Detransitioners testify before Scottish Parliament about harms of gender affirmation

Sinead Watson and Ritchie Herron spoke about the dangers of gender-affirming care and their concerns about the proposed bill that would make it easier for transgender people over age 16 to legally change their sex.

Mia Ashton Montreal QC

Two detransitioned young adults who had their bodies surgically altered by "gender-affirming" doctors and now regret the procedures they underwent testified before a Scottish parliamentary committee Tuesday regarding the government’s controversial Gender Recognition Reform Bill.

Sinead Watson and Ritchie Herron spoke about the dangers of gender-affirming care and their concerns about the proposed bill that would make it easier for transgender people over age 16 to legally change their sex.

"The voices of detransitioners have not been heard, either by the Scottish Government in developing its proposals or by MSPs (Members of Scottish Parliament) who are considering this draft legislation," Sinead Watson told the Glasgow Times.

"I am particularly concerned about the plan to allow children aged 16 and 17 to get a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC)," explained the young woman who had a double mastectomy at age 26 because she was convinced she was a man and that the surgery would dramatically improve her life. 

"When I presented myself to a gender identity clinic, I felt so certain that medical transition was the only solution for me, but now I wish that greater care had been taken to consider all my underlying issues," Watson continued. "I believe that affirming children in their identity is dangerous and could lead them to make decisions about their bodies that they later regret."

Ritchie Herron also began medically transitioning as an adult, and is now suing the NHS for allowing him to transition when he was in a state of very poor mental health. Herron suffered severe complications following his vaginoplasty surgery and now has to live with the consequences for the rest of his life.

"There has been a lot of publicity about the huge increase in numbers of young girls identifying as transgender and it is good that NHS England has commissioned the Cass Review to look at this," Herron told the Glasgow Times.

"However, I am keen to tell MSPs about the experiences of young men who identify as transgender and later regret it," he went on. "I am particularly concerned about estimates that the number of trans-identified young men having gender reassignment surgery may soon outstrip the number of trans-identified young women having double mastectomies."

Herron said he was diagnosed with "transsexualism" after just two short appointments and "underwent medical and surgical interventions" that have left him with "life-long side effects."

"When I presented at a clinic, I was in a very vulnerable state and feel that this was overlooked," said the young man who faces a lifetime of regret because of the actions of gender-affirming doctors.

Herron is not the only detransitioner to bring legal action against the healthcare professionals for their reckless malpractice. Chloe Cole recently announced that she is suing the California doctors who emotionally and physically damaged her by allowing her to consent to medical transition when she was a vulnerable teenager, and in Australia, Jay Langadinos, now 31, is suing the psychiatrist who allowed her to begin medically transitioning at 19.

The Gender Recognition Reform Bill has been extremely controversial since its introduction. The bill is currently at Stage 2 with amendments being debated, but during stage 1, 9 Scottish National Party (SNP) MSPs broke with the whip and abstained or voted against the legislation and minister Ash Regan resigned.


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