NOM BLOG

Major New Report Raises Alarm About Transgender "Therapy"

 


With all the publicity surrounding transgender issues and the relentless push by Hollywood and the media to normalize the idea that a person can change their gender to correspond with the sex they "identify" with, it's no surprise that incidents of children claiming to be transgender at an early age is on the rise. Some medical professionals report as much as a 2000% increase in children being treated for gender identity disorders. An entire industry of "gender clinics" is developing where children and very young adolescents are being treated with powerful drugs designed to suppress the onset and development of puberty. These drugs are presented as safe and fully reversible and the treatments portrayed as being compassionate and in accordance with proven and long-established protocols. But an important new report makes clear that these assurances are false, and that countless children are being needlessly endangered by this political gender ideology movement.

The study published in The New Atlantis journal, "Growing Pains: Problems with Puberty Suppression in Treating Gender Dysphoria," was conducted by some of the country's leading medical experts including Drs. Paul W. Hruz, Lawrence Mayer and Paul McHugh. Dr. Hruz is one of the nation's leading endocrinologists and is a professor at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Dr. Mayer is a leading scholar in biostatistics and biomedicine, and Dr. McHugh one of the country's most-esteemed experts in psychiatry. Both are associated with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

As a preliminary point, it's important to keep in mind that almost all children who experience gender dysphoria will grow out of it by the time they go through puberty. Despite this, a cottage industry of medical clinics to "treat" gender dysphoria has arisen. Many utilize what is called a "gender affirming" model of treatment. Rather than challenge the patient's dysphoric identification with the opposite sex, the therapist accepts the child's stated preference and proceeds along a course of therapy to assist the child to live as the opposite sex. This treatment often involves powerful hormonal therapy to suppress puberty in order to help the child's appearances more closely match the chosen gender.

While parents are told this treatment is accepted and fully reversible, it is considered experimental when applied to most children. Puberty suppression treatments were not developed for those with gender dysphoria, they were developed for children who undergo puberty at too young an age. The study's authors call this treatment for gender dysphoria, "a drastic and experimental measure." Contrary to being safe and reversible, evidence suggests permanent changes to children receiving treatment. This includes height growth rates and bone-mineral density, but one of the biggest consequences relates to the future ability of these children to procreate.

When puberty suppression drugs are used by those undergoing puberty at too young an age, they are typically withdrawn at a more appropriate age for puberty and the patient gradually resumes normal puberty and develops normally. But the evidence that puberty will resume when the drugs are used for gender dysphoria are "very weak." In fact, the evidence suggests that almost all children who are prescribed puberty suppression drugs will go on to receive cross-sex hormones. These cross-sex hormones, in turn, will prevent normal sex hormones from developing, circumventing the most fundamental form of sexual maturation. – the maturation of their reproductive organs.

The result of this course of treatment that runs from puberty suppression to cross-sex hormones is infertility, something that is irreversible.

The study's authors note that none of the major studies published on treating gender dysphoria with puberty suppression drugs report the results of patients who have withdrawn from treatment and resumed normal puberty development. This, they point out, raises the very significant question of, "whether these treatments contribute to the persistence of gender dysphoria in patients who might otherwise have resolved their feelings of being the opposite sex." Because the evidence does show that most children who are diagnosed with gender dysphoria will eventually stop identifying as the opposite sex, "the fact that cross-gender identification apparently persist for virtually all who undergo puberty suppression could indicate that these treatments increase the likelihood that that the patients' cross-gender identification will continue."

Children who suffer from gender dysphoria deserve our prayers and our concerns, as do their parents who often struggle with determining what to do and have only the best of intentions in wanting to help their children. But good intentions are not a substitute for bad medicine. That is why it is so important that medical diagnoses and treatment protocols be based on rigorous scientific examination and evidence, and not politics or ideology.

The study's authors call for significantly more research to be conducted into why gender dysphoria occurs, persists, and desists, and they call on the medical community to be held accountable and to admit that the use of puberty suppression to treat gender dysphoria is experimental.

If parents were informed that most patients with gender dysphoria will eventually resolve their gender confusion, that puberty suppression for the treatment of gender dysphoria is experimental and not an approved use of the medications, and that there may be permanent consequences to their children for following this course of treatment, perhaps parents would feel more empowered to resist the call of Hollywood, the media and gender clinics to embark on this dangerous course.

An article on the report from the Daily Signal is available here.

Faithfully,

Brian S Brown

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