as a man. It's quite another to feel lonely as a trans. A friend recently asked me, “What if you're still lonely as Will?” I responded, “At least I'm in with a chance.” 

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