Transsexualism, Regrets and "Reparative Therapy"
copyright 2005 by Christine Beatty
Note: this document will continue to grow.
Life can be very hard for a transsexual person. Not only are we often rejected
and ridiculed by society, the difficulties and hardships we often encounter
in transition sometimes make us question if this is the right path for us.
Even those of us who truly have the medical condition of transsexualism
may experience these doubts, especially when the cultural opposition is so
strong that we question our own powerful feelings. These feelings of doubt may
become so intense they turn into regret, and trying to go back to one's
birth sex may seem tempting. When I detransitioned in late 1986, it was a
relief that the public hatred stopped immediately. The only problem was that
I knew I was selling myself out. And after two years of slow suicide, I went
back to being Christine and my life turned around for the better.
On the other hand, a little doubt can be heathly. A transsexual person must take
huge, life-changing steps, some of them permanent, and it is crucial that all
doubts be fully and honestly explored. It is conceivable that some people
might face an identity crisis or a midlife crisis and conclude that changing
their sex will bring them inner peace. In that context it's possible that an
inappropriate candidate might attempt to transition. If he (or she) was convinced
he was a transsexual person and learned the right things to say to a gender
therapist, a non-transsexual might slip through the screening process and
obtain SRS (sex reassignment surgery), especially if he did not express his
doubts or outright lied to his therapist.
Out of approximately a hundred thousand transsexual people who've successfully
completed transition, a handful of "former transsexuals" have launched
well-publicized crusades against transsexualism. Doubtlessly these few vocal
cases feel foolish about their ill-considered decision, but instead of taking
responsibility they claim they were "deceived" or "misdiagnosed" and they
condemn the entire process for everybody. While it is possible to get around the
standards of care required to obtain hormone therapy and genital surgery, the
existing protocol is a proven one. Both the psychologists and the sex
reasignment surgeons have a powerful motivation to carefully screen the
applicants for this process: malpractice suits.
However, these "ex-transsexuals" have a new ally to help condemn
transsexualism: "reparative" therapists. In the early 1990's,
"reparative therapy" began to emerge as an alleged "cure" for homosexuality.
Though it has little basis in science and is given little credence by the vast
majority of responsible psychologists, the Religious Right has seized upon this
theory to further stigmatize homosexuality. In reality, the proponents of this
"therapy" use the self-hatred instilled in some gay people by society --
internalized homophobia -- to convince them that they are sick and that they may
be cured by therapy and religion.
Proponents of reparative therapy also claim that psychotherapy and prayer will
cure transsexualism as well. However, many years of psychiatric experience have
shown that neither homosexuality nor transsexualism are pathological conditions,
nor may they be changed by therapy. Furthermore, as the links below will show,
there are very few cases where somebody has had their sexual orientation or
their gender identity changed by "reparative" or any other means. In reality,
"reparative therapy" is a cruel and stigmatizing smokescreen that masquerades
science and hurts far more people than it helps. Read below for specifics.
Note: if you have a verifiable detranstion/retransition story, please
consider sharing it with others by allowing me in include it here.
"Reparative" Therapy information
An excellent source of information about this therapy purported by
religious fundamentalists like NARTH and JONAH as a "cure" for
homosexuality and transsexualism. Includes numerous scientific
studies and professional opinions.
"Reparative" therapist Richard Cohen alleges that the reparative
methods he uses with gay people works on transsexual people as well. However, as
the author of
Anything But Straight, Wayne Besen, revealed: in 2004 Cohen was permanently
expelled from the only legitimate professional affiliation he had left, the
American Counseling Association. According to the 1/25/05 Daily Commentary on
Wayne Besen's website,
the author recently uncovered a letter from the ACA ethics committee that charges Cohen
with numerous violations. Given that Cohen's book makes him a major cheerleader
of the reparative cult, this incident throws further doubt on both the
ex-transsexual and ex-gay claims these religious zealots often make.
Peta spent many years being happy as a transsexual woman before a period of
disillusionment caused her to find solace in Christianity. At first she
believed that to practice her newfound faith meant going back to living as
a man which she did for nearly ten years. Yet like most true transsexual people,
she was desperately unhappy living this lie so she re-transitioned a few years
ago. She still maintains her Christian faith, but as the woman she knows she is.
"Mistaken Identity" - article by Guardian Unlimited
An detailed article that examines other cases like Peta's, including
one who thought she'd found the answer in a combination of religion and
therapy, but eventually went back to being a woman. The article also points
out the uneven application of the Standards of Care used as guidelines for
diagnosing and treating transsexual patients. Without a proper diagnosis it's
possible for people with psychiatric problems, high-intensity crossdressers and
confused or gay people with internalized homophobia to be mistakenly diagnosed
as true transsexual patients.
James: a man who misdiagnosed himself
For eighteen months James Birk thought he was a transsexual woman and took
female hormones. Partly because his desire was so strong he was able to convince
several mental health providers he was a candidate for transition. In April of
2004 James finally realized that the transsexual path was not right for him.
Due to the "real life test" waiting time built into the Standards of Care
for transsexual people (see below), James had sufficient time to soul search
and make the right decision for him. As his article shows he does not
condemn the concept of transsexualism, unlike the high profile "former
transsexuals" mentioned earlier.
Lynn Conway's warning to those considering SRS
Dr. Conway has amassed information that any potential transsexual person should
consider before treading too far down this path. She lists several examples
of people who had surgery and then later regretted it. There is seldom a
decision in one's life that requires more thought and soul searching than
transsexual transition, especially SRS (sex reassignment surgery).
Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association
A professional organization devoted to the understanding and treatment
of gender identity disorders. It develops and publishes Standards of Care
for the treatment of gender identity disorders. These internationally
accepted guidelines are designed to promote the health and welfare of persons
with gender identity disorders.
Transsexual Women's Successes
Given that the media loves to focus on tragedy more than success,
eminent computer scientist
Dr. Lynn Conway, herself a transsexual woman, has compiled this listing
of nearly 150 transsexual women who are successes. Engineers, attorneys,
physicians, entertainers, computer professionals, educators and many more
grace these pages. Given that most transsexual people prefer to blend into
the woodwork, largely due to the prejudice and discrimination they would
face by being "out", the women in this listing are but a small sample of
people whose lives demonstrate that transsexualism is not an impediment to
a happy, successful life.
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