The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the White House has appointed its first openly transgender staff member. Raffi Freedman-Gurspan has been hired as an outreach and recruitment director for presidential personnel in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel.
I do not know how this will work out for the White House but everyone needs to know the truth about regret, suicides and untreated mental illness among the transgender population.
When Carol Costello, CNN reporter, interviewed me in June on the subject of Olympian, trans-Jenner, she couldn’t help beginning with a false narrative that only 2 percent regret of transgender have regrets. That is, the media’s propensity to fluff over the regret statistics.
Early in the interview, she made the statement, “We have researched… and we found a recent Swedish study that found only 2.2 percent of transgenders, male and female, suffered from sex change regret.”
Costello is a bright reporter. That it is why it was so puzzling she would use her interview of me to misinform her audience, unless the intent was to diminish and dismiss reports of sex change regret among the transgender population. Costello used only one study to reach a conclusion on the frequency of regret. She or her staff did not look at the wealth of other studies that suggest sex change regret is quite common. One such study commissioned by The Guardian of the UK in 2004 reviewed 100 studies and reported that a whopping 20 percent (one fifth) of transgenders regret changing genders, ten times more than CNN’s Costello reported.
The review of 100 studies also revealed that many transgenders remained severely distressed and even suicidal after the gender change operation. Suicide and regret remain the dark side of transgender life.
The Media—Unwilling to Show the Dark Side
The media cover-up of regret and suicides isn’t a new phenomenon; it was in play 36 years ago. In 1979 Dr. Charles Ihlenfeld, who worked alongside the famous Dr. Harry Benjamin for six years administering hormone therapy to some 500 transgenders, spoke to an audience in New York about his experience: “There is too much unhappiness among people who have had the surgery. Too many of them end as suicides.”
The media was unwilling to report the unhappiness then, and ever since has downplayed any results that would raise the alarm about poor outcomes. Albert Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Thirty-six years of the insanity of ignoring poor outcomes and hoping they will go away is long enough.
The unhappiness continues. Last month, Jenner used the occasion of accepting the ESPY award for courage to tell the world that 41 percent of transgenders attempt suicide. We can debate all day long the various reasons why trans-people have regret and attempt suicide because the reasons are many and diverse. But no debate is needed in the face of the evidence that, for some, changing genders causes unhappiness and ends in suicide.
Come on, Carol, it’s time to stop perpetuating the misinformation that transgender regret is rare.
Transgender regret is not rare
The study commissioned by The Guardian of the UK in 2004 reviewed 100 studies and found 20 percent regret. Consider the findings of a 2011 Swedish study (not the study Ms. Costello used) published seven years after the 2004 UK review. It looked at mortality and morbidity after gender reassignment surgery and found that people who changed genders had a higher risk of suicide.
In this study, all the sex-reassigned persons in Sweden from 1973–2003 (191 male-to-females, 133 female-to-males) were compared to a comparable random control group. The sex-reassigned persons had substantially higher rates of death from cardiovascular disease and suicide, and substantially higher rates of attempted suicide. What are suicide and attempted suicide but symptoms of tremendous depression and unhappiness?
My life story and the stories of those who contact me speak of regret over transitioning. Often, the stories include attempted suicide or suicide ideation.
I was a 4 year old trans-kid who grew up with gender confusion and underwent gender reassignment surgery at age 42. I lived for 8 years as a so-called trans-female named Laura Jensen. But no matter how feminine I appeared, like all transgenders, I was just a man in a dress. I was unhappy, regretful of having transitioned and I attempted suicide. Gender surgery is not effective treatment for depression, anxiety or mental disorders.
Astonishing evidence of other illness
According to several studies, the majority of transgenders have co-existing disorders that need to be treated. This helps to explain why regret and suicide are prevalent among transgenders. The following studies provide irrefutable evidence that transgenders overwhelmingly suffer from a variety of mental disorders. Neither CNN nor Carol Costello will report studies such as these.
- “90 percent of these diverse patients had at least one other significant form of psychopathology” reported Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, Department of Psychiatry in a 2009 study of transgender outcomes at their clinic. In other words, 90 percent of the patients were suffering from a mental illness that gender surgery did not alleviate.
- 61 percent of the patients treated for cross-gender identification (359 people) had other psychiatric disorders and illnesses, notably personality, mood, dissociative, and psychotic disorders according to a 2003 Dutch survey of board-certified Dutch psychiatrists.
- A 2013 University of Louisville, KY study of 351 transgender individuals found that the rates of depression and anxiety symptoms within the study “far surpass the rates of those for the general population.” About half had depressive symptoms and more than 40 percent had symptoms of anxiety.
In all the rhetoric about gender change success you cannot find one sound bite from any media source that acknowledges that even one transgender suffers from a serious mental illness, much less reporting the 90 percent like Case Western Reserve University found, or the 61 percent that the survey of Dutch psychiatrists reported. The numbers are astonishingly high, yet no media reports it.
Fair-minded individuals would see the cumulative effect of the findings—20 percent have regret, 41 percent attempt suicide, 90 percent have a “significant form of psychopathology”, 61 percent also have other psychiatric disorders and illnesses, 50 percent had depressive symptoms, 40 percent showed symptoms of anxiety—and be troubled by the push to surgery and transition as the first course of treatment for transgenders.
Yet the media is silent. It’s so much easier to deliver the LGBT talking point than to dig into the science.
True compassion starts with the truth
The fallout of the media’s inclination to overlook the negative findings is simple: nothing will change. It’s insanity to continue the cover-up and expect different outcomes. Thirty years from now, the environment will be the same. Co-existing mental illnesses in transgenders won’t be treated. The attempted suicide rate will be high; transition regret will occur with frequency. Every time a transgender ends his or her life, the LGBT will blame society or the victim and push for more laws to “protect” them.
Apparently transgender lives do not matter: not to the LGBT and not to the media. It’s time for the media to stand up and provide the overwhelming evidence for all to see that mental illness, regret and suicide exist among transgenders. Only then will we see true improvement in the outcomes for all.
I believe that true compassion is shown by raising factual issues, based on scientific research, and having the best minds follow the evidence to provide the best care for this segment of our society that is suffering. Packaging the issue in the wrapper of political correctness or withholding the negative findings is not compassion. Political correctness hinders research and treatment of the medical conditions and muzzles a media that’s willing to participate in a false narrative. Who’s the loser? The transgender who regrets transitioning.
The White House plays politics with a vulnerable part of our population to score points with the LGBT but the risks of regret, suicide and untreated mental issues remain for the transgender population.