Three Detransitioned Women Tell their Stories in Hopes of Preventing Further Medical Malfeasance
Helena was a typical girlish girl as a child, but sometime around age 13, she started feeling depressed and uncomfortable in her own skin. She went on Tumblr, where she found a sympathetic community that told her if she didn’t like her body, or if she felt like she didn’t fit in, those things were signs that she was transgender. If she would transition from female to male, they said, all those problems would go away. She then began to want to change her body.
First, she changed her pronouns to the nonbinary she/they, and about a year later, started identifying as a boy. She went to Planned Parenthood and was given a prescription for the maximum allowed dosage of testosterone. But taking testosterone only made her feel worse, more irritable, to the point of “extreme rage” at times. Not wanting to hurt others, she ended up hurting herself instead and was hospitalized. Life became “a total disaster … I wasn’t functioning at all.” No job; no school. “I just felt like a monster.” None of the health care professionals tending to her through this time connected her distress to the testosterone or gender transition.
Cat was introverted, artsy, and bookwormish as a girl. But something about growing up to be a woman seemed frightening to her. At age 13, she went to a female-to-male website, where she learned that “gender dysphoria” was the label for what she felt. She also learned there that gender transition was possible, but because she was a singer, she didn’t want to take testosterone and have it affect her voice.
Instead, she pushed down her troubled feelings and plowed on. Over the next several years, she developed an eating disorder, struggled with alcohol and drug addiction, and survived multiple suicide attempts. Finally, she dropped out of college and called Planned Parenthood for transgender services. After a 30-minute phone call, she was prescribed testosterone.
In college, Grace was exposed to deconstruction of gender and of the gender binary, and around age 19, she started identifying as nonbinary. When she learned about medical transition, it seemed to explain why she felt uncomfortable – it was because she didn’t have the right body. So she went to a therapist, who rather perfunctorily affirmed gender transition as a way for her to feel better. The therapist wrote a recommendation for top surgery (double mastectomy), and Grace started injecting testosterone and preparing for surgery at age 22.
Jumping off the Trans Train
After 17 months on testosterone, Helena realized it was destroying her and stopped on her own volition. All the distressing symptoms went away, and she started to feel like herself again. Cat began having heart palpitations after a few months on testosterone, but when her voice dropped beyond a certain point and she couldn’t sing anymore, she canceled her scheduled top surgery and legal name change and stopped the testosterone cold turkey.
At first, Grace like being on testosterone. She lost body fat and got arm muscles. She was sad to lose her soprano voice but saw it as a sacrifice worth making to “become a real person.” She had the top surgery at age 23, but things went dramatically downhill from there. Trying to make sense of what she was experiencing, she started reading other trans narratives online and noticed a pattern: as soon as one body part was altered, the transgendered individual would feel dysphoric about another body part – and then another. She looked at her own body. She had a flat chest, but her hips were wide, not straight down like a man’s.
It’s not like you can have hip surgery and whittle down your hip bones, she thought. This will never be over for me, she realized. She didn’t feel like a man. She only felt like a woman whose breasts had been cut off. She stopped taking the testosterone and went back to going by Grace. It was the first step toward self-acceptance.
Transition, Step by Step
Helena, Cat, and Grace share their stories in The Detransition Diaries: Saving Our Sisters.
Here are some common themes that come out as they share their experiences:
Feelings of being lost; uncomfortable. Feeling awkward is the near universal experience in puberty. Transgender ideology casts this common adolescent experience as evidence of a transgender condition and presents to the disaffected youth the false hope of a medical cure. Social justice activism, with its deconstruction narratives and oppression hierarchy, heightens the appeal of identifying as trans in that it offers a way to get social affirmation. Helena felt guilty for being cisgender but discovered that changing her pronouns was an easy way to obtain emotional support while also avoiding being among the “privileged.”
Hopeful before transition; regretful after. With a gender dysphoria diagnosis to explain their discomfort, all three believed that gender transition offered the remedy for what ailed them. But for all three, the “cure” proved far worse than the “disease.”
Professional greenlighting: In every case, the professionals they consulted – therapeutic, psychiatric, and medical – accepted their self-diagnoses and universally greenlighted their desires to take the next step toward transition. Helena was prescribed the maximum dosage of testosterone for no other reason than because she asked for it. Cat was prescribed testosterone after one phone call and cleared for surgery after one more. No in-person visit was requited, nor was any attempt made to explore the reasons behind the massive emotional problems she had struggled with to date.
Grace’s therapist casually rubber-stamped her self-diagnosis without offering any reasons to reconsider. Grace, in fact, was rushed to go through with surgery. It was the 2016 election season, and she was told that if Donald Trump became president, transgender surgery could become illegal. Now 28, her singing voice has not returned, and while insurance covered her mastectomy, it does not cover reconstruction. She’s also married now, and her biggest regret is about potential damage to her future fertility.
Recovered, Restored, Resolved
Helena, Cat, and Grace are all lovely, articulate women in their twenties. Listening to them, it’s hard to envision them as anything but confident in their own skin. But we all know that the onset of puberty is a turbulent season of awkwardness, self-consciousness, and often fear. What 13-year-old girl doesn’t dislike her body, or doesn’t feel like a misfit, at least some of the time? To this day, I remember thinking around age 13 that I desperately wanted to have a hysterectomy (though I didn’t know the name for it at the time), so I wouldn’t have to deal with the existential horror of getting my period every month. I didn’t care that I would never be able to have children. I just wanted relief from what my body was doing to me. Thankfully, no one would have taken me seriously had I asked for it, which I didn’t – precisely because I knew no one would take me seriously.
Tragically, that is no longer the case for today’s emerging adolescents. Today, there is an army of therapists, counselors, and activists waiting to recruit vulnerable girls and love-bomb them, cult-like, into a state of cross-sex confusion. Cross-sex hormones are now being administered to children as young as twelve, and surgeons are ready to follow up with double mastectomies on breasts that aren’t even fully developed.
These three women are remarkable examples of feminine wisdom, resilience, and strength, and concerned adults and youth need to hear their stories. The Detransition Diaries, produced by the Center for Bioethics and Culture (CBC), is being released next week with a premier showing on Monday, September 19 in Livermore, California. It will also be available beginning next week on CBC’s Vimeo channel. Click here for more information, and for the love of little girls everywhere, spread the word.Terrell Clemmons
has a BS in Computer Science and worked in software development with IBM until she hopped off the career track to be a full-time mom. She lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, where she works as Deputy Editor of Salvo and writes on apologetics and matters of faith.• Get SALVO blog posts in your inbox! Copyright © 2022 Salvo | www.salvomag.com https://salvomag.com/post/the-detransition-diaries