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Think of the children?

Two doctors break ranks to urge a more cautious approach to transitioning

Last week’s article on Bari Weiss’s Substack, Top Trans Doctors Blow the Whistle on “Sloppy” Care, dropped a bombshell on the world of transgender medicine for children.

In exclusive interviews with Abigail Shrier, two prominent trans healthcare providers in the US expressed concerns about the current system of “gender affirming healthcare”, admitting that mistakes have been made.

For more than a decade the accepted wisdom has been that children should be helped to ‘transition’ through administration of puberty blockers as early as age nine, followed by cross-sex hormones. Children know themselves, we are told, and must be “affirmed” and supported to medically alter their bodies to “match their gender identity”. Anyone who questions this orthodoxy is branded “transphobic”.

Drs Marci Bowers and Erica Anderson have just blown the lid off that assertion. To publicly urge a more cautious approach is especially significant from two practitioners who are not only doctors in this field but are both transgender themselves. Both have seen thousands of patients and both are members of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH).

Their credentials are impeccable. Nobody can accuse them of being ignorant or motivated by transphobia – accusations that are commonly levelled at those of us who express concerns in this area.

These two doctors echo the same concerns expressed by British whistle-blowers

The views of these two doctors echo the same concerns expressed by whistle-blowers at the British Tavistock Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) over the last decade, including the lack of evaluation of mental health, the possibility of social contagion, and the rushing of children towards puberty blockers with life-changing effects.

Also striking is the correlation with issues raised in the court judgment in the Keira Bell v Tavistock judicial review. The judges in this case found that children considering puberty blockers (the great majority of whom will progress to cross-sex hormones) would have to weigh up the loss of fertility, the impact on future sexual function, and “the impact that taking this step on this treatment pathway may have on future and life-long relationships.”

Dr Bowers admitted:

“I’m not a fan of blockade at Tanner Two anymore, I really am not…The idea all sounded good in the very beginning… But honestly, I can’t sit here and tell you that they have better — or even as good — results. They’re not as functional. I worry about their reproductive rights later. I worry about their sexual health later and ability to find intimacy.

It is instructive to compare these concerns from highly experienced practitioners with the defence mounted by the Tavistock GIDS in the initial judicial review and their subsequent (successful) appeal against the judgment. Grounds for appeal challenged the divisional court’s factual conclusion that the prescription of puberty blockers for gender dysphoria is “experimental” and that their effects are “lifelong” and “life-changing.”

Gary Butler, consultant in paediatric endocrinology at UCH, provided this evidence at the Appeal:

“This understanding must include that they are unable to have the typical sexual relationship of their identified gender with another person on account of their biological sex organ development, and that other surgical procedures may be necessary later on to achieve that possibility.”

In fact it would never be possible to have “the typical sexual relationship” with surgically constructed genitalia of the opposite sex which will never function as natural sex organs do. Dr Bowers points out:

“When you block puberty, the problem is that a lot of the kids are orgasmically naive. So in other words, if you’ve never had an orgasm pre-surgery and then your puberty’s blocked, it’s very difficult to achieve that afterwards. And I think that I consider that a big problem, actually. It’s kind of an overlooked problem that in our informed consent of children undergoing puberty blockers, we’ve in some respects overlooked that a little bit.”

The evidence of the Tavistock in the Appeal Court was that the treatment was “safe, internationally endorsed, reversible and subject to a rigorous assessment process at each stage.”

This is not the view of Bell who, in an interview in January on the Channel 4 Entertainment and Lifestyle show Steph’s Packed Lunch described her sessions at the GIDS as:

“…very brief appointments, just kind of what was my friendship group like as I was growing up, did I prefer to hang out with boys or girls and you know, what did I like to wear, my hobbies, that sort of thing, so it was very much based on stereotypes and yeah, no psychiatric assessment or anything like that.”

When asked what she would have liked to see done differently that may have helped her, she replied:

“Definitely some intensive mental health care, you know that’s the fundamental issue here is we’re not receiving proper mental health support and you know this is disproportionately affecting girls at the moment.”

Bell is by no means an isolated case

We know from the proliferation of detransitioner social media accounts that Bell is by no means an isolated case. The party line among transgender activist groups is that regret rates are extremely low, but we can’t know the outcomes for the most recent cohort of adolescents undergoing medical transition as they have not been followed up. Dr Anderson is clear that regret rates will increase under current treatment protocols:

“It is my considered opinion that due to some of the — let’s see, how to say it? What word to choose? — due to some of the, I’ll call it just ‘sloppy,’ sloppy healthcare work, that we’re going to have more young adults who will regret having gone through this process… I’m worried that decisions will be made that will later be regretted by those making them.”

After these sobering revelations from frontline doctors, the question now is how long will transgender lobby groups continue to claim that transgender treatment for children is safe and effective? And can doctors working at gender clinics such as the Tavistock honestly believe that they abide by the principle “First, do no harm”?

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