Detransition or Stand Your Ground? Transpeople Grapple with the Decision

kate bornsteinDeja Nicole Greenlaw

By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/TRT Columnist—

It is estimated that approximately 1 percent of transgender people detransition. That is, they return back to their birth gender. It may seem strange to think that someone who has put so much effort into transitioning would suddenly detransition. Questions arise, such as: why do folks detransition? Why did they transition in the first place? What went wrong to make them return, or perhaps, what went right to make them return? I cannot speak for anyone who has detransitioned as each individual would have their own reasons for doing so, but I’ve noticed some possible causes for why some might choose to detransition.

First, one may ask why people transition in the first place. Transpeople most often do so because there is dissonance in their gender. The best way I can explain it is that it just doesn’t feel right to live in your birth gender and it feels very right to live in the other gender. Instead of conflict and sadness in being your birth gender, you feel incredible peace in being the other gender. It feels like home. It feels so right that you decide to transition. It’s all very exciting as you are now beginning to explore living your life as you never thought that you possibly ever could. It’s like a dream come true! The confusion and darkness have lifted and there is suddenly clarity and peace. You are now more determined than ever to reach your new goal of living in your true gender. You now know what you must do.

Along the way to your gender transition, you may run across obstacles. Correction, you will inevitably run across obstacles. There will be folks who do not like this idea of you changing your gender. These folks may be your spouse, your children, your parents, anyone in your family, your friends and your co-workers, or anyone else in your life. They will voice their contrary opinion in no uncertain terms and you will have to deal with it. Taking their point of view, these folks want you back as the person who they always knew, as the person who they always loved, and the person who they are used to seeing and enjoying. They don’t want this new version of you. It’s not what they signed up for and they simply will not stand for anything else. They want the old you back in their lives, period. They want you to be as you were.

On the other hand, you are very happy being the new you. You want to share your peace and joy with all the people in your life, and you are very hurt that they do not accept the new you. You understand their very clear message that for you to stay in their lives you must transition back to your birth gender. They are putting the pressure on you to return to being who they want you to be. It doesn’t matter at all how you feel. You want to stay as you now are, but you know that they will not accept you.

You could say that they are actually trying to bully you back into being your birth gender. If you hold your ground, you will have your peace, but you will lose many of these people. If you return back to your birth gender, they will be pleased, but you will be miserable and back in your closet. You are between a rock and a hard place. Do you please them or do you begin your new life without them? Sometimes, you detransition just to keep them in your life.

I have read about some people who have detransitioned. A couple of them say that they are happy, others seem very unhappy, and others have taken their lives.

It’s a very hard road to transition. You finally find peace in who you truly are, and then you have to deal with the people in your life. Some people are very understanding and will accept you, while other people do not understand and will not accept you. Make no mistake, you are very likely to lose some people in your life. The losses can be very devastating. If only they could accept you and share with you in your joy and peace in finally finding yourself, but they will not. They are not interested at all. If you transition, you can only wait and hope for them to come around. Either that, or you detransition to please them.

*Deja Nicole Greenlaw is a local transwoman who has three grown children and works at a local Fortune 500 company. She can be contacted at

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23 Comments on "Detransition or Stand Your Ground? Transpeople Grapple with the Decision"

  1. I think the majority of people who transition are people who weren’t transgendered to begin with. Perhaps they just were curious or were in it for the thrills and didn’t realise what they were getting themselves in for. The transition process is long and complicated in order to ensure total commitment on the transitioner, but I guess some people are thick-headed enough to ignore the warnings and go through with it anyway. I just can’t imagine that an actual transgender person could complete their transition and go through all of that to get what they’ve always wanted, and then give up anyway and go through a long process to become something they KNOW they don’t want to be. Then again, perhaps I’m underestimating the lengths some people will go to just to be accepted

    • Sorry that should say “majority of people who detransition”. That first line looks awful with my mistake in!

      • This is a very presumptive way of looking at reality.

        When people formally transition, that would be under the guidance of a psychiatrist/therapist already. They used their professional knowledge culminated from a century of modern development of the subject to come to that conclusion.

