Discover more from Year Zero
A Terrible Authority Inscribed Into Their Own Flesh
Detransitioner Abel Garcia Speaks at the DO NO HARM protest
Year Zero is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
I first saw Abel Garcia as he was tenderly embracing a matronly, brown-skinned woman before escorting her across the street. They walked from the hotel where the DO NO HARM protesters had first convened to the sidewalk where a couple dozen of them donned their signs in silent protest of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He was at the shortish end of middling height but of wide girth and solid bulk — a strong but gentle young man, stocky and squarish, but languid in his movements, courtly and deferential to the older woman, whom he watched over with a certain vigilance as he accompanied her past a small but frenetic knot of counter-protesters whom they had to pass to get to their own picket line. He wore a sign emblazoned with the words SELF LOVE NOT SURGERY around his neck. The older woman wore a sign reading KIDS DON'T NEED GENDER CLINICS.
I would learn later that the brown-skinned matron was Abigail Martinez. Her teenaged daughter Yaeli ran away when Abigail balked at affirming Yaeli’s transgender identification. Child Protective Services investigated and a California family court placed Yaeli into the foster system at 15. Yaeli put herself on testosterone therapy at 18. She committed suicide by standing in front of an oncoming train at 19.
I would later learn that Abel Garcia had spent 20 months on estrogen identifying as a woman. He had breast implants and authorization from his insurance company for an operation to remove his genitals when abruptly one morning, while looking at himself in the mirror, Garcia had an epiphany. A question sprung to his mind: “What am I doing to my body?”
Garcia was addressing protesters in the hotel conference room. The group had reconvened there after a chanting crowd of transgender allies and antifa street militants interrupted Martinez as she tried to speak about her dead child and broke up the cluster of protesters, driving them off the street corner. We are going to Plan B,” the protest organizer, Erin Friday, shouted through the megaphone as Martinez dissolved into tears next to her. Friday was referencing the plan — to retreat from any attempted street confrontation — that she had sketched fewer than ten minutes prior as the protesters headed for the street corner, optimistic that they would be allowed to speak without being subject to the veto of the rainbow swarm.
The private security that the protesters had hired corralled everyone back inside and stood guard outside the conference room to ensure that no hostile elements followed them. The speakers delivered their messages unmenaced by those who wished to suppress them, but audible only to themselves.
It is part of the Twilight Zone-like unreality into which this issue has plunged much of the Western world that a mother telling the story of her daughter’s suicide while under the influence of cross-sex hormones — crucially, in her mother’s account, doled out in lieu of counseling to address underlying mental health difficulties — is seen by the forces aligned with the right-thinking in our society as a purveyor of hate and harm. A mother who must be driven off the streets lest her message corrupt its listeners into a dangerous hesitancy to block the puberty of children with off-label cancer drugs — drugs used to chemically castrate adult sex offenders — and put them on a path to becoming lifelong dependents on the medical industry. I came to Anaheim California to witness and document this Twilight Zone-like unreality and saw it close up with my own eyes. But it is detransitioners like Abel Garcia, who have actually injected this Twilight Zone-like unreality into their own veins, that speak with a terrible authority inscribed into their own flesh.
Garcia's epiphany came at a vulnerable moment, “after all the euphoria had ended, after all the love bombing had ended, and after every type of support that I had ended for me.”
Left to his own devices, Abel came to a realization:
“I realized that no matter what I did — hormones, surgeries, even if the world accepted me as a woman — I would have never been a woman. All I was is a carbon copy of a woman, a caricature of a woman, what I believe a woman was, but I would have never known what a woman truly is, as I am not able. I was just a man pretending to be a woman.”
The room was quietly transfixed. Garcia had just uttered what had recently become an ultimate blasphemy, the foulest hate speech, and grounds for deplatforming, perhaps even from the financial system itself. That the person whom he was denigrating as an imposter who would always fail to achieve his delusional imposture was himself scarcely mitigated the shock of transgression. Were we allowed to believe such things? One felt in that moment the uncanny power of the detransitioner, a category of person who isn’t supposed to exist at all, and who isn’t supposed to speak if they do — and yet, for reasons that Garcia would quickly spell out, was likely to burgeon in numbers with each passing year.
