A Texas man who came out as transgender, got breast implants, and then later had them removed has joined a growing number of other “detransitioners” in a mission to share their experiences and demystify some of the popular beliefs about transgenderism and “gender-affirming care.”
When Abel Garcia was 19, he was convinced that with enough surgery and estrogen injections, he could become a woman, a theory which he now believes is impossible.
“I was sold a lie,” Garcia, now 25, told The Epoch Times. “The lie was sold so well, through doctors, other medical professionals, pharmaceutical companies, surgeons, and everyone, that I believed it.”
He blames part of his mistake on his own “cognitive dissonance.”
Gender ConfusionThe son of Mexican parents who were living and working illegally in the United States, Garcia moved with his family from city to city between the Central Valley region of California and Southern California as a child.
Garcia was the first member of his family to be born on U.S. soil, in Utah, and although he was accepted by his family and his parents eventually became U.S. citizens, he always felt a sense that he didn’t belong.
“I never thought I was good enough for anything,” he said.
“My parents were here in the U.S. illegally, so they were always working. I was raised by my grandparents. I didn’t have a male role model in my family. I was also very shy, quite timid kid—very introverted—and I was also an over-thinker.
"So all that put together made me question myself a little, just because I wasn’t the most masculine kid growing up, and I didn’t really have my father in the picture. He was always working.”
The transient lifestyle of migrant workers made it difficult for Garcia to make friends.
“When my father would get a new job, we would have to move to a different city,” he said. “In school, I was mostly a loner.”
When he was about 13, Garcia learned about transgenderism on social media.
“I didn't realize what transgender was until, I'd say, late middle school, up to freshman year of high school," he said.
“I was surfing YouTube, and some video popped up about transgenderism. That made some sense to me at the time and planted the seed in my mind.”
And he began to question whether he was meant to be a boy or a girl.
Through his teens, Garcia mainly kept to himself. He wasn't into sports and spent much of his time playing video games.
Identifying as TransIn 2015, Garcia told his mother he was confused about his gender, that he thought he was transgender and planned to get professional counseling. She wept and worried that he would regret his decision, he said.
When Garcia’s father found out his son was confused about his gender, he came up with his own remedy.
“When I did come out to my mother in May of 2016, my father took me to a prostitute against my will in Mexico,” Garcia said. “My dad believed it was a way to cure me.”
But his father’s misguided plan backfired.
“I wanted to figure out why I had these feelings, these thoughts, but my father doing that to me was the straw that broke the camel's back,” he said. “That was a catalyst, because prior to that, it was just thoughts. It was just ideas. I was so traumatized by the fact that I was forced to sleep with a woman who I didn't know, who I had no attraction to, no connection with, that I did not want to be a man, especially because the man that did that to me was my own father.”
He's still troubled by his father’s words: "Take good care of him. It’s his first time."
The TransitionWhen Garcia sought counseling, he was astounded at how quickly his therapist affirmed him as transgender, despite his mixed feelings.
“The therapist worked at a LGBT center and—at my first appointment with her—affirmed me as a transgender woman and said she had my letter to transition,” Garcia said. “So, because she affirmed me right away, I told her I wanted to wait a bit. I even asked her why she affirmed me so quickly. She said that because I was ‘obviously transgender’ she didn’t want to ‘gatekeep’ me.”
He went to several therapists after his first experience, but only one suggested he might want to get tested for Asperger’s syndrome, which is now considered to be part of the broader autism spectrum disorder.
Though he was never tested, Garcia suspects he "might be on some part of the spectrum."
By 2016, Garcia made up his mind to transition, first taking estrogen pills and later injections.
He decided not to socially transition until after he had taken enough estrogen to make him look more feminine.
“I did not just want to look and dress like a woman ... while still appearing as a man, so I waited a bit,” he said.
In May 2018, he underwent “top surgery” for breast implants, which were placed under the muscle in his chest, and his nipples were repositioned to make them look more feminine.
“I had health insurance that covered everything,” he said.
Before he started college, Garcia legally changed his name from Abel to April, updated his ID and records to reflect his new identity as a woman, and began using female pronouns.
He wore women’s clothing and makeup and did everything he could to make himself look like a woman.
But, he said, “I was always a man. I was just—at the time—a very feminine man, to the point that I appeared somewhat as a woman.”
In college, he studied criminal justice and enrolled in the police academy after his transition. He was asked by a local police chief to serve on a committee as a liaison to the LGBT community.
Though Garcia was enthused about the offer, which he accepted, he was rejected by the same community that had once embraced him. The LGBT community called him “cisgender” despite his partial gender transition.
The DetransitionThough he tried to accept his new identity as a woman, the novelty wore off quickly.
About three months after the surgery, Garcia realized he had made a mistake. He didn’t feel like a woman. He didn’t feel much different at all, he said.
“After the honeymoon phase of everything ended, I realized that it was just cosmetic and that no matter what I would have done, I would never have become a real woman. I would just become a decoy woman, a caricature of a woman. I would just be a man with so much plastic surgery had I continued down that path,” he said.
