“Gender-affirming care” can have devastating lifelong consequences, as teens get double mastectomies and end up with body parts that don’t fully work — then come to regret their sex change. At Substack, Suzy Weiss writes about this in “The Testosterone Hangover.” It questions the rush to give teenagers “gender transitions” and sex-change surgery, a practice cloaked under the euphemism “gender affirming care.
Chloe, who lives in California’s Central Valley, always hated her body. She spent a lot of time on Tumblr and learned words like “pansexual” and “bigender.” She remembers when she was 12, sitting on her bed, thinking, “Maybe I’m meant to live as a boy.”
By 2018, at age 14, Chloe was well along the path to what she imagined was boyhood. She was going by Leo. She was taking puberty blockers. And her mother was administering her weekly testosterone injections. Two years later, in early June 2020, she went under the knife.
Chloe was given a mastectomy when she was 15. Two years later she regrets doing that, and wishes there had been “more regard to alternatives in treating dysphoria, especially when it comes to kids.” Turning against the gender-transition fad turned her friends against her.
Her friends abandoned her. Another friend told her that “the gay side of my school hated me” because she detransitioned.
Now, Chloe has a boyfriend and wishes she had her breasts back. She was a 15-year-old who made a permanent, life-changing decision with little guidance. No one was willing to tell her it was a bad idea. Similarly, Phoenix Huddleston told her parents she was transgender when she was 12. A few years later she was put on male hormones, followed by a double mastectomy:
When she was 14, Phoenix and her mom moved to Portland, Oregon where teachers asked everyone in class their pronouns. She found a gender therapist immediately and was on testosterone by her sophomore year. “I was so jazzed,” she said. In 2018, she got her double mastectomy.
But then it got weird. She didn’t like her patchy beard, which only grew on her chin and neck, and she was having sexual problems: the inside of her vaginal walls were dry, and she would bleed when she had sex. “I’ve become gender ambivalent,” she said. She’d always known she wanted to look androgynous, but after years of inhabiting online spaces devoted to gender identity, she was burnt out from the labels and terminology. She doesn’t have any preferred pronouns. “I guess, looking back, I don’t love the medicalization part,” she said. In August 2021, after eight years on testosterone, she stopped taking it.