There has been significant attention around gender dysphoria in recent years as the use of gender-affirming treatments have entered the realm of political debate. One aspect of gender-affirming treatments that has alarmed some is that at times people who have transitioned decide that they want to detransition back to their original gender.
A new study published in JAMA Network Open has investigated the experiences of patients who discontinue or reverse their gender-affirming treatments. The study followed 28 adults in Canada, with the goal of understanding these patients’ physical and mental experiences so that insights could be captured to help inform future clinical practice.
The data for the study came from in-depth interviews with the 28 participants. Of these 28 people, 18 were assigned female gender at birth, while 10 were assigned male gender at birth. Initial gender-affirming treatment was sought by these participants at a range of ages, though 15 of the 28 began gender-affirming treatment by the age of 24.
The interviews revealed that the reasons for de-transitioning varied, with some participants feeling regret over transitioning in the first place. De-transitioning tended to be both physically and psychologically challenging, and participants felt that clinicians were not equipped to adequately address their medical needs during their de-transition.
These results point to the need for researchers and physicians to develop a better understanding of gender-affirming treatments, the processes of transitioning and de-transitioning, and the implications of each. More evidence-based medical practices can help to ensure that people have access to the physical and psychological care that are likely to improve health outcomes and quality of life.
MacKinnon KR, Kia H, Salway T, et al. Health Care Experiences of Patients Discontinuing or Reversing Prior Gender-Affirming Treatments. JAMA Network Open. 2022;5(7):e2224717-e2224717. doi:10.1001/JAMANETWORKOPEN.2022.24717