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Regret and the “ex-transgender” movement

Regret is rare among people who make a gender transition. In 27 studies totaling 7,928 surgery patients, the regret rate was about 1%: “Pooling data from numerous studies demonstrates a regret rate ranging from .3 percent to 3.8 percent. Regrets are most likely to result from a lack of social support after transition or poor surgical outcomes using older techniques.”

A 2024 study from Perth Children’s Hospital in Perth, Australia found low regret rates among minors:

In this cohort study of 548 individuals with closed referrals to a pediatric gender clinic, 29 (5.3%) reportedly reidentified with their birth-registered sex before or during assessment. Two of these individuals reidentified during medical treatment, which corresponds to 1.0% of all patients who initiated medical treatment.

Cavve et al. (2024)

Sometimes a person who makes a change in gender identity or gender expression will make more changes later. That is a key goal of our political movement. You should be able to change your gender identity and expression as often as you want.

There is no shame in questioning your gender and not being sure what to do. As with most big life choices, making a gender transition is a leap of faith, and it is good to look before you leap! No one wants to live a life of regret, whether it is regret about not transitioning sooner, or regret after making a gender transition. The best way to lower the chances of regret is to think carefully about what will give your life fulfillment.

Many people see gender changes on a spectrum. Some people only see them as a binary. You can always transition in any direction, and it is not all or nothing. Every person should feel free to be themselves in their own way. That can change over time. There is no shame in changing your identity or expression more than once. It is not a “failure” to change direction. It is not bad to change your mind. Many of us support you no matter what you choose. We want you to live a life full of purpose and joy. We will fight for your right to be your true self.

Most people who make more gender changes have no regrets about their earlier transition. The choices you make and the actions you take always carry some risk. Some people will feel they made a mistake. It is important not to focus on your mistakes. We all make them, even on big things. When you feel you made a mistake, you have to let it go, forgive yourself and others, and move forward. When you dwell on your mistakes and regret, you are looking backwards to the past.

Being transgender is hard. It is difficult for many people to reach their expectations for transition. They may be dissatisfied with the results or unwanted side effects from medical transition. They may have a hard time moving through the world because of how they look or act. They may have a hard time with acceptance at work, school, or home. It is important to consider the experiences of people who regret transition when deciding what is right for you. Most people who discuss their regrets do so because they want to help others avoid the same regret.

Making more changes

Gender transition is mostly social. All social changes can be changed more than once. All legal changes like name or gender marker can be changed more than once. Many medical changes can be changed more than once. If you undertsand the possible benefits and side effects, it is OK to try hormones or hormone blockers for a little while and stop. Because surgery is a significant step, you need to be very sure before you have surgery. Experts who reviewed 27 studies with a total of 7,928 patients who had surgery found a pooled prevalence of regret of just 1%.

Researchers at Cornell University looked at peer-reviewed studies published between 1991 and 2017:

We identified 55 studies that consist of primary research on this topic, of which 51 (93%) found that gender transition improves the overall well-being of transgender people, while 4 (7%) report mixed or null findings. We found no studies concluding that gender transition causes overall harm. 

What We Know Project (2018)

The ex-transgender movement

Of the estimated 240 million trans and gender diverse people worldwide, there are only a few dozen public ex-trans activists worldwide. Each person in the core group of ex-trans activists in the media is literally one in a million.

Most people who decide to make more gender changes still support transgender people. Some just want to share their stories. They want others to learn from their experiences. Even most people who regret making a gender change feel it should be an option for others.

In rare cases, a person who has regret about a gender transition also decides to get money or attention by joining the “ex-trans” movement, also called “political detransition.” Some work to limit or even end access to trans health services for others. Some even work to take away trans people’s other rights. They usually blame others for their transition instead of taking personal responsibility for their own decisions.

The people they blame can include:

  • Supportive family
  • Supportive friends
  • Supportive educators
  • Supportive transitioners
  • Supportive organizations
  • Supportive strangers
  • Supportive media (especially social media)
  • Supportive therapists
  • Supportive healthcare providers

In other words, they often blame the people who tried to help them.

Political strategy

The ex-trans movement focuses on these controversial concepts:

Desistance

  • Typically used for children, this usually means someone who stopped identifying as transgender before taking medical or legal steps.

Detransition

  • Typically used for adults, this usually means someone who took social, medical, and/or legal transition steps, then took more steps in another direction later.

