Detransition facts and statistics that are unbiased are hard to come by these days. In this article, we examine numbers from 2022. We answer the questions: How many trans people detransition? What reasons do detransitioners cite for their detransition?

Detransition occurs when a person who has already transitioned returns to live as the gender assigned at birth.

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 – as some people imply – that there was an unsatisfactory or regrettable result. Rather, it simply refers to the small group of people who transition and then go back. There are many reasons other than regret for why a person might decide to return to their gender assigned at birth. Some people may even detransition due to the negative effects of conversion therapy.

Facts About Detransitioners Must Come From Reputable Sources

In Europe alone, there’s over $186 million in funding for anti-gender movements coming from the Russian Federation. Furthermore, the Russian government has over 50 anti-gender actors operating within the continent. Of course, these actors spread misinformation with the intention of influencing the conversation around detransitioning to their advantage.

Study Falsely Claims an 80% Desistance Rate in Trans Children

One study, paraded around by the anti-trans crowd, claimed that 80% of trans children desisted later in life. However, when the study underwent scrutiny, researchers discovered that the methodology was deeply flawed. The study in question did not differentiate between the following:

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”. However, they’re not the same thing.

In fact, the only justifiable conclusion that peer reviewers could be draw from the study upon scrutiny of its data, was that strong gender dysphoria was a good predictor of future medical transition.

Impacts of the Misinformation Around Detransitioners and Detransitioning

When we prioritise the possibility of detransition over urgent healthcare needs, it can lead to needless delay that causes lifelong damage or even the complete withdrawal of gender affirming-care for children and adults.

Some healthcare professionals may wonder how they can support a trans person in their medical transition if there’s 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 (Numbers from 2022)

Destransition UK Statistics

For instance, in the UK a survey of 3,398 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.

Detransition US Statistics: 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% percent only did so temporarily due to societal, financial, or family pressures..

Destransition Sweden Statistics: How Many Trans People Are Detransitioning?

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.

Destransition Netherlands Statistics: Detransitioners

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 Regret Transitioning?

According to 2022 statistics, only around 3% of trans people experience some form of regret, but may not detransition. Conversely, 97% of people who are transgender are happy with their decision to transition.

Only 5% of people who detransitioned (that’s 5% of the 3% who experience some form of regret, so 0.4% of all trans people) did so because they felt the transition was not right for them. These are the ones who have typically remained as detransitioners.

Why Do People Detransition?

In fact, 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 different gender identities, unrelated health issues, and financial complications.

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.

Detransitioner Statistics

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 Percent of those Surveyed
Pressure from Parents 36%
Difficulty of Transitioning 33%
Harassment & Discrimination 31%
Employment Issues 29%
Family Pressure 26%
Relationship Pressure 18%
Peer Pressure 17%
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%
Financial Reasons 3%
Medical Reasons 2%

Read more from GenderGP:

What About Non-Binary or Two-Spirit People? Are They Being Falsely Counted as Detransitioners, Too?

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. Never in history have non-binary people been able to access such medical care.

If they later don’t go through with full medical transition or use hormones because it doesn’t 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. They are success stories who found their true alignment. Yet, since they don’t yet fit into the current medical system, which in many cases still hasn’t moved past the binary (even in gender-affirming care), they are miscounted.

Myths Around Trans Kids Experiencing Regret

Some studies falsely put forth cases in which children were exploring their gender diversity but had no intention of transitioning. In these cases, they children weren’t actually trans. As such, the studies misinterpret these children as being detransitioners.

However, allowing children to freely explore their gender identities is important to their healthy development. 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 Reduce Number of Detransitioners

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. They’re due to issues beyond the control of the person transitioning.

All interventions have both risks and benefits, but it’s widely accepted that the benefits of gender-affirming care greatly outweigh the risks.

It’s 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 and 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