Detransitioner Keira Bell has called on the medical profession to help young people struggling with gender dysphoria, rather than driving them towards irreversible surgery “as the only possible answer”.
The 24-year-old said: “A lot of girls are transitioning because they’re in pain, whether it’s from mental-health disorders, or life trauma, or other reasons. I know what it’s like to get caught up in dreaming that transitioning will fix all of this.”
In December, the High Court ruled in favour of Keira’s case against the NHS Gender Identity Development Service. Judges stated that it was “highly unlikely” children 13 and under could ever genuinely consent to hormone blockers, and “very doubtful” 14 and 15 year olds could do so.
Keira was prescribed puberty blockers when she was 16 years old, but she said: “This so-called ‘pause’ put me into what felt like menopause, with hot flushes, night sweats, and brain fog. All this made it more difficult to think clearly about what I should do.”
She reflected: “I had been put on a pathway — puberty blockers to testosterone to surgery — when I was a troubled teen. As a result of the surgery, there’s nerve damage to my chest, and I don’t have sensation the way I used to. If I am able to have children, I will never breastfeed them.”
Looking back, she realised that her gender dysphoria was “a symptom of my overall misery, not its cause”, and that she was “a girl insecure in my body who had experienced parental abandonment, felt alienated from my peers, suffered from anxiety and depression, and struggled with my sexual orientation”.
Keira said that it was the responsibility of medical professionals to consider all of her problems, and not just to affirm her “naïve hope that everything could be solved with hormones and surgery”.
I was an unhappy girl who needed help. Instead, I was treated like an experiment
She said: “I was an unhappy girl who needed help. Instead, I was treated like an experiment.”
Now, the detransitioner hopes that her story will help protect other young people from taking “a mistaken path”.
Earlier this month, research by GIDS itself confirmed that almost all young people who are given puberty blockers subsequently end up taking cross-sex hormones.
Researchers assessed 44 patients aged between 12 and 15 years for the study, all of whom were receiving treatment at its clinic for gender dysphoria.