Ky Schevers is fighting back against the anti-trans movement she once participated in.
Schevers was assigned the gender of female at birth and she later decided to begin gender-affirming nursing, taking testosterone in her mid-20s to transition from female to male. However, she stopped taking testosterone in the years that followed while she continued to explore and question her gender, and later fell into an online anti-trans group of “detransitioners” — people who once did but did it themselves no longer identified as transgender.
Now Schevers says she has been “retransitioned” and identifies as transmasculine and gendered, meaning she identifies with both genders. Schevers uses them and their pronouns, but identifies strongly with masculinity as defined by the LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center.
She says she considers herself part of the transgender community.
When Schevers first stopped taking testosterone, she sought advice and guidance in online forums about detransitioning. In this virtual community, she began to embrace anti-trans beliefs that misogyny and a patriarchal society caused her to initially transition from female to male. She spread and promoted these beliefs through blog posts, YouTube videos, interviews and workshops. These posts became a popular tool for anti-trans activists looking to discredit the trans community in the name of feminism.
A 50-year study in Sweden in the Archives of Sexual Behavior estimated that less than 3% of people who made a medical switch experienced “transitional regret.” Other studies have estimated similar results, with some giving even lower numbers.
Despite this small percentage, these individuals have become a focus of anti-transgender legislation and activism.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, more than 300 proposed laws targeted LGBTQ Americans across the country in the last year. In particular, health care for trans youth has become a target of such efforts.
Before the age of 16 to 18, adolescents are treated with reversible treatments based on US Department of Health and Human Services guidelines. Irreversible medical procedures, such as surgery, are typically performed only with consenting adults or older teens who have worked through the decision with their families and doctors over a long period of time, doctors across the country told ABC News.
Despite these common practices, officials in many states have made efforts to crack down on gender-affirming child care. Some lawmakers have cited controversial research on the subject, noting that the majority of gender dysphoric youth will outgrow their dysphoria. The methodology of these studies has been heavily criticized.
Large medical associations support gender-equitable care for young people and adults. Transgender youth typically have high suicide rates, but those who switch often experience significantly less psychological distress.
A recent large Harvard study found that gender reassignment surgery was associated with improved mental health outcomes in transgender people.
Another recent major Harvard study found that even among those who do detransition, it is often due to external pressures such as stigma and non-acceptance in those around them, rather than a sudden resolution of gender dysphoria.
But this is where “detransitioners” come in. Detransitioner activists have often testified in public hearings on policies related to the transgender community.
“I was 30 and at the end of my rope when I made the transition… If I made that mistake as an adult, a young girl could do it, too,” said a detransitioned speaker at the Florida Medical Board hearing Oct. 28 on a Prohibition of gender affirmation Health care for youth. “Not only has my surgery exacerbated my mental health issues, I’m now struggling with physical complications as well.”
Another speaker at the hearing, who said she started gender-affirming treatments at the age of 16 and regrets doing so, spoke about struggling with her mental health during the transition. She asked the board to ban hormones for those under the age of 18 and surgery for those under the age of 21. “In 2019 I had a life changing encounter with Jesus and began to find deep healing within myself. I decided to step back and accept my womanhood,” she said.
The Florida Medical Board later passed a ban on juvenile gender-affirming nursing. The decision would ban providers from providing gender-affirming treatments, including puberty blockers, hormones, cross-hormone therapies and gender-affirming surgery, to anyone under the age of 18.
When Schevers was in similar circles, she said she tried to ignore her insecurity about her gender and how it clashed with the message she was propagating.
“I’ve never liked people who call transient mutilation or trans mutilated… A lot of them called trans people delusional,” Schevers said. “Living trans was something people did to survive, and actually I didn’t think it was crazy or irrational for living that life.”
She continued, “I understand why anyone would do that. For example, it helped me. I was happy with the transition and I needed to streamline that experience and reconcile it with this anti-trans ideology.”
Schevers said cracks in her beliefs became apparent as more of the Detransitioner and other activists she worked with began aligning with far-right groups like the Proud Boys on an anti-trans platform.
“It was such a huge wake-up call,” said Schevers. “It made no sense to ally with the people who created the oppressive conditions.”
Her use of the hormone testosterone helped her embrace her gendered queer identity, she now says.
When Schevers sees or hears anti-transgender detransitioners speak about their experiences, she thinks of her past self. She says she feels guilty like she set the stage for them.
Schevers says she wants people to pay attention to the dangers of anti-trans action to youth, as well as the ongoing legislative attacks on trans Americans.
In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton have also made efforts to investigate gender-affirming youth grooming treatments as “child abuse” by the State Department for Child Protection Services. A state judge later issued an injunction blocking the effort.
A law in Alabama made it illegal to provide gender-affirming care to anyone under the age of 18. This would criminalize parents and doctors.
Joseph Ladapo, Florida’s surgeon general, released a memo in June saying treatments like sex reassignment surgery and hormone and puberty blockers are not effective treatments for gender dysphoria.
This memo contradicts guidance from organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Public Health Association.
These organizations say research shows the above gender-affirming treatments are safe and effective. Some, like the American Medical Association, even consider it “medically necessary”.
Gender exploration is an ongoing journey for Schevers, and she hopes trans and gender queer youth in the US will continue to have access to a journey of their own.
“I feel more grounded in who I am. It’s easier for me to accept myself as someone of multiple genders,” Schevers said.