A new study has shown incredibly high levels of satisfaction with gender-affirming surgery. The study, published in Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery’, the Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, says that 99.7% of trans people who had undergone such surgery experienced a degree of satisfaction with the outcome, an incredible figure in the context of any healthcare outcomes.

Regret rates of gender-affirming surgery

The Transgender Health Program ‘Regret and Request for Reversal’ released a new study focusing on the regret rates of gender-affirming surgery. They found that 99.7% of trans individuals were satisfied with their surgery.

A workgroup including cis, trans and gender diverse professionals met for a duration of 14 months. Their study consisted of patients who underwent gender-affirming surgery during a five year period between 2016 and 2021.

In total the Transgender Health Program examined 1989 trans patients. Only 6 patients (0.3%) requested reversal surgery or transitioned back to their sex assigned at birth. The study also concluded that an environment that normalises authentic gender expression, affirming each individual’s surgical goals without any judgement, are foundational to mitigating against regret.

What the findings suggest about regret

This study validates the results of previous research on regret rates. For instance, a 2022 Lancet study done in the Netherlands found that 98% of trans youth who went through gender-affirming healthcare continue their treatment into adulthood.

The 0.3% regret rate of our newest study is much smaller compared to other, common yet serious surgeries. Interestingly, knee replacement surgery has a dissatisfactory rate of 6-30%. The rate is up to 100 times that of gender-affirming surgery. However, knee replacement surgery does not go through the same scrutiny as trans healthcare does.

The evidence is overwhelming in showing that fears around ‘transition regret’ are blown out of proportion. Conservatives cling onto this myth in order to justify their anti-trans bills banning gender-affirming healthcare. Instead we focus on the joy that gender-affirming healthcare brings, and the positivity of so many people being able to live freely as themselves, celebrating who they are.

Research demonstrates the benefits of gender-affirming healthcare

Another 2022 study also found that gender-affirming top surgery for transmasculine and non-binary people improves chest dysphoria. Alongside chest dysphoria, top surgery improved gender congruence as well as body image. Findings also suggested that top surgery results came with minimal complications.

Additional research has shown that gender-affirming healthcare as a whole positively impacts trans people. It improves their feelings of dysphoria, positive mental health and their overall well-being. The New England Journal of Medicine published a 2023 study demonstrating the mental and physical health benefits of trans healthcare on trans and non-binary adolescents.

Governments need to support gender-affirming healthcare as it firmly aligns with the research and testimonials of thousands of trans people. As this new study proves, trans people do not regret surgery. Trans people deserve access to trans healthcare!

Even with this overwhelmingly positive study, we must remain mindful of the reasons behind surgery regret, which are complex. Many outside factors contribute to a trans person’s regret, including unsupportive families and transphobic environments. Even among that 0.3% there will be trans people in need of support and love. We leave you with this sentence from the study: ‘We hope this can provide a framework to distinguish between normal postoperative distress, temporary forms of grief and regret, and regret due to societal repercussions, surgical outcomes or gender identity’.