(LifeSiteNews) — Transgender hormone and surgical interventions do not actually help the mental health issues of children suffering from gender dysphoria, despite left-wing claims to the contrary, according to a new review of the available scholarly literature on the subject.
“Both before and after ‘gender affirming therapy’ (GAT), adolescents who have gender-identity incongruence are at higher risk for psychopathology than their peers who identify with their biological sex,” reads the abstract of the review published this month by the American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds). “There are no long-term studies demonstrating benefits nor studies evaluating risks associated with the medical and surgical interventions provided to these adolescents. There is no long-term evidence that mental health concerns are decreased or alleviated after ‘gender affirming therapy.’”
The review opens by noting the explosion of youth identifying as “bisexual, gay, or otherwise questioning” in recent years according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC’s) Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey, from 11 percent in 2015 to almost 25 percent in 2021.
“Of the ‘sexual minorities’, those with gender dysphoria or transgender identities have higher rates of mental health concerns than other LGBTQ+ identifying adolescents, no matter which measurement tool is utilized,” it says. According to the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study, which encompassed more than 11,000 children between the ages of nine and 10, gender-confused children “were more likely to experience depression (2.53 OR), anxiety (2.70 OR), conduct problems (3.13 OR), and suicidality (5.79 OR),” even that young. A follow-up with twice as many children who were one year older found “significant relationships” between “mental health symptoms and gender diversity for all dimensions assessed.”
The review notes that LGBT activists commonly invoke a University of Washington-Seattle study purporting to find the opposite, but subsequent reexamination of that study’s data found “slightly higher levels of depression but significantly and substantively meaningful differences in anxiety and self-worth, and with results favoring [children without gender confusion], even when the [gender-confused] children had high levels of parental support for their gender transitioning.”
After detailing similar findings from other studies, the review notes that the “increased risk of suicide has been promoted as a reason for parents to permit gender dysphoric adolescents to ‘transition.’” However, Oxford sociology professor Michael Biggs analyzed data from the U.K. and found that while the suicide rate among transgender-identifying teenagers is “higher than that for teens overall,” it is “not as high as for adolescents with anorexia nervosa or depression” and that “the very high rates of suicide attempts by those identifying as transgender cannot be substantiated.”
Most importantly, the review details how most research that promotes “transitioning” as the cure for all of the above is “severely flawed” due to issues such as “small sample sizes, biased recruitment, patients lost to follow up, and extremely short durations of follow-up,” and what long-term follow-ups do exist are of individuals who “transitioned” as adults and were subjected to far more rigorous evaluation before “transitioning” than is the norm today. “Even so, the long-term follow up research on transgender[-identifying] adults is concerning for its inability to show improvement in mental health,” the authors say.
For example, the “Florida Agency for Health Care Administration requested McMaster University Department of Health Research Methods to provide an analysis of [transgender interventions]. The two researchers initially found 61 systematic reviews, but utilized 14 for their intense analysis. They found no study comparing outcomes between those using and not using puberty blockers, so they stated ‘it is unknown whether people with gender dysphoria who use puberty blockers experience more improvement in gender dysphoria, depression, anxiety, and quality of life than those with gender dysphoria who do not use them. There is very low certainty about the effects of puberty blockers on suicidal ideation.’”
“A 2021 comprehensive data review of all 3,754 trans-identified adolescents in U.S. military families over 8.5 years showed that cross-sex hormone [use] leads to increased use of metal health services and psychiatric medications, and increased suicidal ideation/attempted suicide,” the report adds. “When transgender-identifying adolescents who were using gender-affirming [sic] pharmaceuticals (963) were evaluated separately, their use of mental health care services did not change but their use of psychotropic medications did increase.”
The authors point out that the rush to treat a gender-dysphoric child’s sex as the problem fails to account for other issues that may be the true source of mental or emotional strife, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), trauma from sexual abuse, or familial and/or social rejection. “Using five independent cross-sectional datasets consisting of 641,860 individuals, researchers found ‘transgender and gender-diverse individuals have, on average, higher rates of autism, other neurodevelopmental and psychiatric diagnoses,’” they note.
“[T]here is strong evidence that children and adolescents who identify as transgender have experienced significant psychological trauma leading to their gender dysphoria,” the paper concludes. “Also, there is no long-term evidence that current ‘gender affirming’ medication and surgical protocols benefit their mental well-being. High rates of suicide attempts and/or completions in those who have received ‘gender affirming’ interventions indicate that at minimum, long term controlled trials should be conducted if these interventions are to be continued. More attention and support should be afforded to individuals seeking help in detransitioning after having made a decision during their formative adolescent years with life-long consequences, including possible sterility and loss of sexual function.”
The review adds to a significant body of evidence showing that “affirming” gender confusion carries serious harms, especially when done with impressionable children who lack the mental development, emotional maturity, and life experience to consider the long-term ramifications of the decisions being pushed on them or full knowledge about the long-term effects of life-altering, physically transformative, and often irreversible surgical and chemical procedures.
Studies find that more than 80 percent of children suffering from gender dysphoria outgrow it on their own by late adolescence and that even full “reassignment” surgery often fails to resolve gender-confused individuals’ heightened tendency to engage in self-harm and suicide — and may even exacerbate it, including by reinforcing their confusion and neglecting the actual root causes of their mental strife.
Many oft-ignored detransitioners have attested to the physical and mental harm of reinforcing gender confusion, as well as to the bias and negligence of the medical establishment on the subject, many of whom take an activist approach to their profession and begin cases with a predetermined conclusion in favor of “transitioning.”
The danger of keeping parents in the dark about such situations is grimly illustrated in the story of Yaeli Martinez, a 19-year-old to whom “gender transitioning” was touted as a possible cure for her depression in high school, supported by a high school counselor who withheld what she was going through from her mother. The troubled girl killed herself after trying to live as a man for three years.
Last summer, the Biden administration’s own U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released a since-deleted report that acknowledged “lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults are more likely than straight adults to use substances, experience mental health conditions including major depressive episodes, and experience serious thoughts of suicide.”