The drastic measures that are a part of “gender transitions” can have long-lasting effects, many of which are unforeseen by the patients themselves. In an anonymous story in The Guardian, one individual recounts her sobering experience of gender transition.
She struggled with her gender identity from a young age, playing football with boys. She recounted how as a child she used to say “when I grow up, I want to be a boy,” and that sentiment only grew stronger:
When I saw my chest changing I was horrified; I developed an eating disorder to try to delay puberty, cut my hair short and started binding my chest. I was depressed and tried to kill myself. At 14, I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for a couple of months.
As with many of our children, twisted views of gender and biology fed this individual the lie that her biology was changeable. And she believed it. Yet, the true help she needed in the form of counselling and understanding the consequences of such a drastic action, she never received:
It wasn’t until I was 15 that I found out about transitioning. Everything fell into place: this was who I was. I realised I could have the body I wanted. When I went to my GP, aged 17, I was told I was too old to refer to children’s services and too young to be seen as an adult; I didn’t get my first appointment until three months after my 18th birthday.
After months of waiting and appointments, none of which included counselling [emphasis added], I finally started on testosterone gel, later switching to injections. It was a huge thing when, at university, my voice broke, and my figure started changing: my hips narrowed, my shoulders broadened. It felt right. Passing as a man, I felt safer in public places, I was taken more seriously when I spoke, and I felt more confident.
Then I had chest surgery. It was botched and I was left with terrible scarring; I was traumatised. For the first time, I asked myself, “What am I doing?” I delayed the next steps of hysterectomy and lower surgery, after looking into phalloplasty and realising that I was going to need an operation every 10 years to replace the erectile device. Trans issues were starting to be written about in the media, and I understood that people would always be able to recognise me as having transitioned. I just wanted to be male, but I was always going to be trans.
In a misguided (even if well-meaning) attempt to show acceptance, medical staff failed to give their patient proper care. They overlooked underlying mental health issues and focused on the exterior only; hence, the patient was not even offered counselling. Instead, she was placed into a gender transition program, and shuffled along in the process of physically altering herself in order to “be” the opposite gender of which she was born. Yet, as the author shares, she came to a terrifying realisation: her gender transition did not solve her issues. Instead, it left her body scarred, and her mind burdened with regret:
[T]here was a significant change in how I felt about my gender. Reflecting on the difference in how I was treated when people saw me as a man, I realised other women were also held back by this. I had assumed the problem was in my body. Now I saw that it wasn’t being female that was stopping me from being myself; it was society’s perpetual oppression of women. Once I realised this, I gradually came to the conclusion that I had to detransition.
The underlying ‘identity’ problem faced by this woman was not physical but societal. Instead of a community asking itself the hard questions about groups which experience disadvantage, and taking steps to redress it, the problem was solved by creating another one: encouraging people to transition, when they just need to be supported, subsequently dooming them to suffer lifelong regret as a result:
I have come off testosterone and, as my body has resumed production of its own hormones, I have become someone female who looks like a man. I will always have a broken voice and will never regrow breasts, but my hips and thighs are getting bigger. Being male was more comfortable for me, but remaining on hormones means I would have continued to focus on my body as the problem – when I don’t believe it belongs there. What feels easiest isn’t always what’s right.
While the author doesn’t oppose gender transitioning, she believes there should be a focus on counselling, with hormone therapy and surgery as last resorts.
I feel happy for those people transition has helped, but I think there should be more emphasis on counselling, and that it should be seen as the last resort. Had that been the case for me, I might not have transitioned. I was so focused on trying to change my gender, I never stopped to think about what gender meant.
This brave individual’s account shows us that it is perfectly legitimate to question the blithe acceptance of gender ideology – an ideology which openly encourages gender transitioning. People who question this status quo are often shouted down as “hateful bigots” for perpetuating common sense. Yet, as the above story demonstrates, if we do not question and challenge these radical ideologies, we leave impressionable children susceptible to being influenced into making decisions that drastically affect their lives – decisions they could very well regret.
If we allow radical views of gender to redefine marriage, our society, and our medical practices, we enable even more children to grow up with the burden of regretting their gender transition.