First de-transitioner lawsuit filed in Canada: “I’ll have to live with this for the rest of my life”

A 34 year old Canadian woman is suing the medics who facilitated her transition from ‘female’ to ‘male’ saying she was experiencing a mental health crisis at the time of her transition. 

The woman, Michelle Zacchinga, underwent so-called transition surgeries including a double mastectomy and hysterectomy after being prescribed testosterone. 

Zacchinga has filed a lawsuit against eight medical professionals encompassing doctors and mental health care workers alleging that they failed in their duty towards her by not identifying her complex mental health needs at the time of her transition. 

She claims she was allowed to self diagnose and was led down a path of undergoing “irreversible” surgeries and treatments. 

Zacchinga says she began to identify as a male in early adulthood but had no prior signs of gender dysphoria in childhood or adolescence. She says she experienced “severe bullying” in school and always felt “different”. 

She described experiencing confusion about her sexuality after “connecting” with the LGBT community after moving away from home and wondered if she was attracted to girls, eventually deciding that she was asexual. 

She says that despite not having expressed gender confusion previously she was “assured” by medics that many people “discover their true gender identity later in life” and was put on testosterone within a year which caused irreversible changes to her voice and appearance. 

14 months after being put on testosterone she says she had a bilateral mastectomy and a “medically unnecessary” hysterectomy 8 years into her transition which she says was “covered” by Ontario health insurance. 

She said that “each step” involved “irreversible alterations” to her body and came with “serious risks” but that her assertions that she was male went “unchallenged” by medics despite her “long standing history” of mental health issues. 

Zacchinga, who is involved in de-transitioner advocacy, says she hopes that her story will prevent other “vulnerable adults” and those “too young to understand” the long term effects of transitioning from suffering as she has.

As a teenager she says she discovered the concept of gender identity on Tumblr but now feels that her mental health issues arose from “developmental trauma” attributable to the bullying she says she experienced. 

She added that she expects that “a lot of people” will eventually find themselves in the same position of regret after transition and that she hopes to raise awareness about the “recklessness” of ‘gender affirming’ health care. 

She continued that systematic reviews of medical evidence have led to many countries moving away from the affirmation approach when dealing with patients presenting with gender confusion but that in Canada discussions about this “have barely gotten off the ground”. 

“I’m hoping to start that conversation,” she said. 

Zacchinga is using crowdfunding to help her pursue the lawsuit and obtain medical records vital to her case. She has filed a Statement of Claim in the Ontario Supreme Court.  

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