What Percentage of Transgenders Regret Surgery?

What Percentage of Transgenders Regret Surgery?

By |2019-10-21T18:22:34-04:00June 26th, 2019|Categories: Gender Issues, Marriage & Family|Tags: , |

what percentage of transgenders regret surgery?

The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey claims its female respondents regret after surgery to the point of reverting back to the original sex is 11%. Transgender men had a reversion rate of 4%. But considering that transgender surgery can range from $7,000 to well over $50,000 dollars depending on the sex and extent, is that a surprise? There are those who consider themselves transgender but do or do not have surgery, just as there or those that may have some treatment (e.g. hormones or partial surgery) but not complete the process or be left in limbo.

In just in this single survey alone, roughly 4,000 people were unhappy with the fact that they changed their God-given sex. That’s not insignificant. To understand the bigger picture, let’s explain the medical basis of the transgender mentality. The topic is very complex: many who are transgender transition back to their biological gender, numbers that aren’t even covered in this article.

Gender Dysphoria

Today the term “gender dysphoria” has become part of our daily parlance. We hear about it on the news, and we see it in movies. But few seem to realize this is a recognized medical illness. According to an article entitled “Gender Dysphoria in Adolescence: Current Perspectives” by Riittakerttu Kaltiala-Heino et al.:

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) defines gender dysphoria (GD) as a condition in which a person has marked incongruence between the expressed or experienced gender and the biological sex at birth. This causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning.

Surveys range, but the UCLA School of Law 2016 estimate states 0.6% of adults “identify” as transgender. Due to negative influences in social culture, youth numbers are fluctuating but on the rise. Children test at higher levels—that is an article for another day, but most children outgrow the phenomenon. (Alarming influences of the culture reveal that in a mere eight years, U.K. youth labeling themselves transgender has risen 4500%.)

Transgender identification covers everything from crossdressing to hormonal treatment to sex reassignment surgery.  The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, which claims to be the largest survey (27,715 respondents) in the US and its territories to examine transgender people, states that of its respondents, 78% wished for hormonal treatment. At that time about 49% had received it. Because this study is three years old, the numbers have likely grown, and 2019 data released by The American Heart Association links terrible health implications to those even opting to receive hormonal therapy.

The data was extrapolated and studied further based on an original Dutch study. Dangerous health implications have been uncovered:

  • Men undertaking female hormone treatments double the average stroke risk of both men and women;
  • Men undertaking female hormone treatments doubled their heart attack risk;
  • These same men also increased their blood clot risk by 4.5 times;
  • Women taking hormones to transition to men were perhaps worse off, in that they triple their heart attack risk. 

This study does not look at the psychiatric impact on patients, nor the impacts of gender reassignment surgery. But taking the physical data alone, it is reckless for the medical establishment to condone administering adult hormone therapy. Patients being given this treatment for years have been guinea pigs, when they should have received non-biased psychiatric treatment to undress underlying issues.

psychological counseling

Can a Person Truly Change Gender?

Ryan T. Anderson, senior research fellow in American principles and public policy, authored an article that discussed and documented the “mental unrest” of people who had elected to have sex reassignment surgery. He states:

Modern science shows that our sexual organization begins with our DNA and development in the womb, and that sex differences manifest themselves in many bodily systems and organs, all the way down to the molecular level . . . . Cosmetic surgery and cross-sex hormones can’t change us into the opposite sex. They can affect appearances. They can stunt or damage some outward expressions of our reproductive organization. But they can’t transform it. They can’t turn us from one sex into the other.

We all strive to be happy—to feel comfortable in our own skin and to feel at peace with who we are as a person. But gender dysphoria is an illness. As stated above, this illness appears to affect roughly 0.6% of the population. As Catholics, we know that the only thing that brings true happiness is spiritual well-being, to live according to the Christian tenants and to observe them faithfully.

In other words, a man can have surgery to look like a woman, and a woman can have surgery to look like a man, but no one can change his DNA—the essence of his being—to truly become the opposite sex.


Yet, society today demands we believe that all gender is fluid—that each person can and should all decide one’s gender, and that the world should just conform to our decisions. It does this to the detriment of the people who need help the most. The term “gender” has had its traditional meaning hijacked for ideological purposes. Despite afflicting a very small percentage of the population, the movement has gained so much momentum that it is often considered unfeeling, “hateful” even, to point out in charity any flaws in the transgender mentality. Yet as Christians, that is exactly what we are called to witness to—that biological sex is determined at conception remains for us for the duration of life. Any other claim is the “emperor with no clothes.”

Paul McHugh, MD, has spent over forty years as the University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School studying transgender persons. In an article about reassignment surgery, he writes:

Gender dysphoria . . . belongs in the family of similarly disordered assumptions about the body, such as anorexia nervosa and body dysmorphic disorder. Its treatment should not be directed at the body as with surgery and hormones any more than one treats obesity-fearing anorexic patients with liposuction. The treatment should strive to correct the false, problematic nature of the assumption and to resolve the psychosocial conflicts provoking it.

