As a young woman struggling with the increasingly common, androgen-dominant hormonal imbalance known as polycystic ovary syndrome (or PCOS), when Laura Becker went through hormone replacement therapy as a form of “transgender affirmative care” her symptoms became unmanageable.
“Recklessness, impulsivity, severe mood swings, suicidal ideation, substance abuse, all these things were escalated from the energizing effects of the testosterone,” Becker told Independent Women’s Forum. She would have to bear the symptoms of testosterone, however, if Becker was to begin living her life as a transgender-identifying man.
When Becker began reading about the transgender movement on the popular microblogging website Tumblr, she felt that adopting this female-to-male identity gave her an answer for why she struggled with multifaceted mental health struggles, body dysmorphia from abuse, and from symptoms of PCOS. She then came out socially as a gay, transgender-identifying man at age 18 and began chemical treatment a year later.
“At the time, I was so mentally unstable,” said Becker. Despite this, at age 19, she was recommended by a male-to-female transgender-identifying college professor to go to an informed consent clinic for a free prescription of testosterone.
There, clinicians provided Becker with 200-milligram dosage vials of injectable testosterone, which Becker said was an “extremely high” dose for someone like her who already had elevated testosterone levels from PCOS. Becker shared that the clinicians didn’t check to see if she had been receiving care from an endocrinologist, nor did they flag her complex mental health conditions as a reason not to provide her with hormones.
Becker was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum at age 11 but also struggled with relational trauma from repeated abuse by her family and male partners. Her suicidal motivations and emotional desperation were exacerbated when she began injecting testosterone. Then at age 20, Becker sought a double mastectomy to remove her breasts. When her surgeon asked for two letters of recommendation in an attempt to follow the World Professional Association for Transgender Health standards of care, she said the professionals who signed off on her surgery hardly provided “quality care by any means.”
Becker’s first letter of recommendation came from the psychiatrist who diagnosed her with gender dysphoria, but in retrospect, Becker felt this was unethical because she was “clearly not stable” after having just committed herself to inpatient treatment for suicidal ideations. Her second letter of recommendation came from her general practitioner, whom Becker says had no ethical cause to approve the surgery since the doctor hardly knew her aside from her annual check-up.
“My surgeon said that I needed to go off of testosterone for the mastectomy,” said Becker. “I went cold turkey off of a very high dose of testosterone and I pretty much had a mental breakdown. After the surgery, I was in such a bad place.”
Initially, Becker intended to finish the masculinizing process through further gender-affirming methods but chose to take a break from testosterone to become more mentally stable. Yet, when her emotions stabilized, Becker began the process of detransitioning.
“Ironically, because of getting my breasts removed—which was pretty traumatic—I avoided the potential complications of being on testosterone longer,” Becker said, explaining that now, six years since her surgery, her voice has slightly pitched back up, but that it’s still permanently lower. Becker still grows facial hair. Now fully accepting of her female identity, Becker shared that she still has a lot of lasting grief around having undergone the double mastectomy.
“I have a lot of shame around my body because it’s not as beautiful as it was. I do view it as disfigured,” she said, noting that despite being adamantly against having children in the past, she began to desire to have a family of her own around a year ago. “[My body] is functional in every way except that I can’t produce milk anymore.”
Becker told IWF that a “fulfilling domestic life” through intimate relationships like marriage and becoming a mother is now a primary goal of hers, but that it could take time, especially because of her own attachment issues and trauma around relationships with men. Yet, instead of mental health professionals addressing emotional anguish in her adolescence through long-term therapeutic measures, Becker said it was easier for them to “do these short-term interventions” which have now permanently affected her future.
The circles Becker found herself running in certainly didn’t help to get to the bottom of why she had been experiencing mental health complications. Becker recalled that, due to her parents’ abuse, it was easier for them to process their daughter’s distress as gender dysphoria rather than her internalized insecurities from systematic abuse. What’s more, Becker’s time spent online led her to be influenced by what she considers the perfect combination of top-down theories and normal developmental experiences from the bottom up.
“Top-down, it’s coming from the universities, queer theorists, the media, and transhumanists in academia [where it] trickles down into the colleges, and then the colleges trickle it down into the K through 12 and then into the culture,” she began, pointing out how queer theory is then “digested by very naive minds” on websites like Tumblr, where youth latch on to social justice ideas.
That said, from Becker’s observation as a very vocal, public detransitioner, she shared that many people who have understandably been taking a reactionary stance toward the boom in transgender-identifying youth are actually misplacing blame.
“It’s manifesting from the queer theory, but it’s coming down to the kids who are vulnerable,” Becker said, expressing disappointment toward gender-critical cultural critics who liken the detransitioners to casualties of a broader culture war. “It’s spreading in a social contagion, but we can’t focus so much on mocking these 21-year-old non-binary-identifying girls that are dressing insanely.”
In a recent response to a graphic image of a phalloplasty that a conservative account posted on Twitter, Becker posted about feeling grateful she never went that far in her gender-affirming care and that her fertility and sexuality are still intact.
“I had someone tell me that I should have gone all the way with transition (full SRS [sexual reassignment surgery]) because it would be an innate and obvious win for the conservative argument against ‘trans people,’” she said in a Tweet thread addressing the incident. In her discussion with IWF, she continued:
“I’ve become a bit tougher now, but when I see younger people who are getting a ton of hate and abuse, with my few years of extra trauma experience I just try to model to them, ‘No, you don’t have to take this. You can block these people. You don’t owe them anything.’”
Becker is part of a growing online community of detransitioners raising awareness about the psychological issues that have contributed to the rise in transgender identities. She said that for a transgender-identifying youth, it can often seem easier and more appealing to transition instead of addressing their inexperience in dealing with distress, emotional regulation, and long-term planning. Additionally, Becker pointed out that many—like herself—are neurodivergent which complicates their being able to give informed consent for irreversible chemical treatments and surgical procedures.
“I just try to expose the gaslighting because it’s not helpful to anybody except the person who just gets to vent whatever their frustrations are and just dump it on someone who is basically a trauma victim—a medical abuse victim,” Becker said.
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