Detransition facts and statistics that are unbiased are hard to come by in 2022. However, how many trans people detransition? What reasons do detransitioners cite for their detransition?
Detransition is when a person who has already transitioned returns to live as the gender assigned by their birth sex.
Transition describes the social, psychological, and/or medical processes by which a transgender person realigns themselves towards the gender with which they identify.
Detransition is a loaded term.
Importantly, it doesn’t mean an unsatisfactory or regrettable result. Rather, it simply refers to the small group of people who transition and then go back.
Some people may even detransition due to the negative effects of conversion therapy.
Facts Must Come From Reputable Sources About Detransitioners
Of course, this leads to the conversation around detransitioning becoming ripe with misinformation.
One detransition study claims an 80% desistance rate in trans children.
The study in question did not differentiate between the following:
- Young people with gender dysphoria.
- Young people who socially but not medically transitioned
- Young people who were simply exploring gender diversity.
In fact, nearly half of the children involved in the study could not be located at its conclusion.
They were recorded as ‘desisters’ by default, and thus ‘detransitioners’. The only justifiable conclusion that could be drawn from the study on a subsequent review of its data, was that strong gender dysphoria was a good predictor of future medical transition.
The Impacts of the Misinformation around Detransitioning
Some healthcare professionals may wonder how they can support a trans person in their medical transition if there is a possibility they may change their mind – especially young people, and especially in light of the fact that some of the physical changes brought about by gender-affirming medication are irreversible.
Misinformation around how and why people stop medical transition has led to widespread misconceptions about transgender people and healthcare.
Because of this, it’s really important to know the facts. It’s sometimes suggested that lots of trans people later regret their transition. In fact, almost none of them do.
The number of people who do not continue with transition varies depending on where in the world they live and is subject to a number of factors, including societal acceptance of transgender people and access to healthcare.
Detransition Facts and Statistics 2022
For instance, in the UK a survey of 3398 attendees of a gender identity clinic found that just sixteen – about 0.47% – experienced transition-related regret. Of these, even fewer went on to actually detransition and become detransitioners.
In the US, a survey of nearly 28,000 people found that 8% of respondents reported some kind of detransition. Of this 8%, 62% per cent only did so temporarily due to societal, financial, or family pressures..
In Sweden, a fifty-year longitudinal study on a cohort of 767 transgender people found that around 2% of participants expressed regret following gender-affirming surgery, although it is unclear how many of these participants were detransitioning as a consequence.
In the Netherlands, a study of transgender young people found that only 1.9% of young people on puberty blockers did not want to continue with the medical transition.
Read more from GenderGP:
- Real-life experience and social transition – who should choose?
- Evidenced Research on Detransition ‘Regret’ for Newsnight
- What Is The Transgender Suicide Rate?
How Many Trans People Regret Transitioning?
On average, 97% of people who are transgender are happy with their decision to transition. Only ~3% of trans people experience some form of regret, but may not detransition. These detransition statistics are for 2022.
Why Do People Detransition?
Well, why do people detransition? The main reason cited for detransition is social pressure. Recent research by Dr Jack Turban has found that around 90 per cent of people who return to their birth gender in the US don’t do so because of regret or dissatisfaction, but because of pressure from family, school, work, or society in general.
The National Center for Transgender Equality found that the most common reasons for detransitioning were lack of support at home, problems in the workplace, and harassment and discrimination.
Only 5% of people who detransitioned (0.4% of all trans people) did so because they felt the transition was not right for them. They have remained detransitioners.
Additionally, there might be unwanted sexual characteristics that are brought on by transitioning to the gender that they identify as.
The situation is also aggravated by gatekeeping and combative attitudes in healthcare. In many countries, like the UK, trans people have to spend years proving they are who they say they are in order to access treatment.
The financial, social, and mental burdens this causes actually increase the chance of detransition.