Garcia noted wryly that the gender clinician he spoke to affirmed him as a woman at his first visit and offered him a prescription for estrogen that he did not use for a few months. She had done so because she “did not want to gatekeep me,” as Garcia told the audience.
But when he returned to that same clinician to tell her, “I think I made a mistake,” she told him, “It's because I had childhood trauma that is resurfacing.”
Garcia sought out a second gender clinician to discuss his regret and desire to detransition.
This second clinician warned Garcia of the dangers of detransition. “He told me I should not be too cavalier with my gender identity regarding detransitioning because I don't know the full extent of the damage that can be done to my body.”
The air began to fill with derisive chuckles.
“I think y’all just caught that. ... I was told I should not detransition because I don't know the harm that can be done to my body. I was questioned when I wanted to detransition. But where were those questions when I wanted to transition? They weren't there. I was immediately affirmed.”
Garcia went to a third clinician who was willing to skirt the law in California, which bans “conversion therapy” to help him detransition. “But before that, I was feeling hopeless, lonely, I didn't know what to do.
"He wasn't doing conversion therapy, he was just talking to me like a normal person. But because the state of California does not approve of detransitioning — they only approve of transitioning — my therapist could have been accused of conversion therapy.”
Garcia gave witness to the cardinal fact — one which the new cohort of detransitioners, including several speaking alongside him, well understood: a new breed of “affirming” psychologists and clinicians were refusing, on principle, any gatekeeping of “life-saving gender-affirming care.” They affirmed every person who claimed a transgender identity and put them on a path to medicalization at the very first visit.
They were doing so at the very moment an explosion of online influencers and communities were telling confused and impressionable young people that medical sex change was a magical cure-all — that a wide range of struggles around mental health, body acceptance, and identity were caused by their previously unknown transgender identity and treatable only through medical transition. The message was that dosing oneself with powerful controlled substances and enlisting surgeon’s to reshape one’s body would turn children struggling to find themselves into the cross-gendered people they always really were.
Their messages found an eager audience among young people already in the grips of identity crises beyond the one co-extensive with adolescence itself — especially to neuro-atypical, gender-nonconforming, mentally ill young people — to those suffering from depression, anxiety, eating disorders, personality disorders and other afflictions of the mind which were rapidly being recast as symptoms of being born in the wrong body. Such troubled youth were told that the answer lay in changing their bodies to match their “gender identities,” a recently coined and suddenly ubiquitous term referring to the internal, subjective sense of being a man, woman, both or neither, that determined who you really were without reference to your sexual morphology or chromosomes. The idea was increasingly being taught in middle and even elementary schools as fact. As teaching materials establishing gender identity as universal a default became pervasive in certain progressive schools, identification began take root even among some who merely wished to fit in with their peers.
Gender clinicians like the one Garcia initially visited would then bring to a close this self-referential cycle of online contagion by reflexively affirming the self-diagnosis of confused, impressionable young people under the influence of online peers. The contagion that was now burning through a growing fraction of America’s young did so in no small part by burning through its medical subspecialties and professionals first. We will be revisiting this enormous fact in future stories.
I was struck by Garcia’s wryly self-deprecating account of his transition and detransition. The very banality of both his easy transition and abrupt detransition brought the new reality sharply into view. He had always been a normally functioning child, perhaps a bit depressive, but never diagnosed with any mental health problem. He was merely seen as deficient as a male in a macho culture that ruled the mostly Spanish speaking community he inhabited. And in the mid 2010s, with the aid of the Internet, it was enough to send this rather beefy and bearded Mexican man on a path to transition. Was he ever truly a sufferer of gender dysphoria, a complex psychological diagnosis with a strict etiology? This key question literally did not matter because it was never asked by the medical professionals who put him on hormones and inserted breast implants into his chest. “I feel like I might be a woman,” was enough.
Garcia was the child of immigrants who had crossed the border illegally. They resided in a very small town in the Central Valley of California where his father worked first in the fields and later driving a truck. Garcia's father, who spoke very broken English, was “not really in the picture,” as Garcia put it, because of a work schedule that had him constantly on the road. Garcia was an overweight child and “very shy, quiet, reserved, an over thinker.” He would repeat that term, “over thinker” many times to describe himself, indicative a social context in which thinking at all was regarded as overthinking.
