Caitlyn Jenner’s representative swiftly denied a biographer’s claim that she has considered transitioning back to a man, a process often described as “detransitioning” or “sex-change regret.”
But is it a common occurrence?
“It’s extremely rare,” Dr. Marci Bowers, who has performed transgender surgery for 12 years and is transgender herself, told TheWrap. “I’ve done about 1,500 surgeries and only two people have expressed desire to detransition.”
Dr. Bowers, who advised Jenner on sexual reassignment surgery during an episode E!’s “I Am Cait,” says that even in the rare instances when detransitioning does occur, it’s not because of a wrong diagnosis.
“Detransitioning usually happens for two reasons: One, the person can’t find a job and thus can’t make a living. The other is usually because the person is lonely and can’t seem to find love and decides to go back,” Bowers said. “Transitioning is not made on a whim. Most people who transition have spent three quarters of their life trying to fit in into their [assigned] gender before transitioning. They’ve transitioned because it was like trying to fit a circle into a square.”
Detransitioning can happen both before and after someone goes through sexual reassignment surgery. But recreating a male organ, also known as phalloplasty, is a bit tricky. Bowers describes the end result as “functional but not particularly realistic.”
Dr. Bowers says that knowing Jenner, she doesn’t believe biographer Ian Halperin’s contention that she wants to return to being a man.
“I would be shocked,” Dr. Bowers said. “People need to know that this is not an impulse decision. Ninety percent of those who transition have been thinking about it since they were six years old. Almost no one regrets their decision.”