‘I should have never done this’: Transgender patients reveal their regret over NHS sex change operations and why they ‘destransitioned’ after they were ‘rushed’ into life-changing procedures
- EXCLUSIVE: Ritchie and Amber tell film they both regret their treatment and claim they were rushed into it
- Brave testimony will revive fears young people are being pushed into invasive and unalterable procedures
- Ritchie said: ‘This is not reversible, the experiment is over for me, there really really isn’t any turning back’
Two transgender patients today revealed their regret at going through NHS sex change operations and claimed they were ‘rushed’ into the life-changing procedures.
In powerful testimony that will raise fresh fears that vulnerable young people are being pushed into invasive and unalterable surgery by zealous transgender activists, they spoke of the terrible impacts on their mental and physical health.
After describing in graphic detail the nature of the surgery required to remove his male anatomy, 35-year-old Ritchie said: ‘This is not reversible, the experiment is over for me, there really really isn’t any turning back.’
Meanwhile, Amber – who had a mastectomy and took testosterone to transition from female to male – described the pain and health difficulties she had experienced since being ‘rushed’ into surgery, and said she wished she had been given therapy instead.
Their brave testimony in No Turning Back, a new film from Branded Film Studios that can be viewed in full on media platform Ickonic, is a rare example of ‘detransitioners’ coming forward to reveal their regrets.
‘When Mermaids and Stonewall always talk about the people who don’t get the chance to transition, they don’t talk about the people who regret the process of transitioning,’ filmmaker Charlotte Fantelli told MailOnline – referring to two charities who have faced scrutiny for their stance on transgender issues.
In powerful testimony to the film No Turning Back, Ritchie (left) and Amber (right) bravely reveal their regrets at going through sex change operations
Ritchie, a civil servant from the north of England, detransitioned after spending nearly a decade as a trans woman.
After feeling ‘different’ as a young boy, he discovered gender dysphoria while browsing online forums in his early 20s. When he explained his feelings to other forum users he was told he was ‘100 per cent trans and should act on it’.
In March 2014, Ritchie drove to a private clinic in Scotland where after just three appointments in two days he obtained a diagnosis which would allow him to be prescribed cross sex hormones on the NHS. He then went to an NHS gender clinic in Brighton.
‘The first question I was asked when I saw the psychiatrist was whether I wanted gender reassignment surgery,’ he recalled on the film. ‘I said to her, ”I’m not sure, I’d like some time and I heard you could have therapy”.
‘But I felt they communicated to me that they weren’t a mental health service, they were there to help people medically transition. They wanted me to have surgery more than I wanted to have surgery – it was really bizarre.
‘I refused it in 2015, I refused it in 2016, then in 2017 the psychiatrist said to me ”you’re established on your hormones, if you don’t want surgery we’ll discharge you”.
‘But I was in the middle of that critical therapy, which was the anchor I needed in the world to keep me well. Then they told me I’d be discharged if I didn’t go on this list.’
Ritchie described the surgery he went through to transition from male to female as ‘extremely brutal’.
‘The first thing they do is they give you what’s called an orchidectomy to remove your testicles,’ he said. ‘Once they’ve done that they essentially shave the skin off the penis for that to be removed, and then they start removing the erectile tissue.
‘If you imagine your knuckle losing your finger, you still have the knuckle – you can still twinge it, so unfortunately you still have that phantom sensation. What they also do is reangle the urethra, which causes a very common complication called urethral constriction.
‘That’s when you can’t pass urine properly. It will either come up slowly, painfully, or in some cases not at all. Some people have got catheters for the rest of their lives. Some have got really horrific complications.
‘And for me I lost a lot of blood in surgery because they drill right through your pelvis. The infections that you get after are just treated like it’s a normal thing. They were like, ”you just get infections”.’
Ritchie said he struggled mentally after surgery: ‘Even if you’re happy with it, it’s tough. You lose energy, you become extremely fatigued and vulnerable in a way because you recognise you don’t have that power in a sense – it’s a very strange feeling.
‘I was still involved in therapy at the gender clinic and I said ”I think I’ve f****d up here, I think I’ve made a really mad decision”. And their response was, ”You’ve just had this really major surgery… this is a rumination, this is just your OCD”.
‘So I would go back every month and at every session say I feel the same, ”This is f*****g mental, I should have never done this”.’