        So is this point of view by one armchair commentator carry any weight? <>

  2. Thanks for taking a stab at this. There is still a lot that I know it is impossible for you to really understand. I am writing about what I am going through while detransitioning. This post might be helpful

  3. As a post-op MtF who is back in therapy to reverse this mess and obtain a phalloplasty; I can tell you how these tragedies occur. The WPATH SOC is a joke. The pro-Trans therapists and surgeons are making an incredible living off our sickness. There is no reason to slow this industry down or even stop it. The SOC is written to protect them legally not help you. WPATH Version 7 has opened the floodgates for even more tragedies and mistakes to be made. The process of obtaining cross-gender hormones and SRS has become as easy as buying a pack of gum at the convenience store. So for anyone to say. “oh the checks and balances;” you have no idea what you are talking about. You were born with the correct genitals. Somewhere along the way the programming gets screwed up. Focus on correcting the software; not, inverting your penis.


    • Human memory is not like the memory of a digital computer which can be erased and filled with new information.

      Transitioning is a choice which can only be made by the person considering it, because life choices is the responsibility of the individual.

      Doctors & therapists can only assess whether the person is genuinely gender dysphoric.

      • Edwina, I had 6 psychiatrists/psychologist tell me I have and still have GID. So, if your one of those people that claims they are a woman but doesn’t want bottom surgery just in case they get scared or change their mind; you have no validity. If you are post-op and you like you man made vagina; then enjoy it GIRL. To me it feels disgusting and I’m going to correct this nightmare and a horrible lie that the medical community perpetrates upon a sick people. Yes, any genetic male that wants to invert their penis is sick. And you can wave your flag and claim you are a woman all day long; but, at the end of the day were just men with vaginas. Enough said.

        • @Gregory:
          Your psychiatrists did not lie. You have GID & you accept that.

          But you are lying to yourself that they are lying to you. You are in denial that it was you who made the decision to have SRS. No pychiatrist ever forced SRS on you or anyone else.

          You are also in denial of other transgender people’s wisdom to choose what is right for them.

          You have GID, yet you have a conception of yourself as ‘sick’. This way of looking at the world is self conflicting. You thus created for yourself a world that is self condemning, and condemning of other transgender people.

          Your only way out is therefore to return yourself with ‘normal’ software.

          As a computer science and mathematics graduate, I’m telling you that your attitude creates a hell for yourself and for others around you.

          Debug and correct your ‘software’ man. Only you can do it. No one else can.

          Do you now understand your problem?

          • Hi Edwina, I’m sorry and please forgive for my negativity. If others are happy with transitioning; I should honor that. “Do I understand my problem?” Obviously not, or I wouldn’t be living in this hell. SRS solved nothing. I feel like a fool for chasing this path. I feel that the Standards of Care are a just a scam to protect the medical community; not help the individual from self-destruction. The therapists are going to sign off on what ever your little heart desires anyway; even if it is the wrong choice for you. I’m now working with different therapist to “debug” the software. But, what a great mental, physical and financial toll to fix what I never should have done in the first place. And the surgeons get us coming and going; so, their bank accounts are happy too. Can’t imagine I will be happy with a man made penis either. What a tragedy! Bottom line, my experience says yes GID is real; but, SRS is the greatest lie ever constructed by man. Have A Good Day.


          • @Gregory:
            I’m making an effort to try to help you understand yourself here. The idea is firstly to let you see the contradictions you are knotting yourself in. If you ever accept & understand those contradictions, then the next step would be to suggest rational better ways of seeing the situation – hence ‘correcting the software’.

            You are insisting that SRS and Standard of Care are a con, but I disagree with you with the support of the statistic that 99% do not detransition.

            You now decided that Phalloplasty is the new solution for your GID. But phalloplasty is just another SRS! That contradicts your new solution that you should just ‘correct the software’!

            Ask yourself. Why is it so important that you need a false penis?

            Pointless, do you agree?

          • Edwina, I came out of the gates ready to slay you and I was so wrong. You seem like a really wonderful person. It would be nice to continue the dialogue in a different format other than me airing my dirty laundry for all the world to see and hear. Perhaps we could exchange email or phone numbers somehow? I’m running from one gender to the next with neither feeling completely correct. I wish you were one of my therapists. I have spent a fortune trying to find answers that may never be answered. Yes, no-one forced me to have SRS. I felt it was the solution to the dysphoria in my head. But, the noise has not stopped and the equipment feels less natural and more out of place than what I had.


