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When Transition Regret Pays

Updated: Aug 11, 2022

by Mr Menno

The medical industrial complex (MIC) is currently capitalising on a growing niche within the ‘gender identity’ market: detransitioners. Detransitioners are people who’ve had their sexed bodies medically and surgically altered to fit their mental image of themselves as the opposite sex or neither sex, and then regret the process. Detransitioners attempt to reclaim their sexed bodies through reverse surgeries and by stopping cross sex hormones. This process isn’t always successful. The process can be as intense on the body as the initial procedures. If they have gone too far in altering their bodies, detransitioners may never be able to get close to the body they once had.

One man is seeking to change all that. Making a name for himself as a ‘reversal surgeon’ for men with transition regret, Dr. Miroslav Djordjevic, a Serbian medical doctor, speaking in a Dutch documentary in 2018, reported having operated on 14 men, with 60 more on his referral list. These surgeries cost an arm and a leg – literally: “We have to find enough flesh,” reported Djordjevic, “and enough of the right flesh, to create a new phallus, a scrotum and testicles. We use a piece of the arm, the leg or the back to create a new penis. After that we use some different tissue, for example oral mucosa or bladder mucosa or maybe some other part of the skin to create a very long urethra channel, and we use penile implants to enable an erection.” Multiple procedures are needed, and the process may take a year and a half. One newspaper quotes the price of this surgery at some €18,000, while another surgeon, Dr. Harold Reed, estimates it can cost from $75,000 - $100,000.

Lee, a 32 year old detransitioner, convinced she was supposed to be male, who started taking testosterone and had a double mastectomy at 24, followed by a full hysterectomy at 26 (removal of the cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries), understands the expense all too well. At 30 she detransitioned and her insurance would not cover her breast reconstruction surgery. The surgery to reduce the size of her enlarged clitoris felt like too much of a risk.

Garrett (22) another detransitioner moved in the opposite direction: at 21 he started taking oestrogen, followed by the removal of his testicles after just 3 months. A year later he got breast implants but within six months he decided to detransition, had them removed and stopped taking cross-sex hormones. He recently had testicular implants which he says makes him feel more like his “old self.” He will need a separate surgery to have the breast tissue removed that he grew while on oestrogen.

With their gonads removed and no longer able to produce sex hormones naturally, both Lee and Garrett would have been permanently involved with the MIC whether they detransitioned or not – they’ve now simply changed which synthetic hormones they take.

Unfortunately, even if the price is right, there are procedures that can’t be reversed - not yet, anyway. Dr. Djordjevic acknowledges that it’s currently not possible to create “functioning male genitals for a fulfilling sex life.” He sees this as a challenge: “We’re researching the possibilities for penile transplant surgery.” In recent years a number of penis transplants have successfully been performed: the world’s first in 2014, followed by a handful of increasingly complex operations.

Increasing demand for penises means supply efforts must be met. A number of men already include their penises and scrotums as part of organ donation, but the biggest procurement issue is the not knowing when a donor penis will become available. It would make things a lot easier if the living were as happy (or desperate) to donate reproductive organs. This is where Dr. Djordjevic has his Martin Luther King moment: “There are 1.5 million people registered as transgender in Western Europe. About half of them are male-to-female, and the other half female-to-male. That’s 700,000 males [sic], whose penises will be removed and put in the garbage. My biggest vision is to collect all organs; uterus, ovaries, testicles, and penises. Collect these, create a bank in Europe and use some of these organs for better results and better functioning.” This ‘European Central Bank of Reproductive Body Parts’ would be a medical milestone in the commodification of the human body where we would not only be the consumers but also the consumables.

There are no stats available on the market value of detransition surgeries and treatments. We don’t have accurate data on the actual number of detransitioners, let alone an idea of how many would be willing to undergo reversal surgeries. In the absence of cold hard facts what we do know is that an increasing number of detransitioners are sharing their stories on social media, detrans support groups are popping up around the world, and in online groups like the Reddit detrans group which has grown to 19K members. One gender clinic in Sweden, the Lundström clinic, has seen enough patients come back with regret to start offering trauma care.

As safeguards for destroying one’s sex organs are steadily and systemically being eroded through concerted lobbying efforts around the world, sex surgeries on healthy sex organs will rise, along with the number of detransitioners. Profits from surgeries on people’s healthy sex organs are already projected to rise into the billions by 2026. In the smorgasboard of surgery and medicalisation it’s easy for the actual human to get lost. Maybe that’s the point – deconstructing the human body to mere fleshy Lego blocks to be repurposed and rearranged while the gender identity marketing machine sells the dream of ‘becoming your authentic self™’.

The most tragic examples of the person being quite literally lost are those where transitioning leads to such unbearable physical and / or psychological suffering that the individual sees no other option but to end their life. The MIC can help here, too. In Belgium, Nathan Verhelst (née Nancy) died by euthanasia aged 44 after a disastrous phalloplasty and a number of failed corrective surgeries. In the Netherlands, another country where euthanasia is legal, Patrick de Veen has been given the green light for assisted suicide. After a vaginoplasty and years of ‘living as a woman’, he realised he was in fact a gay man – but now without a penis. He detransitioned, but the experience left him with PTSD, severe depression, and constant pelvic pain. If he goes ahead with euthanasia he will be given a lethal injection of drugs. It seems that even in the most desperate of cases, the MIC still wins while the detransitoner pays – with their life.

MrMenno is a writer, satirist and multi-media producer who critiques gender and identity from a gay man's point of view. He is the first guest blogger at The 11th Hour Blog.

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