Information online about regret, detransition, retransition, etc.

We don’t have good information about detransition, retransition and regret. People are pointing to old studies. Once again this population is a small group within a small group so no good data and there is likely a reluctance on the part of some people to really tackle the issue. Sometimes the best place to find info really is the internet and not your friendly local gender therapist or primary care doc.

If I wait until this is where I want it to be I will never post it. So I will update this post. Maybe turn it into a page.

Our society is pretty reactive. For some, if medical transition is wrong for some people it must be wrong for everyone and if transition is right for some people it’s the only path we should advance for everyone with dysphoria. I’m a bigger fan of matching people up with the best intervention, doing genuine informed consent which would have a lot of I don’t knows included in it and then taking good care of them across their life span.

For the sake of clarity, since talking about regret can be misperceived as being anti-trans, I believe that hormonal and surgical transition is the best course for some people. I also believe I do not have a crystal ball that can tell exactly who will be happy or unhappy. For some people, while medical intervention will not make the dysphoria disappear it may improve the quality of their lives. I’m all for improving the quality of people’s lives and stopping the way in which we discard people and warehouse them in slums. I’m all for expanding definitions of gender expression for all ages of people. I get off topic at times…

Not all people who detransition regret transitioning by the way. For some people it was a developmental step or the only way to answer a question and discover that it wasn’t the best answer.

There are increasing numbers of blogs about regret and detransition. Some of them are enraging because they cite inaccurate statistics or take quotes from studies out of context or basically just make things up. Many point to an article in the English paper the Guardian as proof of the failures of transition. There is no published study to go with that article so no peer review no way to really look at the data. One of these days I will take that article apart i just need more time in the day. Anyhow sites that quote it are red flags if you are looking for factual information.

I wanted to point out a few sites that are valuable and even if I disagree with what is in them, there is a lot of useful information and people willing to share experiences. It is so hard to get useful information when a person is detransitioning or experiencing regret. We can’t disagree with people’s experiences even though as a society we would like to tell people their experience is wrong.

I wanted to talk about blogs that I follow when I can. I have a lot of respect for the people who are willing to publicly share their experiences. They often are criticized and attacked for doing so. I think gender therapists should be reading about the experiences of people for whom transitioning did not work or did not address the issues they thought it would when they transitioned.

These blogs can be upsetting, painful, in that they are real people who have had real experiences and have stopped transitioning or transitioned back. There are different ways that people frame this and some people feel they made a mistake and other people do not. Some of them feel they have been harmed by the medical and mental health establishment. I’d say they have. None of these folks is shirking their own individual responsibility, but some of them are raising genuine criticisms of therapists and medical providers and we need to listen to them. I think of regret in a variety of ways and one of them is that it is a complication of transitioning. Medical intervention is not the correct course for everyone with dysphoria. Many things should be discussed and considered to relieve dysphoria.

Crashchaoscats

Thoughts about living as different genders, taking t and stopping, how gender seems to function in this society and other related ideas that churn around in my brains.

http://crashchaoscats.wordpress.com
I genuinely appreciate crashchaoscats blog although it’s rarely updated. She is very open with her experience.

Retransition (MTFTM)

This site is “pro people” and all about finding your correct path in life even if it involves a few wrong turns along the way. It also aims to further the understanding of transgender issues by discussing topics that fall out of the mainstream understanding of non-binary gender identity expressions and identity.

http://retransition.org/#sthash.Hipf17qj.dpb
A video Transsexual Detransition and Retransition Screencast

23xx

I’m a 23 year old woman with sex dysphoria, finding other ways to deal with this besides transition. I was diagnosed with GID, spent three years living as male, a year and a half on testosterone. I have been detransitioning for a year and a half.

This is a woman with interesting and I think important ideas. She is very clear about the distinction between sex dysphoria and gender dysphoria and doesn’t speak to gender dysphoria (except to share her political frame on it.) She has very useful information about coping with sex dysphoria. She also speaks to the pressure to transition, something I absolutely believe is a real experience for some people. She is also very critical of the process we use to assess and refer people for transition related care.

http://twentythreetimes.tumblr.com

Redress alert
Another very important blog also focused on sex dysphoria. Very political, very thoughtful. Lots of good information about the experience of detransitioning, something we really need to provide to people.
http://redressalert.tumblr.com/

Detransitioning
There is some information on detransitioning available at Susan’s Place. It is dated.
http://wiki.susans.org/index.php/Detransitioning

A video that talks about the effects of going on (about 3 min in) and off testosterone after a year. (about 10 min in)

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About gendertherapist

Psychotherapist in San Francisco. I am a gender specialist.
This entry was posted in detransition, Gender Dysphoria, Mental health, regret, regretters, retransition. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Information online about regret, detransition, retransition, etc.