Most young boys and girls who come seeking sex-reassignment . . . come with psychosocial issues—conflicts over the prospects, expectations, and roles that they sense are attached to their given sex—and presume that sex-reassignment will ease or resolve them. The grim fact is that most of these youngsters do not find therapists willing to assess and guide them in ways that permit them to work out their conflicts and correct their assumptions [emphasis ours]. Rather, they and their families find only ‘gender counselors’ who encourage them in their sexual misassumptions.

Transgender Regret and Lost Years

One such person who transitioned to the opposite sex and who later felt misguided was Walter Heyer, who suffered both sexual and emotional abuse as a child. After many years of agony resulting from this abuse, he began to think that all his problems would go away if he were a woman. So, to the horror of his wife and children, he underwent surgery and became “Laura.”

He lived as Laura for eight years, but never felt the sense of peace he thought he would feel after transitioning. He came to realize that transitioning into someone else did not fix what truly ailed him. Heyer now states:

Had I not been misled by media stories of sex change “success” and by medical practitioners who said transitioning was the answer to my problems, I wouldn’t have suffered as I have. Genetics can’t be changed. Feelings, however, can and do change. Underlying issues often drive the desire to escape one’s life into another, and they need to be addressed before taking the radical step of transition.

depressed middle aged man

Walter sought therapy and was able to work through the problems that caused him to feel he needed to live as a woman. He de-transitioned and has since married again. He and his wife now work helping others whose lives have been negatively affected by a sex change. He writes:

You will hear the media say, “Regret is rare.” But they are not reading my inbox, which is full of messages from transgender individuals who want the life and body back that was taken from them by cross-sex hormones, surgery and living under a new identity. After de-transitioning, I know the truth: Hormones and surgery may alter appearances, but nothing changes the immutable fact of your sex.

Compassion and the Church

As Catholics, we understand that the body God gifted us at our creation was intentional and that God makes no mistakes. Furthermore, our body houses our soul and is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we must treat it with respect and reverence, never causing harm to it.

The National Catholic Bioethics Center explains this beautifully:

A person’s sex is manifested by the body in accordance with how the person has been created, and so it cannot be in conflict with any truer or deeper sexual identity contrary to that bodily sex. This is a foundational anthropological point that no medical association or political ideology can overturn. The psychological experience of a disconnect with one’s bodily sex is not to be minimized; it calls for appropriate psychotherapy [emphasis ours], but it can in no way be reflective of an “incorrect” sex.

Given this understanding of what it means to be a human person, a body–soul unity whose innate sexual identity is reflected in the person’s biology, it should be clear that no surgical, hormonal, or other intervention directed toward the body is capable of altering that innate sexual identity.

And what percentage of transgenders regret surgery? The NCBC goes on to say that studies have shown that sex reassignment surgeries do not necessarily resolve the feelings of anxiety that people suffer from and that it also leads to a significant increase in both suicide attempts and in suicide. Indeed, the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey reported the same sobering statistics—that “40% of respondents have attempted suicide in their lifetime—nearly nine times the attempted suicide rate in the U.S. population (4.6%).”

In another report, Paul McHugh, MD, discusses the fact that adults who have had sex reassignment surgery have a higher risk than those in the general population of experiencing mental health problems. He cites a study that found that individuals who had had this surgery were about 5 times more likely than the control group to attempt suicide and almost 20 times more likely to succeed.

sad man with depression

Final Thoughts

As intelligent people, we cannot deny what medical science teaches about the immutability of sex. As Catholics, we cannot deny God’s plan for us as His children. And as human beings, we cannot deny the fact that people are hurting.

We must approach this sensitive issue with love and compassion, for to do anything else would be a disservice to our fellow man. No one specific fix will heal all of those who are suffering, and we must enlist the help of ethical mental health professionals to help people facing gender dysphoria. Though there may seem like little we can do as individuals, especially if we don’t personally know anyone with these struggles, there is one thing we can all do. We can and must teach the truth and not be party to the promulgation of lies that claim that people can change their sex free of repercussions.

Gender is not fluid. Regret after changing your body is real. And those who are hurting must be given an outlet to heal that does not entail the maiming of their bodies.


About the Author:

Susan Ciancio
Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. After over a decade of working with the mentally ill and the homeless, she changed careers to enable her to spend more time with her children. For the past 16 years, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials, and website content. Ten of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the editor of its Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive director for the Culture of Life Studies Program, an educational nonprofit program for k-12 students. In addition, she teaches a First Year Seminar course at her local community college and has three awesome children.


