“Detransitioners carry the shadow for [the trans community]… People don’t want to know that they exist; people demonize them.” This quote was eloquently stated by Lisa Marchiano, a psychoanalyst, in the recent documentary “Affirmation Generation.” The film features the personal stories of a diverse group of detransitioners, commentary by healthcare professionals, and the shocking truth about how vulnerable people are fast-tracked to medicalization by “gender-affirming” practitioners (1).
“Shadow people”, sadly, is an accurate characterization of how trans advocates largely view detransitioners. Detransitioned people are told that sharing their stories harms the trans community, and that since “just 1 to 2 percent” of those who transition will detransition, their suffering is a necessary sacrifice for the greater good of the 98 percent who are happy (2). The 1-2 percent figure, by the way, is unreliable due to the fatally flawed methodologies of the studies from which it is derived. Any safeguarding (or “gatekeeping”, as trans activists call it) is considered transphobic, as it prevents trans-identified individuals from accessing the “lifesaving care they need” (3).
As more and more detransitioners speak out, the group becomes more known, but it is still relatively invisible to the public. Compared to the press coverage of trans-identifying celebrities like Laverne Cox, Elliot Page, and Jazz Jennings, and the rise of high-profile trans influencers like Dylan Mulvaney, the presence of detransitioners in pop culture is practically non-existent. To make matters worse, trans advocates paint detransitioners as “grifters,” people being intentionally dishonest in order to gain attention or money from conservatives (4).
It is not detransitioners’ fault that conservative platforms are more receptive to their stories, as the political left has historically taken an extreme affirmation-only approach towards transition. Although some mainstream left-leaning media outlets such as Reuters, The Atlantic, and The New York Times have recently published articles expressing a more nuanced stance, opportunities to be featured in liberal publications are few and far between for detransitioned people, especially for those who transitioned as adults, whose stories are even more likely to be overlooked (5-7).
The unfortunate result of the politicization of detransition is that people who don’t know much about the issue tend to avoid it entirely out of fear of offending the trans community. Because voicing any degree of dissent from the affirmation-only model is labeled transphobic, many people who support detransitioners or have other concerns about the impacts of gender identity ideology stay silent.
This is one of the reasons why advocating for greater visibility of the detrans community is crucial. In order to understand the struggles of detransitioners, the public must first be aware that this group exists, and that detransitioning is not so rare. Furthermore, those considering transition, and the parents of trans-identifying youth need to hear that many transitions end in tragedy or lifelong health complications rather than “trans joy” and “gender euphoria.”
Today, March 12th, is Detrans Awareness Day, a day created to amplify the voices of detransitioners everywhere. On March 10th, a group of detransitioners teamed up with OurDuty, a non-partisan group of parents and allies, to hold a large Detrans Awareness Day rally Sacramento, CA, giving detransitioners a stage on which to speak out. A series of detransitioner interviews by Tullip R, free to access on YouTube, will be streamed all day today, and Genspect will be holding a Detransition Awareness Day webinar starting at noon CST (8). Members of Partners for Ethical Care are participating in a protest outside the St. Louis Children’s Hospital to bring awareness to what’s happening behind closed doors at gender clinics (9). Our hope is that by hearing detransitioners’ accounts, more bystanders will acknowledge that this is not a political issue at all, but a matter of medical ethics and human rights.
Partners for Ethical Care is committed to supporting detransitioned people in a multitude of ways, including connecting them with legal help through our Transition Justice project. Thank you for your generous contributions to our organization, as these help us to continue supporting detransitioners, as well as to advocate for legislation safeguarding the vulnerable. Currently, detransition awareness efforts are vital, but we envision a future in which there are no more detransitioners or people harmed by gender medicine.
GenderGP. “Detransition Facts and Statistics 2022: Exploding the Myths Around Detransitioning.” 21 Jun 2021.
YouTube - CoconutIsland’s channel. “Vaush EXPOSES The Detransition Grift.”
Valdes, L. & MacKinnon, K. “Take Detransitioners Seriously.” The Atlantic. 18 Jan 2023.
Respaut, R., Turhune, C., Conlin, M. “Why detransitioners are crucial to the science of gender care.” Reuters. 22 Dec 2022.
Twohey, M. & Jewett, C. “They Paused Puberty, but Is There a Cost?” The New York Times. 14 Nov 2022.
Twitter thread by TullipR (detrans man)
Reed, Jamie. “I Thought I Was Saving Trans Kids. Now I’m Blowing the Whistle.” The Free Press. 9 Feb 2023.