A woman claims medics allowed her to transition to a man after just two and a half hours of therapy.
Sam Wise said she paid just £450 for three sessions at a private gender clinic before she was prescribed life-changing hormones to make her body more male.
That set her on a path which led to surgery to remove her breasts, and is also likely to have left her infertile.
The 26-year-old now deeply regrets her decision – and has decided to speak out to give her backing to others who have decided to “detransition”, reverting to their original birth gender.
She also expressed frustration at the supportive community who rally round when someone transitions – but appear to melt away, fearful of the minefield of gender politics, if a person realises the move was wrong for them.
Sam said: “I feel regret about the medical steps I took during my transition.
“It’s been a really difficult journey, and I’ve lost a lot of friends in the process who felt that I am in some way anti-trans for going back to my birth gender.
“I saw a community full of so many people who had transitioned and it had finally made them happy.
“I looked at them and thought I would be happy too. I now know that I’m not a trans man – but I didn’t have enough therapy to explore what was really going on with me.
“I needed help to realise that I don’t have to fit into society’s gender norms.”
Sam’s story comes against a backdrop of controversy over treatment offered to those who question their gender identity.
The NHS announced this week it would close its flagship Tavistock children’s gender clinic after an independent review expressed concerns.
Paediatrician Dr Hilary Cass’s report found that other factors, including mental health concerns, were “overlooked” at the London clinic, with emphasis on gender identity issues.
Sam, from Milton Keynes, Bucks, said she attended the private London Transgender Clinic because she felt too distressed to join a two-and-a-half-year NHS waiting list.
Although it did not break any rules in the treatment it gave her, Sam feels the system around transgender healthcare is broken.
She said: “The industry is under huge pressure from the trans community to move things along quickly because of statistics around suicide.
“This frightened me into feeling I had to do everything as quickly as possible to avoid feeling that way. I don’t blame the clinic, or the individual doctors.
“We need to look at the system as a whole, at how it’s failing people like me.”
Sam – who never felt like other girls growing up and is married to a woman – first visited the clinic in 2017 aged 21.
She said: “I didn’t have a concept of gender when I was young but I definitely didn’t feel like other girls. Looking back, I think that’s because I’m attracted to women and I’m quite gender non-conforming in my style.
“I came across YouTubers that were transmasculine and thought, ‘They’re describing how I feel’. I’d discovered what I thought would be the answer.”
But Sam said she was not sure she felt like a man and instead thought she was non-binary, the term used for people who identify as neither gender.
So she booked a £150 appointment at the private clinic. Sam continued: “I wanted to explore my gender identity, I didn’t want to transition on the spot.
“I thought I’d go to the private clinic, have therapy and figure out what I wanted. That wasn’t the case.”
Sam had her first appointment at the clinic in summer 2017. Records show she told a psychologist she was unsure if she identified as a man or was non-binary.
She said: “I said I wasn’t sure I wanted to go on hormones. I felt I wasn’t a woman – but I was quite sure I wasn’t a man.
“It was made very clear that identifying as non-binary was going to slow my treatment.
“It was better to say, ‘Actually I’m not sure if I’m definitely a man, but I’m going to live as a man’.
“This should have been questioned more. Why in six months did I go from being non-binary to identifying as a man?”
After a second appointment with a different psychologist that September, she says she was diagnosed with gender dysphoria. Sam said: “The appointments were not counselling. I’d expected it to be an exploration of the feelings I had. There wasn’t time.”
Coming out as transgender, Sam received a tide of love online and from friends.
She said: “Online, people would say, ‘Well done, you’re incredible’. These are people who have never met you.”
Only close family and her wife worried at her haste. She said: “They were more sceptical. They said, ‘We love you and we’ll support you’. But they had questions.”
At a third appointment in December 2017, Sam says she was prescribed the hormones to change her body. In 2018 she had a double mastectomy, costing £7,000.
The following year, her care was transferred to the NHS after she finally reached the top of the waiting list. But after developing hormone-related complications, and turning down a suggested hysterectomy, she began to wonder if she had taken the right path.
In late 2020, she decided to come off testosterone, and in March last year she decided to detransition and began living as a woman again.
Sam said: “It was essentially social suicide. It’s seen as a betrayal of the trans community as it’s seen as proving people right when they say it’s a phase. You’re rejected and pushed out.
“My wife and family were the only ones to accept me fully for detransitioning. They said, ‘We’re proud of you for doing what’s right for you’.
“But all my friends bar one started to distance themselves. It was as if by supporting a detransitioner, they’d be seen as anti-trans, even though I’m not anti-trans and support a lot of trans rights.”
The London Transgender Clinic said: “At the time of commencing gender-affirming hormone therapy, our patients fulfil the criteria for the diagnosis of gender dysphoria, according to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.
“However, gender identity may change over time – so we advise patients to organise a follow-up with their gender specialist within six to 12 months.”