It has become clear that radical activists care less about the health and welfare of children suffering from gender dysphoria (“transgender” children) than about advancing their own political movement.
Case in point: the response to a lengthy piece in The Atlantic about the supposed benefits and potential pitfalls of various treatments for transgender children. Author Jesse Singal sympathetically treated the plight of the children and families he interviewed. He even gave unwarranted credence to political groups masquerading as scientific organizations, such as the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, or WPATH (non-physicians and non-scientists are welcome to join WPATH).
But radical activists were outraged at the article. Singal’s sin, in their eyes, was daring to acknowledge that 1) gender dysphoria may be caused by psychological disturbances and influenced by factors such as peer pressure and the Internet; 2) dysphoric children therefore need counseling before, or in some cases rather than, medical treatment such as hormones and surgery; and 3) some dysphoric individuals who undergo medical “transitioning” later regret it and revert to living as their biological sex.
Singal didn’t interview physicians who are brave enough to dispute the entire concept of “gender fluidity” and being “trapped in the wrong body.” Pediatric endocrinologist Quentin Van Meter, for example, bluntly says there is “zero point zero zero” scientific evidence for any of that. But even Singal’s nibbling at the margins of skepticism was too much for the radicals.
In responses replete with obscenities and vulgarities, trans activists dismissed acknowledgement of any shades of gray in gender dysphoria as hateful, bigoted, and intolerable. Consider the case Singal described of a teenager who decided she wasn’t transgender after all and so came to accept her biological sex. While people of normal disposition would consider this a happy ending – she made peace with reality, fortunately before undergoing life-altering and irreversible medical interventions – a trans commentator labeled the case “an all-too-familiar horror story.”
A horror story for whom, exactly? Certainly not for the girl, who was spared a lifetime of warring with her own body. Nor for her family, who dodged years of anguish. The only people horrified by this outcome are activists who pursue their genderless utopia at all costs, and who consider any child who slips through the net as a lost opportunity.
But radicals object even to psychological therapy before a child undergoes hormones or the scalpel. Any exploration of underlying issues must be rejected as a delaying tactic that increases the child’s current stress. And if that therapy actually works – if it resolves the problem(s) that created the gender confusion – not only is that result of no importance, but it’s a bad outcome. A horror story.
Singal interviewed some clinicians, such as psychologist Laura Edwards-Leeper, who accept the possibility of “transitioning” but temper their enthusiasm with the realization that it’s not appropriate for every dysphoric child, and that thorough mental-health assessment should precede any medical intervention. Surely every medical professional would agree with this.
But not Dr. Johanna Olson of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. We wrote recently about her participation in slanted, federally funded research into treating gender dysphoria. Olson, who serves as medical director for the Center for Transyouth Health and Development, advocates providing medical intervention if children ask for it, and her views cast doubt on the appropriateness of her selection to conduct supposedly objective research.
What she said to Singal confirms this concern. Her statements about how to treat gender-dysphoric children were startling, and for a physician, borderline reckless.
“[Olson] believes,” Singal writes, “that therapy can be helpful for many TGNC young people, but she opposes mandating mental-health assessments for all kids seeking to transition. As she put it when we talked, ‘I don’t send someone to a therapist when I’m going to start them on insulin.’”
One needn’t be a physician to understand how inapposite this analogy is. Juvenile diabetes is a medical condition clearly diagnosed by laboratory testing and treated by insulin. But there is absolutely no diagnostic certainty about which gender-dysphoric child will grow up to be trans-identifying. Therefore, up to 80 to 95 percent of these children will be misdiagnosed and irreversibly damaged by puberty blockers, high-dose cross-sex hormones, and genital surgery.
Olson’s attitude, which according to endocrinologist Van Meter is common among so-called medical professionals who specialize in these issues, demonstrates that political extremism has replaced professional judgment. Van Meter believes these practitioners will pay the price years from now, when the now-grown children flock to the courthouse. But whatever financial settlement they receive won’t compensate for their ruined lives.
Even physicians are being corrupted by political madness. That has happened before, in other countries. May we sober up before repeating that experience.
Jane Robbins is a senior fellow at American Principles Project.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.