  1. Avatar
    Terry L Lowman July 13, 2019 at 4:51 PM - Reply

    Oppressed people always have mental, emotional and addictive behavior issues. I’m glad you said to approach people experiencing dysphoria with love and compassion.

    Maybe god wants us to learn from people who don’t fit the gender binary. Otherwise, assuming no errors, god wouldn’t create intersex individuals–it may be only one in every 2000 people, but that’s something.

    My personal belief is that all the chemicals in our environment are affecting us and our gender. For example, we use oxybenzone in sunscreens. It’s a synthetic estrogen. Another synthetic estrogen, DES, was widely touted until it was used long enough that we found female offspring would require hysterectomies in their 20s.
    I have to add that the transwomen and transmen who I know are pretty happy with their transition…but generally they have undergone a lot of therapy to determine if gender dysphoria or other issues are at the root of their discomfort and unhappiness.

    • Avatar
      Tony Laux July 19, 2019 at 2:35 PM - Reply

      “[A]ssuming no errors, god wouldn’t create intersex individuals–it may be only one in every 2000 people, but that’s something.”
      You could use this logic to state that all sorts of issues and abnormalities people are born with (from the merely irregular to the horrific and painful) are simply “how God made them,” but that’s a common misunderstanding of God’s will. Things are not as they should be, due to the disorder of sin on the cosmos; in the mystery of His will God apparently permits and works through all of it, but we need not say He actively wills it as simply a normal diversity in the species. At the same time He desires our well-being, and that normally through the medium of the sciences (medicine, therapy, etc.)

    • Avatar
      Adrian July 20, 2019 at 2:28 AM - Reply

      “pretty happy with their transition” v “our hearts are restless until they rest in thee’. I think judging the happiness of others is in God’s perspective not our superficial experience of others.

  2. Avatar
    Maxwell Bing July 19, 2019 at 4:25 PM - Reply

    I personally believe that, since there are about 500+ differences in the Helixical structure of the DNA strands, as well, as how men and women process thoughts; men are concerned with practicality, generally, whereas women are concerned with how it feels, how they feel, what feelings will ensue, etc. Though any individual all along this spectrum may tend to lean more in one direction or another, generally, these descriptions apply to men, and women.What, I believe is fluid, is not sex/gender; but, instead sexual preference. I’ve read of stories about how, a boy dated only girls, as a teen; but, as an adult, dated only other men. This, in popular lingo is known as “coming out of the closet,” or shortened, “coming out.” What I disagree with is this idea, that you are different as a child, than as an adult. But, what is obviously different is the sexual preference you choose, as you age, mature, and investigate a lifestyle alternative to the one you used to. Some adults even desire sex with men, and women, or some other version, different from the experiences they preferred as teens. So, though I don’t accept gender fluidity, I do accept a diversity of sexual preferences, in just one lifetime, based upon desires to explore one you might never have tried, or, only tried once. I do believe you reinforce the choice, every tme you choose to re-experience that variety of sexual expression; and, that this continual same selection can open you up further to pursuing that particular lifestyle, responding only to that stimulation, and abandoning any other option. Conversely, you can see that choice as just one of several options, like bisexuals do. I don’t think true love comes as a result of anything but a “sacred” marriage between a man and a woman. Any other combination is NOT sacred. It is, first sexual, then emotional, then intellectual, and then anatomical, or physical. It is an inauthentic copy of a sacred marriage, duplicating a true sacred relationship, vowing to each other before God, and witnesses, being pronounced by an attendant minster, priest, rabbi, or imam. I hace always believed there are only two sexes, male and female, and, there are no permutations of either, though some try to claim an unnatural, unprovable, untenable variation, for which there still is no scientific evidence in any confirmative method employed by researchers. These claimers of such always quote Alfred E. Kinsey, from the 1950’s who actually had no researcher’s credentials, and was a botanist, and an entomolgist; that is a plant, and insect scientist, whose theories have long since, been discredited, when it was found that his samples were very small, and he used himself as a subject. No reputable scientist ever does that. So, that is where most of the ideas, moderns who embrace them, came from originally; from a non-medical(not even an MD) amateur researcher without credentials as such, got these ideas from. He also created the idea that babies are sexually aroused, can have orgasms, and a whole lot of other nonsense, for which his conclusions are invalid, for the same reasons already stated. This tries to justify pedophilia. This will be the next step in the abbreviation of these folks, LGBTQ+P, and all the other now, affiliations, that are constantly being added to. Watch out folks, God is watching.

  3. Avatar
    Daniel August 21, 2019 at 6:15 PM - Reply

    Next time, please try to answer any question posed in the title in the article itself. In this case, it’s 3.8%.

    • Avatar
      HLI Staff October 4, 2019 at 9:26 AM - Reply

      Thank you, Daniel. It is in the article, but we agree it should be higher up. The range is 4-11%, based on the 2015 study we referenced. Thank you for your suggestion.

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