trans debate opens up gender discussion
Featured Global UK

Trans Teen Transitioned at 16: Now Regrets Gender Change

Keira Bell transitioned from a woman into a man at age 16-but now regrets her gender change and wants to sue the authorities

Keira Bell-a trans teen, wishes she had not decided to become a boy. Keira wishes she was still Keira, but after receiving puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones when she was only 16-she is now male in all but genitalia.

Fast forward 9 years and she feels very different-although she did only have her breasts removed only 3 years ago. Now a 23 year old-her feelings about her sex change are widely different to how she felt during puberty.

Making Decisions at 16

16 is not the age to be making life-changing decisions that are largely irreversible. But this was the situation Keira faced when unsure about herself, her place in society and her gender. She thought changing her gender would be the answer to her depression and unease for the connotations her gender was born into. She changed the way she looked, but she did not change her genitalia. It suggests Keira was okay with her sex, but not her gender.

And this is it-is it the sex people are born with, or the gender they are born into-that is the problem? Sex is one thing, and gender is another. The sex is all the physical features of a woman or a man-and the brain that goes with that. The gender means you are born into a set of societal norms that do not necessarily fit who you are. 

Are People Changing Sex Because They Do Not Feel Accepted Otherwise?

Everyone knows a tom boy-but does that mean you are willing to change your sex based on your experience so far of who you are?

Note that Keira is asked about changing her ‘gender’. Not her sex. 

“I think it’s more of a problem society had, rather than what I had, looking back on it”

There are still major stereotypes associated with being a male or a female.The ‘princess’ or the ‘lad’ are still about town and prevailing. I like to flit with the notions myself but they are claustrophobic and self-limiting. I think there is a period for everyone in which they compare oneself to another, and gender roles are a large part of the comparison. We are only now facing the gender pay gap head on in 2020. 

And women are still thought to live in pink. I used to hate the colour. But then I moved to Thailand-the most feminine country you could possibly find yourself surrounded in. Being highly influential and surrounded by pink-I fell in love with the colour and changed my ways. And this shows you how influential culture is.

The pressure to fit into a set of norms is strong. Nobody does this better than American culture-they would categorise alien life if they could. Are you the geek or the jock, the prom queen or the preppy? It goes on and as tiresome as it sounds-this is excruciatingly threatening for young teens trying to find a place in the world, and not having one to hand.

At one point the interviewer asks Keira if society had been more accepting-would she not have had a problem? And Keira agrees to this.

Live Naturally And How You Are

Sound advice from a person who has had to face the most debilitating journey of self-worth, and who still now fights for her individuality. Keira says she is “accepting of my sex-which is female and taking each day as it comes”. She accepts she is female in sex, but it appears it is the gender stereotypes that have made her unsure of who she is. To live naturally as a premise for all human beings is a beautiful way to sum up her experience. 

To be accepting of how you come into this world must be the first port of call for practitioners. Unfortunately, it seems the NHS clinic Keira attended (one of the only gender-changing clinics in the UK), relied heavily upon the gender change as the answer, rather than deep therapy. Keira received only three 1 hour one on one sessions during the assessment period when deciding her suitability to change gender.

Many People Take Their Own Lives When Unable To Change Gender

In defence of the clinic, it appears the service saves many lives. Many individuals would take their own life if it were not for the sex change service. As stipulated in defence by the gender identity charity ‘Mermaids’ within the BBC article. 

Although this may be true, a sex change is only the answer for seldom few individuals. At age 16, you are only entering adulthood and still live life as a child-the brain does not fully develop until age 25. This is the logical pre-frontal cortex which is responsible for decision making. A teen is far from being in the position to make such a mind-altering change. But this was the reality for Keira. 

It is fair to say that entering such a decision must only be taken after receiving years of therapy. I can understand the stance of the charity-they will look to protect lives first but it is not a pill to be taken. And questions as to why these individuals feel this way come first and foremost.

“When you are that young, you don’t really want to listen to anyone” 

(Keira Bell, interviewed by the BBC)

When you are that young, you need an adult to to make the decisions.