Regret in Medical Transition: Research from the Amsterdam Gender Dysphoria Study

One of the significant issues in treating gender dysphoria is an examination of regret, if any, experienced by patients who engage in surgical interventions. In a remarkable paper published recently in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, a report of cases seen from 1972-2015 in the largest gender identity clinic in Amsterdam is presented. The sample was large and as a group showed very little regret.

6,793 people (4,432 birth-assigned male, 2,361 birth-assigned female) visited our gender identity clinic from 1972 through 2015. The number of people assessed per year increased 20-fold from 34 in 1980 to 686 in 2015. The estimated prevalence in the Netherlands in 2015 was 1:3,800 for men (transwomen) and 1:5,200 for women (transmen)*. The percentage of people who started HT within 5 years after the 1st visit decreased over time, with almost 90% in 1980 to 65% in 2010. The percentage of people who underwent gonadectomy within 5 years after starting HT remained stable over time (74.7% of transwomen and 83.8% of transmen). Only 0.6% of transwomen and 0.3% of transmen who underwent gonadectomy were identified as experiencing regret.

The idea that regret is common is promoted by Christians who disapprove of gender transition.*** One such website “Sex Change Regret” ( carries articles by Ryan Anderson, Walt Heyer, and Michelle Cretella.** Whether one agrees with transition or not, one should not promote a tendentious reading of research to promote one’s views. While a very small number of people have expressed regret, most don’t. In this study, some experienced social losses after transition, while others did not experience relief from their dysphoria.

If anything, the appropriate stance for a Christian is love and curiosity. Let’s keep our minds and hearts open.


After I published this post, Ryan Anderson took exception with my characterization of his position. See his tweet below:

Although Anderson quoted Walt Heyer’s article Regret Isn’t Rare in his new book When Harry Became Sally, I removed this phrase in the post:

all of whom promote the idea that regret is may be widespread

Anderson denies that he believes anything about regret. I also asked him to characterize his position which I will include in a separate post. There was no intent to misrepresent him. Given the section in his book on the subject of regret, his approving citation of Walt Heyer, and an essay in the Daily Signal, I felt I fairly and non-controversially represented his position.


*In the study, the authors defined “transwomen as having a male birth assignment and transmen as having a female birth assignment who might receive medical treatment to adapt their physical characteristics to their experienced gender.”

***edited to change “disapprove of transgender people” to “disapprove of gender transition.” To transgender people, there is little difference, but to be as fair as possible to those who have moral misgivings about transitioning, I made the change.

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