A woman who underwent irreversible mutilation in hopes of passing as a sterile man now regrets the decision and is suing the medical practitioners involved for malpractice.
Michelle Zacchigna, 34, a Canadian woman who lives north of Toronto, indicated Monday that she started legal action in November against the eight doctors and so-called mental health experts who helped her on her journey to cut away her womb and breasts, permanently lower her voice, and hormonally secure male-pattern baldness.
Extra to seeking to hold to account those who allegedly chose not to raise the potential of alternative treatments or options, she has underscored how transsexual activists are part of the problem, having "drilled into us that [mental health] assessments were 'dehumanizing' and 'oppressive.'"
What's the background?
Zacchigna is one of a growing number of individuals to have recently undergone hormone treatments and disfiguring surgeries on sexual organs, only to realize that "transition was not the panacea it is treated as."
Zacchigna noted in Lighthouse that little over a year after being prompted to think about her gender at the age of 21, she "went from questioning to injecting hormones," having assimilated an understanding about transsexuality from Tumblr and LiveJournal.
In a Gender Dysphoria Alliance website post, she indicated that in "places like Tumblr, there was constant reassurance that only trans people spend so much time thinking about their gender (not actually true) and that every trans person has doubts about transitioning. These reassurances kept me on the path towards permanently altering my body, and the medical professionals I saw never questioned me."
Transsexuality seemed at first to explain her aversion to conventional feminine costumes, unsatisfying sexual experiences, and her history with mental illness.
By the age of 11, she had begun to engage in self-destructive behavior, going so far as to slash her arm with a knife. At the age of 20, she attempted suicide and was subsequently referred by her family doctor to undergo psychotherapy, during which she was treated for social anxiety and clinical depression, reported the National Post.
The Daily Mail reported that Zacchigna's therapist Nadine Lulu put her forward as an "ideal candidate" for hormone therapy in July 2010. Additional therapists who had never before met Zacchigna also allegedly recommended her for hormone therapy.
Having determined that a discrepancy between her biological sex and gender was at issue, Zacchigna "was prescribed testosterone via informed consent. Under this model of care, one’s identity is affirmed and there is no process of differential diagnosis. I needed a couple of letters 'one recommending testosterone and one confirming I was competent' and to sign forms acknowledging the risks of cross-sex hormones."
"Seven years after being prescribed hormones, I had a psychoeducational assessment and was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, and major depressive disorder," wrote Zacchigna. "I had symptoms of post-traumatic stress. I even had a learning disability and a 'slow processing speed.' Despite this, my identity was, again, affirmed by professionals and not considered something to look further into."
Between the activists online and the medical practitioners who aided her along the way, Zacchigna noted that never once was she "exposed to the idea that my worldview might be wrong."
By the time that she was confronted with the possibility that she had been misled, she had been subjected to a double mastectomy and a partial hysterectomy, both covered by insurance.
She documented the stages of her "transition" and de-transition (warning: some of the footage contains graphic images):
De/Transition Timeline (Oct 2010-Dec 2022)youtu.be
Zacchigna noted that when her roommate de-transitioned, "my own reasons came into question. My childhood peers knew I was different, but was that because I was a boy or because I was impulsive and emotionally reactive? I didn’t want to wear makeup or dresses, but maybe that was because I had a sensory processing disability? Maybe my sexual experiences were bad because I wasn’t attracted to men?"
In a Jan. 11 YouTube video, she said, "Each step involved irreversible alterations to my body and came with serious risks, yet all were met with little challenge despite my long-standing history of mental health struggles and no indication of gender-related distress in childhood or adolescence."
Zacchigna de-transitioned in November 2020.
On the Gender Dysphoria Alliance website, she said, "I am faced with the reality that I had surgically removed healthy body parts that I could have used to carry and feed my future children. I have male-pattern balding and a deepened voice for the rest of my life. And it seems that I have no recourse for what happened."
She added, " Some days, the pain of what I’ve done to myself is overwhelming. I cry and I can’t stop. Other days, I’m angry that I wasn’t screened for the diagnoses I later received before I was prescribed hormones."
"I’m very worried that the one-size-fits-all approach to medical transition will only put more vulnerable people through medical trauma, and the trans community that once supported me for ten years has made it clear that they don’t care about collateral damage," she concluded.
Zacchigna's lawsuit, filed in Ottawa, claims, "Michelle’s stated desire to become transgender was never challenged and it was treated to the exclusion of her other serious mental health issues, closing the door to alternative treatment options."
The doctors and therapists named as defendants allegedly "permitted Michelle to self-diagnose as transgender and prescribe her own treatment without providing a differential diagnosis or proposing alternative treatments."
According to the National Post, Zacchigna's claim alleges the counselor who wrote a recommendation letter for medical intervention in 2010 didn't recommend any alternatives or seek confirmation of the victim's self-diagnosis of gender dysphoria.
Despite having had no previous transsexual clients, her regular therapist also recommended intervention, stating that Zacchigna was an "ideal candidate for hormone therapy," said the claim. This recommendation was reportedly supported in turn by the therapist's supervising psychologist, who allegedly hadn't bothered speaking to the prospective victim.
"The Defendants failed to investigate or failed to adequately investigate and/or confirm that Michelle’s stated desire to transition to the male sex was rooted in a diagnosis of gender dysphoria or resulting from other factors in Michelle’s mental health including her history of clinical depression, anxiety, developmental disabilities, and social difficulties," said her claim.
Had she been made aware of alternatives, Zacchigna's claim suggests she would have "learned to live with her body without surgical or hormonal treaments."
She is now seeking $350,00 in general damages for pain and suffering in addition to an untold sum for past and future loss of income, past and future medical treatment, and other costs.
Zacchigna also seeks to have the money billed by doctors to the Ontario Health Insurance Plan returned.
She told the National Post, "I’ve been under the impression that all medical malpractice suits are challenging. Doctors win the majority of cases in Canada. ... It’s very much a David vs. Goliath undertaking."
Jordan Peterson cheered on Zacchigna on Wednesday, tweeting, "Get 'em Michelle. Butchers and liars. And all the virtue-signaling in the world won't change that fact."
Zacchigna recently underscored online that "'Gender-affirming care' is institutional violence."
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