Research-informed website aims to support sexual and gender-diverse communities

Hand reaching out for help

A new research website launched by a multidisciplinary team led by York University Professor Kinnon MacKinnon aims to provide resources, support and data-driven information about gender detransition/retransition.

The website Detrans Support was informed by learnings from two research studies funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) that explore detransition/retransition, along with ongoing consultations with transgender and gender-diverse, detransitioned people and their care providers.

Kinnon MacKinnon
Kinnon MacKinnon

The two studies – “The Re/DeTrans Canada Study” led by MacKinnon of York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, and “The Detrans Discourses Study” led by Professor Annie Pullen Sansfaçon of the Université de Montréal – were designed to qualitatively explore experiences of detransition/retransition.

Understanding identity evolution and identity fluidity is really important to ensure that gender care services are comprehensive and responsive to all gender-diverse populations such as non-binary, gender-fluid, two-spirit and detrans – whose specific needs may be neglected by prevailing ideas about gender medicine,” says MacKinnon. “The process of developing content for this website was explorative, multi-staged and involved significant stakeholder engagement.”

In November 2022, MacKinnon and colleagues held a Detransition Symposium and community event at York University to discuss and share results from the two research studies with those who identify with experiences relating to transitioning and/or detransitioning, along with their friends and families, gender care providers, and 2SLGBTQ+ program developers and educators.

Though MacKinnon acknowledges the website’s content may not reflect the full range of life journeys and perspectives of all 2SLGBTQ+ communities, it was iteratively produced by analyzing feedback and discussion notes collected at the symposium. Conversations with an advisory committee and feedback from several detransitioners, as well as a parent, also helped to inform the development of the website.

Designed to educate the public, support those who are exploring detransition, and provide resources for family, care providers and others, the website will evolve with continuing research. MacKinnon and team were recently awarded an Insight Grant from SSHRC to continue to build data-driven knowledge about pathways to detransition, identity evolution, gender minority stressors and unmet care needs among this population.

“We hope that the website will help to provide empirically driven information and guide conversations about this often misunderstood experience. To do this, it centres a diversity of voices and perspectives and includes resources for care providers working with gender-diverse people and for people who are detransitioning,” says MacKinnon. “We also hope the website will help to inform the future development of formal social supports because shifts in identity and gender expression following gender-related medical care is a phenomenon that is being seen more frequently in broader society, yet there remains stigma and unmet care needs around this experience.”

In June 2023, MacKinnon and colleagues published a paper in The BMJ outlining how research and care services have overlooked people who detransition, specifically those who discontinue or reverse gender care treatment, and how unmet physical and mental health-care needs and stigma are commonly reported among this population.

In this paper, MacKinnon also identifies how short-term studies into transitioning may have unintentionally excluded and erased detransition and identity shifts and calls for more robust research to inform the development of comprehensive knowledge, practice guidelines, and care services inclusive of detransition/retransition and gender-diverse identity evolution.

To learn more about the Detrans Support website and the team behind it, visit the About page.