Jo Bartosch reports on the first ever Detransition Awareness Day and asks Keira Bell why it is so important people hear destransitioners’ stories and experiences. Sometimes it seems like every day is an awareness day, but today’s is important. The first of its kind; Friday 12th March marks Detransition Awareness Day.
The rise in detransitioners corresponds to demographic changes. Over recent years there has been a shift in the profile of those seeking to switch sex; whereas once a handful of men sought to be recognised as women often toward middle-age, today many people begin their transition as adolescents. The ratio of male to female has also flipped; in recent years 75% of those referred to gender identity services in the UK are girls who wish to become boys.
It seems there is an informal veto on any attempts to investigate detransition. When in 2016 James Caspian, a counsellor and therapist, “became aware that there appear to be a growing number of people who have sought to reverse the surgery they had as part of a gender transition” he applied to Bath Spa University to study the phenomenon. Caspian explained on his Crowdfunder page why he wanted to research this group:
“Gender Reassignment Surgery includes surgery to the genitals, and for women changing to male, often removal of the breasts. I wanted to talk to the people who regretted their GRS and then had surgery to try to reverse the original surgery. There is no research into this phenomenon, and it is needed to develop insight into why this is happening and to learn from these peoples’ experiences.”
Bath Spa University initially granted permission for his Masters research and then blocked it over fears “it might attract unpleasant comments on social media, which they said might be detrimental to the reputation of the university.”