A transgender flag being waved at LGBT gay pride march
Humanize From Discovery Institute's Center on Human Exceptionalism

Biden Administration’s Policies Push Puberty Blocking, Transition Surgeries for Transgender Children

Originally published at The Epoch Times

In acts of naked cultural imperialism, the Biden administration has launched propaganda, regulatory, and, soon, litigation campaigns aimed at requiring that children have unfettered access to gender transition interventions.

And they intend to force society to pay for it. Just the other day, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra testified to a House of Representatives committee that he supports the government funding sex reassignment surgery for minors.

No one should be surprised at this radical turn. President Joe Biden just issued a statement on “Transgender Day of Visibility” and publicly stated that legal efforts by states to protect children’s physical health by prohibiting puberty blockers and surgical mutilations is “hateful.” Indeed, at Biden’s direction, the administration’s agencies and departments now actively proselytize in favor of children receiving “early gender-affirming care.”

What’s that you ask? According to a HHS fact sheet (pdf), such support goes well beyond promoting social acceptance to offering drastic medical interventions that could deleteriously and permanently impact these children’s bodies and physical wellbeing, including:

  • “Puberty Blockers: Using certain types of hormones to pause pubertal development.”
  • “Hormone Therapy: Testosterone hormones for those who were assigned female at birth Estrogen hormones for those who were assigned male at birth [from] early adolescence onward.”
  • “Gender-Affirming Surgeries: ‘Top’ surgery—to create male-typical chest shape or enhance breasts. ‘Bottom’ surgery—surgery on genitals or reproductive organs. Facial feminization or other procedures … [on a] case-by-case in adolescence.”

These are not benign interventions. Puberty blocking has been all but banned in Finland, is now strongly disfavored in the United Kingdom because evidence of medical benefit is “very low” and “must be weighed against the largely unknown long-term safety profile of these treatments in children and adolescents with gender dysphoria,” according to the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence. Meanwhile, a major Swedish hospital has ceased providing all such therapies because of the potential for harm. These are hardly Bible Belt countries!

Most recently—adding great heft to the growing doubts about these pediatric transgender interventions—France’s National Academy of Medicine published an urgent warning against routinely subjecting children diagnosed with gender dysphoria to mutilating surgeries and the impeding of normal maturation (pdf).

First, the National Academy cautioned against adverse effects of such care “such as the impact on growth, bone weakening, risk of sterility, emotional and intellectual consequences and, for girls, menopause-like symptoms.” As to surgeries for adolescents, the National Academy warns (my emphasis), “It must be emphasized that these procedures are irreversible.” No kidding!

The National Academy also pointed out an important fact that one never hears from the Biden administration transgender proselytizers: Transgenderism in children is often a temporary condition. Moreover, there are no objective medical tests to tell treating doctors which children “have persisting gender dysphoria” and which are experiencing “transient adolescent dysphoria.”

The report also warns about an unprecedented “epidemic” of children believing that they are not really their biological sex, noting that in a United States study, 10 percent of students questioned “declared themselves to be transgender or non-binary or were unsure of their gender.” Just a few years ago, such numbers would have been infinitesimal.

What might this mean? For one thing, it may be that children are being pushed into believing that they are transgender by well-meaning adults (or those with an ideological transgender ax to grind). If true—that could also mean that at least some provision of “early gender-affirming care” is medical malpractice of the most serious kind.

Indeed, because of the potential adverse outcomes and uncertainties of diagnosis, the National Academy advises that (my emphasis), “Great medical caution must be taken in children and adolescents, given the vulnerability, particularly psychological, of this population and the many undesirable effects and even serious complications that can be caused by some of the therapies available.”

Alas, the Biden administration is throwing caution to the wind. Contrary to France’s rational, protective, and data-informed approach, the Biden administration is stampeding to make childhood transitions the norm in our medical system and required to be provided upon request by law.

Thus, Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke warned states that laws prohibiting puberty blocking and gender transition surgeries upon children are policies of “unlawful discrimination” that “may infringe on rights protected by both the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.” (pdf)

The Biden administration transgender missionaries also intend to force medical professionals to participate in childhood transitions—even though “the science” (as they say) is clearly far from settled. Thus, Biden has supported the “Equality Act” that would not only prohibit medical professionals from refusing to perform transition procedures but would also gut the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that could allow those with faith objections to opt-out.

Along these lines, HHS is expected to soon publish proposed regulations requiring all medical institutions, organizations, self-insured employers, and professionals to perform or provide access to (among other controversial procedures like abortion) transgender transition interventions. Giving the regulation sharp teeth, the expected rule would allow patients denied required coverage or procedures to file private discrimination lawsuits.

It’s stunning how far the transgender movement has advanced—to the point that children are in danger of having their healthy physical futures sacrificed on the altar of “equity, diversity, and inclusion.” But that’s the essential nature of a moral panic. It sweeps all before it in an emotional tsunami of irrationality.

Leaders are supposed to cool such public passions. Instead, Biden’s absolutism threatens to enact the most radical and potentially physically harmful policies that the nation has witnessed since the eugenics stampede left 60,000 innocent Americans involuntarily sterilized. If the president succeeds in sweeping aside all checks and balances to the transgender juggernaut, his legacy will be measured by the ruined lives of children who were sacrificed to a revolutionary social experiment bent on subverting sexual norms and destroying childhood innocence.

Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.