Life has become virtually terrible for Ritchie Herron, a brilliant and eloquent government worker from Newcastle, during the last four years. It takes him 10 minutes to empty his bladder, a painful and time-consuming process. Any sexual desire has long since vanished. In fact, he claims that his crotch is numb and ‘shell-shocked’ by the harm done to him by the NHS.
‘Numb’ describes Ritchie’s overall attitude as he attempts to comprehend what has occurred to him. In an exclusive interview, he discloses that he is the guy intending to sue the NHS over a procedure that amputated his genitals.
Ritchie’s situation came to light last week when he talked about it on Twitter using the alias TullipR. His brief statement, was as surprising as it was damaging for the NHS’s ‘gender clinics,’ which assist individuals in changing sex.
Ritchie, 35, was struggling with mental health concerns and had spent years repressing his homosexuality when he decided to become a woman. However, he claims he was rushed into committing “the worst blunder of his life,” leaving him infertile, incontinent, and in pain.
He says that not only did the NHS clinic fail to consider his spiralling mental health crisis, but it also failed to adequately educate him about the dangers.
Ritchie has opted to forego anonymity in order to convey the complete tale of his suffering, disclose the physical and mental wounds he has been left with, and caution that there are others like him who are prepared to sue over the operation they regret.
His testimony highlights severe concerns about the protections in place at NHS gender clinics, which have experienced a 1,700% increase in referrals over the last 10 years, with adolescents and young people accounting for the majority of the increase.
The rapidity with which Ritchie, who had been living as Abby, was identified and then referred for irreversible surgery is worrisome in and of itself.
In reality, he claims that he had consistently declined the treatment and expressed serious reservations to the clinic’s employees about undergoing it.
His case, he fears, might generate a flood of more claims.
He says that this is an avalanche ready to explode. People are now being marketed as transitioning on a large scale. It’s similar to PPI, but more diabolical.
He is certain that in a few years, law firms will be asking individuals whether they transitioned and want to seek compensation.
According to Ritchie, no expert investigated if his mental health concerns prompted him to assume he was trans.
He is now one of an increasing number of ‘de-transitioners,’ living as a man again and regretting his error. He now admits that recognising his sexual orientation was the source of most of his uncertainty.
Ritchie claims he hid his sexuality, which left him with melancholy, stress, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, masking his dissatisfaction with repetitive behaviours.
Then, in his twenties, he came across the concept of gender dysphoria in an internet chatroom. Older males on the site persuaded the fragile young man that he ‘must be transgender.’
It seemed like a lighting revelation for Ritchie at the time. After a number of breakdowns, he resolved to pursue professional therapy in 2012.
He was directed to a psychologist, who did not disprove his gender dysphoria, and then to the Northern Region Gender Dysphoria Service, which is managed by Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust.
The waiting list for appointments was considerable, but Ritchie was so obsessed with the concept that she took out a payday loan in March 2014 to pay for a consultation at a private gender clinic.
Ritchie claims that he was diagnosed with ‘transsexualism’ after only two 30-minute consultations.
A psychiatrist advised him to take medicine to suppress his testosterone production, which was the initial step toward gender transition.
The sole effort to put a stop to it came from a close family member who attended the clinic with him. She informed the doctor he was on a high dose of antidepressants and had a lot of complex difficulties, and yet they were sending him for gender therapy, Ritchie explains.
So why did Ritchie agree to it? He added he was 26, yet he was really vulnerable.
He started living full-time as Abby, dressed in feminine clothing. Because of the testosterone-suppressing medicines, he began to develop breasts. He began attending consultations at the NHS gender clinic in Newcastle by March 2015.
‘The first question you’re asked is, ‘Do you want genital surgery?’ he adds. He wasn’t certain. But he had heard that if you were on the waiting list for surgery, you could get treatment, so he said sure.
The clinic remarked that it does not offer mental health services to patients and will not comment on Ritchie’s individual situation.
Ritchie was referred for vaginoplasty surgery less than six months later, in July 2015. Ritchie claims he informed the doctor he wasn’t sure and declined, but he proceeded to get counselling.
In 2017, he was granted another referral for surgery, this time at the Nuffield Health facility in Brighton but covered by the NHS. Ritchie declined it again, but claims he was warned he would be dismissed from the military if he did not acknowledge the recommendation.
He recounts being thrown into a ‘tailspin’ as a result of this. He assumed that meant his ‘lifeline’ therapy would also be discontinued. He’d lately confessed to feeling suicidal.
Ritchie was taken into the operation room at 10 a.m. on May 23, 2018. He claims he didn’t even see the surgeon. He was thinking to himself, ‘I’m here now, there’s no stopping it even if I wanted to.’
The irreversible procedure entails removing the penis and testicles and reconstructing the region to look like female genitals.
He was a fog of drugs for eight days. As he regained consciousness, his first thought was, Oh God, what has he done?
Ritchie is now preparing to sue Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust. According to his lawyer, Peter Harthan, people like Ritchie have experienced “a lifetime of medical treatment and repercussions” and “cannot be put back together again.”
He explained that his worry is that doctors neglected to see warning signs and change course. OCD, internalised homophobia, depression, drug use, sexual abuse, and early trauma should all be considered as potential reasons for patients refusing their sexed body.
The Trust stated in a statement that it could not remark on a person, but that ‘care plans are cooperative and customised to each patient’s requirements and aspirations, and treatment choices are taken following a comprehensive evaluation in accordance with national standards.’
Ritchie stated that he is proof that the entire system has to become significantly more resilient. He asked how many more people like him are out there?