‘I literally lost organs’: teens regret changing their genders

‘I literally lost organs’: teens regret changing their genders
Image: Global News video screen grab

At the age of 12, Chloe Cole decided she was transgender. At 13, she was put on puberty blockers and testosterone. At 15, she received a double mastectomy. But in less than a year, she realized she had made a terrible mistake. “I was failed by the system. I literally lost organs,” she said. The New York Post reports:

Now 17, Chloe is one of a growing cohort called “detransitioners” — those who seek to reverse a gender transition, often after realizing they actually do identify with their biological sex. Tragically, many will struggle for the rest of their lives with the irreversible medical consequences of a decision they made as minors….In recent years, the number of children experiencing gender dysphoria in the West has skyrocketed. Exact figures are difficult to come by, but, between 2009 and 2019, children being referred for transitioning treatment in the United Kingdom increased 1,000% among biological males and 4,400% among biological females. Meanwhile, the number of young people identifying as transgender in the US has almost doubled since 2017…..Historically, transitioning from male to female was vastly more common, with this cohort typically experiencing persistent gender dysphoria from a very young age. Recently, however, the status quo has reversed, and female-to-male transitions have become the overwhelming majority.

Dr. Lisa Littman, a former professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences at Brown University, coined the term “rapid onset gender dysphoria” to describe this subset of transgender youth, typically biological females who become suddenly dysphoric during or shortly after puberty. Littman believes this may be due to adolescent girls’ susceptibility to peer influence on social media.

Helena Kerschner, a 23-year-old detransitioner from Cincinnati, Ohio, who was born a biological female, first felt gender dysphoric at age 14. She says Tumblr sites filled with transgender activist content spurred her transition. “I was going through a period where I was just really isolated at school, so I turned to the Internet,” she recalled. In her real life, Kerschner had a falling out with friends at school; online however, she found a community that welcomed her. “My dysphoria was definitely triggered by this online community. I never thought about my gender or had a problem with being a girl before going on Tumblr.”

She said she felt political pressure to transition, too. “The community was very social justice-y. There was a lot of negativity around being a cis, heterosexual, white girl, and I took those messages really, really personally.”

Chloe Cole, a 17-year-old student in California, had a similar experience when she joined Instagram at 11. “I started being exposed to a lot of LGBT content and activism,” she said. “I saw how trans people online got an overwhelming amount of support, and the amount of praise they were getting really spoke to me because, at the time, I didn’t really have a lot of friends of my own.”

Experts worry that many young people seeking to transition are doing so without a proper mental-health evaluation…According to an online survey of detransitioners conducted by Dr. Lisa Littman last year, 40% said their gender dysphoria was caused by a mental-health condition and 62% felt medical professionals did not investigate whether trauma was a factor in their transition decisions….Dr. Erica Anderson said she is worried that some young people are being medicalized without the proper restraint or oversight.Chloe had a similar experience. “Because my body didn’t match beauty ideals, I started to wonder if there was something wrong with me. I thought I wasn’t pretty enough to be a girl, so I’d be better off as a boy. Deep inside, I wanted to be pretty all along, but that’s something I kept suppressed.” She agrees with Dr. Anderson that more psychological evaluation is needed to determine whether underlying mental health issues might be influencing the desire to transition. “More attention needs to be paid to psychotherapy,” Chloe said. “We’re immediately jumping into irreversible medical treatments when we could be focusing on empowering these children to not hate their bodies.”

Until 2019, Marcus Evans was the Clinical Director of Adult and Adolescent Services at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, a publicly funded mental-health center in the UK where many youth seek treatment for gender dysphoria. But he resigned three years ago over what he viewed as the unnecessary medicalization of dysphoric adolescents. “I saw children being fast-tracked onto medical solutions for psychological problems, and when kids get on the medical conveyor belt, they don’t get off,” Evans said. “But the politicization of the issue was shutting down proper clinical rigor. That meant quite vulnerable kids were in danger of being put on a medical path for treatment that they may well regret.”

Indeed, transitions are getting younger and hastier. Puberty blockers are commonly administered at the first sign of development to children as young as 9, according to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. Testosterone and estrogen injections are frequently prescribed at age 13 or 14, despite the Endocrine Society’s recommendation of 16. And serious surgeries like mastectomies are sometimes performed on children as young as 13.

Medical professionals typically follow the affirmative-care model, which is supported by the American Psychological Association, validating a patient’s expressed gender identity regardless of their age. As a result, detransitioners frequently report that getting prescriptions is a breeze. A total of 55% said their medical evaluations felt inadequate, according to Dr. Littman’s survey….

Chloe said she was fast-tracked through her entire transition — from blockers to a mastectomy — in just two years, with parental consent….“Because all the therapists and specialists followed the affirmative care model, there wasn’t a lot of gate-keeping throughout the whole transition process,” she recalled. “The professionals all seemed to push medical transition, so I thought it was the only path for me to be happy.”…

A variety of studies suggest that as many as 80% of dysphoric children could ultimately experience “desistance”— or coming to terms with their biological gender without resorting to transition. Which is why many professionals like Evans think it’s wise to hold off on potentially irreversible medical intervention for as long as possible….All these treatments run the risk of side effects that critics argue are too serious for children to fully understand. In the short term, puberty blockers can stunt growth and effect bone density, while the long-term effects are still unknown since they were only approved by the FDA in 1993. Side effects of testosterone include high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, blood clots and even infertility….

