C: Ritchie Herron/Wikimedia Commons/Twitter/Facebook

‘What have I done?’: The people who realised changing sex was a mistake now speak out

The ranks of gender detransitioners appear to be growing. Over the last number of years, an emerging community of people who have undergone medical and/or surgical treatment to change their sex, and then realised this was a mistake, has formed and begun to find its voice.

These individuals detransitioned either by stopping medications or undergoing surgery to reverse the effects of transition. Some of their stories are distressing. 

Research indicates that up to 20 per cent of those who underwent sex change surgery harbour regrets about their decision. Ten to 15 years after surgical reassignment – or undergoing surgery to change sex –  the suicide rate for those who had undergone reassignment was 19 times greater than that of comparable peers, according to Swedish research.

The truth is that many who transitioned have come to realise that they made a devastating mistake, and now opt to talk openly about their experiences of gender transition in an effort to help others.

Often though, their courage and desire to help others attracts severe backlash from transgender activists. 

One UK man recently waived his anonymity to share his ordeal, after sharing his story of gender transition on Twitter under a pseudonym. Ritchie Herron, 35, is suing the NHS over trans surgery he deeply regrets. Now living as a man again and grieving the decision he made 9 years ago, he is one of a growing number of detransitioners. 

The ‘bright’ and ‘articulate’ civil servant from Newcastle, England, says life has become almost unbearable over the course of the last four years. Each day, it takes him ten minutes to empty his bladder, a slow and painful process.

Physically, he battles with the repercussions of gender realignment surgery. Any sex drive is long gone, he says, and his crotch is “numb, shell-shocked” from the damage done to him under the ‘gender-affirming’ care he received from the NHS.

In a recent interview with the Daily Mail, Herron detailed how he is now preparing to mount legal action against the NHS over an operation that removed his genitals. His case only became public in June of this year, when he shared his experience on Twitter, under the pseudonym TullipR. His short testimony paints a devastating, damning picture for the ‘gender clinics’ set up by the NHS to help people change gender. 

Herron told the Mail how he was battling mental health issues and suppressing his homosexuality when he started to believe that the answer to his problems could be found in becoming a woman. At a time of huge vulnerability and turmoil, he says he was ‘fast-tracked into making the biggest mistake of his life’, and has now been left infertile, incontinent, and living with ongoing pain. He says an inquiry is needed into the effectiveness of such surgeries.

He says that the NHS clinic failed to consider his complex mental health issues, while also failing to properly counsel him about the risks involved in the life-altering surgery.  Ritchie had been living as a woman called Abby when he was referred for the irreversible surgery.

In an interview with Times Radio over the summer, he said that he was dealing with severe mental health struggles and was on high doses of medication for anxiety and depression when he became fixated with the idea of changing gender. It was an ‘obsession’ which was fuelled through content he found on the internet. 

“[The obsession] just came out of nowhere,” he says. He went on internet forums and would spend a lot of time online researching gender dysphoria, eventually winding up in an internet chatroom frequented by ‘much older men’ who encouraged him to go through with the procedure. He insists that the input from others on the internet forums and chatrooms set him on an “obsessive mission”.

Ritchie Herron. C: Times Radio


“They really wanted me to transition, more than I did”, he told Times Radio. 

“It was very much do or die,” he said, adding that he was told by those in favour of the idea: “You have to do this now while you’re young […] you should do it now, because you’ll be able to look like a woman no problem”.

The aftermath of the surgery was brutal, according to Ritchie. He says his mental health plummeted to new lows in the years following his transition at the age of 26, and he was left numb, in deep denial about what he had done, and the enormity of it all. “I was at the most suicidal I’ve ever been in my life. I’ve never felt anything like it,” he told  the programme. 

For eight days, he was in a haze of painkillers. He says his first thought as he recovered his lucidity was the thudding realisation of: “Oh God, what have I done?”

Detailing the trauma of the operation and its aftermath, he said: “I don’t remember a lot in the immediate days after surgery because I lost so much blood and I was in and out of consciousness all the time. And I was hallucinating a lot, and seeing really crazy things in the room.

“By about day five or six, I started coming around, and I was again, i was on a high [because of] a lot of painkillers. And when I eventually got home and I started resting up and stuff like that, I realised that I […] all I needed to do was just wait for everything to get better, because it was catastrophically bad and I got a lot of infections. There were a lot of issues down there, there was a great deal of pain. [I thought] I’ll get better, and I was in denial for so long”.

Now, he voices his bitter regret at going through with the surgery which took place in 2018 and involves removing the penis and testicles, and reforming the area to resemble female genitals.

“It’s just not possible [to reverse]. It’s irreversible,” he told The Times. “People don’t realise that”.

Not only is he speaking out to dissuade others from going through with gender transition, but he also wants Britain’s National Health Service to be held accountable. 

He insists that the speed at which he was diagnosed and referred for irreversible surgery was disturbing in itself, and claims he had repeatedly turned down having the procedure, voicing deep reservations to the clinic’s staff about having it.

