On Sex Change Regret: Part I

Walt Heyer, blogger at www.sexchangeregret.com. He lived as woman for many years and de-transitioned back to living as a man.

When people change their bodies they tend to do so in the hopes of changing their relationships with others. Think about it.  In a real sense, elective surgery is not so much about self-perception as it is about our expectations of others who do the perceiving.   Body modification is usually based in a wish to be perceived a certain way, in a certain light.  And, guess what?  It generally doesn’t work out as we might expect. Social affirmation is not going to be unanimous. Simply looking in the mirror can be a major wake up for some as well.

Consider just plain old elective cosmetic surgeries. There’s loads of regret for that.   A recent poll revealed that a full two-thirds of Britons who had cosmetic surgery regretted it.  People in that situation — as well as untold numbers who want their tattoos removed — have plenty of places to go on the internet to look for remedies and support.

But what about people who regret sex change surgery?   In those tragic cases, there are precious few places to go for help.  It’s a politically incorrect topic, one that transgender activists do not want discussed publicly.  They police and suppress much of the conversation on sex change regret, and you can read a comprehensive discussion of that in Sheila Jeffreys’ 2014 book Gender Hurts.

Reddit censorship of people who wish to discuss de-transitioning is discussed on this blog called Third Way Trans.  So you might view my post today as a modest compendium of links from around the internet for those interested in this topic. (I’ll have more to follow.)

Walt Heyer, pictured above, has a particularly compassionate outreach to regretters online, which is possibly why he is a target of scorn by transgender activists.   Heyer had sex reassignment surgery decades ago, and lived as a woman for many years.  He came to regret it so much that he now offers a blog called sexchangeregret.com and transdetransition.com as outreach to others who are struggling and in need of support.  He has authored three relevant books:  Paper Genders, Gender, Lies and Suicide, and Trading my Sorrows.

On youtube you can find some videos — examples here, here, and maybe the last five minutes here —  of young and old who go public to talk about their decision to de-transition.  An interesting thread through these examples is all are extremely apologetic and tentative in “coming out” as de-transitioners — as though they have to justify and explain their decision or their feelings in ways that don’t set off the fury of transgender activists.   Interspersed with those videos are “education” videos, put up by transgender activists who offer their line, which is the claim that regret is rare.

You can read about some prominent cases of regret at this link (which ironically was put up by a transgender advocate.)  Those cases include the tennis star Rene Richards and the sportswriter Mike Penner.  Rene Richards is quoted as saying “If there was a drug that I could have taken that would have reduced the pressure, I would have been better off staying the way I was – a totally intact person.”  Mike Penner, a sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times spent a year living as a woman and then completely de-transitioned back.  A year later he ended his own life.  Another famous case was Charles Kane (born Sam Hashimi), the millionaire property developer in Britain who changed his mind after living as designer “Samantha Kane.”

Perhaps one of the most heart-wrenching stories of a female-to male transgender is that of Nancy Verhelst in Belgium, who felt the surgery turned her more into a “monster” than a man.  She was so distraught that she opted to have Belgian doctors put her to death.  And because of lax euthanasia laws there, they did just that.

Regret won’t be going away.  Those who change their minds tend to do so quietly.  But despite the recent media fawning over the transgender agenda, there have been rogue headlines of regret, especially in Britain.  A British man who regrets his surgery very recently claimed that there has not been enough psychiatric counseling of patients and he is now pressing the National Health Service to reverse his surgery.  Britain’s youngest patient – much touted in the press for his courage in changing to a female – has also spoken out.   Bradley Cooper begged his family for years, then finally got the go ahead to switch at age 17.  But after a year of living as a woman he found the whole thing “overwhelming” and cancelled the surgery.  Another story appeared on Huffington Post here.

Scattered throughout the web are blogs such as Retransition.org or GenderTrender.com with posts such as “I’m a Post-O p MtF who is Back in Therapy to Reverse this Mess and Obtain a Phalloplasty.”  Some of the most critical of sex change surgery are those run by radical feminists who see transgenderism basically as a patriarchal scheme, dominated by men who claim to be female but are hyper-aggressive and hyper-masculine in spirit.  Those sites include the hard-hitting but light-hearted twanzphobic.wordpress.com and The Dirt from Dirt.  Then there’s the resource page on trans-regretters on the British Coalition for Women’s Equality.  Radical feminist Julie Bindel writes about it here.  Also check: I’m Not Transgender Anymore and M2F2M.  The latter includes a long list of blogs on the topic.

Even a few voices who are firmly within the transgender community have expressed concern about the hostile reaction of the community to the growing number of regretters in recent years.  These include an Australian transgender activist who wrote in March 2014 a report: “Coming Trend within the Trans Community, including Doubts and Regrets:”  which describes it as a growing problem for the community and admits that most who de-transition do so “in stealth.

But I suspect we are going to see more regretters coming out of the closet in the future.  This is not an iceberg that can be drowned.

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