Despite one therapist who discouraged him from detransitioning, Garcia stopped taking estrogen and had the breast implants removed in 2020.
His decision to detransition was also based on the realization he had done irreversible harm to his body. Even though he didn’t go through with “bottom surgery,” he said the effects of his partial transition have been devastating.
“I have already suffered enough damage. I don’t know whether that’s due to the tucking, or the hormones, or a combination of both, but my genitals have atrophied, which just means they are very small,” he said.
Garcia said he also suffers sharp pains in his testicles and experiences problems with dripping after urination.
He's afraid he may be sterile and will never be able to father children, but has never had his sperm count tested.
“I’m very scared of that test, because I know hormones, after a certain point, sterilize you, and I spent a lot of time tucking and wearing very tight clothing,” he said.
Within the past year and a half, Garcia said his body sometimes shakes uncontrollably, mostly on his left side, and he fears he may have developed some other serious condition such as multiple sclerosis.
“I don’t know if it was due to surgery, or if it was just the hormones catching up with me, but my body started to shake on its own,” he said.
The BacklashAlthough he hasn’t been targeted by trans rights activists as much as other detransitioners on social media have been, he has witnessed people like Chloe Cole and Cat Cattinson being attacked online.
“They dragged Chloe through the mud,” Garcia said, in reference to the 18-year-old young woman who now regrets undergoing a double mastectomy at age 15.
He said he has connected with several other detransitioners as a support system, and he follows as many detransitioners online as he can to "keep an eye on them to make sure they're OK."
“They’re scared and nervous. They don’t know what to do,” he said.
For friends and relatives worried about a loved one who is transitioning, he said they may have no choice but to wait it out if their loved one is deeply invested in transgender ideology.
Reembracing his masculinity didn’t come easily, and was based mainly on his own “self-reflection” and some counseling.
Garcia has wondered why more and more children and young adults are being fast-tracked into gender-transition interventions.
“I’m not angry. I would say I’m disappointed,” he said. “Even though we’ve had people come out and say this has harmed them, it is still being pushed, especially through this administration.”
He criticized the Biden administration for promoting the “gender-affirming” agenda. He also blames doctors and pharmaceutical companies for selling transgenderism for profit.
“I believe they are all in it. I would assume some of them believe they're actually helping ... because this entire ideology originally started with just being nice to these people,” he said.
Compassion for people who are confused about their gender has been taken too far by society to the point where teachers and medical professionals aren't allowed to question a child’s chosen gender identity.
Although there are some doctors who are willing to speak out, especially over the gender transitioning of minors, “they’re very scared,” Garcia said.
Garcia has urged medical professionals to look deeper into the root causes of gender dysphoria instead of “attempting to chemically and surgically castrate” boys and young men.
“We need to figure out what is the underlying issue,” he said. “There was something wrong with me. I don’t want to sound rude, but there is something wrong with all of us who wanted to transition in the first place.”
Garcia said he doesn’t want to exaggerate the problem, but wants to expose the “lie” that one can actually become the opposite sex and to dispel the notion that surgeries can bring happiness.
“There are some children who are honestly confused. I would say that was my case. But there are also some that are autistic, and they were led astray,” he said.
Others were abused or have experienced some kind of trauma in their lives, while others are simply homosexual, Garcia said.
“We should obviously give people the actual help that they need, instead of affirming this illusion that they have and that we are feeding to them,” he said.
Hope for HappinessGarcia, who has lived most of his life in California, except for a three-year stint in Mexico with his mother, recently moved to Texas to start his new life as the man he always was.
His mission to expose what he believes is the truth about transgenderism has lifted his spirit, but he's still searching for solace and redemption.
“I believe in God,” he said. “I've always been told I’ve been forgiven for my sins or what I’ve done, but personally, I do not feel like I’ve done enough to accept forgiveness. I’m willing to extend that forgiveness once I feel I’ve done enough work. And I’ve just started.”
Though he has never been a big drinker, Garcia said he imbibed excessively between his transition and detransition.
“When I had to face reality, I became a heavy alcoholic," he said. “So I just try not to feel too much. I started drinking after I realized I’d made a mistake.”
Garcia has since slowed down on the booze and drinks only in moderation, mainly at social events, he said.
“I accepted the fact that I had mutilated my body and that if I continued any further, I would just be a very heavily mutilated man with so much cosmetic surgery, and that I would never become a woman. I was just becoming a caricature of what I believed a woman was,” he said. “I was deceived. Therapists, doctors, and even trans activists lied to me.”
While his life hasn’t been easy, he still holds hope for the future.
“Hopefully, I can find some happiness,” he said. “I eventually want to date and have a wife, and, if I can, I’d love to have a couple of children. I'm just worried about dating because, obviously with my past, I don’t know how that will go over with other people, and if I date any women, how they'll take that.”