Treatment

Some people regret the whole thing.

By age 14, Eva became convinced she was a transgender boy. By 16, she had come out to her teachers and classmates.

Her family wasn’t pleased but trans activists and a Toronto therapist had a solution.

She could move into the Covenant House youth shelter, and then freely go on hormones to push ahead with medical transition.

Hell yes. Mess with your body at age 16; what could go wrong?

“They thought it was so important for me to be on testosterone that it was OK if I left home and probably didn’t graduate high school,” recalled Eva, who asked that her last name not be published to preserve her privacy around sensitive issues. “Even at that point in life, when I was 16 and totally believed this was the only thing that was going to save me, I was more rational about it.”

So she didn’t mess with her body. Wise move, but others are not so wise.

A few years later she changed her mind about the whole thing.

Eva, now 24, is part of a controversial cohort known as detransitioners and desisters, transgender people who come to rethink their decision, often having already undergone drug and surgical treatments.

In October she founded an organization – Detrans Canada – she hopes will support individuals she said can feel ostracized by the LGBTQ community.

She believes transition is essential for some gender dysphoric youth, but questions a treatment approach she said pushes young people too forcefully in that direction.

If it’s really essential for some, why has it taken so long for humanity to figure that out? I know medical thinking changes over time, and is cumulative, and there’s a lot that humans didn’t know in the past, and so on, but still…why has it taken so long? Since it has taken so long, why are we so very confident that it’s a real thing and in some cases requires body-altering treatment?

I may be abnormally averse to needless body-alterations. I never even wanted pierced ears, when all my cohort was getting them. I’m horrified by what fashionable shoes do to women’s feet, and don’t get me started on FGM. But even if it’s an abnormally intense aversion, it’s still not irrational. You only get the one body, so why damage it for stupid frivolous reasons? Why not take care to preserve it instead?

“I feel a little bit angry, more than a little bit, because other people who’ve been in this position went much further than me,” said Eva. “I have lesbian friends who have no uterus, no ovaries, no breasts and are 21-years old. I’m angry that every single doctor and therapist we saw told us this was the one and only option.”

It’s mass lobotomies all over again.

Greta Bauer, the CIHR chair in gender and sex science at Western University, said she’s aware of no research indicating destransitioners’ ranks are expanding. She said many don’t regret their choice, they have simply stopped taking hormones for various other reasons.

“What concerns me is that some people seem to think that the existence of any regret justifies denying or delaying care for everyone who needs a treatment,” said Bauer. “This is not the standard by which we evaluate any other medical treatment.”

But is it care? Is it treatment? Is it medical treatment? What if it’s none of those things, but just a batshit fad for an invented condition with invented drastic “treatments”? What if it’s a deeply muddled conviction that a psychological state is in fact a bodily medical condition when it isn’t? What then?

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