by LAUREL DUGGAN
Luka was 15 when she was first encouraged by her therapist to come out as transgender while she was hospitalized for mental health issues. A surgeon removed her breasts when she was 16 in a “gender-affirming” double mastectomy, and she went on cross-sex hormones soon after, which permanently changed her face, body and voice.
At 20 years old, Luka now regrets listening to doctors and medical professionals, whom she says misled and manipulated her into undergoing irreversible medical procedures.
“There was no stopping to question if this was the right way to deal with the discomfort I was feeling around my body,” Luka told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
At no point did doctors inform Luka that there were ways to resolve her mental health problems besides transitioning, which she now believes would have been enough to prevent her from going through with the procedures, she told the DCNF. Her doctors appear to have adopted the “gender affirmation approach” promoted by transgender activists: they encourage gender transitions rather than helping patients come to terms with their biological sex.
“The only acceptable answer to any medical professional was to ‘affirm’ what I said instead of offering any alternative ways of dealing with the issues I was suffering from. Those constant affirmations really did push me down the path of further medicalization,” said Luka, whose last name has been withheld to protect her privacy.
Luka is one of a handful of “detransitioners” speaking out against what they see as a medical establishment run amok, committed more to transgender ideology than patient well-being; their fears are backed up by a growing body of experts who believe the medical community is pushing minors onto the gender medicalization path to alleviate normal adolescent woes they would likely outgrow. Luka is sharing her story now in the hope that girls who find themselves thrust into the transgender medical world will slow down and reconsider before socially or medically transitioning.
“According to all the studies ever carried out on gender-distressed children, 80% of these kids grow out of it,” said Stella O’Malley, psychotherapist and founder of Genspect, an organization that is skeptical of the efficacy of the “gender affirmation” approach to gender dysphoria.
Numerous studies have shown similar figures.
“It’s very authoritarian of clinicians to pretend to know which child will persist in their trans identity and which will desist,” O’Malley said. “The rising numbers of detransitioners who transitioned when they were children shows that these clinicians are no less fallible than every other human.”
“We have no way of knowing what sort of adult the child will become and we shouldn’t allow clinicians with an inflated sense of their abilities to have this authority,” she told the DCNF.
The DCNF confirmed the details of Luka’s transition through a review of medical documents and photographs. The names of the clinics and medical professionals involved in her transition have been withheld at her request due to her fear of possible retaliation.
A therapist first encouraged Luka to come out as transgender while she was partially hospitalized for unrelated mental health issues at age 15, as a freshman in high school, she said; this meant she was sleeping at home but spending most days at the hospital. She had expressed general discomfort with her body and said she might be questioning her gender identity, and her therapist told her to come out as transgender to her parents, claiming it was the best way the get the help she needed, Luka told the DCNF.
Luka had only met with that therapist once or twice on a one-on-one basis prior to that meeting, she said. During that therapy session, Luka said she was overwhelmed, shaking with anxiety and nearly blacked out. Afterwards, her parents were told that she was at high risk for suicide if she didn’t transition — a common talking point among transgender activists, politicians and some health care professionals.
“I cannot stress enough how I was not in a good place mentally at that point in time,” she said. “I’d say that first visit to the partial hospital definitely solidified that identity of transgender in me and started that process of social (and later medical) transition, since up until that point I was questioning but hadn’t put any label on myself yet.”
“It was only rather recently after I really was able to take a large step back from having direct interactions with those medical professionals that I was able to process everything and really work through the actual causes of my dysphoria and general discomfort,” she told the DCNF.
— Luka Hein (@onedonebun) November 9, 2022
Soon after adopting a transgender identity, Luka moved from her all-girls school to a public school, where she began wearing chest binders and going by a new name. Transgender activists refer to this process as “social transition.”
While activists claim the practice is easily reversed, critics say that social transition further confuses children and cements transgender identification.
“Social transition has a critical effect on [transgender identification’s] persistence,” wrote Dr. Stephen B. Levine, a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, in his expert witness statement in a court case over transgender participation in school sports. “It is evident from the scientific literature that engaging in therapy that encourages social transition before or during puberty … is a psychotherapeutic intervention that dramatically changes outcomes.”
“Studies conducted before the widespread use of social transition for young children reported desistance rates in the range of 80-98%, [while] a more recent study reported that fewer than 20% of boys who engaged in a partial or complete social transition before puberty had desisted when surveyed at age 15 or older,” he wrote.
After Luka’s social transition came the more invasive, irreversible treatments.
A therapist she was seeing at her gender clinic recommended she visit a plastic surgery center, she said. Luka did, and underwent a double mastectomy at 16 years old, about a year and a half after “coming out” as transgender. No one at the clinic seemed to have any hesitations about Luka’s age, she said, and the purpose of her appointments prior to surgery were simply to get familiar with the clinic, not to determine if surgery was actually right for her.
“The doctors themselves seemed to have no hesitation about the surgery,” Luka said, noting that the surgery was delayed a few months due to concerns about her mental health and recovery timing. “The initial consultation at the gender identity clinic was around two hours just asking how I felt about things related to gender.”
Double mastectomies, often referred to by doctors and transgender activists as “top surgery,” are frequently recommended to underage girls with gender identity issues; numerous hospitals in the U.S. openly perform them on minors, and some surgeons advertise the procedure on youth-dominated social media platforms like TikTok.