A detransitioned woman is taking the first legal action in Spain against the healthcare provider that prescribed her hormones as a teenager and later removed her uterus as a young adult.
Susana Domínguez, 24, filed a claim against Galician Health Service, the publicly funded healthcare system in Spain, that prescribed her cross-sex hormones at 16 and performed a hysterectomy on her at 19, which she now deeply regrets.
Domínguez told El Mundo, Spain’s second-largest printed daily newspaper, that her current condition is “awful,” and she feels that her life has been “ruined.”
The claim, a step before a potential lawsuit, is asking for 314,000 euros (approximately $333,000 USD). It alleges that Domínguez was misdiagnosed, did not receive adequate psychological support, and that hormone treatment aggravated her mental health condition.
Domínguez told the outlet that she was 15 when she was introduced to the transgender narrative through YouTube influencers who claimed their mental health improved after transitioning. When she was 16, she began receiving testosterone from the public health service. Then, at age 18, she had a double mastectomy, which her family paid for out-of-pocket.
When Domínguez was 19, her endocrinologist recommended she have a hysterectomy, also facilitated by the public health service. Shortly after having her uterus removed, Domínguez realized she had made a terrible mistake.
She said it took her approximately six years from when she first believed she was transgender to realize that perhaps her mental health problems, including depression, several suicide attempts, and her recent discovery that she may be on the autism spectrum, interfered with her ability to make responsible decisions.
Domínguez told El Mundo that she is angry with her psychologist because, when she confronted him, he allegedly told her he knew transitioning would not help her. She must now be on estrogen therapy because she cannot produce it naturally.
The Galician law passed in 2014 allows patients to make autonomous decisions about their medical transition. An even more radical “Trans Law” that recently passed in Spain nationally enforces an “affirmative” approach that provides patients with hormone therapy and surgery and prohibits — and even fines — mental health professionals up to 150,000 euros ($159,000 USD) for providing therapy that might relieve their patients’ gender-related distress.
Last year, the leading medical institutions in Spain began speaking out against the “Trans Law,” warning that they have seen an explosion in trans-identifying youth and fear the new law would harm the young people who mistakenly believe themselves to be transgender.
Domínguez has found support from other detransitioners from the Detrans subreddit, a forum created in 2017 that has grown to nearly 45,000 members. Her mother is now involved with a parent-led group in Spain called the Amanda Association, which was formed to advocate for medical professionals to proceed with caution when dealing with trans-identifying children and, as of last year, represents approximately 300 parents across Spain.
When El Mundo reached out to Galician Health Service for comment, a representative said that “all protocols were followed” and that “a clinical committee evaluates each case.”
Domínguez is the seventh detransitioner worldwide to bring legal action against the medical providers that facilitated her medical transition. There are two pending lawsuits in the United States from detransitioners, including Chloe Cole, who recently announced she is suing Kaiser Permanente for facilitating her medical transition that included a double mastectomy as a minor, and Camille Kiefel who is pursuing legal action against the health professionals who she alleged approved the surgery to have her breasts removed after only two brief Zoom meetings.
Michelle Zacchigna recently announced the first detransitioner lawsuit in Canada against the eight doctors and mental health professionals who treated her over the years, beginning when she was 21. She alleges that they failed to address her complex mental health needs and instead allowed her to self-diagnose as transgender and undergo irreversible procedures including testosterone treatment, a bilateral mastectomy, and a hysterectomy that she now regrets.
Jay Langadinos is taking legal action in Australia against the psychiatrist who permitted her to begin medical transition when she says she was experiencing a mental health crisis. Similarly, Ritchie Herron is pursuing legal action in England against the doctors who authorized him to undergo hormone therapy and genital surgery while he was also going through a period of mental distress, he claims.
In 2020, Keira Bell, a detransitioned woman in the United Kingdom, received compensation, helped bring about legislative changes, and succeeded in getting the clinic where she underwent sex reassignment shut down. The court ruled that Bell, who began her transition at the age of 15, was not sufficiently mature at that time to make such a life-changing decision.
The exact number of detransitioners is unknown, and more research is needed. Clinicians in this emerging field of medicine have limited guidance from a small collection of studies that show varying rates of detransitioning from 1% to 30%, but even less is known about the incidence of regret among patients treated as minors.
Two extensive studies found that 2% or less of adults regret their transition, but these studies have limited relevance for the new cohort of adolescents that people are most concerned about. Researchers recognize that short-term studies may underestimate detransition and regret because it can take up to a decade after treatment for some people to experience these outcomes. Additionally, some studies lose track of patients as they age out of pediatric clinics.
Two smaller studies in the U.K. report that between 7% and 10% of patients initially assessed for gender-related medical services later detransitioned. In the United States, a recent study found that 29% of 68 patients seeking medical transition care changed their requests for hormone treatment, surgery, or both. Another U.S. study from last year found that 30% of patients who commenced cross-sex hormone treatment discontinued it within four years for unknown reasons.