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Former Transgender Person Tells Compelling Story, Supports Alberta’s Actions

The struggle and confusion Kellie Pirie has gone through have made her a vocal opponent of the trend of urging minors into gender transition.

She made the change as an adult, and even with that maturity she said she believes her emotional vulnerability at the time made her pliable to overly eager gender-affirmation advocates. Her story starts with childhood abuse, weaves up through a troubled youth and more than a decade living as a man, and ends with a difficult journey back to womanhood.

When she began her transition in 2004, some health-care professionals still wanted to do rigorous assessments beforehand, she told The Epoch Times. But the emerging trend of “100 percent” affirmation prevailed in her case, she said, and that affirmation model is now overwhelmingly the norm.

In 2017, when she was already considering detransitioning, she attended a conference held by the Canadian Professional Association for Transgender Health (CPATH), an organization she had been closely involved with several years earlier. She saw how radical “genderology,” as she calls it, had become.

“They were talking about the rights of convicted pedophiles to be in women’s jails, then they’re talking about supporting parents who want to transition their 4-year-old,” she told The Epoch Times. “These professionals are talking about … if your girl is 18 months old and she’s ripping out the ribbons in her hair, it’s because she’s really trying to tell you that she’s a little boy—like, what?”

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Ms. Smith’s reforms also place stringent limits on how teachers can discuss gender identity and sexuality with students, and schools will be required to inform parents about pronoun and name changes.

“It’s about preserving for children the right to make adult decisions as adults,” Ms. Pirie said, echoing Ms. Smith’s comments on the matter and praising her approach.

Ms. Pirie’s own childhood was filled with trauma, including sexual abuse. She sees her gender transition as a misguided way to deal with that trauma. She said Canadian schools are sexualizing children with a lot of the lessons and books presented to them.

While that level of sexualizing falls short of the sexual abuse Ms. Pirie experienced as a child, many have raised concerns that classroom content can traumatize children who aren’t developmentally ready to process it.

For example, a clinical counsellor in British Columbia spoke with Emily Duggan of the parent group Moms Against the Norm about this last year. The counsellor preferred to remain anonymous out of concern for professional repercussions.

“It’s abuse to show those materials to children, and this has been known in the field for decades,” she said. “When you violate a child’s boundaries, that’s traumatic for them.” She said people who are exposed to adult sexuality in various ways as children can exhibit the same impacts as children who are physically abused.

A Lost Childhood

From the time Ms. Pirie was 4 years old, her stepfather sexually abused her and sold her to others for sexual services. He gave her drugs and alcohol. By the time she was 5, she was smoking marijuana and drinking whiskey from the bottle.

When she was 8, he started giving her harder drugs. She got pregnant when she was 12, a pregnancy that was then terminated. A couple of years later, in 1980, she turned him in to the police. He pled guilty to sexually interfering with a minor in his care and he went to prison.

Ms. Pirie struggled with substance abuse in the subsequent years. “When I sobered up the last time, in 2002, is when I was introduced to ‘genderology,’” she said.

She met a man who was living as a woman, and he convinced her that her feelings of discomfort meant she should transition. She felt awkward living in a women’s recovery house, and he told her that was because she was a man. She sees clearly now that this wasn’t true.

“I felt awkward and uncomfortable because I dealt with a lot of trauma,” she said.

“I was a beautiful woman at one time, and I was very uncomfortable with being noticed by men,” Ms. Pirie said. As she started appearing more masculine, men paid less attention to her and that was comforting at first.

“It was the promise that all the awkward would go away. It was the promise that all of the uncomfortable would go away,” she said.

She joined Vancouver Coastal Health’s Trans Health Program in 2004, and that was all about affirmation, she said.

“You do not question anybody’s declaration that they’re transgender. They think they’re transgender, then you affirm it,” she said. It all felt very good at first with the peer support and being treated differently by men.

Donning the ‘Mask’

Ms. Pirie started taking testosterone in 2004, at the age of 38, had a hysterectomy in 2006, and a double mastectomy in 2008.

“The people in my social circle were either those I met through the peer-support programs, or those who knew me as a woman who was living as a man,” she said. In 2010, however, she met someone who saw her simply as a man. “She didn’t see me as a woman who was living as a man. She saw me as a man.”

That jolted Ms. Pirie into realizing this woman wasn’t truly seeing her, but rather seeing some external identity she had created.

“There was a part of me that recognized that what was going on was external to who I am,” she said. “It was this mask I was putting on.”

Despite this realization, she remained living as a man for many years. It was hard to let go, she said, after being so entrenched. She had dramatically altered her body and gone through so much to get to where she was.

“I sat in that regret for a long time before I even started talking about it,” she said.

But that encounter created a “cognitive dissonance” for her that spurred her to leave Vancouver and her social circle there. Within a week, she got a job as a long-haul truck driver.

She wore a big beard and played the part well for about a decade. But in this male-dominated industry, she gained new insights into how men are different from women. It was part of her journey back to womanhood.

Kellie Pirie, when she went by the name Kenneth and worked as a long-haul truck driver. (Courtesy of Kellie Pirie)
Kellie Pirie, when she went by the name Kenneth and worked as a long-haul truck driver. (Courtesy of Kellie Pirie)

Kellie Pirie, when she went by the name Kenneth and worked as a long-haul truck driver. (Courtesy of Kellie Pirie)
Kellie Pirie, when she went by the name Kenneth and worked as a long-haul truck driver. (Courtesy of Kellie Pirie)

A recent photo of Kellie Pirie, who began taking estrogen in December 2023 to restore her feminine appearance after living as a man for many years. (Courtesy of Kellie Pirie)
A recent photo of Kellie Pirie, who began taking estrogen in December 2023 to restore her feminine appearance after living as a man for many years. (Courtesy of Kellie Pirie)

It’s still not something she feels entirely comfortable with, but it’s “reality,” she says, and that makes it preferable to the lie she feels she was living.

“I’m a woman,” she said. “I have all sorts of feelings about that. And I have struggles about appearing feminine. But that doesn’t make me a man. That just makes me a woman who’s uncomfortable with how society treats women.”

Detransitioners in Canada

Ms. Pirie is hopeful that now at least Alberta may establish genuine detransitioning help.

She said she found it difficult to find therapy in Canada that isn’t based on World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) guidelines aimed at bringing people “back into the fold.” She is seeing a U.S.-based therapist via video conferencing to aid in the mental aspect of her detransitioning.

Canadian Gender Report, a group focused on research and evidence on the topic of children’s and youth’s medical transition, in 2019 conducted a survey of members in a detransitioners’ Reddit community. Most members were American but 11 percent were Canadian. The over 5,700 members consisted of an estimated 2,000 who were detransitioners and others who included allies and parents of detransitioners.

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