The New York Times ran a recent article complaining that detransitioners — individuals who identify as transgender before reverting to their sex observed at birth — have been disproportionately cited by conservative media and lawmakers. Is that true?
New York Times
Mostly false or misleading. Significant errors or omissions. Mostly make believe.
The figure of between 2% and 13% is from a study authored by Jack Turban et al., “Factors Leading to Detransition” (2021). As Leor Sapir of the Manhattan Institute has noted, Turban’s study relied on the U.S. Transgender Survey of 2015 which present major flaws including a politically biased sample with a limited timeframe which only included participants currently identifying as transgender. (In what way is that a study of detransitioners?)
The truth is we simply don’t know what the regret/detransition rate is, nor what it will be should medicalized transitions for gender-distressed youth continue at the current pace. Another important question is whether the treatment will improve mental health outcomes overall among trans-identifying youth. If the experiment with youth proves to be anything like adult transition, then the full extent of these outcomes could take several decades to unfold.
Moreover, whether the rate of detransition is 1% or 91%, no clinician has a crystal ball, or the ability to tell which children will grow to regret transition and which will obtain life-long satisfaction with their permanently altered bodies. What we do have is reliable data showing that when treated with the traditional talk therapies/“watchful waiting,” most gender dysphoric children grow out of their distress by the end of adolescence. This makes it the preferable treatment in terms of safety and efficacy.