Freedom and being trans…or not

The detransitionersA Seattle weekly magazine focused recently on a transgender story few want to talk about.

That is, unless your agenda includes seeing transgender people as a big problem.

The topic: detransition.

According to the article, this topic riles all fringe elements of communities affected by people who come out as Trans. The Alt-Right, radical feminists, even people I would call radical trans-activists seem to bristle at the possibility that people sometimes don’t know either what they want, or who, or what they are.

But that is life.

Some people grok their identity early on. Others take years. Others change their mind. Someone who changes their mind doesn’t invalidate decisions others have made who haven’t changed their mind.

Which is interesting because the anecdotal examples in the “take caution” perspective towards becoming transgender point to destransitioners as more than exceptions. They are examples that some people (maybe a lot according to these people) don’t know what they are doing and are therefore being harmed or unduly influenced by society, peer pressure, what they call a trend or worse.

But the article quotes Ami Kaplan, a therapist in New York who has worked with transgender, gender variant, and genderqueer clients for more than 20 years as saying that after two decades in practice, she knows of only one client who fully transitioned and then later detransitioned. Twenty years of practice seems to me to be a strong body of evidence.

In some cases, the transgender community may not be helping the issue. A few people, such as a person quoted in the article, claim that some medical practitioners, fearful of being seen as a gatekeeper, “lean toward wanting to help people transition.”  This fear obviously is coming from clinician’s concern about how the transgender community sees them. And, that probably has to do with their livelihood: if they make a living serving the community, certainly being seen as a gatekeeper could have income-limiting effects.

Says one detransitioner:

“I didn’t really feel like I could talk to my counselors about detransitioning in the way that I wanted,” she said, “because they have specific political views, and I felt like if I said I had these criticisms of the whole concept of transitioning, they would have thought I was being brainwashed by transphobic bigots or whatever.”


The world is a big place. There are a lot of people in it. That means a lot of stories. This article has a lot to say to those open-minded enough to read it. Ultimately freedom-to-be seems to be the key here: while our society pushes against us in so many ways, ultimately, people must come to the point where “I am free to choose” is the guiding light of their life experience.

Read the full article. It’s worth it.