A woman who had drastic sex-swap surgery in an attempt to live as a man has shared how it failed to resolve her gender confusion.
Sinéad Watson, 31, started identifying as a man from the age of 20 – taking the name Sean and wearing a breast-binder. However, when this did not help, she began to take testosterone and underwent several life changing operations.
Watson’s story is one of a growing number from ‘detransitioners’ – people who regret their attempt to ‘change sex’ and accept they are not ‘trapped in the wrong body’.
Speaking to The Times, Watson, who has reverted to living as a woman, told how her first exposure to the idea that she may be a man came from the internet – including on Tumblr and YouTube.
While growing up she saw herself as a ‘tomboy’, but “felt really disgusting and gross and embarrassed” when she had her first period.
She became increasingly unhappy with the unwelcome attention she received from having large breasts and says her gender dysphoria was made worse by repeated sexual assaults in her teenage years.
In 2014, Watson was referred to the Sandyford Young People’s Gender Service in Glasgow.
She told The Times how easy it was for her to obtain hormones: “Obviously I’m furious about it now, but at the time, I was pleasantly surprised at how un-invasive the questions were. It was like casual conversation.”
At Sandyford, she was not asked about possible causes of her depression, or about the assaults she had experienced, before being put on testosterone.
Eventually, Watson underwent a double mastectomy and intended to continue on to genital surgery, before her depression resurged and doubts set in.
In 2018, suffering from a “massive crisis of identity” and severe abdominal pain brought on by the testosterone, she stopped taking the hormones.
Sadly, many of the changes she underwent are permanent. She particularly noted: “What I should have done was try to come to terms with my normal, healthy breasts. I’ve lost that opportunity. Now, it’s trying to come to terms with my scarred chest.”
When asked about the Scottish Government’s plans to pass radical reforms to the Gender Recognition Act, Watson accused them of failing to listen – especially to detransitioners.
She described calls from charity Children in Scotland to let twelve-year-olds change their gender as “disgusting”.
Watson now works as an advisor to parent group Genspect, which helps parents whose children struggle with gender confusion.
The group’s Executive Director, Stella O’Malley, told The Times: “If Scotland continues down this path we fear that the coming years will see large numbers of regretful transitioners living with permanent and complex healthcare needs”.
She added that this would be due to “decisions they made when the Scottish government considered them too young to order a glass of wine. This policy is a terrible error.”