Making the rounds is a story about “sex change regret.” However, it is not credible. It all started with a story in the UK’s The Telegraph by some guy named Joe Shute, then Breitbart. By the time it hit Brietbart the Serbian surgeon at issue was fielding “dozens of requests” for surgical reversals (the original story is about six). It has popped up at The New American (John Birch Society) and Church Militant.
Shute’s piece has also been mirrored at Stuff, a New Zealand outlet. All of these sites are claiming that surgical regrets are reasons for not being transgender in the first place. There are probably many more sites repeating what they have not confirmed.
None of these outlets questioned the veracity or meaning of the story. They generally used imagination to pile on. They did so because it was a story that they wanted to hear. Whether or not it was true took a backseat to a religious right agenda.
The story goes something like this:
Five years ago, Professor Miroslav Djordjevic, the world-leading genital reconstructive surgeon, received a patient at his Belgrade clinic. It was a transgender patient who had surgery at a different clinic to remove male genitalia – and had since changed their mind.
… Over the next six months, another six people also approached him, similarly wanting to reverse their procedures. They came from countries all over the Western world, Britain included, united by an acute sense of regret. At present, Professor Djordjevic has a further six prospective people in discussions with his clinic about reversals and two currently undergoing the process itself …
Those wishing the reversal, Professor Djordjevic says, have spoken to him about crippling levels of depression following their transition and in some cases even contemplated suicide.
It seems pretty obvious that this story exists because Djordjevic contacted The Telegraph and it smacks of being a PR effort to promote his services. It is also highly irresponsible. Shute’s sub-head at The Telegraph reads:
Gender reversal surgery is on the rise, so why aren’t we talking about it?
You would think that a journalist would know — or find out — that the correct name for the procedure is “gender affirming surgery.” Furthermore, the anecdotal report of one doctor is not evidence of anything. And what should we be talking about? More importantly, according to Mr. Shute:
Professor Djordjevic, who performs around 100 surgeries a year both at his Belgrade clinic and New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital …
No one with the name Miroslav Djordjevic is licensed to practice medicine in the State of New York. The only other Djordjevic is Maja, practicing in Valhalla, NY which is about 30 miles from Mt. Sinai and he or she is a pediatrician. No one with the last name of Djordjevic is board certified in any related field in the United States according to the American Board of Medical Specialties. There are only three: The pediatrician and internist and a pathologist. Furthermore, no one with the last name of Djordjevic is listed as a specialist with Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City. My next step, after hitting “Publish” is to contact The Telegraph‘s editor.
Even were this story not factually challenged, there are far too many variables to consider. These include (but are not limited to):
- Age at which patient socially transitioned.
- Age at which patient had surgery.
- Adequacy of psychiatric support.
- Thoroughness and length of psychiatric evaluation prior to surgery.
- Criteria of surgeon for qualifying surgical candidates.
- Post surgical psychiatric support.
- Psychiatric support prior to seeking surgical reversal.
There is no composite. Each case is original. Mr. Shute also failed to contact a reputable psychiatrist who specializes in gender dysphoria. First, however, Mr. Shute needs to straighten out the credentials of his subject.