“What I want with this is accountability for the surgery. We need a full inquiry into the effectiveness of these surgeries. We need an inquiry into the science. The long-term follow up makes no mention of the increased suicidality after surgery,” he told Times Radio.

“I don’t think this is the answer,” he says. “I think this is a shortcut for a myriad of very complex issues. And it’s a profitable shortcut as well”. 

He insists that proper consideration must be given to issues including OCD, sex abuse, and childhood trauma as reasons for patients rejecting their sexed body. 

“My concern is clinicians failed to identify red flags and change direction,” he told the Mail.

His account prompts serious questions about the safeguards put in place at NHS gender clinics, which have seen an astounding 1,700 per cent rise in referrals over the past decade accounted for predominantly by children and young adults. 

WALT HEYER, 81

Another detransitioner who tells his story is 81 year-old Walt Heyer. Heyer identified as a transgender woman for eight years, before transitioning back to being a man. 

Like Herron, he says clinicians must understand that the desire to change one’s sex can be rooted in childhood trauma and mental illness. 

He now runs the website ‘SexChangeRegret’ and aims to help others whose lives have been derailed by sex change. 

Heyes had gender reassignment surgery back in April of 1983, and says at first, he was “giddy for the fresh start”. Yet, hormones and sex change genital surgery couldn’t solve the underlying issues which were driving his gender dysphoria. He now says that he learned the truth the hard way: that while hormones and surgery may alter appearances, nothing can change the ‘immutable fact of your sex’.

Walt, born in 1940, explains how several central traumas played into his belief that he needed to transition. His story started in 1944, before there was any dialogue about the buzzwords society uses today such as ‘transitioning’, ‘transgender’ and ‘gender dysphoria’.

Walt Heyer. C: Wikimedia Commons

77 years on, Walt’s memory of early childhood trauma is vivid and painful. He has told his story hundreds of times, explaining how, as a young boy, his grandmother, who would babysit him on the weekends while his father and mother went fishing in the California mountains, made him a purple chiffon dress. Starting from the age of four, when he came to visit, she would dress him up in the girls’ outfit and tell him how cute he looked.

“It all seemed kind of benign, and sort of fun,” he recalls. “But what i didn’t realise and what i’ve learned in these 77-years is that putting me, a four-year-old boy, in a dress and then telling him how cute he looks, and then dressing me up every time I was over there in that dress, it really became emotional and psychological child abuse that eventually led to sexual abuse,” he recently explained in an episode of the Megyn Kelly show.

Now, Walt insists that people don’t talk about the consequences of cross-dressing kids, something deeply harmful which he says has become “acceptable” and even trendy in a society today which shouts ‘inclusivity’. 

Walt’s grandmother was able to keep her cross-dressing of the small boy a secret for two and a half years. One day, when he was leaving his grandmother’s house, he brought the purple dress home in a brown paper bag. His parents would find the bag a couple of days later, and quizzed Walt about where the dress came from. 

“Well, grandma made it,” was his response. He says ‘all hell broke loose’ following the revelation, and he was never allowed to return to his grandmother’s house. But he says it was too late: the damage to his young psyche over those two and a half years was already done. 

His father, deeply disturbed by what his son had been subjected to behind closed doors, became abusive to Walt. 

He explains: “Dad, then, not knowing what to do, decided that he would use a hardware floor plank as a disciplinary tool – actually like a blacksmith would take a hammer to hot iron – to try and reshape me into a boy, and away from this idea that I could be a girl. And that physical abuse that he levied on me was harmful as well”.

Devastating sexual abuse from an uncle would follow before Walt reached the age of ten. The impact of acute childhood trauma led Walt to believe he ‘had to be a girl’, and by the age of 12, he had began secretly cross-dressing.

“At that point, the proper thing would have been to have me treated for trauma, and to understand that adverse childhood experiences cause the brain to be altered at the level of our identity. This is what we know today – it’s been studied since the 1990s – but nobody’s talking about it”.

Walt says that acute childhood trauma led to him thinking he had to be a girl. By the age of 12, he was secretly cross-dressing, and had taken on the identity of Crystal West. He ended up going to college, getting married and having two children. He would however struggle with alcohol and drug addiction because of the lasting impact of his traumatic childhood. He eventually underwent gender reassignment surgery, and spent eight years identifying as a woman, Laura Jenson, until he realised the life he was living was “totally insane”. He later had a radical conversion and became a Christian, turning his life around.

He started his website, he says, because he wanted to find out if “I was the only one” who had experienced sex change regret. “We had 350,000 people come to the website in 12 months”, he said. “And I knew then that this was huge”. He has told his story on multiple platforms, including on the Daily Wire last summer, where he explained his reasons for regretting his transition:

For most people, he says, regret doesn’t occur until five to 15 years post-transition. 

“So we’re looking at people’s lives early on – two and three and four years after they had the surgery and report success, but we don’t  talk about these individuals 20 years later who want to commit suicide. There would probably be many more people coming out like I am, except they’ve committed suicide. They died”. 

