Detransitioner Loses Natural Singing Voice After ‘Gender Affirming’ Care
By Kelsey Bolar
Cat Cattinson began questioning her “gender identity” from the time she was five years old. But when she asked her parents if she could be a boy instead of a girl, they told her it wasn’t possible. So Cat let go of the idea until she turned 13, and came across female-to-male “transitioners” while searching online.
“I saw that and I thought, ‘that’s who I am. I’m a male trapped in a woman’s body,’” Cat told Independent Women’s Forum.
Cat was tempted to start the process of a medical “transition” to look more masculine. But she had some hesitations. For starters, even if she “transitioned,” Cat knew she could never fully change her sex.
“I knew that if I attempted to transition, I would be a five-foot-two man with a vagina,” Cat bluntly put it. “That did definitely deter me for a long time.”
All throughout her teenage years and early 20s, Cat continued to feel uncomfortable in her body. She brushed these feelings aside until she turned 28, when the narrative from transgender activists and medical providers became too overwhelming to ignore. Already, she was struggling with a slew of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder. If she did not conform with her “gender identity,” politicians, activists, and medical “experts” warned that she would face significant mental health problems and be at high risk for suicide. (The science used to justify this claim is “extremely weak.”)
“I just felt like I didn’t have another choice,” Cat said. “I tried being a woman for so long and I wasn’t happy. I decided to go full steam ahead with my medical transition.”
Cat began by calling Planned Parenthood, which she’d heard provided “gender-affirming services.” She thought she’d have to go through a process to get prescribed testosterone, whether it was a psychological evaluation or a certain number of visits with mental health professionals. But instead, Cat said she talked on the phone with a doctor whom she never met in person and, after 30 minutes, was prescribed testosterone, a Schedule III controlled substance.
Cat told the doctor that she wanted to start with a low dose because she was a semi-professional singer and didn’t want to risk compromising her singing voice. But she said she later found out that Planned Parenthood prescribed her double that of other female-to-male “transitioners.”
For the first three months, Cat’s voice gradually deepened. Though it sounded raspy, she was still able to sing. But two weeks later, Cat experienced a sudden, dramatic drop in her vocal cords. She no longer recognized her own voice and it became uncomfortable, even painful to sing.
“I was prepared for my voice to get deeper, but nobody told me it would be painful to speak,” Cat said. “Nobody told me it would feel like there was a barrier in my throat when I would go to vocalize, whether it was for singing or even just being around my friends at a social gathering. It was hard to project my voice over music. No one warned me that was a possibility.”
Cat was born into a musical family, and the ability to sing is central to her roots. From a young age, she had dreams of becoming a professional singer. “I can hardly get through a day without singing or at least humming or thinking about a song that I want to write,” Cat said. “I feel like I didn’t choose music, but the music really chose me.”
At first, Cat didn’t want to raise concerns about the effects testosterone was having on her body out of fear of saying anything that would upset or “damage” the transgender community. But eventually, the pain and the gravity of what she’d done to her voice — that she would never have her natural singing voice back ever again — became impossible to deny.
“This was supposed to fix my gender dysphoria. I was supposed to have this whole new life,” Cat said. Instead, her world was being turned upside down.
Before questioning her decision to medically “transition,” Cat scheduled an elective double mastectomy. To do this, she talked to a different doctor at Planned Parenthood who, also without meeting her in person, wrote a recommendation letter for “top surgery,” Cat said.
But in addition to the effects on her voice, Cat was experiencing a slew of other concerning conditions from taking testosterone: heart palpitations, nausea, and a pain in her right side.
She wasn’t ready to go back to living as a woman, but she knew that medically “transitioning” was making her feel worse. Cat canceled her elective double mastectomy, withdrew her legal name change that she had already filed, and stopped taking testosterone.
In an ideal situation, she would have tapered off from the cross-sex hormones, but to prevent causing more permanent damage to her singing voice, she stopped cold turkey.
“For the first month, I’ve never felt worse in my life,” Cat said, adding:
“I sank into a deep depression because, as an adult, if you have no sex hormones in your body, it makes you feel awful. It just drains all your energy. I was basically bedridden. I couldn’t even get up or do anything for myself. That was a really, really dark period, having lost my voice and then just having hours and hours in my bed not doing anything. It was probably the worst depression I’ve ever been in.”
Gradually, Cat’s body normalized itself again. Today, a year and a half later, her voice is the only obvious sign of her decision to “transition,” as changes to the vocal cords from taking testosterone, even for a brief period of time, are irreversible.
As she withdrew from the hormones, Cat began looking into studies about “gender transitions” and questioning whether “affirmative care” is really appropriate for most people.
“I realized I’d been in an echo chamber and I’d been told some really harmful things by trans activists that totally distorted my view of the world and my gender or my biological sex,” Cat admitted.
While finishing her undergraduate degree in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology, Cat began to accept herself as a female “without attaching any kind of toxic negative gender stereotype to that.”
She stopped believing in “gender identity” entirely, now asserting “that a woman is an adult human female. Not a gender role, not a feeling in someone’s head, not a stereotype.”
She also stopped believing in the notion that “gender-affirming care” is the best or even correct treatment for individuals suffering from gender dysphoria.
“I don’t believe that people should just be uncritically thinking that loving yourself is getting surgery and altering your body,” Cat said, adding:
“Whoever you are, in the body that you have, you can be whoever you are and do whatever you want to do in the world. I don’t think that people should have to be a man or a woman or non-binary to be able to express themself or do what they want to do. Part of my mission is breaking down these stereotypes and forging our own paths in the world, rather than just conforming to stereotypes.”
Cat is sharing her story to warn parents, children, educators, politicians, medical professionals, and fellow musicians that the diagnosis of gender dysphoria is often being used as a “catchall and a cover” for deeper issues. Of her own experience, she said:
“When I was talking to the doctor at Planned Parenthood, it was so easy for me to be like… ‘Yeah, I’ve struggled with an eating disorder, but that’s really gender dysphoria. I struggled with depression and anxiety, but of course it’s just because I was really trans this whole time. It was really my gender dysphoria that is the root issue and same thing with alcoholism and everything else.’ So essentially, what that does is it causes this superficial treatment process that is really just addressing the physical body and its body modification basically. You’re trying to use body modification to treat a mental illness.”
With a permanently deeper voice, Cat is still pursuing a career as a professional singer as she also prepares to launch a career as a molecular biologist. On the side, she speaks publicly about the lasting effects testosterone had on her body, hoping to save others from making the same mistake. She regrets what happened but acknowledges that her situation could’ve been much worse.
“My parents didn’t ‘affirm’ me and now, looking back, at the time it did make me very angry,” Cat said. “But looking back, I’m very thankful for that. I think that if I would have been able to transition as a child and gone onto puberty blockers, gone onto cross-sex hormones at a young age and cut off body parts, I think I would be looking back and I would be thinking, how could you enable this? How could you have gone along with this when I was too young to consent?
“In the future,” she added, “we’re going to see a lot of children who have detransitioned being angry with their parents and feeling betrayed by them.”