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Detransition facts and statistics that are unbiased are hard to come by in 2021.

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.


Detransition Facts Must Come From Reputable Sources

One detransition study claims an 80% desistance rate in trans children.

However, when the study was scrutinised, it was discovered that the methodology was deeply flawed.

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. 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

When the possibility of detransition is prioritised, it can lead to gender affirming-care for children and adults being withheld.

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 2021


Destransition UK Statistics

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.

Detransition US Statistics

In the US, a survey of nearly 28,000 people found that only eight percent of respondents reported some kind of detransition. Of these, sixty-two percent only did so temporarily.

Destransition Sweden Statistics

In Sweden, a fifty-year longitudinal study on a cohort of 767 transgender people found that around two percent of participants expressed regret following gender-affirming surgery, although it is unclear how many of these participants were detransitioning as a consequence.

Destransition Netherlands Statistics

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:


How Many Trans People Experience Regret?

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 2021.


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 percent 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.

Other reasons for detransition include exploring a different gender identity, unrelated health issues, and financial complications.

Only 5% of people who detransitioned (0.4% of all trans people) did so because they felt the transition was not right for them.

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.


Get the facts and statistics about transphobia in research


Read more from GenderGP:

What About Non-Binary or Two-Spirit People?

A similar phenomenon can happen with non-binary 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.

If they later do not go through with full medical transition 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.


The Myths Around Trans Kids Experiencing Regret

Some studies have shown that cases, where children were exploring their gender diversity but had no intention of transitioning, have also been misinterpreted as detransitioners.

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 percent 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:
  1. 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.
  2. American Psychiatric Association (2014). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: Author
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. Kennedy, N. (2012) “Transgender children: more than a theoretical challenge,” Goldsmiths College, University of London, http://academia.edu/2760086/
  7. Wallien, M.S.C. & Cohen-Kettenis, P.T. (2008). Psychosexual outcome of gender-dysphoric children. J American Academy Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 47:1413-1423.
  8. 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
  9. 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/


Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash