What About Regrets?

Poor information is often worse than no information at all. I watched a YouTube video where a young 20 something woman gave out both good and some bad information. This included some information that is critical for people considering a transition to know, hence the links in the next paragraph.

The following link to the transadvocate is about how a scientific Swedish study was twisted beyond all recognition to show what opponents of current normalized trans health care believe to be harmful. Another debunking article can be read on the Huffington post site.

Years ago I regularly argued with one such fellow who had been a friend and repeatedly knocked down his strawman arguments. Studies were often misused, and post hoc issues in the logic were rampant. If the statistics show an increase in factor X but you aren’t comparing it to a control you can’t make a statement about the treatment being harmful.

One thing I kept telling him was that the reasons for the psychiatric problems and suicides have a great deal to do with the situations people find themselves in because they are trans, and therefore are often not because of treatment at all. Alas, his mind was closed like a safe.


A favored whipping boy is the incidence of regrets. It’s a powerful image, especially for men reading about this given how men view what’s done during SRS. They imagine if they had gone through that only to find it was a mistake.

The problem with the argument is that the number is terribly misrepresented. I’ve often seen numbers like 10% run about, when that hasn’t been the case since the 70’s before the WPATH standards of care (earlier the Harry Benjamin care standards that WPATH carried forward) were adopted. In the 70’s, and this is what critics like Paul McHugh are really still harping about although we are forty five years later and far better at avoiding inappropriate candidates for surgery.

Before the Benjamin standards were adopted there were truly horrific examples of people being subject to reassignment surgery. Cross-dressers, bisexuals, gay men were all part of the extended group and there was a significant amount of regret. But even then the number was in the 10-15% range. Miraculously low in my opinion given how poorly it was controlled.

In current times the number seems to be in the 1-2% range. You also have to be careful about what you mean by regret, and how upset the patient is. I have no data on that. The figure I’m giving is from talking with my surgeon and a statement I read given by Dr. Bieber. It would not surprise me if that number shifted a little.

Defining Regret

There are really two kinds of regret that occur. There are regrets over transition, normal regrets that I believe everyone has because the whole process is painful and full of losses for every individual. The are perhaps the rare individuals that incur no loss, but I haven’t met one yet. Perhaps the young will have that fortune.

The other kind of deep regret would be reserved for either someone who’s had surgery who should not have, because anything short of reassignment surgery can be reversed to some reasonable extent, or for whom the surgery was a disaster due to a rare complication like a rectal fistula that was resistant to normal repair.

There appear to be a few handfuls of poor souls in that post SRS I made a mistake category and my heart truly goes out to them. It must of course be possible for this to happen. Speaking for myself I had contemplated what I was doing for over a decade so the idea of making a mistake, along with talking it out with a couple of therapists made me pretty comfortable with the decision – although still quite frightened of the actual procedure.


When all is said and through, and you’ve performed all the changes you need or want, you had better have realistic expectations. Some things will be markedly better. Gender dysphoria will be gone, and you’ll live as the gender you are. These are important and good things.

When it is said and through, all your other problems will still be there. Debts, bad relations, friends you aren’t that sure about if they haven’t run off, the drip in the downstairs bathroom you neglected, the job you’ve always hated, and your kids who are now an even bigger pain in the ass because they are now in high school and have even more reasons to think you are a jerk.

On that glide path toward landing, make sure you start reengaging with reality. Solidify the friendships you’ve retained and start building new ones. Start planning for the future and putting energy into things that don’t involve the letters TRANS or LGBTQ.




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