In a survey with 27,715 respondents, transequality provided a helpful breakdown that gives us more insight into the most prevalent reasons that lead to people detransitioning.
|Reasons for Detransitioning||% of those Surveyed|
|Pressure from Parents||36%|
|Difficulty of Transitioning||33%|
|Harassment & Discrimination||31%|
|Pressure from a Mental Health Professional||5%|
|Pressure from Religious Counsellors||5%|
|Gender Transition Was Not Right For Them||5%|
|Transition Didn’t Reflect the Complexity of their Gender Identity||4%|
Read more from GenderGP:
- Am I Trans Enough for a Gender Dysphoria Test? Yes, You Are!
- Gender-Affirming Hormone Therapy: Starting HRT
What About Non-Binary or Two-Spirit People?
The emphasis on proving you are either male or female in order to access trans healthcare can lead to people who are neither of these genders being offered only full transmasculine or transfeminine transition pathways. Never in history have non-binary people been able to access such medical care.
If they later do not go through with full medical transition or use hormones, because it does not correspond with their gender identity, they are seen to have ‘detransitioned’, when in fact they have reoriented themselves with their true gender identity.
They are not detransitioners.
The Myths Around Trans Kids Experiencing Regret
However, allowing children to freely explore their gender identities is important to their healthy development, and supporting them with non-medical interventions like social transition (allowing them to dress and behave in a way that comes naturally) will help them decide if the medical transition is right for them, or not.
Accepting Trans People Will Help With Detransitioning
Although the rate of detransition is already low, it can be further reduced by supporting and accepting transgender people.
Around ninety-five per cent of the reasons listed for ‘detransition’ in fact have nothing to do with transition and are due to issues beyond the control of the person transitioning.
All interventions have both risks and benefits, but it is widely accepted that the benefits of gender-affirming care greatly outweigh the risks.
It is important to differentiate between detransitioning and regret. While regret and detransition stories regularly make the news cycle, we rarely hear about people who re-transition. This refers to the cohort of trans people who detransition due to external pressures such as work, finances or their family situation and later re-transition when their circumstances change.
All evidence suggests that medical transition is the right decision for the overwhelming majority of trans people, it’s important to make sure that both our clinical practices and our social attitudes support transition for all who need it.
Further References & Reading:
- Byne, W., Bradley, S.J., Coleman, E., Eyler, A.E., Green, R., Menvielle, E.J., Meyer-Bahlburg, H.F.L., Pleak, R.R. & Tompkins, D.A. (2012). Report of the American Psychiatric Association Task Force on Treatment of Gender Identity Disorder. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 41(4):759-796.
- American Psychiatric Association (2014). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: Author
- Drummond, Kelley D.; Bradley, Susan J.; Peterson-Badali, Michele; Zucker, Kenneth J. (2008), “A follow-up study of girls with gender identity disorder,” Developmental Psychology. Vol 44(1), Jan 2008, 34-45.
- Drescher, J. (2013) “Sunday Dialogue: Our Notions of Gender,” New York Times, June 29, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/30/opinion/sunday/sunday-dialogue-our-notions-of-gender.html
- Reed, B., Rhodes, S., Schofield, P., Wylie, K., (2009) “Gender variance in the UK. Prevalence, incidence, growth and geographic distribution,” GIRES – the Gender Identity Research and Education Society, http://www.gires.org.uk/assets/Medpro-Assets/GenderVarianceUK-report.pdf
- Kennedy, N. (2012) “Transgender children: more than a theoretical challenge,” Goldsmiths College, University of London, http://academia.edu/2760086/
- Wallien, M.S.C. & Cohen-Kettenis, P.T. (2008). Psychosexual outcome of gender-dysphoric children. J American Academy Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 47:1413-1423.
- World Professional Association for Transgender Health [WPATH] (2011), Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People: Author. http://www.wpath.org
- Winters, K. (2013) Response to Dr. Jack Drescher and the NY Times About Childhood Transition, GID Reform Weblog, July 5, https://gidreform.wordpress.com/category/childhood-social-transition/