The French National Academy of Medicine speaks about a phenomenon of epidemic appearance. A psychoanalyst at the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital, who receives young people concerned by the transgender question, calls it a “tidal wave.”
The young people who express sexual identity confusion are indeed more and more numerous … and younger and younger. More and more frequently they are reporting that they have the feeling that they belong to the other sex than their own, or sometimes to “no sex” at all.
Many of them begin social transitions (by changing their first name, appearance and behavior) and sometimes medical intervention (by injecting hormones, having surgery, and for the youngest, by administering puberty blockers).
In France, as in many countries, the numbers and their increase are staggering. For example, the number of ALD (Affection Longue Durée) beneficiaries with a diagnosis of transidentity or gender dysphoria shows 10 times more admissions in 2020 than in 2013. Requests for access to surgery for breast or genital procedures or removal have increased fourfold between 2012 and 2020.
A child psychiatrist in charge of an adolescent reception center (CAA) in Paris attests to this: “Ten years ago, we had about 10 requests per year, today it’s 10 requests per month, just for the Île-de-France region.”
But today, many young people who regret it are coming out of the woodwork. They are called “detransitioners.” Have they, with time, finally “reconciled” with their sex? In the meantime, they have been deceived. And it is often too late. Their uneasiness has led them on the highway of transition, a journey sometimes without return, as some decisions are irremediable.
This is the case of Anna, who has recently given her testimony in the columns of Le Parisien (May 3, 2022). As a teenager, she discovered transgenderism on the Internet and found herself there. Her parents fully supported her.
After a few medical appointments that she herself qualifies as “expeditious”, she started testosterone at 14, became Sacha, and underwent a mastectomy (removal of the breasts) at 16.
At no time were the deep reasons that pushed me to change sex discussed.
At 19, her descent into hell began. She could not conquer “this new sex.” She is now filled with regret. She realizes that she is indeed a woman, but now with a flat chest and a deep voice. She stopped taking hormones. Her periods came back, and she hopes that her fertility will not be permanently altered. Today, she deplores that “at no time were the deep reasons that pushed me to change sex discussed.” “I was put on a track,” she says and she now realizes that “puberty is not the ideal period to make such choices.”
The case of Keira Bell
Anna’s case is not isolated. Associations of detransitioners are emerging in the United States, Canada, Belgium, England, Sweden … In the United Kingdom, the case of Keira Bell has hit the headlines and put this painful subject in the spotlight.
The longer I transitioned, the more I realized that I was not a man and never would be. As I matured, I realized that gender dysphoria was a symptom of my overall misery, not the cause.
This young woman, who became a trans man, filed a lawsuit against the clinic that treated her. She claims that she did not have the capacity to consent, even though she was the one who asked for this medical transition.
“The longer I transitioned, the more I realized that I was not a man and never would be. As I matured, I realized that gender dysphoria was a symptom of my overall misery, not the cause,” she explains. The case was just resolved.
She lost her case, even though the High Court in London had put a stop to the prescription of puberty blockers for children, ruling that before the age of 13 “it is highly unlikely that a child would be competent to consent to the administration of puberty blockers” and that before the age of 16, they can only take the treatment if they understand the immediate and long-term consequences.
Many trans men talk about how you can’t cry with a high dose of testosterone in your body, and that affected me too: I couldn’t release my emotions. One of the first signs that I was becoming Keira again was that – thankfully, finally – I was able to cry.
Obviously, the difficulty lies not so much in the quality of the information given and received, but in the capacity of the children to understand and evaluate this information, to conceive the scope of such decisions which will make them patients for life. How, for example, can we measure the consequences of fertility loss when we are still far from any desire for a child? Keira Bell shares her unvarnished story. “Five years after I began my medical transition to male, I began the detransition process. Many trans men talk about how you can’t cry with a high dose of testosterone in your body, and that affected me too: I couldn’t release my emotions. One of the first signs that I was becoming Keira again was that — thankfully, finally — I was able to cry. And I had a lot to cry about.”
A cry for help
In the face of these dramas, voices are being raised. The Academy of Medicine calls for the attention of the medical community and asks that “great medical caution be exercised in children and adolescents, taking into account the vulnerability, in particular psychological, of this population and the numerous undesirable effects, even serious complications, that some of the available therapies may cause.” Addressing parents, the Academy recommends that they be vigilant when faced with their children’s questions about transidentity or their discomfort, underlining the addictive character of excessive consultation of social networks which is harmful to the psychological development of young people and responsible for a very important part of the growth of the feeling of gender incongruence.
A real cry of alarm was launched in a column in l’Express by several associations of childhood professionals as well as 50 thinkers – doctors, intellectuals, psychologists, judges, sociologists, feminist activists – of very different horizons of thought, including: Elisabeth Badinter, Jean-Pierre Winter, Chantal Delsol, Rene Frydman and Xavier Emmanuelli: “It is urgent to inform the greatest number of citizens, of all professions, of all sides, of all ages, on what could well appear tomorrow as one of the greatest health and ethical scandals, which we would have watched happen without a word: the commodification of children’s bodies. “