THERE is a new (ish) label on the sex scene. And this time it’s not to advance the sexual revolution but potentially to thwart it. For some time now, stories of ‘de-transitioners’ who have regretted transitioning from their natal sex to something else, or put differently, having had their bodies mutilated in surgical procedures to reflect their new identity, have been trickling down to the ‘respectable’ mainstream media. But with Leftist journalists reluctant to slay the trans sacred cow, and conservatives fearful of a backlash from the exceptionally belligerent trans lobby, it is no surprise that as yet the issue hasn’t received the widespread media attention which one would expect it merits. It’s left to cultural conservatives to raise the issue, as TCW’s Caroline ffiske has done here and here.
Although there is no precise data on the number of de-transitioners, it is certainly accumulating and it appears far higher than the 0.5 per cent of all gender reassignment surgery that the BBC and academics, basing their calculation on unrepresentative research, are touting.
Most striking is the disturbing anecdotal evidence coming from those who feel they were encouraged or pressured into life-changing medical procedures either at impressionable young ages or at times of personal vulnerability. As the reality of their gender therapy sinks in, some are already seeking redress against those whom they deem to have been responsible. For inspiration, perhaps they could look towards the lawsuits against tobacco companies instigated by those who suffered as a result of smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke.
The experiences of de-transitioners, despite their international demographic, are strikingly similar. They tell of children convincing themselves or being convinced by others that they were born in the wrong body. They tell of little girls liking football, trucks and other girls and of little boys preferring to play the games of little girls, and the reading of these traits as hard evidence of gender dysphoria. They tell of sinister confirmatory sources, transgender echo-chambers intolerant of doubt, internet porn, unscrupulous surgeons and gender identity clinics. They tell of mothers and grandmothers cross-dressing little boys and of depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and self-loathing. They tell of grotesque surgical procedures that mutilate one part of the body to build missing parts in another.
Yet what is particularly unsettling in all these experiences is that many appear to have been born out of deep-rooted trauma of some kind, eating disorders, bullying, mental health issues or frequently sexual abuse. As they look back on their decisions, de-transitioners summon feelings of regret and frustration over the poor counselling and the ease with which they were able to pass through the stages of the transitioning process for which they feel they were mentally unprepared. ‘The trauma’, writes Charlie Evans, previously Charlotte and now de-transitioning to her former self, ‘exacerbated and accelerated feelings that were natural for a child who didn’t conform,’ and which, she insists, she ‘would have outgrown’. Just as well that the actress and writer, Phoebe Waller-Bridge didn’t act on her childhood ‘tomboy’ impulses to ‘jump’ at the chance of becoming transgender had the opportunity arisen, so she said, before adolescence stepped in to resolve her gender confusion.
For many, however, meaningful reflection was not an option amidst the rush to acquire a new body. It is only much later, after much physical and psychological suffering, that many realise, frequently after counselling from independent specialists, that transitioning was not the panacea that they were told was magically going to solve their problems.
‘Hidden underneath the make-up and female clothing,’ recalls Walt Heyer, who underwent gender reassignment surgery and has now fully de-transitioned, ‘was a little boy hurt by childhood trauma’ who was fulfilling his dream but not assuaging his craving for suicide and whose trauma was being ignored by both medical practitioners and gender specialists.
It is a story all too familiar to a growing number of specialist surgeons, like Professor Miroslav Djordjevic, who are regularly confronted with depressed and suicidal patients seeking reversals of their gender reassignments. What is particularly shocking for Djordjevic is the rapidly falling average age of his patients requesting reversal surgery, which currently stands at 21 but which he expects will fall even further to include minors, given the huge rise in referrals of minors for gender reassignments in recent years. Yet denial and politically correct considerations are smothering any attempts to conduct longitudinal research into the phenomenon of de-transitioning, a situation, notes clinical psychologist Catherine Butler of Bath University. She says this is having a devastating impact on the growing cohort of de-transitioners, not only leaving them with little support other than self-help groups and ad hoc networks, but also leading to gross errors in treatment of vulnerable people.
It is a worrying fact that was acutely illustrated by the rejection by Bath Spa University of a proposal by the gender dysphoria specialist James Caspian of a self-funded post-graduate project into de-transitioning, on the grounds that it might cause ‘unnecessary offence’ and potentially carry ‘a risk to the university’. For many academics, the Caspian case was a wake-up call to which 54 of them responded with an open letter expressing their concerns not only about the muzzling of researchers but also about the government’s proposal (now on hold) to allow a person to change gender simply by filling in a form.
In a landmark High Court case against Tavistock and Portman NHS trust, which runs Britain’s only gender identity development service (GIDS) for children, 23-year-old Keira Bell is seeking to stop it prematurely prescribing puberty blockers, which she says she was given after only three appointments. Having moved on to cross-sex hormones and a full mastectomy before realising she had made a terrible mistake, Ms Bell feels that she was misled and lied to about the nature of her condition, which she attributed to her mother’s alcoholism and parents’ divorce, from which she came to believe she could escape by changing gender. The case is all the more interesting in the light of a disclosed document that revealed the absence among professionals of any concrete knowledge about the long-term impact of blocker treatment on bone strength, sex organ development, body shape or height. This comes on top of mounting evidence about the harmful side-effects associated with hormone therapy, including cancer, diabetes as well as cardiovascular, renal and metabolic diseases. The court is due to decide whether children may consent to life-changing procedures.
While the Tavistock Centre is an obvious target given its position on the front line of the gender reassignment process, it is merely one of thousands of potentially culpable parties around the world that could be the target of litigation. These could include any institution that was perceived to have encouraged vulnerable people to transition, from schools, universities and a host of corporate institutions which parrot misleading information, to governments for their misguided legislation and workplaces and police forces for enforcing an uncritical climate on transgender issues.
If tobacco companies could be held to account for selling their products in the full knowledge of the health consequences associated with them, then why not those involved in the gender reassignment industry who have caused such horrific mental and physical trauma to so many vulnerable people bamboozled into making decisions that they were in no position to make? Undoubtedly there are some well-meaning individuals involved in the industry. Equally there are many who use it to pursue their political agenda or to make financial gain. If it were any other issue, the media would be crowing and society would be outraged. Here, however, the interests of an overarching political agenda trounces the welfare of the vulnerable. Surely this needs to change, and litigation by the de-transitioners against culpable parties is perhaps the best way to secure it.