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Humanize From Discovery Institute's Center on Human Exceptionalism
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A New Medical Coalition Rebuts the Propriety of “Gender-Affirming Care”

Originally published at National Review

It took too many years, but finally some countries in Europe are pushing back against so-called gender-affirming care that promotes irreversible body-altering interventions to gender-confused children and adolescents. Meanwhile, the thoroughly researched and soberly written Cass Review — authored by a highly respected pediatrician from the U.K. — exposed how evidence supporting the benefits of such drastic measures is scant while the potential harm is demonstrable. There’s no question that, in Europe at least, the tide has turned.

But not here. For some reason — ideology, politics, hubris — the American medical establishment (except for the American Academy of Pediatrics, which has agreed to re-review the data) has barely acknowledged these newest scientific studies and reforms. Neither has the Biden administration.

But now, a new American medical coalition — Doctors Protecting Children — has organized to fight back against the ideological thrall and to restore a more rational and efficacious standard of care for children. It has just issued the Doctors Protecting Children Declaration — authored by the American College of Pediatricians (not to be confused with the AAP) — setting forth specifics. (Full disclosure: My think tank, the Discovery Institute, supports the declaration.)

Among its provisions (citations omitted):

There are serious long-term risks associated with the use of social transition, puberty blockers, masculinizing or feminizing hormones, and surgeries, not the least of which is potential sterility. . . .

  • Youth who are socially affirmed are more likely to progress to using puberty blockers and cross-sex (masculinizing or feminizing) hormones. . . .
  • Puberty blockers permanently disrupt physical, cognitive, emotional and social development. . . .
  • Testosterone use in females and estrogen use in males are associated with dangerous health risks across the lifespan including, but not limited to, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, heart attacks, blood clots, stroke, diabetes, and cancer.
  • Genital surgeries affect future fertility and reproduction.

Moreover:

Evidence-based medical research now demonstrates there is little to no benefit from any or all suggested “gender affirming” interventions for adolescents experiencing Gender Dysphoria. Social “affirmation”, puberty blockers, masculinizing or feminizing hormones, and surgeries, individually or in combination, do not appear to improve long-term mental health of the adolescents, including suicide risk.

Psychotherapy for underlying mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and autism, as well as prior emotional trauma or abuse should be the first line of treatment for these vulnerable children experiencing discomfort with their biological sex.

The declaration is an important development that should — if actual scientific approaches are followed, that is — lead to a robust debate in this country that has too often been stymied and could, as in Europe, ultimately lead to salutary changes in the way children who experience gender confusion are supported and treated in the U.S.

For more information about Doctors Protecting Children and to read — and, if desired, sign — the pledge, hit this link.

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.