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New study finds that only 1% of trans teens detransition

Dylan Dittrich-Reed and his son, Niko, pose for a portrait outside of the S.C. Statehouse on Wednesday, March 29, 2023. Dittrich-Reed is worried he will have to move his family out of state if they cannot get gender-affirming health care for his son.
Dylan Dittrich-Reed and his son, Niko, pose for a portrait outside of the S.C. Statehouse on Wednesday, March 29, 2023. Dittrich-Reed is worried he will have to move his family out of state if they cannot get gender-affirming health care for his son. Photo: MCKENZIE LANGE/ Staff / USA TODAY NETWORK

Despite anti-transgender activists’ claims that detransitioning – or transgender people going back to identifying with their sex assigned at birth – is widespread and that access to gender-affirming care needs to be curtailed, a new study found that only 1% of trans teens detransitioned after they started receiving some form of medical treatment.

The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics this month, is from researchers in Australia who examined young people who were referred to the Child and Adolescent Health Service Gender Diversity Service at Perth Children’s Hospital – the only specialist service for trans youth up to age 18 in the state of Western Australia – from 2014 to 2020.

They found that 552 young people were referred to the service in that time period. Of those people, 29, or 5.3%, ended up identifying with their sex assigned at birth.

But almost all of those people did so shortly after being referred to the clinic. Only two patients, or 1.0%, did so after they started receiving either puberty blockers or hormone replacement therapy. The other 27 re-identified as their sex assigned at birth during initial assessments at the service.

The researchers said that they couldn’t find reasons for most of the young people who re-identified as their sex assigned at birth, so they don’t even know if they regretted identifying as transgender or if, for example, they were concerned with how they would be treated by others or faced pressure from their families to change their stated identities.

Journalist Erin Reed points to several other studies showing that detransition rates are generally low, including a study from the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2022 that found that only 2.5% of young people who identified as transgender identified as cisgender five years later.

Detransition, though, will likely continue to be a major argument for anti-transgender activists. Several people who have detransitioned, like Chloe Cole, often appear at conservative rallies and in ads opposing transgender rights to give the appearance that many or most transgender people eventually detransition.

Conservatives also often claim that 80% of trans youth eventually detransition, referring to a study from the 1990s that wasn’t even about transgender youth. The study involved children assigned male at birth who were taken to a gender clinic in Canada because their parents were uncomfortable with their kids acting feminine. Many never said they were girls or transgender. They were then subjected to conversion therapy and pushed to act more masculine. The researcher in charge, Dr. Kenneth Zucker, who also supported conversion therapy for gay people, declared that 80% of them were “fixed.”

But anti-transgender activists still cite his number, even after the clinic was shut down in 2015 when an independent investigation found major flaws in its research methods, which included pressuring children to have their pictures taken without clothes on.

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