Busting the Detransition Myth
A meta analysis of 28 studies published in Clinical Endocrinology showed that after sexual reassignment surgery, “80% of individuals with GID reported significant improvement in gender dysphoria; 78% reported significant improvement in psychological symptoms; 80% reported significant improvement in quality of life; and 72% reported significant improvement in sexual function”.
A similar European study revealed a 2.2% regret rate for SRS. For context, the regret rate for simple vasectomies is 7.4%. That’s over 3x the regrets for a simple 15 minute procedure! But we’re not making them get therapist approval first, are we?
(And that regret rate is partially so high because the divorce rate is so high – between 40%-50%. Meaning people who get vasectomies because they’re in a happy marriage with kids are not likely to stay in that happy marriage. But do we need a therapist letter to get married? No, we don’t).
A meta analysis by Cornell University of 73 studies “found a robust international consensus in the peer-reviewed literature that gender transition, including medical treatments such as hormone therapy and surgeries, improves the overall well-being of transgender individuals.” The report goes on to say that “The literature also indicates that greater availability of medical and social support for gender transition contributes to better quality of life for those who identify as transgender.”
That last part is so important. In fact, let’s read it again! In BOLD this time: “Greater availability of medical and social support for gender transition contributes to better quality of life” (emphasis mine, obviously).
So then is the answer to make it harder on people?
What I do know is that I very nearly became one of these “detransitioners”. Not because I suddenly didn’t feel like a woman anymore. But because I lost insurance coverage and went a few months without hormones and feared that I would never again be seen as a woman. My facial and body hair grew back thicker and darker than ever and no amount of shaving would remove the shadow and the stubble. Most of my clothes were low cut and I couldn’t wear them anymore for that reason. My emotions were going haywire and I was getting nonstop headaches from the hormonal fluctuations. I definitely still was a woman then. I just knew in those moments that there was no way I could live like that.
My story isn’t unique. After all, the transgender community suffers from one of the highest homeless and unemployment rates. So many of us come out only to be kicked out of our homes and lose employment. And meanwhile, people are telling us that we must be on hormones and trying to “pass” as our identified genders in order to be taken seriously – even by other trans people! The stigma comes from every angle. And when we lose access to care, it can be really hard to keep going. But that’s not a “detransitioner” problem. It’s a societal problem.
Detransition stories are always far more complicated than clickbait media will have you think. They make good clickable headlines that make a few cishet people very wealthy, but they are absolutely not representative of what we actually go through.
Murad, et al. “Hormonal therapy and sex reassignment: a systematic review and meta‐analysis of quality of life and psychosocial outcomes”. Clinical Endocrinology. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2265.2009.03625.x
Dhejne C, et al. “An analysis of all applications for sex reassignment surgery in Sweden, 1960-2010: prevalence, incidence, and regrets”. Center for Psychiatric Research, Department of Clinical Neuroscience. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24872188
Vice News. “Dispelling the Myths About Trans People ‘Detransitioning'”. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/kwxkwz/dispelling-the-myths-around-detransitioning
Cornell University. “What does the scholarly research say about the effect of gender transition on transgender well-being?” https://whatweknow.inequality.cornell.edu/topics/lgbt-equality/what-does-the-scholarly-research-say-about-the-well-being-of-transgender-people/