Australian Boy Wanted to Be a Girl, But Changed His Mind After Hormone Treatment

60 Minutes Australia is airing his story Sunday.

By Liberty McArtor Published on September 8, 2017

A 14-year-old boy doesn’t want to live as a girl anymore, and 60 Minutes Australia will air his story Sunday. 

A preview for the segment reveals that Patrick Mitchell began the process of transitioning at just 12-years-old. 

“When he was young he would dress up in girls’ clothes,” his mother Alison tells 60 Minutes’ Ross Coulthart. He even asked about going to the doctor “to be made into a girl.” 

“You wish you could just change everything about you,” Mitchell says in the preview. “You just see any girl and you say, ‘I’d kill to be like that.'”

According to Woman’s Day, Mitchell got excited when his mother suggested they explore the possibility of transitioning. He was diagnosed with gender dysphoria. The condition makes one feel as if his biological sex doesn’t match his gender. So Mitchell started taking estrogen at the doctor’s recommendation. He grew long hair, breast tissue, and began living like a girl.

“He was on a pathway to create a life for himself as a female,” Alison says.

“I felt like I was on the right track to becoming a girl,” Mitchell adds. 

But he told Woman’s Day that something changed one day in school. In early 2017 a teacher referred to him as a girl. 

“He looked me in the eye and said, ‘I’m just not sure that I am a girl,'” Alison tells Coulthart.

“I began to realize I was actually comfortable in my body,” Mitchell said. “Every day I just felt better.”

He’s Not the Only One

“Is it too late the take it all back?” The 60 Minutes preview narrator asks. “Your boy’s got breasts,” Coulthart tells Alison. 

But according to the Woman’s Day interview, the 14-year-old had surgery this month to remove the extra breast tissue.

The 60 Minutes preview sells Mitchell’s story of detransitioning as “the unthinkable.” In reality, his situation is common. 

In April The Stream reported on comments from child psychologist Stephen Stathis. The Australian doctor runs a gender clinic in the state of Queensland, but he bucks the party line. He said many children he sees who think they want to transition to the opposite sex should not. 

“He looked me in the eye and said, ‘I’m just not sure that I am a girl.'”

Many children are “getting their sexual identity mixed up with their gender identity,” he said. Others are “gender variant.” In other words, they enjoy activities associated with the other sex. This is something Mitchell confirmed about himself in the Woman’s Day feature. “I was always more feminine and liked baking, gymnastics and fashion,” he said.

Stathis said that when boys express gender variant behaviors, parents are more likely to think they might be gender dysphoric. Gender variant girls are more often considered tomboys. 

Further, Stathis estimated that “about 75 per cent of boys and girls who present with gender variant interests and behaviors” don’t follow through. After puberty, they change their minds. 

The American College of Pediatricians confirmed this in 2016. Its study found that 80-95 percent of gender-disphoric children without “social affirmation” don’t end up transitioning. A 2008 study also confirmed that most children change their mind about transitioning.

Irreversible Hormone Dangers

It isn’t just kids who change their minds. Author and speaker Walt Heyer, a man who once identified as a woman, recently spoke with The Stream about adult transgender regret. “The regret cycle doesn’t appear until somewhere between eight and 15 years,” he said. He currently operates, a website where he helps other people who want to detransition.

By the time Heyer changed his mind about living as a woman, he’d already had multiple surgeries, including gender reassignment surgery. Fortunately for Mitchell, things hadn’t gone that far. 

But doctors still warn about the effects of cross-hormone treatment for children. 

In 2015, PBS reported that young teens who start cross-sex hormones “may be at higher risk for heart disease or diabetes later in life. The risk of blood clots increases for those who start estrogen. And the risk for cancer is an unknown, but it is included in the warnings doctors give their patients.”

Additionally, “taking cross hormones can reduce fertility. And there isn’t enough research to find out [if] it is reversible or not.” PBS notes that the Endocrine Society recommends children wait to take hormones until they’re 16. But starting at a younger age is increasingly common.

In Australia, the Family Court must approve a minor’s application to start cross-sex hormones. And before that, a group of medical professionals including a fertility specialist and psychiatrist must consent. Usually cross-sex hormone treatment doesn’t start until 16 in Australia, this academic explainer says. Apparently that wasn’t true for Mitchell.

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