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What the New York Times gets wrong about detransitioning
I wrote a short piece for UnHerd about the New York Times’ shameful hit piece on detransitioners:
If taken seriously, detransition threatens the very foundation of “gender-affirming care” — because if patients can be mistaken, then clinicians can harm. The experiences of detransitioners like Chloe Cole clearly show the need for careful evaluation — gatekeeping, in other words — and the risk that affirming a patient’s fluctuating sense of identity with irreversible interventions like hormones and surgeries can pose. That’s why clinicians, researchers and, yes, reporters who are committed to affirmation spend more time and energy waging war on detransitioners, rather than reforming their approach to working with gender-questioning patients to prevent medical harm and regret.
High-quality research on detransitioning is hard to come by. Most studies that follow patients long enough to capture regret focus on an entirely different patient population (adult males who transitioned after undergoing intensive clinical screening) and tell us next to nothing about how today’s crop of trans-identifying patients — dominated by adolescent girls — will fare. The research that exists suffers from high loss-to-follow-up and researchers go out of their way to bury or muddle inconvenient findings.
Dutch researchers decided to lump all changes of patient self-identification together — from “nonbinary” to “elf” to “human” to “detransitioner” — under the heading of patients experiencing “multiple attenuations” of gender identity. This means that there is no detransition head count, and enables researchers to focus on the creativity and diversity of gender identifications their research subjects adopted, while minimising evidence of regret. Some researchers point to studies of people who currently identify as transgender to argue that detransition is rare — and temporary — and that the solution to detransition is more affirmation, not less. Some claim that detransitioners were never trans in the first place. Others insist that detransitioners still fall under the trans umbrella today (so much for self-identification!).