He was “a very emasculated boy without a father figure," as he put it, existing uneasily within a subculture on the fringes of the wider mainstream American culture. “I’m too white for my the Hispanic community. I’m too Hispanic for the American culture. So there’s an identity issue there.”
He had always felt that “if I can't be successful as a man, that means I must be a woman.” This idea, almost certainly absorbed osmotically from the machismo-based, rigid gender roles that surrounded him, had a acquired a strange double in the new world of gender-affirmation. An idea that 5 or 10 years ago would have been instantly recognized as a regressive artifact of a backward society — that if you’re into girly shit, that means you are a literal girl — had been reborn as the vanguard of the hyper-progressive future, a cultural content mill, a way for moral entrepreneurs and progressive politicians and activists clinicians to posture as saviors, and a lucrative multi-billion-dollar business enterprise all rolled in one. So many had so much to gain from this cultural churn; the costs were exacted from the bodies and psyches of impressionable youth wanting to believe the impossible promises being made to them by those with a vested interest in the propagation of this belief. Never mind that a dozen longitudinal studies had shown that a supermajority of gender dysphoric desisted at puberty without any intervention. A recent statement by a doctor working for the British National Health Service put back into circulation a reality that no one would have doubted ten years ago, not just because a dozen studies had proved it, but because all of human history had attested to it. A campaign to dismantle the wisdom derived from all of human history had not yet succeeded within the halls of power. Most children experiencing gender identity issues were going through a phase.
The idea that he could act on this intuition came to him in late middle school when he found some male to female transition content on YouTube. As a 19-year-old in his first year of community college, he visited a gender clinicians and was instantly given a prescription for estrogen. His mother was shocked. She cried and asked him what would happen if he changed his mind. “Because I bought into the lie, I told her, ‘I don't think I’m ever going to go back on what I’m choosing. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.’ God I was so wrong.”
His father had another plan to fix his son’s gender identity crisis. It involved an elaborate subterfuge that both underscored the background context that led him to question his manhood and pushed him to embrace transgenderism. The cover story was that his father had a dentist appointment across the border in Tijuana and would need his son to drive him back home in case the anesthesia lingered too long. The two woke up early crossed the border into Mexico. His father had his dental appointment. He then proposed that they go to a restaurant. Garcia would discover only once he was seated that the restaurant was a brothel. The father had decided to make a man of his son.
“Right before we go into the backroom, my father tells the prostitute in Spanish, ‘Take good care of him. It’s his first time.’
“So obviously, at that point, I felt betrayed by my own father. I wanted to refuse, but I couldn’t because he had already paid for it.
“I felt almost like I had been held hostage. We were in his vehicle…”
It was the first time Garcia ever felt his father was harming him. “That’s why I was willing to go with it, even though I didn’t want to,” he said.
I asked if he entertained the thought that this might cure him.
“No,” he said.
He couldn’t recall most of what happened next. “Let’s just say I was not able to perform at all. We took much longer than we needed. And I told the prostitute to lie to my father telling me I went well, we had a great time and I did everything. Let’s just say that she covered for me. So I’ll give her credit where credit is due.”
Garcia continued with the charade, telling his father he had had a great time and that they should do it again sometime. “I did not want him to know that I hated it. I hated him at that point. And then that was the point in my life where I decided I wanted to transition because I was obviously traumatized.” A few months later, Garcia moved out of his parents’ house. A month after that, he went on estrogen.
Transition brought Garcia the wave of affirmation that he was seeking “I was being love-bombed from every direction.”
But later, when word spread that he was volunteering at the local police department in hopes of becoming a police officer, he was canceled online and then abandoned in real life by his new glitter family.
“The first female transgender cop for the local department. They didn’t like that for some reason.” The local chief of police supported and liked him. But the love-bombing abruptly stopped.
The communal lifeline that sustains transgender identities through constant affirmation and constant policing of identities was abruptly severed. Left to his own devices, Garcia was unable to persist in what he had come to believe was a lie.
