Detransitioner: 'I'm suing the doctors who removed my healthy breasts'
Category: News & PoliticsVia: vic-eldred • 2 months ago • 28 comments
By: Rikki Schlott (New York Post)
Detransitioner Camille Kiefel is suing the medical team that approved the gender-neutral top surgery in 2020 that left her with painful complications.
"Sometimes in the shower, I realize they're gone. I just have these scars."
Camille Kiefel, 32, had her healthy breasts removed in 2020 to align with her nonbinary gender identity. She says her doctors approved the surgery after two Zoom meetings, breezing past a whole host of mental health issues.
Now that Camille is in a better place mentally, she realizes her surgery was a mistake. So, two and a half years later, she's suing her social worker, therapist, and the gender clinics they work for — Brave Space Oregon and Quest Center for Integrative Health — seeking up to $850,000 in damages.
As a child, Camille never gave her gender identity a thought. But when her best friend was raped by a relative in sixth grade, she said she became acutely aware of her femininity. Around that time her father also imparted well-meaning advice that backfired.
Kiefel during a period in her 20s when she identified as non-binary following coursework in gender studies at Portland State University. Courtesy of Camille Kiefel
"My dad told me about how men talked about girls, because he wanted to protect me and to get me to dress more conservatively," she told The Post. "But it made my anxiety worse. All that really screwed me up. I remember I was even afraid to be alone."
From that point on, she began dressing more androgynously. "I didn't want to highlight my curves. I had a lot of discomfort around my breasts and hips."
Images of Kiefel from her childhood, a period in which she paid little attention to gender until a friend was sexually assaulted in the sixth grade. Dina Avila for NY Post
But the idea that she might not actually be a woman didn't occur to Camille until she enrolled at Portland State University, where she minored in gender studies and was introduced to alternative views about sex and gender.
By the time she reached her mid-20s, she embraced a nonbinary label and used she/they pronouns. All the while, she was struggling with a slew of mental-health issues, including anxiety disorder, social anxiety, PTSD, major depressive disorder and ADHD.
Kiefel in a candid shot just before her breast removal surgery in August 2020.
In the depths of the pandemic in 2020, Camille, then 30, was still struggling and thought gender-neutral top surgery could ease her mental-health issues. "I was so dysfunctional, and I just wanted something that was going to help me," she recalled. "I thought I would be happier."
She got a referral to a major gender clinic in Oregon, where she talked to doctors via Zoom twice — once in May and once in July, each time for about an hour. And that was all it took. She said she never saw anyone in person before she had her breasts removed on Aug. 28. (Brave Space Oregon and Quest Center for Integrative Health did not respond to requests for comment.)
Kiefel's double mastectomy took place under the supervision of a pair of Oregon gender clinics, Brave Space Oregon and Quest Center for Integrative Health (above).Google Maps
Complications were almost immediate. She said she experienced trouble swallowing and scopolamine poisoning from a patch on the back of her ear meant to treat nausea, which caused her pupils to dilate for months post-surgery.
All of a sudden, she said the doctors who approved of her surgery and validated her feelings left her in the lurch. "Doctors took me seriously up until surgery, but after I developed all these complications, I noticed they stopped taking me seriously," Camille said. "I was on my own at that point."
Another image of Kiefel during her non-binary period, when she also suffered from anxiety disorder, social anxiety, PTSD, major depressive disorder and ADHD.Courtesy of Camille Kiefel
And, while she hoped the procedure would help her mental health, she wasn't quite so sure when she saw the final result: "I remember when the doctor took the bandages off, I felt kind of mixed."
In the ensuing months, Camille got her mental and physical health in order, and once again identifies as a female. She said she now sees the situation from a more stable viewpoint.
The feminist organization the Women's Liberation Front is helping Kiefel mount her lawsuit against the groups and individuals who green-lit her surgery.
"There's nothing to transition to as nonbinary," Camille said. "There's no third sex out there. It's just based on a feeling that this would be a good fit for you. It's a designer surgery but I didn't think of it at the time . . . It's a weird Frankenstein surgery that they're doing."
In retrospect, she noticed just how much her doctors had overlooked when they approved her procedure. She told them about the trauma she experienced when her friend was raped and her emotional struggles. Yet she was still given a green light to remove her breasts.
Kiefel is following in the footsteps of British detransitioner Keira Bell, who has sued Tavistock, the center that performed her medical transition.FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA/EPA-EFE/ShuBell transitioned from female to male during her late teens. Five years after undergoing a double mastectomy at age 20, she decided to detransition back to female.
"The doctors are under this gender ideology as well, so there's this sort of idea that you can have mental illness and be trans," she explained. "It's almost like a confirmation bias and they didn't really look into it."
Her dating life has also been impacted. Recently, a partner broke up with her when they found out she doesn't have breasts. And, although Camille would like to have children one day, she will never be able to breastfeed.
Although she now identifies as a woman, Kiefel no longer has breasts and will be unable to breastfeed if she has children. Dina Avila for NY Post
"I still get sad about that," she said. "It's depressing what happened. I had this radical surgery, and now I'll always deal with the consequences."
Camille is being represented by Jackson Bone LLP in her legal battle in Oregon State Court and is being supported by the feminist organization Women's Liberation Front.
She hopes that taking the case to court will prevent history from repeating itself.
Many people "who should not be getting these surgeries are getting these surgeries," she said. "There are underlying health issues that are being overlooked. People like myself are slipping through the cracks."