Until just four months ago, Jeremy Bate was living as a ‘trans woman’ after transitioning 17 years ago and undergoing sex reassignment surgery. Now he is angry at a system and ideology he says took advantage of him when he was his most vulnerable.
For the past 17 years, Jeremy Bate has lived as a woman.
But now, after hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery, he believes it has all been a mistake.
At the age of 52, Mr Bate now says he was never anything other than a man and has called for more support for people questioning their gender.
At the age of 35, Mr Bate transitioned from his biological sex after a devastating relationship breakdown exacerbated a gender confusion he says was originally caused by an anti-miscarriage drug his mother took when he was in utero.
About four months ago Mr Bate started reading deeply about the science and ideology of gender and he began to question what had happened to him.
He reached out to clinics, he sent emails, he tried to get his phone calls returned from support lines.
“There was no answer, no interest whatsoever,” Mr Bates said.
He said he raised questions in online transgender support groups, but was blocked almost immediately because he was “challenging the accepted wisdom” and was accused of being “transphobic”.
Then he became angry.
He was angry at the system for letting him down, he was angry at those he believes have an ideological agenda and he was angry there was no support.
Mr Bate said he was shocked when transgender support groups to which he belonged “turned on him”.
“It sends alarm bells to me, because they don’t want to tolerate anyone moving away from it,” he said.
“They’d rather think I was never a proper trans in the first place, because they just can’t stand the idea.
“Their basic ideology is that you have to have been born that way, and if you can turn away from it, then that cancels their argument.”
Mr Bate said he was angry not only because no one would help him when he started to talk about detransitioning, but because he felt he transitioned at a time when he was vulnerable after the relationship breakdown took away his stability.
He said he had never received specialist medical advice or unbiased counselling before agreeing to hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery.
“I’m angry because this happened when I wasn’t able to protect myself,” he said.
“I was subjected to those hormones and later on the ideology without enough people who were aware of the alternatives.
“More and more people are aware of the alternatives now and the story I’ve been telling is becoming more prevalent.”
Mr Bate said he would have been better off if he had counselling to help him become more comfortable with the body he was born in.
“I would’ve been helped more by what you could call ‘tough love’,” he said.
“I was very gender confused, and I latched on to the idea of ‘transexual’ because I thought that must apply to who I am.
“In the absence of any other information, that was what I was running with, but if I’d got the different information, and more support the other way I’m sure I would’ve been open to questioning.
“I’m not saying it would’ve been easy.”
Although there are no reliable statistics on the number of transgender people in Australia, there were 1260 people who said they were a gender other than male or female in the 2016 Census, including people who said they were “trans male” or “trans female”.
North American studies indicate 0.3 per cent of the population could be transgender, which would translate to about 75,000 Australians.
Mr Bate encouraged people who believed they were transgender to look at the alternative viewpoints and be open to listening to the complete picture on both sides of the story.
“Expose yourself to the alternative ideas because I think it would be really helpful and get counselling that really explores everything,” he said.
“A real detailed history, a thorough exploration of your upbringing, just really investigate yourself.
“It’s really important to do that.”
In his own case, Mr Bate now believes he was affected developmentally by the hormone his mother was prescribed when he was in utero and he now takes testosterone to reverse its effects.
“In some ways I actually feel better than I ever did in my life,” he said.
“But obviously it’s difficult because I’m still at war with my body you could say, because I’ve obviously had the operation.”
He said his sex reassignment surgery could be reversed, but it would be expensive and he hadn’t found anyone who could do it.
“I’d be very wary about doing it because I have to be assured the results would be pretty reasonable,” he said.
“It’s something that’s already been messed with and I don’t want to mess with it again to make it even worse.”
Mr Bate said he set up a support page for people in his situation, called “Detransition”.
“There are going to have to be some pretty serious inquiries down the road about how this became so prevalent and how affirming treatment became the so-called international best practice,” he said.
“I don’t think people are aware of the implications of it.
“And we’re actually harming people by not allowing them to have access to biological sex-affirming treatment.”
For support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.