An Australian 12-year-old who began transitioning to become a girl two years ago has changed his mind and now has begun to reverse the process.
The Independent reports that Patrick Mitchell, a 14-year-old boy who began to transition to female two years ago at just 12-years-old, now regrets the decision and is taking steps to transition back to male.
At age 12, Mitchell was diagnosed with gender dysphoria, a condition where a person’s gender identity does not align with their biological sex. Mitchell had already begun to dress in women’s clothing for many years previous to this diagnosis.
Mitchell said of himself at the time that, “You wish you could just change everything about you, you just see any girl and you say I’d kill to be like that.”
After consulting medical experts and after pleading with his mom, she supported the decision to transition. He grew out his hair and began to take hormones that increased the estrogen in his body.
But by 2017, Mitchell had begun to become uneasy with his transition. He noticed that teachers had begun to refer to him as a girl, and started questioning his choice to transition.
He said, “I began to realize I was actually comfortable in my body. Every day I just felt better.”
His mother explained, “He looked me in the eye and said ‘I’m just not sure that I am a girl.’”
Now Mitchell has stopped taking hormones and will undergo an operation to remove the excess breast tissue from his chest.
This reversal, and others like it, have people questioning the efficacy and ethics of sex change operations on young children, or in general.
However, research shows that despite the heightened publicity on those who regret transitioning, only around 1-2% of transgender people having any regrets about transitioning.
That percentage is significantly fewer than many other medical procedures, like gastric band surgery to treat obesity of which 10% of people who undergo the surgery have regrets.
Also, while many seem to frame the issue as a decision between having a risky surgery at a young age and just waiting, the risks of allowing someone to live with a body that does not match up with their gender identity with can be great. Trans people have a 36.4% greater risk of attempting suicide than the general public.
Transitioning at a younger age, before puberty, also increases the likelihood of achieving the gender presentation they want.
While these stories of regret are striking and thought provoking, they do not reflect the vast majority of stories of transgender people.