If there’s anyone trans advocates don’t want to hear from, it’s detransitioned people. Detransitioners are those who believed themselves to be of the opposite sex, embarked upon the process of socially or medically transitioning, and at a certain point, realized this was not the right path for them. They turned back.
This is not an easy course of action. To believe you are something, so fully and completely, that you undertake drastic changes to physical self in order to become that thing, is hard enough. But changing your mind once surgeries and drugs have been introduced, and once you’ve gone through the difficult task of coming out as trans, must be exceedingly daunting.
Yet, a new detransitioners group has arisen in Manchester, UK. Joining the Pique Resilience Project, a group of young women who have reversed course on transitioning, the Detransition Advocacy Project is determined to make people aware of the reality that not everyone who sets out upon the trans journey is happy with where they end up.
Charlie Evans, a 28-year-old woman who has detransitioned, is the founder of the Detransition Advocacy Project, which launches officially in Manchester on November 30th.
Evans identified as male for nearly a decade, but then changed her mind. And Evans is not alone. She says she has been in touch with hundreds of other young people who have detransitioned, mostly people in their early 20’s. Some of these individuals have had full gender reassignment surgery, and regret it. All are trying to figure out how to move forward and live happy, healthy lives.
The mission of the Detransition Advocacy Project is to help those “who have either decided not to transition or have stopped transitioning.” There is insufficient data on how many people desist or detransition, and if trans advocates had their way, these people would be silenced.
The need to prop up the ideology that gender transition creates happy rainbow people who sail to the end of their transition on a sea of lollipops and pigtails is so strong that desisters and detransitioners are shamed and defamed. Trans advocates worry that the vocal presence of these groups in the movement will set back social acceptance gains made by the trans community.
Though these groups have connected people who have shared their real experiences of dysphoria not abating once transition has been completed, or feelings of depression and anxiety getting worse once transition has begun, this view is too threatening to trans advocates. They prefer to discredit rather than engage or address real concerns.
Those who have undergone medical transition have been something like guinea pigs in an experiment with no control group. Drugs like puberty blockers were untested, there were no clinical trials to gauge the effect of estrogen on boys, or testosterone on girls. Surgeries like double mastectomies have been performed because the patient wanted them. For reasons having to do with a fear of suicide, these operations have been deemed medically necessary. Note that no young woman who threatens to kill herself if she can’t have a breast enlargement is given one on that basis alone.
Now that we are at least a decade into the trans trend, those individuals who were subjected to these medical procedures, without enough information about long term effects to make an education decision, are speaking out. And the trans community doesn’t want them heard because they disrupt the just-fix-your-body-and-everything-will-be-bunnies-singing-love-songs narrative.
Speaking on the podcast Love & Radio in 2017, comedian Carey Callahan spoke about her transition to live as male. She wanted to live and look male, but found that nothing could actually transform her womanly body. As time wore on, she came to the realization that she might want to detransition. One of the hardest parts was reversing her position among her friends and family.
Callahan went to the Michigan Women’s Festival because they were having a detransition workshop. She speaks of the showers as a turning point for her.
“I remember the first shower that I took … it was open air showers and you waited in a line with a bunch of naked women … and it’s women of all ages. I realized that I had never been around that many naked women and especially that many naked women of all different kinds of ages… you’re with women in their 40s and 50s and 60s and 70s. And it tripped me out in this huge way. Oh my gosh, I’ve been looking at pictures from magazines of what women’s bodies look like, and those pictures are not in any way what women’s bodies look like. I swear like it really blew my mind, I was like, whoa, all these things that I feel about my body are wrong and freakish, cellulite all over my thighs, and saggy boobs… they’re so normal, they’re the norm.”
The Michigan Women’s Festival came under attack for not being inclusive enough to transwomen, and shut down. Places where women gather to experience womanhood are a threat to an ideology that says woman is a feeling because bodies are not great liars.
That there should be any individuals who end up on this path and then find that the irreversible damage done to their bodies is not what they wanted is devastating. But the push in both the medical and the trans advocacy community is that those who seek gender transition should be fully affirmed, not questioned. The practice of “watchful waiting” is not considered viable. Instead, this idea that those who are not given the drugs and surgeries they want right when they ask for them will kill themselves is preached like gospel.
Those who desist or detransition need to be heard in this movement, because if there are desisters, the movement is failing to ensure that those who set out on this path really should be there. Surgeries like mastectomies, vaginoplasties and phalloplasties are irreversible, as are hysterectomies. Puberty blockers are untested, and the long term effects of cross sex hormone use is unknown. Detransitioners show us the danger of social and medical experimentation on living subjects, and the error of treating a mental condition with physical solutions.
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