  1. George Davis says:

    I think what we really need is information on how to help and support people who detransition or retransition. I wish therapists would start discussing this and eventually study and write about it.

    • I agree we need a lot more information than we have. Therapists and medical providers needs to grapple with this information and the experience of people for whom transitioning was not the answer. It does seem to upset some people to talk about this.
      I think we need detransitioners, retransitioners and people who regret their transition to speak for themselves and be heard, as well.

  2. I agree that medical transition is helpful for some people, and I agree that there has been little research done into regrets and detransitioning. I also agree with idea of thinking of multiple interventions and trying to find what will work best for the individual and supporting them no matter what they decide. I think the decision should be ultimately up to them as well.

    I am a detransitioner after 20 years of living as a woman, and I feel the psychological community was not helpful to me at all, did not address the underlying issues, and started medical intervention after just two sessions of therapy. This might have been uncommon then, but is increasingly becoming the norm. I very slowly was able to resolve the underlying issues and eventually detransitioned, but I cannot undo what I did to my body which I know now to be unnecessary.

    However how do we do this research? I am very interested in doing this research (and participating in research others are doing) but I can’t figure out how to go about it. If I go on to a doctoral program in psychology how can I find a professor willing to touch this issue, if I do independent research how do I get it taken seriously? The climate is so politically charged that suggesting that you can work with dysphoria by means other than transition and medical intervention is akin to suggesting that you can do reparative therapy on gay people.

    How is it that I have attended four separate trainings on working with trans folk and only one of them mentioned AGP (dismissingly) and none of them mentioned trauma?

    In my internship at a queer counseling center, I found that even suggesting that someone’s gender issues might be related to other things that have gone on with them was verboten. Even if the connection was very obvious. Even though some of the supervisors were also concerned and quietly shared their own doubts.

    There aren’t very many MTF detransitioners, but the community of FTM detransitioners is not that small, and growing. I run into a lot of them all the time, both online and in queer communities. How many do there have to be before the psychological community takes a serious look at this?

    I agree that talking about detransition might have the side effect of lowering acceptance of trans people and that is a real concern. A lot of the issues trans people face are due to social stigma and discrimination. It is unfortunate that is the case, but it is still important to talk about.

    • George Davis says:

      “The climate is so politically charged that suggesting that you can work with dysphoria by means other than transition and medical intervention is akin to suggesting that you can do reparative therapy on gay people.”

      I have heard this, too. I think one response might be that we need to find more ways to work with dysphoria for a number of reasons:

      a) Not everyone can transition. Sometimes this is for medical reasons, sometimes financial or social. Too often people who can’t transition feel hopeless because they have been told that transition is the only possible treatment. I have seen far too many online comments about wanting to commit suicide because transition isn’t working and the person sees no other possible path forward.

      b) Transition does not completely cure dysphoria for everyone. We need supplementary therapies and treatments for people who transition. Finding additional techniques for handling dysphoria would help both people who transition medically and people who don’t.

      c) Some people detransition temporarily for social or economic reasons. They need to know how to do this safely in terms of the effects of going on and off hormones. They also need some way to handle any dysphoria when they do this.

      d) There are and always will be some people who detransition or retransition because transition didn’t work for them. They need medical care just as much as anyone else does.

      e) There are some people who would prefer to have another option besides medical transition.

      I hope you are able to find a professor and do some research in this area.

    • We should be able to talk about all the facets of this issue and the needs that people have. And we should be able to stumble through it as well. I think many people who shut down the conversation are genuinely frightened that they could lose what they have because it has certainly happened. If we exoticize de transition then it increases the likelihood of lowering acceptance. It should be normalized-it happens and it’s our responsibility to take care of the people for it happens and I think learn how to improve what we do.

      Some people were mis diagnosed. Some people were mistreated. Some people were inadequately treated. This is true for every possible illness or disorder. And I know again it’s oversimplifying. This is complicated because it’s medical and psychological and it s with a stigmatized and discriminated community that have suffered real harms as a result. There is so much we do not know. Some people told us what they knew would get them what they wanted and we didn’t bother to go beyond that. Further, everything is changing because of technology-both in terms of access to information but also to access to medical interventions. A baby was born from a womb transplant. This is incredible. That will be on the horizon for many trans people. It all happens within the context of patriarchy as well. What does this mean? These are important conversations and the conversation doesn’t mean people are trying to control anyone else.

