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Critique Essay Nonfiction Social Sciences

(De)trans visibility: moral panic in mainstream media reports on de/retransition

By Van Slothouber, 2020

The current increase in the visibility of trans people in the media has been accompanied by a backlash in the form of an increased deployment of narratives of ‘sex change regret’ or ‘de/retransition.’ Through analysing mainstream media articles from 2015–2018, this paper identifies and discusses three main themes detected in discussions of de/retransition. First, the articles claim that the social and political climate has become too accepting of trans identities and, thus, any discussion of de/retransition is silenced because of ‘political correctness.’ Second, while the articles collected tend to begin with a general discussion of the phenomenon of de/retransitioning, they slide into addressing (White, cisgender) children and the need to protect them from misdiagnosis. Third, the fear about misdiagnosis of (White, cisgender) children is intensified by the focus on a recently hypothesised category of gender dysphoria – rapid-onset gender dysphoria – that suggests some children’s and adolescents’ dysphoric feelings are a result of ‘social contagion.’ Mainstream media discussions of de/retransition focus on the aforementioned themes in an attempt to question contemporary approaches to regulating access to gender-affirming medical care for trans individuals. KEYWORDS: Detransition, retransition, transgender, transition, gatekeeping

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