For medical professionals to rush gender transitions for impressionable teens could amount to medical malpractice. In the United Kingdom, malpractice litigation against gender-transition clinics got a boost from a court ruling in 2020, which called into question whether teens below age 16 can consent to certain transgender treatments. As The Wall Street Journal’s Abigail Shrier notes, “Keira Bell prevailed in UK court based on the simple idea that those under 16 can’t give real consent to gender treatments” with “irreversible consequences.” The court “noted the clinic couldn’t explain” the sudden “spike in adolescents seeking transition – nor why they were overwhelmingly teen girls.”

Transgender Trend celebrated the ruling:

In a landmark judgment that will have repercussions around the world the High Court today ruled that puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones are experimental treatments which cannot be given to children in most cases without application to the court.

We are delighted that the High Court has handed down judgment to protect children from experimental medical interventions with serious known and unknown risks and lifelong consequences.

The judgment concluded that it is highly unlikely that a child aged 13 or under would ever be Gillick competent to give consent to being treated with puberty blockers and very doubtful that children aged 14 and 15 could understand the long-term risks and consequences of treatment in such a way as to have sufficient understanding to give consent.

The court also ruled that it would be appropriate for clinicians to involve the court in any case where there may be any doubt as to whether the long-term interests of a 16 or 17 year-old would be served by the clinical interventions of blockers and hormones.

Being “gender affirming” shouldn’t be an excuse for a doctor to commit medical malpractice. But that may be happening in many cases.

The National Review provides a possible example. Doctors affirmed a man’s false belief that he had a female gender identity, and then mutilated his body by giving him a sex change he came to regret.

Plagued by self-hatred, he “heard about transgenderism” in college, and “seized on it as the solution.” A gender-affirming free clinic “immediately affirmed” his female gender identity. He was then given an “incomplete informed consent document to sign.” Later, his doctor told him that he “should really get surgery.” He was given an orchiectomy, but not told that it was castration. After being castrated, he “developed a drug habit” and began “ejaculating blood.” He said that “the gender clinic kept telling me, ‘Oh, it gets better.’” But it didn’t.

He says he was never given an independent psychological evaluation before getting surgery. After surgery, a different therapist diagnosed him with a different condition than gender dysphoria. But by then, he had already been castrated.

Getting a sex change caused havoc in the lives of thousands of people. The National Review gave an example of a woman who transitioned to being a man, and ended up with negative health consequences, “no hair,” and a “body mutilated.”

Will there will be a wave of malpractice lawsuits against clinics that profit from sex changes? Twitter user Fred Arnolfson predicts it will:

The liability in a few years for these for-profit “chop shops” is going to be unbelievable. Thousands of cases of castrated men, some of whom have early onset osteoporosis, mental impairment, ostomies, etc. They’ll claim they weren’t really transgender and it will rain money.

Those who put children through gender transitions will face harsh questioning, he says:

The transitioning of youth will end up being remembered like frontal lobotomies. This is a treatment that isn’t proven to work with adults, has huge costs, is irreversible, has health consequences, and is done to children despite the fact that 80% of kids desist automatically.

It’s not just doctors and psychologists who have made mistakes in their zeal to be “gender affirming.” So have judges.

Jamie Shupe gave an example in “I was America’s first ‘nonbinary person.’ It was all a sham.” Shupe is male, as he noted in the Daily Signal. But he wanted in vain to be a woman, due to a condition known as “autogynephilia.” When his therapist expressed skepticism about whether he would actually benefit from trying to change his sex, he filed a “formal complaint” against her, and found a new therapist, who affirmed his new “identity as a woman.” But eventually he changed his mind and declared he was nonbinary, not female:

When the fantasy of being a woman came to an end, I asked two of my doctors to allow me to become nonbinary instead of female to bail me out. Both readily agreed….To escape the delusion of having become a woman, I did something completely unprecedented in American history. In 2016, I convinced an Oregon judge to declare my sex to be nonbinary—neither male nor female.

As a result of this ruling, a “nonbinary option” now exists in many states, even though Shupe’s “sex change to nonbinary was a medical and scientific fraud.” The judge’s ruling was not based on any evidence. As Shupe observes, “the judge didn’t ask me a single question. Nor did” the judge ask “to see any medical evidence….Within minutes, the judge just signed off on the court order,” even though he did “not have any disorders of sexual development.” But three years later, “unable to advance the fraud for another single day,” he “reclaimed” his “male birth sex.”

LU Staff

LU Staff

Promoting and defending liberty, as defined by the nation’s founders, requires both facts and philosophical thought, transcending all elements of our culture, from partisan politics to social issues, the workings of government, and entertainment and off-duty interests. Liberty Unyielding is committed to bringing together voices that will fuel the flame of liberty, with a dialogue that is lively and informative.

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