“So many people who change genders realise later that abuse in their lives contributed to their gender distress feelings,” he says.

“Changing genders is not the proper treatment for overcoming childhood trauma or abuse. Find someone who will address the underlying source of your distress without prescribing hormones or surgery. Avoid those who are “transgender cheerleaders” and advocate for transition”.


JAY LANGADINOS – the Sydney woman suing her psychiatrist over transition

The story of Sydney woman, Jay Langadinos, is also one which illustrates the devastation that can be caused by gender transition.

Jay Langadinos. C: Twitter

Langadinos, now 31, transitioned from a woman to a man when she was in her early twenties. She says she has been left with physical and emotional scars, suffering ‘injuries and disabilities’ as a result of gender transition. Langadinos is now taking legal action against the psychiatrist who oversaw her transition to a man, claiming that he is guilty of professional negligence for failing to take enough precautions over the transition, which took place in 2012. 

She started seeing the psychiatrist in question, Dr Patrick Toohey, when she was just 19, living at home and identifying as a male. 

She wanted to start on masculinising hormones, and so had been referred to Toohey by her endocrinologist to assess whether she was suitable for the treatment. A statement of claim filed in the New South Wales Supreme Court in May 2022 detailed how the referral letter said it appeared “likely” that the teenager was experiencing “true gender dysphoria” but she was “very young” and “clearly” needed “thorough psychiatric work-up before embarking on hormone treatment”.

After one appointment, her psychiatrist agreed Langadinos was suffering from gender dysphoria, and she was prescribed testosterone, a hormone which encouraged the development of male secondary sexual characteristics. 

In April 2012, she had her breasts surgically removed after requesting that the procedure be carried out. Toohey allegedly found “no contradiction” for her to undergo the bilateral mastectomy.

In May 2012, she returned to discuss her wish to have her womb removed. Once more, she claims, Toohey reported that he did not observe “any psychiatric contraindication to proceeding with hysterectomy as part of gender transition”. Just seven months after having her breasts removed, Langadinos, now 22, underwent the surgery. 

Toohney’s advice is now the subject of the rare legal case, which some commentators say will pave the way for many more similar cases, as debate over the approach to treating gender dysphoria intensifies across the world amid a surge in young people questioning their gender. 

She now insists that the psychiatrist should have realised she might be autistic, and referred her for further assessment by a specialist.

The detransitioner also says that the social phobia she had should have been addressed before any hormone therapy was given. She also insists that she wasn’t provided with any information on how her fertility would be impacted by the transition, telling the Sydney Morning Herald in an interview: “Knowing that I can’t have children is absolutely devastating”.

 

HELENA KERSCHNER (23): “The feeling of regret was intense” 

23-year-old Helena Kerschner is one of the most vocal and prominent detransitioners speaking about her deep regret over her transition experience.

Helena Kerschner. C: Facebook

 

Kerschner, who is American, says that while she is grateful she escaped her experience unaltered medically, she harbours huge concern for other young girls and boys being led down the path of gender reassignment and medically irreversible procedures. 

Kerschner believed she was fully transgender when she was a teenager, and she was prescribed puberty blockers on the advice of adults and professionals. She has shared her story on her Substack, and also speaks about her experience at events and in interviews, with one recent interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson racking up over three million views:

The young woman says she is on a mission to protect vulnerable young people from medical as well as psychological harm. During her conversation with Carlson in April, she shared that,  “It’s just devastating to, especially from a young age, be lied to by adults at school and by medical professionals, and told that your body is wrong, you need to change it, you need to get hormones, you need to get surgeries. That’s devastating for a young person.” 

Helena started being treated with puberty blockers after the guidance counsellor at her public school agreed with the youngster that she was a male. The counsellor helped her to make a budget for her transition, and referred her on to the school psychologist, who was even more enthusiastic.

Her parents opposed the transition entirely, but when Helena turned 18, she was able to go to Planned Parenthood in Chicago, where she was prescribed 100 milligrams of testosterone per week by a nurse practitioner after seeing a social worker. She says the whole process took about an hour, and she never saw a doctor. 

Helena slowly came to the realisation that she wasn’t a boy, after, as Fox News reported, “years of enduring guidance from non-parental adults, medication, and mental health challenges”. The now 22-year-old described coming to that realisation as “crushing and terrifying.” 

Helena is far from being alone, and she questions how many more out there have also suffered because of gender ideology pushed on them as vulnerable young adults. In recent years, the number of children experiencing gender dysphoria in the West has hugely increased.

While there are not many exact figures available, between 2009 and 2019, children being referred for gender transitioning treatment in the UK increased 1,000 per cent among biological males, and a staggering 4,000 per cent among biological females. While in the US, the amount of young people identifying as trans in the US has almost doubled in the last five years, according to a report from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

More and more detransitioners like Helena, Ritchie, Walt and Jay are coming forward to share their stories. Society should listen to them.

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