‘I had gender surgery, then serious doubts. Now I’ll be affected ...

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‘I had gender surgery, then serious doubts. Now I’ll be affected for life’

A landmark legal case has propelled a British woman to the fore of a growing ‘detransition’ movement

Joe Shute

Early last year, a strange thing happened to Keira Bell: she started to cry. It had been years since the 21-year-old from the UK was last able to properly shed tears, ever since she started receiving testosterone injections at the age of 17. The male hormones and puberty blockers she was prescribed forced many changes in her teenage body: her voice dropped, hair sprouted on her face and body, and her sex drive increased. There were other, more concerning, physical changes which she felt she had not been properly warned about by her clinicians; her bones started losing density and she suffered vaginal atrophy (a condition more commonly seen in post-menopausal women).

And the tears dried up. At moments of extreme emotion Bell would instead feel a lump forming in her thickening throat. But even those moments became rarer, nullified by what she describes as a strange inner numbness. “The first time I cried was very weird,” the now 22-year-old recalls. “It felt like I was becoming myself again.”

At the time, she had decided to turn her back on the pathway she had been directed down as a teenager and revert to her biological gender. “Detransition” is the proper term for it and while a very personal choice, it was one that has propelled Bell to the forefront of a growing movement of young people who feel they have been pressured or encouraged into gender reassignment treatments or surgeries, which they later regret...

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