As a quick review of terms before we get into the study and its findings, gender-affirming health care is a really broad spectrum. Truly, what it means for one person’s care is not necessarily indicative of what it might mean for another person, even if they are the same age or live in the same area. For children (and even some adults!), gender-affirming health care be entirely non-invasive; it can include, for example, a physician encouraging parents to use new pronouns or a chosen name for the child or teen, or advice to seek trans-inclusive or explicitly supportive mental health counseling or group therapy.
Vivian Topping, director of advocacy and civic engagement at the Equality Federation, and Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights
It can also, of course, include things like puberty blockers and hormonal therapy, as well as surgeries. These surgeries also vary widely but can include things like mastectomies or chest construction (again, often known as “top surgery”) as well as phalloplasty, valvuloplasty, and vaginoplasty, which is often called “bottom surgery.” Some people who pursue one (or more than one) path for care identify as trans, some identify as nonbinary, and some identify as trans nonbinary. There are other less discussed gender identities too, like genderqueer and agender.
Again, it all just depends.
None of these surgeries, treatments, or processes make someone more or less trans or more or less of their gender identity. You never need to know any of this information in order to respect a person’s identity, which includes using the correct pronouns, providing bathroom access, and so on.
With that out of the way, let’s check out the study. The study looked at adolescents between 12 and 17 at the time of their referral for gender-affirming mastectomies, which were performed between Jan. 1, 2013 and July 31, 2020. All of the patients in this study were assigned female at birth.
The median age of referral came in at 16 years old. The study looked at surgical techniques, comorbidities, mental health, and use of testosterone, as well as any postoperative complications, which in this case include feelings of regret.
For patients who had a follow-up more than one year later, complications found included hematoma infection (3.6%), hypertrophic scars (2.9%), seroma (0.7%), and suture granuloma (0.7%). Ten percent had a revision. The aforementioned two patients expressed regret, but neither pursued a reversal surgery at either the three- or seven-year mark post-surgery.
Republicans love to talk about trans folks and regret, so let’s see how quickly they jump to read and discuss this study …