Most detransitioners don’t stop HRT out of regret, study suggests

Protesters during a trans rights rally.

A newly released study suggests that the majority of detransitioners don’t simply regret being trans and there are other factors at play.

Research published to Plos One on Wednesday (29 November) aimed to explore the experiences of those who had been through gender-affirming care in Canada and eventually discontinued their treatment.

The study’s authors acknowledged that detransitioners have “received increased public and scholarly attention”, in part due to the rise of transphobia.

The term detransition – which the Oxford Academic describes as the “stopping or reversal of transitioning” – is often used by anti-trans groups as a way to mitigate the rights of trans people by claiming that they will eventually regret it.

However, empirical research into the nature of detransitioning is especially “scant” according to the study, which says much of the research currently available fails to consider “how this population experienced their own process of gaining access to gender-affirming medical/surgical interventions”.

Co-author and York University assistant professor Kinnon MacKinnon told Reuters in June that the lack of research is due in part to the stigma surrounding detransitioners.

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“I can’t think of any other examples where you’re not allowed to speak about your own healthcare experiences if you didn’t have a good outcome,” MacKinnon told the news agency.

Destransitioners ‘felt positive’ about exploring gender identity

As part of the study, researchers spoke to 28 participants who had been through gender-affirming care and eventually decided to discontinue care for one reason or another.

Eleven of those respondents began transitioning under the age of 18, with 27 of the total group eventually undergoing gender-affirming hormones.

While all respondents initially had negative experiences that led them to cut their hormones, most did not follow the usual story of transitioning to one gender and switching back to their gender assigned at birth.

In fact, 60 per cent of the respondents shifted from a binary gender identity to non-binary.

Researchers found that its results did not “lend support for therapy that is not gender-affirming” but that many of the respondents would have prefered a “neutral” approach to care that provides gender-affirming care as an option, rather than the only option.

“Participants also recommended that providers avoid projecting their own views of gender,” the study continues.

Even those who reportedly detransitioned back to their original assigned gender felt positive about their attempt at exploring their identity – meaning they did not regret it.

“The decisional regret may be more about lacking information about the relative risks/benefits/alternatives of various treatment options and desiring of more clarity about themselves than having too much autonomy,” the study found.