Rate of detransition among 'trans' youth higher than activists claim

At the Re/Detrans Canada event held last month at York University in Ontario, recent studies were revealed that show detransition rates up to nearly 30 percent.

Mia Ashton Montreal QC

In pediatric gender clinics all over the West, parents are often told two things. The first is that if they don’t affirm their child’s identity and consent to experimental puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, their child is at a high risk of suicide; and the second is that almost no one regrets the decision to medically transition.

There is no solid evidence to support the former, and new emerging data revealed at a recent conference appears to discredit the latter.

At the Re/Detrans Canada event held last month at York University in Ontario, researcher Kinnon Ross MacKinnon gave a presentation which included recent studies that show detransition rates far higher than the oft-cited “less than 1 percent” statistic that proponents of gender-affirming care for minors are so fond of repeating.

Several studies were presented with detransition rates ranging from 2 percent to almost 30 percent. One study from the Netherlands showed a detransition rate of just 2 percent, whereas a similar study from the US showed an almost 30 percent detransition rate. Neither of these studies looked at the reasons for discontinuing medical transition.

Three recently published studies in England show detransition rates between 6.9 percent and 9.8 percent, and in these studies, there was an explicit change in identity at the time of detransition.

Then MacKinnon reveals the results of a new Canadian and American study that has yet to be published. This was a survey of 774 young Canadians and Americans who had “initiated gender affirming medical treatments.” 16 percent reported stopping or reversing treatment and the most frequently cited reasons were health concerns, change in identity, and cost.

The “less than 1%” detransition rate that trans activists and gender-affirming care providers so frequently cite is from a study done in a different time, and on a different group of patients.

It is from the time before the explosion in adolescent girls experiencing sudden-onset gender dysphoria started to flood gender clinics all over the western world, and from a time when doctors practiced a more cautious watchful waiting approach for young people experiencing gender-related distress.

In the last decade, gender clinics have abandoned caution and adopted the affirmative model of care, which demands that doctors immediately affirm a young person’s transgender identity and fast-track them onto the medical transition pathway. The rising rates of detransition appear to reflect the recklessness of this approach.

Michelle Zacchigna, a detransitioned woman who was one of the first people in Ontario to be medically transitioned under the new affirmative care model, attended the conference last month.

“This upcoming study and the study examining the US Military Healthcare System’s (MHS) medical and pharmacy billing records (which showed a discontinuation rate of nearly 30% within four years of beginning hormones) are showing that, at the very least, the number of people who decide exogenous hormones aren't right for them is much higher than previously suggested,” Zacchigna said in a statement to the Post Millennial. 

“However, this likely won't be interpreted as a problem with gender-affirming health care initially. I expect to hear all of the excuses that are employed to excuse detransition being a clinical failure: it was transphobia, it was external pressure, it was a necessary part of the 'gender journey' -- anything to avoid admitting that a rising number of people are being prescribed something that was never going to help them in the first place,” she continued.

Zacchigna is one of a rapidly growing number of young people who are speaking out about the harm gender-affirming care did to them. The Detrans Subreddit now has over 40,000 members, and malpractice lawsuits are starting to bring an end to what one pediatric neurosurgeon recently called “an extraordinary medical atrocity.”

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