At the heart of the transgender movement is a push to extend the boundaries of that lifeline to encompass that whole world, to compel participation in it through force of law and altered custom, and to overwrite our understanding of sex and identity from the earliest age. The corporations, governments, NGOs, schools culture industries, and medical institutions of the Western world had all been conscripted into this project simultaneously, through a non-electoral process of institutional capture I call ideological succession.
At the end of that pipeline are people like the young Abel Garcia — insecure in their sex, traumatized by sexual infraction, exposed to online trans influencers, persuaded into transition by the networked crowd of cheerleaders for transition, a growing number of whom determine policies throughout the medical and educational system. Each of these young people is haunted by an unspoken fear, intrinsic to the enterprise, that someday they’ll wake up, look in the mirror and realize, as Garcia put it: “Even if I got into full surgical face removal, my genitals removed — I would have never been a woman.”
It’s the reason why “deadnaming” was banned on Twitter and a Norwegian feminist is being investigated by police for denying that men can be lesbians. For if the major platforms that control speech and expression all collude in enforcing the imperatives of the movement, then the borders of the trans-inclusive safe space can be made co-extensive with the entire world. In such a world, detransition will still happen, (and indeed, as affirmative care expands in its reach and scope, grow dramatically in incidence) but never become the subject of public conversation or concern. Though there are some significant roadblocks on the way, including the existence of the First Amendment — and an American right wing political movement opposed to transgenderism about which I will have much more to say in future pieces — we are partway toward that world.
Garcia moved to Texas to start life anew, shut down all his social media accounts and went AWOL on the world that sustained him as trans. He was not too proud to acknowledge that he had not done this, he would probably still be trans identified.
“I probably would have still been in it if I lived here in California. I probably would have been one of the activists right here yelling at Abigail : ‘You transphobe’! Yelling at Chloe like, ‘You’re a fake transgender.’ You were never really trans!’ Yelling at Cat. Let me see, yelling at Scott saying ‘You’re a fake transgender!’”
I asked Garica what sort of lingering harms he has sustained from his transition.
“I have harms all over my body,” he replied. After his implants were removed, with his shirt off, Garcia looks like a transgender man. He has a huge scar that runs across his chest, which is numb. His genitals have atrophied from the estrogen. “I don’t know my fertility status. I have difficulties going to the bathroom.”
The proposition that one should desire the complications endemic to dosing the body with massive injections of cross-sex hormones in lieu of not needing to do so because one has reconciled with one’s sexed body, requires the positing of a mystical “gender identity” — a subjective feeling that stands over and against the body and whose health is achieved through inflicting scars and wounds on the body. It is exactly this proposition that has been legislated in twenty-one states that ban “conversion therapy.” The Office of Civil Rights within the Department of Education has proposed enshrining “gender identity” — an attribute knowable only through the attestations of the bearer of that identity, by its nature a claim as unprovable and unfalsifiable as transubstantiation — as the new basis upon which hitherto sex-based legal protections protecting women’s equality will be enforced in American universities through Title IX of the Civil Rights Act. This act, and similar legislation awaiting Congressional ratification, will transform the category of “women” in American law from a single-sex class of those born with the potential to generate large gametes into a mixed-sex class of females plus who “identify” as women. On the basis of this claim, whoever says they are a woman must be recognized as a woman without reference to any other fact about them other than the claim to feel as a woman does, and granted access to hitherto sex-segregated spaces such as bathrooms, locker-rooms, dormitories, prisons, and domestic violence and rape shelters.
Garcia now declares himself to be a heterosexual man and to be “searching for Mrs. Garcia.” He does so with an atrophied penis and uncertain fertility, but he says he has “accepted myself as I am, accepted the fact that I have harmed myself, accepted everything.” Regarding his search for a mate, “No luck yet, but eventually I’ll find her somewhere in Texas.”
After spending years seeking acceptance as a woman, Garcia struggles with being a man in male spaces. He had actually done quite well being accepted as a woman by women and passing well enough to go undetected in women’s locker rooms and other private spaces.
“Everyone who’s transgender claims ‘I pass.’ … I am gonna bite my tongue but I will say, most of y’all don’t pass. Don’t lie to yourself. … I feel like I passed well enough.”
