Debate: The pressing need for research and services for gender desisters/detransitioners

Catherine Butler, Anna Hutchinson

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

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The number of people presenting at gender clinics is increasing worldwide. Many people undergo a gender transition with subsequent improved psychological well-being (Paediatrics, 2014, 134, 696). However, some people choose to stop this journey, ‘desisters’, or to reverse their transition, ‘detransitioners’. It has been suggested that some professionals and activists are reluctant to acknowledge the existence of desisters and detransitioners, possibly fearing that they may delegitimize persisters’ experiences (International Journal of Transgenderism, 2018, 19, 231). Certainly, despite their presence in all follow-up studies of young people who have experienced gender dysphoria (GD), little thought has been given to how we might support this cohort. Levine (Archives of Sexual Behaviour, 2017, 47, 1295) reports that the 8th edition of the WPATH Standards of Care will include a section on detransitioning – confirming that this is an increasingly witnessed phenomenon worldwide. It also highlights that compared to the extensive protocols for working with children, adolescents and adults who wish to transition, nothing exists for those working with desisters or detransitioners. With very little research and no clear guidance on how to work with this population, and with numbers of referrals to gender services increasing, this is a timely juncture to consider factors that should be taken into account within clinical settings and areas for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-47
Number of pages3
JournalChild and Adolescent Mental Health
Issue number1
Early online date15 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020


  • gender dysphoria
  • gender identity
  • therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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