Why is detransition controversial?

Ok ok so I’m sure everyone already knows the answer, but I wanted to do my thought experiment anyway because I want to A) have a written record of what I’m thinking right now and B) share my ideas just in case they help somebody. I have entirely too many thoughts jostling around in my head which is probably how I ended up in this situation in the first place lol.

Fact: We don’t have evidence that being trans (born in the wrong body) is a distinct biological phenomenon. The only proof that being trans exists is self-reporting of symptoms (dysphoria).

Person “A” has dysphoria, based on the given definition of the phenomenon. They report it and transition based on having dysphoria, which is the recommended treatment.

After having recommended medical interventions thought to help with dysphoria, A subsequently comes to understand dysphoria as a type of intrusive thought.

One of the main recommendations to deal with intrusive thoughts is to practice mindfulness: recognizing the thought for what it is and rationalizing it away. It is not recommended to attempt to repress or appease the thought.

A concludes the existence of dysphoria (intrusive thoughts) is not sufficient evidence that a person can be in the wrong body. It is only proof that a person is having intrusive thoughts.

A detransitions while still experiencing dysphoria. In other words: A actively meets all of the criteria for being trans, but does not accept that a person can be in the wrong body (trans) due to lack of evidence. Being physically healthy, A has rejected the diagnosis of having an incorrect body.

One of the following statements MUST be true:
A was wrong about being trans. A was not experiencing dysphoria. A was misdiagnosed.
There is no such thing as being trans: born in the wrong body/having an X mind in a Y body.

If there is no such thing as being trans, then we must completely re-think the way we treat dysphoric people. We must reconsider which surgical interventions are allowed and when. We must determine whether it’s ever appropriate to treat intrusive thoughts with opposite-sex hormones. We must figure out what it means when people claim to be trans without dysphoria. This is not a comfortable conversation to have. This is not an easy conversation to have.

If A was wrong about being trans, it’s an isolated case and the fault lies with A. This is a much cleaner explanation. A is not trans and therefore should not have been treated as a trans person.

However, A had (and has) the exact same evidence of being trans as people who continue claiming to be trans: dysphoria, therapy, hormones, surgery, documentation of legal name and gender marker changes. It cannot be proven that A is wrong any more than it can be proven being trans (born in the wrong body) is real.

I am A. I do not identify as trans. I am trans, based on all of the observable criteria. My body bears the marks. It’s no one’s right to tell me that I did not have The Authentic Trans Experience. It’s no one’s right to invade my mind that way. I also do not believe that I am trans, because I don’t think that being trans is a legitimate condition. I do believe that dysphoria is- I have had it for years. I also believe that people who believe they are trans, believe that they are trans.

One of the things that gave me pause when I was originally thinking about detransition was the thought that I’d committed so much of my life, energy, time, etc. to thinking I was trans. It was literally the sunk cost fallacy in action, and I saw it, and it still made me hesitate.

Detransitioners are unnerving, I think, because we DO commit to the idea that we are trans. There’s really something physically wrong with us- with our bodies! It’s not just our brains gone haywire! We’re not mentally ill! I’m not crazy- how could I be crazy?


That’s some stigma, friends.

4 thoughts on “Why is detransition controversial?

  1. This article is factually wrong in its claim that “one of the following must be true”. There is a third option. A is objectively dysphoric but, for philosophical reason, CHOOSES not to get the mainstream accepted treatment.

    A is then “trans” by internal state yet “not trans” socially. And this is not unique.

    There are people who are same-sex attracted. but, for religious or philosophical reasons, choose to stay celibate or even to marry the opposite sex. They are “gay” by internal state yet “not gay” socially. They usually do not identify as gay. And they have a right to live as their conscience calls them to live.

    But they do not prove that “gay” is not a thing. And a dysphoric person who, for philosophical reasons. chooses to detransition also does not prove that “trans” is not a thing.

    As for “why controversial” – detransitioners, exactly like “ex-gays”, become controversial only and solely when they decide to fight for suppressing trans/gay rights and to stigmatize or devalue trans/gay people. Otherwise they are just people who make moral choices as we all do.


    1. “Being dysphoric” is an internal experience- essentially, “an opinion”, not literally but it’s a similar concept. It’s a feeling, much like happiness- or sorrow may be more appropriate. You cannot disprove a feeling and you cannot prove that someone does not feel dysphoric.

      “Being trans” (for the sake of discussion) is not the same as being dysphoric. A person can have the flu without having a headache, but there are other ways to objectively determine if someone has the flu. The same cannot be said for “being trans”. People are being diagnosed with a condition which hasn’t been proven to exist in physical reality. There are no observable symptoms other than being dysphoric, which is an entirely subjective experience.

      Medical treatment is offered, presumably, because “being trans” is a medical condition of SOME sort. Except that it cannot be proven to exist within the body. People cannot heal from the flu by philosophizing their way out of it- the physical body itself must heal or be healed medicinally. “Being trans” differs from “being gay” in that “being gay” does not require any sort of medical intervention. Gay individuals are not inherently suffering by virtue of being gay, whereas dysphoric individuals are suffering so badly that they will pay large sums of money and undergo the risk of surgery in the hopes of alleviating it.

      It’s generally accepted now that “being gay” has a biological component to it. Even if it didn’t, the simple act of intimacy with another person of the same sex isn’t… it’s just not harmful. If you change your mind later and decide you want to be straight, you haven’t closed that door forever. The currently recommended mainstream accepted treatment for a condition which MAY only exist in a person’s mind involves major body modifications which primarily impact fertility, but also other aspects of that person’s health.

      Right now, burden of proof is currently on researchers (or… whoever) to show that “being trans” is a real thing. I don’t think it’s right to use self-reported feelings to diagnose what is purported to be a truly physical condition.

      Regarding the last bit, I’m mostly here to share my personal thoughts and the experiences that I had while going through transition. I’m all for physical transition if it helps someone- I just think it happens to be a prototype treatment, a temporary measure until we have a better understanding. Maybe I’ll ultimately be wrong, but I don’t think so. But it’s ok if I am. If we ever get a real answer at all. In any case, I find personal anecdotes very helpful when making decisions and there were a lot of things I discovered while transitioning that I never heard about prior to starting the process- not just the emotional, but physical stuff too. There are so many things that are just not discussed openly and that some people are just dishonest about or downplay when they really REALLY should not.

      But that’s not really different from the world at large.


      1. It’s nice that you have softened your position in the comments. But your post remains, and people who want, in the words of Janice Raymond, to “morally mandate transsexualism out of existence”, are already using it.

        I challenge you to change it. I challenge you to replace trans is not a real condition” and “we should reconsider whic interventions are allowed” to “I think transition is a prototype, a temporary measure until we gain a better understanding”. The difference is, *with current understanding*, and according to the medical mainstream, it IS the best treatment in properly diagnosed cases.

        And if you are properly diagnosed, but decide that for moral or philosophical reasons you can no longer accept this mainstream treatment for yourself, this is absolutely your right. The issue is when you write things that help those wanting to deny others this treatment. Others, not yourself.


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