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Medical Establishment Downplays Risk Of Regretting Sex Changes, Researchers Say

  • Doctors, researchers and advocates for cross-sex medical procedures ignore or minimize the stories of patients who regret medically transitioning in order to hide the risk of regret, according to researchers and medical professionals. 
  • There have been no long-term studies on transgender patients to track the prevalence of detransition or regret, but advocates continue to point to questionable short-term studies suggesting regret is rare. 
  • “There’s a real need for more long-term studies that track patients for five years or longer. Many detransitioners talk about feeling good during the first few years of their transition. After that, they may experience regret,” Dr. Kinnon MacKinnon told Reuters. 

Medical professionals and advocates for cross-sex medical procedures downplay the risk of regret by ignoring or minimizing the existence of “detransitioners” and people who came to regret their transitions, researchers told Reuters.

Some medical professionals believe it’s taboo to discuss or acknowledge individuals who regret their cross-sex medical interventions, because it could create the impression that patients with gender identity issues aren’t capable of making their own medical decisions, according to Dr. Kinnon MacKinnon, an assistant professor of social work at York University who’s now researching the subject. MacKinnon, who is transgender, once held these beliefs too, but has since come to view detransitioners‘ stories as a crucial tool for improving transgender healthcare and helping patients avoid regret.

“I can’t think of any other examples where you’re not allowed to speak about your own healthcare experiences if you didn’t have a good outcome,” MacKinnon told Reuters.

MacKinnon had previously assumed that people only destransitioned due to experiences of discrimination or lack of support from family or friends, but the research project intended to investigate such cases upended those assumptions, according to Reuters. Many of the detransitioners MacKinnon spoke to for research said transition hadn’t resolved their underlying mental health struggles, that their gender identities were in flux throughout treatment and that doctors weren’t equipped to help them.

“People are terrified to do this research,” Dr. Laura Edwards-Leeper, a clinical psychologist and co-author of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s (WPATH) new Standards of Care, told Reuters. She said MacKinnon’s work was some of the most extensive research on the subject to date, but that the hostile response to the work shows why so few researchers are willing to conduct similar projects.

MacKinnon’s research was met with hostility from the transgender medical establishment; an LGBT advocacy group refused to promote an event presenting the findings, and one Canadian health provider refused to participate, citing threats to institutions that offer cross-sex treatments to children, according to Reuters.

While there has never been a long-term study on transgender patients to determine how many of them regretted transitioning, according to Reuters, some advocates and doctors continue to insist that regret is exceedingly rare.

“Stories with people who have a lot of anger and regret” about transitioning are over-represented and don’t reflect “what we are seeing in the clinics,” Dr. Jason Rafferty, a child psychiatrist who helped write the American Academy of Pediatrics’ policy statement in support of cross-sex medical interventions, told Reuters. He said detransitioning was a “very invalidating term for a lot of people who are trans and gender-diverse.”

“These patients are not returning in droves,” Dr. Marci Bowers, gender surgeon and president of WPATH, told Reuters, adding that regret is “very rare,” she told Reuters.

“Highest you’ll find is 1% or 1.5% of any kind of regret,” Bowers said.

Some studies have found the regret rate to be as high as 25%, according to Reuters.

The systematic review of transition regret data that advocates often cite only counted patients who had undergone surgeries and omitted patients who had only taken puberty blockers and/or hormones. The study’s data stretched back to 1989, long before medical transitions became common and readily available.

Similarly, a Dutch study released in October, which found that 98% of adolescents who underwent puberty blockers before hormones continued treatment after four years, can’t be appropriately applied to the American medical model because it studies patients who underwent year-long comprehensive assessments before starting treatments, according to Reuters. This approach is increasingly rare in the U.S., where the medical establishment views delays to medical treatments as a dangerous form of gatekeeping.

“There’s a real need for more long-term studies that track patients for five years or longer,” MacKinnon told Reuters. “Many detransitioners talk about feeling good during the first few years of their transition. After that, they may experience regret.”

MacKinnon did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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One Comment

  1. These are the people who need to be called before the U.S. Congress to answer questions we all have about their failure to discourage gender reversals that are clearly unnecessary and likely to be regretted in the future. These are the people that give encouragement to young people about transitioning, without any concern for their future lives. These people are advocates for “whatever people want, they should haves, if it is feasible”. This is the ultimate state of the leftist mind.

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