      “I think the decision should be ultimately up to them as well.” Absolutely and I have a but. We have to do a better job of education and informed consent. (IC) There is so much misinformation and, I think, neglect of people who are transitioning. Once they start they are on their own. Informed consent should be a continuous process.

      I never do a talk where I do not discuss trauma. In a public health population, pretty much everyone has trauma. Having trauma doesn’t mean people shouldn’t be able to transition.
      But there is different work we should do. If a person is a gender specialist it is impossible not to address other “causes” of gender dysphoria. Being queer, being trans or gnc doesn’t make people specialists. Having seen a couple of clients or having friends does not. Seeing hundreds of people and spending lots of time in consulting groups and conferences does. Reading hundred of articles. Listening a lot.

      In most cases if a person self-identified in the past as being trans, they were correct. Still most is not all. Further, many clinicians don’t explore. Now we are in a different moment. Much is changing.

      Often times clinicians cannot explain to me what is required for competency yet they write letters attesting to competency to provide informed consent, they cannot identify what are the differential diagnoses and how to proceed if these exist, they don’t know what the information that clients are consenting to so then how they can determine that the client gave consent confuses me. Doctors spend less that 15 minutes with patients so it’s hard to see how they are doing the informed consent adequately and doing routine care. And again IC should happen more than once. We have a lot of holes in our system of care.

      The issue of AGP. I think it is something that has been used against people to deny their experience and that’s part of the knee jerk reaction. It certainly is part of some people’s experience. It’s something I’d like to be able to talk about in a dispassionate way because I am certainly one of the people who have in the past dismissed it out of hand. It is a very polarizing topic. I always feel like there is something that seems so important to people that I am just not getting.

      You would be able to find a professor here in San Francisco to do the work you want to do. It doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be threatening to some people. There is/was a grad student here working on this issue. It is another thing I talk about every time I present and it is never poorly received even if some people don’t know what to do with it.

      • Thanks for your well thought out reply.

        I agree the discussion of AGP or any erotic phenomena associated with transgenderism is threatening and very charged in a way that makes it difficult to discuss. I know for myself when I even mention the topic of the erotic and its role, people leap to the conclusion that I am saying that people transition because it is a turn on or a fetish, no matter how carefully I say that I am not saying that.

        I’m glad that you talk about trauma, I think it is important. Almost every detransitioner I’ve encountered has mentioned trauma. I agree that trauma should not prevent someone from transitioning, however care should be taken so we aren’t making a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

        I would love to see more and better informed consent, however as a practical issue I don’t see how to make it happen, there is always going to be someone who is willing to prescribe hormones on demand and therapists who are willing to write letters at will, you can’t keep the gate if there is a giant hole in the wall next to it. So even though I am wary of what is happening and think it is destructive. I don’t know what you can do?

        I think the construct that some people possess the trans essence and should transition and others do not possess the trans essence and should not transition is a false one. I think instead there are different degrees of dysphoria and our response to it. This is because identities are narratives which are constructed and not discovered. This applies to all identities not just gender identity. That doesn’t mean I am saying the whole thing is constructed, just the identity piece. This is important because parts of the community are espousing the idea that if your feel any dysphoria it means you are trans and must transition, I believe it is adopting that narrative increases dysphoria and I see it happening all the time.

        I don’t think I was “misdiagnosed” I so fit the profile of one type of MTF transitioner. I was a shy, soft computer nerd who was bullied a lot who developed both erotic fantasies of being female and an identity as a woman. It was somewhat rare for someone of my profile to transition young at that time, but it is no longer rare at all.

        However, what I did learn much to my surprise was that it was possible to unwind all of that. I guess my primary goal is not so much to do research into detransition, but instead to use my experience to help others deal with this without transition. Not to prevent everyone from transitioning, and not to take away people’s choice to transition, but I know that this is possible, because it happened. I don’t think everyone can do it, but I think more people can than are.

        What I have now is my own experience and some theories. Writing about it has been helpful in seeing what has been helpful for people and what has not and what resonates and what does not.

        I would love to be put in contact with this professor who might be open to this research and/or grad student if possible.

      • You said:
        “I know for myself when I even mention the topic of the erotic and its role, people leap to the conclusion that I am saying that people transition because it is a turn on or a fetish, no matter how carefully I say that I am not saying that.”

