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Former Trans Teenager Wishes Someone Had Challenged Her

Keira Bell was fourteen when she first began identifying as a boy. Two years later, she was prescribed puberty blockers and testosterone. At twenty, she underwent a double-mastectomy to remove both breasts. Now, at 23, she identifies again with her biological sex and recently won a lawsuit against the doctors who allowed her to go down this path at such a young age.

At the time, Keira believed that these treatments would help her “achieve happiness.” She said, “I was stuck in severe depression and anxiety. I felt extremely out of place in the world. I was really struggling with puberty and my sexuality and I had no one to talk these things through with.”

When she sought medical help, she was given the impression that the doctors and therapists would be neutral, but that wasn’t the case. “Once I arrived [at the gender identity clinic], I was not challenged in any sense and I was affirmed [as a boy] from the beginning.”

“When I was questioning my identity there was nowhere to find support that didn’t affirm the delusion of being in the ‘wrong body.’ No organizations existed that might be able to tell me that it was okay to be a girl who didn’t like stereotypically ‘girly’ things, and that I was no less female because I am same-sex attracted.”

Keira began questioning the ideology behind her transition when she found herself upset about the case of Rachel Dolezal, a white college professor who identified as black.

“I couldn’t come up with a reason why being transgender was ‘more valid’ than transracial. It was the start of a slow wake-up call. … I had finished my physical transition and my health was beginning to decline. It was at that point I realized I didn’t want to live a lie and that it was really important to be myself.”

Keira looks back on her transition with sadness. Her treatments have left her with permanent facial hair and a lower voice. “There was nothing wrong with my body, I was just lost and without proper support. I should have been challenged on the proposals or the claims that I was making for myself. And I think that would have made a big difference as well. If I was just challenged on the things I was saying."

In December 2020, a British court ruled in Keira Bell’s favor that teenagers under 16 are unable to give informed consent about puberty-blockers, and that it may be necessary even for older teenagers to require the court’s decision in prescribing these treatments.


Alison Holt, “NHS gender clinic 'should have challenged me more' over transition,” BBC (3-1-20); Jo Bartosch, “I was not born in the ‘wrong body,”’ Spiked (12-1-20)

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