          • Nin Hao Edwina, I think I found you elsewhere on the web. Your a Honkie or Mainlander? I lived and worked in Shenzhen for 3 years. I see we have allot in common. We need to connect and talk somehow. I think you have answers for me that the therapists can’t provide. XIE XIE or Mhgoi Sai!


          • Hi Gregory, That is not me. I was born in Hong Kong.

            I can write to your email address if you can’t use Facebook.

          • @Gregory:
            We can indeed correspond, via Facebook. Friend my profile /edwinapl.

            I think I have some good ideas for you to try.

          • Hi Edwin, I don’t do Facebook/Twitter. Gregory

    • As the publisher of a digital magazine for the trans community, I see a lot of articles and stories regarding males who are either diagnosed as being transsexual, or who believe that having GRS is what they must do to feel complete.
      Although there are many transgender women out there for whom GRS is indeed the best and only logical conclusion, over 80% of transgender women surveyed are either willing to wait to get the GRS, or have no intention of having it done.
      Now these are not “porn stars” or “sex workers” who use their unique anatomical features to earn a living. These are normal, everyday people ho identify as transgender, take hormones, and live a female life every day They simply understand that GRS is a serious, and even with modern medical techniques, permanent procedure not to be entered into lightly.
      For many transgender women, having a unique anatomy is at most an inconvenience, usually when it comes to certain items of clothing, or going swimming. When it comes to romance, most transgender women find that there are many basically normal, heterosexual men, who have no problem with their girlfriend not having a vagina. For some of these men it is a preference.
      They are not Gay, and find females extremely attractive sexually, but they have a strong preference for non-op transwomen over all other women.
      Some people see this as a fetish, or that these men are in denial of their true sexual orientation, however research conducted a few years ago found that men who are outwardly anti-gay and anti-trans, are more likely to be closeted than those who are accepting of gender variance.
      For everyone reading this who is considering GRS, think about it a lot before going in for the procedure. Research all of the options, side effects, and post surgery problems, before you put yourself through such a serious procedure. Will having GRS change the way the majority of the world treats you? Are you going to do it because you have been programmed by society to believe that women MUST have a vagina? Are you doing this because you have tried to live your life to the fullest, and you are still not able to get past the image you see when you take a shower?
      Don’t let society or people in general force you into making a decision you may regret later. Remember, if you wait a few years, you can still get the surgery, but if you rush into it, undoing the surgery is not going to give you back what you lost.

      • Your last paragraph is like you reached into my brain and wrote exactly how I feel on the matter!

        I had SRS and regret it. A large part of my decision to have it was unrelenting pressure from my endocrinologists to “transition completely” (their term for transition with SRS – they viewed transition without it as something to be prevented.)

        • It is quite a new way of thinking to be a woman with a penis. You can’t expect psychological advice to be unchanging over time.

          The final decision maker must be the patient. No one can read your life and your thoughts as well as the self.

  4. @Gregory,

    On the other hand, your feeling of disgust towards having your vagina may be a simple problem of negative associations.

    This falls into the subject area of Behavioural Psychology – classical condition, the famous Pavlov’s dog experiment.

    May be, you somehow associated negative thoughts or experiences with it. This can be reconditioned by associating wonderful experiences and thoughts with your vagina.

  5. Where to you get the statistic that 99% “don’t detransition”? How was that measured? Does that include the people who wanted to detransition but couldn’t see any way forward (unlike when they started off down the transgender highway to hell)? Tell ya one thing, I get a lot of messages from folks who want to detransition but don’t have any support for it. I think that “99%” is nonsense.

    • The 99% was according to my retired consultant. Unlike you, he had seen many many patients, so his statistic is believable. He said that majority who detransition are those whose surgery result was bad.

      The problem with patients who detransition with good surgery result is that why is this 2nd SRS the right solution if the 1st SRS was wrong for them. Intransigent people are a patient from hell.

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