The psychiatrist encouraged him to start his gender reassignment as soon as possible, recommending pills that would halt his testosterone production. Of course, the man explained his mental issues, asking the psychiatrist why she was pushing for gender treatment without looking at the complete picture.
But given how young and vulnerable he was, he didn’t push more than that. He began his gender treatment, identified as a woman, and changed his name. He’d come out of the final procedure asking himself one question: “Oh God. What have I done?”
When Riley Edwards made the brave decision to undergo gender reassignment, he’d only wanted to finally live in a body he felt connected with.
His life had been a series of ups and downs, with the latter taking on more weight than the former. For the longest while, he was convinced gender reassignment was the answer to his problems. It would be too late when he found out he was wrong.
Riley is your average Londoner living in Bexley under the care of his sister Marion and her husband, Cliff. Now living as a man, Riley spent his late twenties as a woman named Denise, only choosing to become a man again after a string of unfortunate events.
Now sharing his story with the world, he hopes that the many people across the globe looking to take part in gender reassignment consider his experience before making the life-altering decision.
Riley was born in London in the late eighties to a nurse mom and a dad who owned a butcher. His life wasn’t the prettiest, especially after losing both parents to a freak accident at five.
Living with his sister Marion, a young adult working and living in Bexley at the time, Riley would go through some of the most challenging mental battles in his life.
Riley found out he had questions about his sexuality in his teenage years. He worked hard to suppress these feelings, ending up with anxiety and depression.
He also developed obsessive-compulsive disorder due to repetitive behaviors he engaged in to mask his true self and unhappiness. As grave as all these disorders were, they’d only form the start of his life-long problems.
Riley happened upon gender dysphoria while looking for help on online forums in his early twenties. Gender dysphoria is the sense of unease someone may have due to a mismatch in their gender identity and biological sex.
For Riley, the idea of gender dysphoria seemed to explain everything he was going through. The people he met on those forums convinced him he might be trans, thrusting him into even more confusion.
Fighting alone in such a world, Riley did the only thing he could: seek professional help. The offices he visited referred him to a doctor who didn’t refute his belief that he had gender dysphoria.
The doctor sent him to the Northern Region Gender Dysphoria Service, under Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust. That’s where Riley’s problems would take a life of their own.
Securing an appointment was a long and arduous process, but convinced that he needed to see everything through, Riley managed to see one of the program’s psychiatrists.
He attended two appointments under the same doctor before she diagnosed him with transsexualism. Riley accepted his diagnosis, although he couldn’t help but find it odd that each of those appointments had been under thirty minutes.
The psychiatrist encouraged Riley to start his gender reassignment as soon as possible, recommending pills that would halt his testosterone production. Of course, Riley explained his mental issues, asking the psychiatrist why she was pushing for gender treatment without looking at the complete picture.
But given how young and vulnerable he was, Riley didn’t push more than that. He began his gender treatment, identified as a woman, and changed his name to Denise. He’d come out of the final procedure asking himself one question: “What have I done?”
The process of gender reassignment is a long and complicated one. Divided between taking prescription pills and a series of surgeries, it takes many months to complete and demands massive mental strength.
Riley tried his best to stall the second part of the process, figuring out that he wasn’t ready for the surgeries. The program he was in kept informing him that they’d take him out of their list if he kept turning down surgery opportunities. Seeing how far he’d come, Riley succumbed to the pressure.
Riley had turned down two different surgery opportunities before finally giving in. He’d only stayed in the program for this long because of the mental therapy he got alongside the procedures.
“Those therapy sessions were my lifeline,” Riley shared. “I was battling many self-worth issues at the time, feeling like I wasn’t even supposed to be alive.” The program informed him that he could continue with therapy only if he took part in the surgeries.
Before Riley knew it, nurses wheeled him to the operating room for irreversible surgery. “I didn’t even see the surgeon,” he shared. “I was very much in the mindset of “I’m here now, there’s no stopping it even if I wanted to.”
The process involves surgically removing parts of the male reproductive system and replacing them with female organs. Although the surgery would be successful, Riley would come out with a single question seared into his mind: “Oh God. What have I done?”
Riley’s life has become almost unbearable, with his health digging into his job as a civil servant and personal life. “It takes me about ten to fifteen minutes in the bathroom while taking a short call,” he said.
“My body is numb, shell-choked from all the procedure done to it.” He is filled with regret for falling victim to a process that seemingly preyed on his vulnerability.
As it stands, Riley is among an emerging population of individuals who took part in gender reassignment due to pressure. Their medical practitioners didn’t consider the various factors around their patients’ situations, pushing them into irreversible procedures that have ruined lives instead of saving them.
Derrick Hanningfield, Riley’s barrister, stated that Riley and the many like him are now faced with “a lifetime of medical care and consequences.”
Irreversible Steps Riley is suing the program he took part in. He believes he was pushed into making “the biggest mistake of his life” that has left him “infertile, incontinent, and with ongoing pain.” “Transition is now being sold to people on a mass scale,” Riley says. “I’m proof the whole system has to become far more robust. How many more people are there out there like me?” He hopes his story will encourage folk to think everything through before taking or prescribing steps they can’t reverse.
Disclaimer: To protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.