Litigation

  • Ex-trans activists often sue healthcare providers to have a chilling effect

Historic ex-trans activists

Despite their small numbers, ex-trans activists have been a cisgender media fixation for nearly a century. Some notable older “ex-trans” people include:

Ex-trans people often join the movement following a political or religious conversion. For others, they get involved as a form of attention-seeking behavior, or as a way to make money. Beginning in 2021, the fringe ex-trans movement began to get more politically organized through connections with other conservative and fascist movements.

Confirmed ex-trans activists

The following people have engaged in ex-trans activism and have independently confirmed identities. They are ordered by their real surnames, with fake names and handles also listed.

  • Soren Aldaco
  • Katie Lennon Anderson
  • Richard Ikechukwu Anumene / “AnumeneRic17573”
  • Kasey Emerick / “KC Miller” / “dyke_in_denial”
  • Charlie Evans / charlie_sci / DetransAdv
  • Mel Jeffries
  • Grayson Powell / Grace Powell 
  • Ememlie Schmidt / “Emelie” / Emmie / SullivanStar221 [Twitter] [YT]
  • Daisy Strongin / “Daisy Chadra”
  • Phillip Martine Suarez-Hamilton / OfTheFutureArt / Estella
  • Layton Ulery

Unconfirmed ex-trans activists

Many alleged ex-trans activists use fake names and usernames, making it impossible to confirm their claims independently. The following 22 people claim online to be ex-trans activists.

General Twitter/X accounts

Media bias

People who express regret are vastly overrepresented in the media. They are often presented the way “ex-gays” used to be presented and are primarily uplifted by conservative and gender critical media figures.

References

Thornton SM, Edalatpour A, Gast KM (2024). A systematic review of patient regret after surgery- A common phenomenon in many specialties but rare within gender-affirmation surgery. The American Journal of Surgery https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjsurg.2024.04.021

Reed, Erin (April 26, 2024). Landmark Systematic Review Of Trans Surgery: Regret Rate “Remarkably Low.” Erin in the Morning https://www.erininthemorning.com/p/landmark-systematic-review-of-trans

Astor, Maggie (May 16, 2023). How a Few Stories of Regret Fuel the Push to Restrict Gender Transition Care. New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/16/us/politics/transgender-care-detransitioners.html

Cavve BS, Bickendorf X, Ball J, Saunders LA, Thomas CS, Strauss P, Chaplyn G, Marion L, Siafarikas A, Ganti U, Wiggins A, Lin A, Moore JK (2024). Reidentification With Birth-Registered Sex in a Western Australian Pediatric Gender Clinic Cohort. JAMA Pediatrics https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapediatrics.2024.0077

Statista (2023). Share of people identifying as transgender, gender fluid, non-binary, or other ways worldwide as of 2023, by country. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1269778/gender-identity-worldwide-country/ ” three percent of respondents from 30 countries identified themselves as transgender, non-binary/non-conforming/gender-fluid, or in another way. “

What We Know Project, Cornell University (2018). What does the scholarly research say about the effect of gender transition on transgender well-being? (online literature review), 2018. https://whatweknow.inequality.cornell.edu/topics/lgbt-equality/what-does-the-scholarly-research-say-about-the-well-being-of-transgender-people/

We identified 55 studies that consist of primary research on this topic, of which 51 (93%) found that gender transition improves the overall well-being of transgender people, while 4 (7%) report mixed or null findings. We found no studies concluding that gender transition causes overall harm.

Narayan SK, Hontscharuk R, Danker S, Guerriero J, Carter A, Blasdel G, Bluebond-Langner R, Ettner R, Radix A, Schechter L, Berli JU (2021). Guiding the conversation—types of regret after gender-affirming surgery and their associated etiologies. Ann Transl Med 2021;9(7):605. https://doi.org/10.21037/atm-20-6204

-https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1HpGRzJ5nc7gecyXUKVRdCeXS1TYXe0w12A7Y9I2JIsE/edit#gid=0

Media

Keffals (April 27, 2022). CRINGING at Incredible DETRANSITIONER grift https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QqS8eaE57U 

Vaush (October 13, 2022) The Detransitioner Grift https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=om_a-iSRMjY

Archival resources

sexchangeregret.com [archive]

helpmereversemysexchange.org [archive]

trans-detransition.com [archive]

tradingmysorrows.com [archive]

sexchangeinfo.com [archive]