A British man who claims he was pressured into having surgery to remove his genitals and has since suffered irreparable damage is suing the NHS clinic where he sought help for gender dysphoria.
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Mail, a man named Ritchie Herron said the vaginoplasty he underwent at the behest of the NHS gender clinic in Newcastle, England, was “the biggest mistake of his life” and now he experiences painful physiological complications, including numbness, incontinence and infertility.
His harrowing ordeal first became known to the public earlier this month when he shared his story on Twitter under the pseudonym TullipR. In a June 13 thread that subsequently went viral, he divulged the multitude of challenges he now faces in his postoperative daily life.
In an interview with The Christian Post via email, Herron said in the days since his thread went viral he has "had an outpouring of support and empathy, a great deal of compassion."
"I was fully bracing to be judged harshly by the masses, and yet that didn’t happen. I was met with kindness, support, well wishes and empathy. Many kind individuals wished me well and [said they are] praying for me even, which was touching and humbling," Herron said.
"I’ve been judged, too, sometimes through the lens of fear, other times through misunderstanding and others through anger. But for me, it’s just words on a screen. I hold no ill will against anyone who does seek to judge," he added.
Among the challenges he detailed in the June 13 tweet thread are that it now takes him 10 minutes to urinate, his crotch area is completely numb, and the surgery did not alleviate his mental distress as he was led to believe it would. Herron recounted to the Daily Mail that he thought he was fast-tracked into undergoing a permanent surgery and that NHS clinicians did not take into account his worsening mental health.
Herron, who had begun referring to himself by the female name "Abby" while identifying as transgender, said he had repeatedly turned down suggestions that he undergo a gender surgery and relayed his concerns to the clinic's staff. He reportedly turned down a vaginoplasty in 2015 and again in 2017. When he refused the surgery the second time he said that he was told that the rejection of the referral meant he would be discharged from the service, which he believed also meant the withdrawal of the therapy he had been receiving, something he considered valuable.
In May 2018, he finally underwent the operation that entailed the removal of both testicles and his penis. The surgeon then took the remaining tissue and skin to surgically create female genitalia. Herron said his mindset at the time was, “I’m here now, there’s no stopping it even if I wanted to.”
Following the surgery, Herron said he was deeply regretful, recalling his first thought as: “Oh God, what have I done" as he lay in bed in a blur of painkillers.
Herron is now preparing to take legal action against the NHS Foundation Trust and his attorney told the Daily Mail that his client is facing "a lifetime of medical care and consequences" and he "cannot be put back together again."
Herron told the Daily Mail that his clinicians "failed to identify red flags and change direction." "Proper consideration needs to be given to issues such as OCD, internalised homophobia, depression, drug use, sexual abuse and childhood trauma as potential reasons for patients’ rejecting their sexed body."
He believes that more lawsuits will be filed in a few years, perhaps by people who were inspired by his claim, and described the moment as “an avalanche waiting to happen.”
In an interview with Kallie Fell, host of the California-based Center for Bioethics & Culture’s "Venus Rising" podcast, Herron said the detransitioning — the process of reintegrating with his natal sex — has been more challenging the undergoing gender-transition, particularly navigating the healthcare bureaucracy to file complaints against the gender clinic.
When asked during the podcast what he would say to those questioning their gender, Herron replied that they need to get off of the internet, spend time in nature, and recognize that this is an obsession.
“When you obsess about your gender, are you trans, are you not trans, that is an obsession. And the important part of disengaging from the internet is to stop feeling it and to remind you of what’s real. Because when you realize what’s real in the world, you’ll realize what’s real within you and how you feel,” he said.
Herron further stressed that it's important to explore the various contributing factors to gender dysphoria, explaining that some mental health issues are categorized as gender distress, when, in fact, there might be other neurological issues underlying it.
Last year, the Center for Bioethics & Culture released a 50-minute documentary film scrutinizing the medicalization of gender, titled “Trans Mission: What’s the Rush to Reassign Gender?” The group is now in post-production on a new film that will feature the stories of young women who have detransitioned.
The NHS Trust told the Daily Mail in a statement that though it was unable to comment on any individual's health records, the care plans for each person “are collaborative and tailored to each patient’s needs and goals, and treatment decisions are made following a thorough assessment in line with national recommendations.”
Herron’s ordeal follows the efforts of Keira Bell, a female detransitioner who was a plaintiff in the judicial review against the NHS Tavistock gender clinic in London. Bell, who was prescribed experimental hormone blockers as a minor and then went on to take opposite sex hormones and undergo a double mastectomy, argued that, as a teenager, she was incapable of understanding the long-term repercussions of what the experimental drugs would do to her long-term health, including leaving her potentially infertile.
Though the U.K. High Court of Justice initially ruled in Bell’s favor and found that children were not able to give consent to the experimental drugs under the relevant standard in the nation — often referred to as “Gillick competency” which dates back to a 1986 case involving birth control — and that the Tavistock’s clinical and record-keeping practices were inadequate, the decision was reversed in September 2021.
In the United States, scrutiny of the experimental medicalization of gender has increased in recent days amid the emergence of documentary films challenging the claims of its effectiveness.
Last week, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., introduced legislation that would allow detransitioners to sue the doctors who performed the experimental procedures and body mutilating gender surgeries on them while they were minors, with a 30-year statute of limitations.
Herron believes that his ordeal is proof that “the whole system has to become far more robust.”
“How many more people are there out there like me?’
Herron told CP that he is part of several detrans community groups, "from the front-facing reddit with 35,000 members, to the support groups."
"[T]here are many, many stories yet to be told. I wish my story was an outlier; I wish it was a fluke, but it’s not and many more are coming forward since that tweet," he said.