        Yes, its hard to talk about anything without someone feeling threatened or angry and shutting down inquiry and conversation. Labeling it as bad in some way. How are we ever going to be able to really understand what we need to understand if we are not talking and learning from what people have to say?

        The way better informed consent will happen will not come from providers per se. It will come from the internet and sites that have accurate information written at various educational levels from third to 12th grade that acknowledges diversity in learning and in communities. Realistically, our healthcare system will not permit IC to happen in an exhaustive way. People like ICATH seem to be unaware of the diversity of the community and that not everyone is in the same position. Health literacy in this country is very poor across the board. If we say statistically 1 out of 10 people have some side effect, many people can’t really apply that information. Numeracy is very poor in the US. Also there is so much we do not know and people have the right to know when we are taking our best guess and when we feel pretty sure.

        I heard a therapist talking about regret and how rare it is and I have no idea what that is based on. There are times I think that people are just looking at their own practices and don’t realize that if they have never heard of something or never experienced it does not mean it does not exist.

        “I think instead there are different degrees of dysphoria and our response to it. This is because identities are narratives which are constructed and not discovered.”
        This is interesting. And this is the sort of conversation that I think really need to be happening-even if people do not agree with each other. It still should be discussed and I know I will think about this as you described it.

        “However, what I did learn much to my surprise was that it was possible to unwind all of that. I guess my primary goal is not so much to do research into detransition, but instead to use my experience to help others deal with this without transition.”

        I think there are people with gender dysphoria who do not need to transition physically. What I do not know is how do discern who is who? It’s part of why I increasingly think the answer is better information and decreasing the intensity of the conversation so people can explore for themselves all the choices that they have. If more people who were coping with their gender dysphoria were visible and sharing their experiences it would help people and likely also be used against other people because we get into this constricted way of thinking that one size must fit all. We need to be able to toelrate complexity and diversity.

        A question I have for you and it’s a genuine question and not a disguised polemic is that you know this about yourself but you know it after you transitioned. How do you know that you would have landed in the same place jf you had not transitioned? I’m certain hormones change people’s brains and sense of self, etc. We learn things about ourselves from experience. I’m not disagreeing that it’s important to identify how to help people decrease or manage their gender dysphoria when they either cannot or do not want to transition physically. We need to be offering more and better and trying to match people up with the most appropriate interventions.

      • I like your vision of informed consent. I think it is a good one.

        Regrets are a tricky question. I know for myself if you had asked me even 5 years ago if I regretted I would have said no, because my female identity was so axiomatic that I didn’t think it would have been possible to not have transitioned. I might have said I regretted some of the consequences, but there didn’t seem to be another way. Now I feel like I do regret, but that is because I know that identity was not so axiomatic after all. It is also very different to measure regret vs. psychological functioning I think..

        I don’t feel your question is polemic at all about transition. I don’t think there would be any way for me to know what I know without transitioning. Sometimes I have thought about the scenario of what would happen if 19 year old me showed up in my office today. I really don’t think I could have done anything to change things, even with the knowledge of my psyche I have now. Especially given the community as it is today. I don’t think I could have even kept that person in my office. I don’t think everyone can be prevented from transitioning. I don’t think everyone should be prevented, but I think we can do better.

        As for who needs to transition and who doesn’t, I don’t think it is set in stone. An analogy for me is treating cancer. We don’t know who will be saved by the chemo and who won’t. I don’t think that is deterministic either. Also we start with the less powerful treatment first and move to the more powerful one.

        Continuing the analogy, it makes me think of early intervention. In particular the flavor of transsexualism tied into erotic dreaming has a progressive character. (and these are also the people likely to be the least well adjusted in transition) I think there are cycles that you can intervene with before they progress to a full transsexual identity. Once that happens and the person is severely distressed then it is very hard.

        On some level when we talk about gender I think there is a tendency to throw out regular psychological knowledge and treat it as a special case. On some level gender identity is just identity, on some level gender dysphoria is just dysphoria. In general, actions motivated by dysphoria are not moves towards self-actualization. It is a moving away rather than a moving toward. For me an important question is if they are running away from their birth gender or towards the other gender. In most cases it seems to be the first one, which makes me suspicious. I have encountered a few people where it does seem a moving towards, and they seem better adjusted.

  3. stchauvinism says:

    Reblogged this on Stop Trans Chauvinism.

  4. Pingback: Reviewing ‘All of Us’ to include every young person | Liz Walker Presents

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