Why The Media Attacks Detransitioners
Regret among survivors of gender ideology is rising not declining
Republicans are hyping the stories of a handful of detransitioners, people who had sought to change their sex either through drugs or surgery and then changed their minds, even though detransition is rare, according to the New York Times.
“As Republican-controlled state legislatures have passed over a dozen bills banning transition care for minors this year,” wrote Maggie Astor, detransitioner Chloe “Cole and fewer than 10 activists like her — people who transitioned and then changed course — have become the faces of the cause, according to a New York Times review of news coverage and legislative testimony.” But, noted the Times, “Most people who transition do not change course.”
Astor went on to claim that just 2 to 13 percent of individuals who transition decide to detransition, but those numbers are almost certainly wrong. The 2% number appears to have come from a study of trans people in Sweden between 1960 and 2010, a population very different from the trans population today. At that time, adult males made up the bulk of referrals to gender clinics, whereas in the last decade, there has been a surge of adolescent females identifying as transgender and seeking medical treatment.
The 13% number does come from a more recent 2015 study. It is of 17,151 trans-identified individuals. And they are all from the U.S., not Sweden.
But the data is drawn from the US Transgender Survey of 2015 and only includes trans-identified individuals who temporarily detransitioned and thus excluded permanent detransitioners.
What’s more, the number of minors diagnosed with gender dysphoria rose sharply after 2015, from 15,172 in 2017 to 42,167 in 2021, in the United States, according to a report by Reuters. This can be explained in part by the Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD) hypothesis, which disproportionately affects natal girls.
Researchers are also likely to undercount detransitioning because so many detransitioners tend to, understandably, avoid going back to the same health care providers who transitioned them, undermining the extent to which we can rely on medical records.
As such, the evidence simply does not support the Times’ central claim that detransitioners are just 2 to 13% of the trans-identified population.
And there is good reason to believe that the absolute and relative number of detransitioners may grow, not decline. There is, according to the best available research, a four to eight-and-a-half year lag time between transition and detransition.
As trans people mature into adulthood, many will regret sacrificing their ability to have children and achieve orgasm, both of which are core parts of achieving long-term romantic relationships.
Another reason to believe regret will rise is that adolescent-onset gender dysphoria appears to be a social contagion. While some claim that the rising number of trans-identified youth is due to greater social acceptance, as occurred with left-handedness and homosexuality, neither of those disproportionately impacted adolescent girls. By contrast, many recent social contagions, including anorexia and bulimia in the 1980s and self-harm in the 2000s affected predominantly teenage girls, similar to what we’re seeing with gender dysphoria today.
Debates over the medical mistreatment of gender dysphoric youth are raging in Europe and the United States. England’s only pediatric gender clinic, the Tavistock, has been ordered to close its doors after an independent review found young people were being fast-tracked into medical treatment. Many displayed autistic traits and or were same-sex attracted, and thus may have been misdiagnosed with gender dysphoria.
There are profound ethical questions over whether minors can truly consent to life-altering medical procedures, particularly given growing evidence that trans is a media-and-activist-driven social contagion.
And yet the article in the New York Times, like many in the mainstream media, ignored all of these scientific and moral concerns to write a simplistic attack on those raising such concerns as bigots and political opportunists. Why? Why are so many journalists, liberals, and progressives, who identify as more empathic to the needs of the vulnerable than conservatives, so quick to dismiss the lived experiences of detransitioners?