60 Minutes' Leslie Stahl dug into the questions about transgender medicine on Sunday night, speaks to doctors, advocates, and to people who had undergone gender transition, and then found themselves needing to "detransition."
Stahl spoke to Grace Lidinsky-Smith, who underwent gender transition in her early 20s. Her account of coming out as trans and undergoing medical treatment is shocking because there appears to have been so little medical or psychological oversight.
"I can't believe that I transitioned and detransitioned, including hormones and surgery, in the course of, like, less than one year. It's completely crazy," Lidinsky-Smith said.
Lidinsky-Smith was depressed when she came across the concept of gender transition, and she thought it would bring her out of her depression. Instead, it made everything worse.
"Did the therapist not question you about how deep the feeling was and what it was stemming from?" Stahl asked.
"She didn’t go — really go into what my gender dysphoria might’ve been stemming from," Lidinsky-Smith said. "We only did a few sessions."
But Lidinsky-Smith was over 18, she didn't need anyone's consent to undergo this treatment, and signed off on the consent forms. "They asked me: 'So, why do you wanna go on testosterone?' And I said, 'Well, being a woman just isn't working for me anymore.' And they said, 'Okay.'"
"So, that was that. You got your prescription for testosterone?" Stahl asked. Lidinsky-Smith said that she did. And it was just four months after she started on cross-sex hormones, testosterone injections, that she was approved to have her breasts removed.
But Lidinsky-Smith said this was "traumatic." Stahl was surprised, because she'd heard that those who have gender dysphoria and undergo this kind of extreme treatment are happy once they undergo voluntary surgery.
"You know, I’m kinda surprised because," Stahl said, "based on everything you’ve said up to now, I would’ve thought you’d have a great sense of relief"
It just wasn't like that. "I started to have a really disturbing sense that like a part of my body was missing," Lidinsky-Smith said. "Almost a ghost limb feeling about being like, there’s something that should be there. And the feeling really surprised me but it was really hard to deny."
Lidinsky-Smith went off testosterone and when she went back to the climic, she told them that she didn't think the process they undertook in her case followed the appropriate WPATH guidelines.
Keira Bell, who detransitioned after undergoing surgery and hormone treatments when she was only 16, posted her support for Lidinsky-Smith on Twitter, saying that she stands behind those who spoke out, and knows how hard it is to step forward and share their experiences.
Bell brought her case to the High Court in the UK, saying that she was permitted to transition though she was too young to give proper consent. The Court agreed, finding that "it was highly unlikely that a child aged 13 or under would be competent to give consent to the administration of puberty blockers. It was also doubtful that a child aged 14 or 15 could understand and weigh the long-term risks and consequences of the administration of puberty blocking drugs."
"It found that the nine elements could not be met in any child under the age of 16, due to the long term consequences of the treatment. As such, the standards of care themselves have been deemed insufficient for the youngest children," wrote Erin Perse for The Post Millennial.
The High Court states: "A child under 16 may only consent to the use of medication intended to suppress puberty where he or she is competent to understand the nature of the treatment.
"That includes an understanding of the immediate and long-term consequences of the treatment, the limited evidence available as to its efficacy or purpose, the fact that the vast majority of patients proceed to the use of cross-sex hormones, and its potential life changing consequences for a child.
"There will be enormous difficulties in a child under 16 understanding and weighing up this information and deciding whether to consent to the use of puberty blocking medication.
"It is highly unlikely that a child aged 13 or under would be competent to give consent to the administration of puberty blockers. It is doubtful that a child aged 14 or 15 could understand and weigh the long-term risks and consequences of the administration of puberty blockers."
Lidinsky-Smith told her story in her own words on Substack. "As I write this, the mastectomy scars are twinging on my chest. 4 years later, I've grown older, wiser, and way more cautious. But the scars remain.
"When I realized that being a trans man wasn't what I wanted anymore, I fell into despair. My body was permanently changed. The surgery was the hardest thing to deal with. The scars hurt. I missed the feeling of having an intact, unscarred body. I was convinced my life had been ruined.
"As a detransitioner, regret can be crushing. But somehow, eventually, even after the most catastrophic of mistakes, life goes on. It's still your only life, and you still have to figure out how to survive. It took me a while, and I learned I could survive."