Some reasons why this might occur include:
The person is not transsexual.
Regardless of whether the person is truly transsexual or not, it’s possible that because of having lived so long with gender dysphoria and accompanying social and physical dissatisfaction, one may think of a full gender transition as a magical ticket to happiness. I have seen this (sometimes unconscious) wish accompanied by other unrealistic expectations such as: the idea that one will have a social community, better social skills, be more popular, etc.
The person encountered too many problems with transition (i.e. dissatisfaction with their post-transition life).
Levels of regret
Certainly a person who has made a gender transition can have certain regrets that are not extreme enough to cause them to wish to de-transition. The WPATH Standards of Care notes that “cases are known of persons who have received hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery who later regretted their inability to parent genetically related children”. Other less extreme regrets can involve loss of certain benefits of privileges commonly associated with one gender or another.
Some research on regret:
Pfafflin F., Junge A. (1992) Sex Reassignment: 30 Years of International Follow-up Studies after SRS: A Comprehensive Review, 1961-1991 [publication online]. Translated from German into American English by Roberta B. Jacobson and Alf B. Meier. IJT Electronic Books.
This study looked at 70 previous studies and reviews on outcomes following sex reassignment surgery. These included 2000 individuals from 1961 to 1991. This doesn’t take into account individuals who transition without surgery. About 70% of MTF individuals were satisfied and 90% of FTM individuals.
Krege S., Bex A., Lummen G., et al. (2001). Male-to-female transsexualism: a technique, results and long-term follow-up in 66 patients. BJU International. 88:396-402.
This study shows little or no regrets possibly due to surgical advances.
Transitioning – For those transgendered individuals who decide to transition (to present and live in the other sex outwardly), these emotional/psychological issues may come up:
Fears about finding a partner
- Impact on family relationships with parents, children, partners and other relatives
- Impact of relationships at work and with friends.
- Fears about violence and prejudice when one is read as transgendered.
- Feelings about having to experience surgeries, hormones, (and for MTF transsexuals) facial hair removal and voice changes.
- Frustration of having to change or explain legal documents (drivers license, passport, titles to property, diplomas, etc)
- Disappointment that transitioning didn’t solve all problems.
- Level of satisfaction with appearance
- Level of satisfaction with any surgeries
When one decides not to transition. Not everyone is able or wants to transition. This is a perfectly valid choice for people to make. However these individuals must learn to cope with the tension that the gender dysphoria produces. Sometimes this can be helped by having times when one can cross-dress, interact with others who are aware of one’s status, talk about the issue, and take low-levels of hormones (that don’t effect the body outwardly).
Other mental health issues not related to being transgendered. Just because some one is transgendered doesn’t mean they don’t have other issues in their lives. It can be hard for some people to let themselves seek treatment for other issues when the gender dysphoria is so prominent a concern.
The good news: It’s important not to lose sight of the satisfaction one can have by acknowledging and (if possible) changing what can be changed and moving towards of one’s authentic self.
Peace and tolerance