Factors Leading to "Detransition" Among Transgender and Gender Diverse People in the United States: A Mixed-Methods Analysis

LGBT Health. 2021 May-Jun;8(4):273-280. doi: 10.1089/lgbt.2020.0437. Epub 2021 Mar 31.


Purpose: There is a paucity of data regarding transgender and gender diverse (TGD) people who "detransition," or go back to living as their sex assigned at birth. This study examined reasons for past detransition among TGD people in the United States. Methods: A secondary analysis was performed on data from the U.S. Transgender Survey, a cross-sectional nonprobability survey of 27,715 TGD adults in the United States. Participants were asked if they had ever detransitioned and to report driving factors, through multiple-choice options and free-text responses. A mixed-methods approach was used to analyze the data, creating qualitative codes for free-text responses and applying summative content analysis. Results: A total of 17,151 (61.9%) participants reported that they had ever pursued gender affirmation, broadly defined. Of these, 2242 (13.1%) reported a history of detransition. Of those who had detransitioned, 82.5% reported at least one external driving factor. Frequently endorsed external factors included pressure from family and societal stigma. History of detransition was associated with male sex assigned at birth, nonbinary gender identity, bisexual sexual orientation, and having a family unsupportive of one's gender identity. A total of 15.9% of respondents reported at least one internal driving factor, including fluctuations in or uncertainty regarding gender identity. Conclusion: Among TGD adults with a reported history of detransition, the vast majority reported that their detransition was driven by external pressures. Clinicians should be aware of these external pressures, how they may be modified, and the possibility that patients may once again seek gender affirmation in the future.

Keywords: detransition; gender dysphoria; mental health; transgender.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Family / psychology
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Qualitative Research
  • Social Stigma
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Transgender Persons / psychology*
  • Transgender Persons / statistics & numerical data
  • United States