While living as a transgender woman, Garcia wanted to get a boyfriend and tried to get a husband but was too self-conscious about being transgender to ever successfully date anyone.
“If I dated someone, I never knew if it was because I was trans and they are a tranny-chaser or is it because they actually liked me as a person, even though I'm lying to the world. Yeah, ‘do they like the me that I’m putting on as a persona as a facade, even though I’m not willing to accept myself?’”
Garcia’s change in sexual orientation — from being a transgender woman on hormones seeking a heterosexual relationship with a man to being a detransitioned man seeking a heterosexual relationship with a woman — recalled something I had read in the psychologist Michael Bailey’s book about effeminate men, “The Man Who Would Be Queen.” He noted that a disproportionate share of the “homosexual transsexuals” he studied were Hispanic, quoting one such transsexual woman explaining that the culture of machismo’s strictures on male homosexuality were so intense that it was easier for those with homosexual inclinations to transition to become women than to be open about homosexuality. I didn’t know if that generalization applied to Garcia, but it seemed consistent with his view that if you couldn’t succeed as a man, you must be a woman. It seemed consistent with his father’s view that a prostitute could make a man of his son. And it seemed to fit with the son’s choice to go on estrogen months later.
I asked him whether he ever thought about simply remaining within the network that sustained the transgender identity into perpetuity, like those who remain in a cult and live within its self-enclosed premises forever.
“Honestly, I’d say leave the cult. Your body's eventually going to give out on you. Your body cannot sustain artificial cross-sex hormones at the level they are prescribing for young children, young adults or adults in general.”
“Everyone who does this, our lifetimes have been shortened. The lifespans are shorter, because like I said, we are taking cross-sex hormones at a boosted rate that is not natural for our bodies. Imagine being a man having the hormone levels of a pregnant woman. And a young woman should not have the testosterone levels of a body builder.”
I asked him what motivated him to speak out as a detranstioner and what purpose he hoped to achieve.
“We’re here ringing the bells early. … If we don’t speak out, who knows how much harm we’re gonna do? We’re sterilizing an entire generation. For what? For the lie that very non-masculine boys can be women? That very tomboyish girls can become men? We’re sterilizing them. We’re castrating them. We’re ending their lives sooner than expected. And all for a lie.”
I asked him about the relative scarcity of detransistioners, though we do not have reliable data on either the rate of detransition or the absolute numbers.
“Yeah, we’re small right now, because we’re still in the first, maybe second wave. But a lot of us are being forced into silence because the activists attack us.” He had no doubt that the intense penalties inflicted on those speaking out about detransition suppressed the number of those willing to do so drastically.
He referred to a letter sent to Attorney General Merrick Garland by several medical organizations, including the American Association of Pediatrics, tarring all critics of gender-affirming care through association with those sending abrasive or threatening messages to gender clinicians, including one woman being charged with making a bomb threat to Boston Children’s Hospital. The threat, shouted by a Massachusetts woman to an operator, emerged in the wake of the recirculation on social media of videos produced by the hospital itself. In those videos, the staff boasts of doing mastectomies on 15 year-olds, note that they regularly see patients who are two and three years old, cite the desire to stand up to pee by girls as evidence of trans identity, and confidently assert that children can know they are transgender in the womb.
The letter framed those recirculating the hospital’s own publicity materials as spreaders of disinformation, called for throttling the reach of such content by social media, and asked the FBI to investigate those responsible for threats on hospitals, insinuating that all who question “gender-affirming care” were on a continuum with domestic terrorism. The letter was issued a few days before the DO NO HARM rally and cast a shadow over the event.
As Garcia turned to the subject, in a closing peroration, the normally languid and soft-spoken man turned defiant and combative — a scarred and self-wounded man intent on standing his ground this time at any cost.
“What I will say to the Feds is — go fuck yourself. Investigate me if you'd like. I’ve got nothing to hide. You won't find shit on me. What are you going to do? Throw me in jail for speaking out for being harmed by these medical professionals? By your activists? What are you going to do? You can't silence me. You can't scare me. I know your games well enough. So you got nothing on me. So go pound some bloody sand.”