Treatment of children with gender incongruence has been hijacked by ‘political activism,’ noted paediatric endocrinologist Dr Quentin Van Meter has said.
Addressing a conference on Gender Confusion and the Family in Westminster last week, the president of the American College of Paediatricians said that critics of the new affirming approach to transgenderism in children are being stifled, publications are being suppressed, academic faculty fear repercussions and major gatherings are not accepting contrary speakers. But none of this activism is based on science or medical evidence.
Without medical intervention, Dr Van Meter explained, 90 per cent of males and 80 per cent of females experiencing gender incongruencewill realign their gender identity to their sex by the time they have finished puberty. For those who do transition, after the initial ‘euphoria’ wears off, overall satisfaction declines after around 10 years, while the suicide rate among post-transition transgender people remains 19 times higher than the general population.
Some studies appear to contradict these findings, but Dr Van Meter said that this is because they do not follow subjects for long enough to see the decline in satisfaction, or suffer from some other fundamental flaw in their design.
Without medical intervention 90 per cent of males and 80 per cent of females will realign their gender identity to their sex by the time they have finished puberty.
To take a current example, a major study for the US National Institutes for Health costing $5.7million is following subjects for only 5 years so will not pick up on the 10 year drop-off in satisfaction. It also lacks a control group, so will not be able to compare outcomes with those who do not receive affirming treatment. Such an in-built bias should not perhaps surprise when it is realised that all the clinicians involved in the study are known advocates of gender affirming therapy (GAT).
Not surprise, but still shock, to find science being corrupted for ideological ends in this way, despite, as Dr Van Meter puts it, there being ‘zero point zero zero’ evidence that gender fluidity and gender identity have any basis in science.
Disturbingly, the lack of sound experimental data for GAT has not prevented it becoming the standard of care for children with gender incongruence.
Dr Van Meter explained how since 2009 clinical guidelines issued by professional bodies such as the Endocrine Society have been taken over GAT proponents, while pioneers and practitioners of the scientifically sound ‘watch and wait’ approach such as Kenneth Zucker and Paul McHugh have been deliberately excluded. The latest Endocrine Society guidelines from 2018 even smear ‘conversion therapy’ and dismiss it as unethical.
Over the same period, and partly as a consequence, incidence of gender incongruity in males in the US has rocketed from 0.006 per cent of the male population to 3 per cent – a 500 fold or 50,000 per cent increase. Proportions have also switched from males being two thirds of those affected to females being two thirds, the internet helping to fuel what Dr Van Meter calls a ‘cult’ like behaviour.
At the same time, the number of transgender clinics in the US has ballooned from 1 to 45, with hospitals incentivised to establish clinics by notable medical ratings bodies.
Yet, as Dr Van Meter points outs, this is nothing other than the medicalisation of a psychological issue. For there is no diagnostic test that could objectively confirm a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, and the whole condition is based on the subjective opinion of a child or adolescent.
Furthermore, there is no biological basis for such an opinion, which by its nature makes an unverifiable claim about the existence of an inner self at odds with a person’s biological make-up.
Critics of transgenderism are being stifled, publications are being suppressed, academic faculty fear repercussions and major gatherings are not accepting contrary speakers.
Dr Van Meter outlined some serious ethical concerns about the research currently being undertaken in the area. He explained that there is no sign that transgender centres are adhering to standard ethical guidelines in their medical research, such as obtaining informed consent, ensuring diagnosis is established by measurable criteria, and having a safety committee with clear stopping criteria where there is serious risk of harm.
Transgender affirming researchers also often refuse to use a control group in their studies, arguing that refusing affirming therapy to someone experiencing gender dysphoria is unethical and tantamount to conversion therapy. But such an approach clearly begs the question, and itself raises issues of the rightness of subjecting children to medical interventions in defiance of their biology, interventions they will often be dependent on for their entire lives.
Dr Van Meter drew attention to the increasing numbers of adults who have regretted their transition and sought to de-transition. The true numbers here are unknown, as this is an area where research is suppressed, as James Caspian found in 2017 when Bath Spa University rejected his research proposal on ‘ethical’ grounds.
Nonetheless, Dr Van Meter predicted that physicians and health care systems are likely in the future to face many costly legal claims, as those who come to regret their transition and the way they were treated as an immature child take action against those they hold responsible.
Transgenderism is currently being heavily promoted in the UK, where its inclusion in the Equality Act and as part of the LGBT movement (despite the objections of some lesbians) has seen it being promoted in schools to children as young as four through programmes such as No Outsiders and policies such as the Church of England’s Valuing all God’s Children. Those who attempt to raise concerns are squashed and ignored, or worse, denigrated and defamed.
Yet if Dr Van Meter is correct – and all the evidence and science appears to be on his side – this is a serious mistake, and a safeguarding catastrophe. It is surely time that as a society we took a step back from all the ideology and confusion around sex and gender and made a concerted effort to return to science, biology and common sense. Otherwise, how will we avoid the scornful judgement of history, as we continue to condemn our children to unnecessary medical treatments that scar them physically and psychologically for life, based on nothing more than the ideologies and confusions of activists?
(Dr Will Jones is a maths graduate with a PhD in political philosophy and author of Evangelical Social Theology: Past and Present [Grove, 2017]. He blogs at Faith and Politics)