Unmasking the Pseudoscience: The Truth About 'Gender-Affirming Care'

Unmasking the Pseudoscience: The Truth About 'Gender-Affirming Care'

As legislators, we must stop rewarding medical institutions pushing this pseudoscience.

September 1, 2023

Written by Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw

In 2007, there was only one pediatric gender clinic in the United States. Now there are close to 100. It's impossible to overstate just how quickly the Left has radicalized on the issue of so-called "gender-affirming care." None of the people pushing this harmful pseudoscientific nonsense believed it 10 or 15 years ago.

According to data collected by Komodo Health and analyzed by Reuters, a total of 121,882 new diagnoses of gender dysphoria were added for patients ages six to 17 between 2017 and 2021. The rate of diagnosis increased by 20 percent each year between 2017 and 2020, and then shot up 70 percent between 2020 and 2021—the year kids were home due to COVID-19 lockdowns when they spent much more time on their phones and social media.

These are real numbers that tell a real story. As the head of Boston Children's Gender Clinic confirms for us, they are handing out puberty blockers "like candy."

The Left accuses Republicans of creating this new fight in the culture wars out of whole cloth. In reality, we're simply responding to a rapid onset of transgender ideology being pushed on our children in their schools, libraries, and even doctors' offices. This is an entirely new phenomenon, pushed by people who know better in pursuit of so-called "compassion" for children suffering from sometimes temporary ideations about their gender.

Let's be frank: It is not compassionate to perform a double mastectomy on a teenage girl who is insecure about her body. It is not compassionate to pump a 13-year-old boy full of puberty blockers, seriously affecting his ability to reproduce in the future. Our children cannot consent to life-altering procedures, and informed consent depends on evidence-based medicine.

We need to be able to trust that physicians are providing care that is backed by solid science, and so-called gender-affirming care runs counter to evidence-based medicine.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Endocrine Society, and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) have all released policy statements in support of gender-affirming care. Other organizations, including the American Medical Association, have made public statements in support of "affirming" medicine without citing evidence. But not one of these organizations has done systematic reviews of the evidence, a method of review supposed to prevent the cherry-picking of studies and biased analysis. Their statements of support appear to be grounded in a fear of provoking rabid gender ideologues rather than in sound science.

On the other hand, Sweden, Finland, the U.K., and Florida have all done systematic reviews, and all reached the same conclusion: There is no evidence that the benefits of this approach for treating gender-related distress in youth outweigh the risks. Recently, Denmark also imposed restrictions, and Norway is poised to follow suit. Even progressive European countries recognize that high-risk and irreversible interventions must meet a high threshold of evidence. Remember, these procedures on children are permanent. There is no turning back once you start to change a child's gender. And yet, as our peer-countries have admitted, there is zero high quality evidence for the benefits of this pseudoscience.

Roughly 70 percent of U.S. teens who go to gender clinics have comorbid psychiatric diagnoses that precede the onset of gender dysphoria. That raises a troubling question: Are we misdiagnosing gender dysphoria because of the affirm first, ask questions later approach we have adopted in the United States? Is this affirmative model biased toward one diagnosis—gender dysphoria—and biased toward "gender affirming care" as a treatment?

Medical experts around the world think so. That's why 21 leading experts on pediatric gender medicine from nine countries recently wrote a letter to the Wall Street Journal sounding the alarm about the American affirmative model for youth gender dysphoria.

As legislators, we must stop rewarding medical institutions pushing this pseudoscience. That's why I introduced legislation to block graduate medical education funding from any children's hospital that provides gender transition procedures to minors.

This bill is commonsense: When 70 percent of Americans oppose using puberty blockers on minors, we should not force them to fund this sort of treatment with their tax dollars.

Children's hospitals that are training providers in evidence-based medicine will still receive funding under my legislation.

The fact there is even an argument over whether we should permanently mutilate children is evidence of just how far off the rails our political discourse has become. We are marching our children down a path from which they cannot return. Science and common sense tell us these procedures are permanent, dangerous, and wrong.

We must refuse to participate in this madness for the sake of our kids.

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