BY LINDSEY TANNER
Published 8:55 AM EST, March 5, 2023
Many states have enacted or contemplated limits or outright bans on transgender medical treatment, with conservative U.S. lawmakers saying they are worried about young people later regretting irreversible body-altering treatment.
But just how common is regret? And how many youth change their appearances with hormones or surgery only to later change their minds and detransition?
HOW OFTEN DO TRANSGENDER PEOPLE REGRET TRANSITIONING?
In updated treatment guidelines issued last year, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health said evidence of later regret is scant, but that patients should be told about the possibility during psychological counseling.
Dutch research from several years ago found no evidence of regret in transgender adults who had comprehensive psychological evaluations in childhood before undergoing puberty blockers and hormone treatment.
Some studies suggest that rates of regret have declined over the years as patient selection and treatment methods have improved. In a review of 27 studies involving almost 8,000 teens and adults who had transgender surgeries, mostly in Europe, the U.S and Canada, 1% on average expressed regret. For some, regret was temporary, but a small number went on to have detransitioning or reversal surgeries, the 2021 review said.
Research suggests that comprehensive psychological counseling before starting treatment, along with family support, can reduce chances for regret and detransitioning.
WHAT IS DETRANSITIONING?
Detransitioning means stopping or reversing gender transition, which can include medical treatment or changes in appearance, or both.
Dr. Michael Irwig, director of transgender medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
”My own personal experience is that it is quite uncommon. I’ve taken care of over 350 gender-diverse patients and probably fewer than five have told me that they decided to detransition or changed their minds."