After feeling ‘different’ as a young boy, Richie discovered gender dysphoria while browsing online forums in his early 20s. When he explained his feelings to other forum users he was told he was ‘100 per cent trans and should act on it’
After describing in graphic detail the nature of the surgery required to remove his male anatomy, 35-year-old said: ‘This is not reversible, the experiment is over for me, there really really isn’t any turning back’
Ritchie, who has since retransitioned to a man, added: ‘This is not reversible, the experiment is over for me, there really really isn’t any turning back.’
Amber, who is in her early 30s, works in recruitment and lives in the north west of England with her wife, also bravely came forward to give her testimony to No Turning Back.
She also first went to a private gender clinic, where after just two appointments she was diagnosed with gender dysphoria and received cross sex hormones. She then had surgery to remove her breasts on the NHS.
After three years on testosterone she said she began to question her decision but found the medics at her private clinic were not supportive.
She told the film: ‘It didn’t stem from a questioning of my identity at the time – what happened was I started to experience a phenomena that does happen to a lot of people who have a transition that’s transmasculine where the testosterone therapy causes issues for their internal bodily functions, from a female lens.
‘So, my female reproductive organs started to have some issues. I haven’t had any menstrual experiences since the onset of testosterone and at the point where I got to about two and a half years on testosterone I started to experience a lot of severe pain in my genital region.
‘I think I regret the speed at which I approached transition, especially the medical side. I don’t think seeking diagnosis was necessarily an issue and I did experience gender dysphoria. But the rush to have surgical intervention and to have hormones is definitely something I wish I had taken more time over.
‘I wish I’d have explored in therapy the feelings I was having. So, even if I had taken those medical steps I’d at least have laid some groundwork to know I might not regret them and I might feel more confident rather than rushing in as if it would solve all of my problems.’
Amber had a double mastectomy as part of the process of transitioning. She said: ‘[My breasts] were what was causing the predominant bulk of my dysphoria in the beginning and I do still have mixed feelings on my flat chest’
Taking testosterone for a long period had caused problems with Amber’s internal female organs to begin to atrophy. Amber said the usual pathway at this point would have been full hysterectomy but she refused and came off the testosterone
Describing the ‘permanent effects’ of having taken male sex hormones, Amber said: ‘I have facial and bodily hair – female hormones don’t remove the hair that we’ve grown on testosterone. I also have genital changes that are permanent and of course I had a double mastectomy.
‘[My breasts] were what was causing the predominant bulk of my dysphoria in the beginning and I do still have mixed feelings on my flat chest – whether I in some ways appreciate the neutrality it gives me and I feel I’m less sexualised…
‘By trying to avoid what was difficult about going through this surgery in some ways I have denied myself of the opportunity to embrace my womanhood fully.’
Taking testosterone for a long period had caused problems with her internal female organs to begin to atrophy. Amber said the usual pathway at this point would have been full hysterectomy but she refused and came off the testosterone.
Filmmaker Charlotte Fantelli told MailOnline she had never covered transgender issues before but decided to following her own personal experiences.
‘When I was growing up I had a few trials and tribulations when I felt the adults around me didn’t protect me,’ she said.
‘I’ve always had a passion for helping children and have been interested in mental health and have been published on the curriculum about topics to do with mental health for children.
‘My children were aged 11 or 12 when they came home after a sex education session in which they’d talked about transgender ideology and how they could potentially have been born into the wrong body. I questioned why a group of pre-pubescent teenagers would be taught that kind of ideology.’
Amber (pictured after her double mastectomy) told the film: ‘By trying to avoid what was difficult about going through this surgery in some ways I have denied myself of the opportunity to embrace my womanhood fully’
Ms Fantelli said she had always been ‘very openly liberal’, but felt children ‘were being given answers to questions that they had never asked’.
She added: ‘Children should be allowed to explore their own identities in an innocent way, but what I thought was wrong was adults starting to label children at a very vulnerable place in their life and put seeds in their minds that came from a very adult, sexualised and gender orientated place.
‘What anyone wants to choose as an adult is absolutely up to them. My issue is that if you are presenting with mental health problems you should start by receiving therapy rather than be pushed down a medical pathway.’
The film is set to be released amid an ongoing controversy over the charity Mermaids, which is currently being investigated by the Charity Commission following revelations that one of its staff had agreed to send a breast binder to an undercover journalist posing as a teenage girl.
Mermaids has attracted additional scrutiny for weeks following its legal attempt to remove the charity status of the LGB Alliance – a charity set up to uphold gay, lesbian and bisexual rights.
Mermaids has insisted it is the victim of a ‘smear campaign’ and claims it has been forced to close its contact centre after being bombarded with abuse.
No Turning Back is available to watch exclusively on Ickonic today.
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