A few weeks ago, there was another story about another man who had a "sex change" and who now regrets it. This story, like some previously, came out of Australia. This is not the first such story to make the headlines, and it probably won't be the last. But this one should serve as a warning sign for both therapists, and those who might be considering such surgery.
Given the details of the story, it is not that surprising that the man has regrets. Of course, a lot of transgender activists are scrambling to try to control the damage. The idea that someone might actually make a mistake is one of the biggest secrets of the "transgender community." But this is exactly the sort of thing that happens when "transgender people" get carried away and proceed with surgery.
First off, the man, now 66, came to regret the surgery five years after having it. Now, that would seem to indicate that he was 61 when he had the surgery. Now, age alone is not an indicator of surgical outcome, but it should be considered. I mean, why did he wait so long? What was his life like before he transitioned?
One of the statements made by him seems to indicate that he did not have a childhood history of issues with his sex being contrary to his gender. That alone is the single major red flag in a case like this. It is entirely possible for someone to encounter delays before actually achieving surgery, so a person might, in rare cases actually have HBS but be relatively old at the time they finally have their body corrected. But if there was no history from childhood, then surgery is almost certainly not advisable.
Perhaps the biggest warning flag was the fact that this man did not find his genitals abhorrent. In a person with HBS that is a major symptom. Of course, this is a common refrain among transgender people, who will often say, "I don't my penis. I would not be terribly concerned if it were to suddenly disappear, but I don't hate it." That sort of statement should raise concerns for a therapist. Once it is gone, it is gone for good. After surgery is not the time to suddenly realize that you miss it.
It is also interesting that this person claims that a previous therapist advised against surgery. In a sense, it seems to come down to a question of who was the most at fault? The doctors who clearly failed to adequately evaluated this patient? Or the patient himself, who clearly failed to make these things known to his therapist.
I know, early on in my transition, I saw one therapist who seemed more interested in chalking up another patient referred for surgery than in actually helping me deal with issues I was struggling with. If I had been a bad candidate for surgery, I don't know that she would have caught it.
Another case that sent the TG activists into a tizzy became known in October of last year. Mike Penner, a sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times announced in April, 2007 that he was going to begin transition and would now be known as Christine Daniels. He began writing a column featured on that paper's web site about his experiences. Then, in October, with little fanfare, Christine disappeared, and Mike returned to the sports pages.
The transgender world was shocked. They rushed to make excuses for why someone might decide to not go forward with transition. And the one reason they wanted to downplay the most was that it might ust have been the right thing. They seemed to want to avoid admitting that not everyone who thinks that transition is the right path is going to succeed. That is why the Standards of Care requires a Real Life Test that lasts a minimum of one year. In many cases, one year is probably not enough. There are two many examples of people who rushed through without considering if they were doing the right thing, and who wind up with the rest of their life to regret it. I know of two for whom this is clearly the case, though neither would be likely to publically admit it. Still, it is clear that their transition has been less than successful.
It is possible that Mike Penner will go on to transition. Many people, myself included, have backed off from transition and returned later. This can be caused by a number of factors such as pressure from family, lack of proper preparation, and even a bad therapist. All three of those played a role in my case. But it can just as easily be that the person realizes that their gender really does match their body.
The bottom line is, this is not a game. A mistake can be tragic. There is no going back...which is a source of joy for those with HBS, but a nightmare for someone who is not. One's transition should not be delayed any longer than necessary, but it should also not be rushed. Therapists need to make sure that the person is not making a mistake.