The Biden administration’s bid to normalize puberty blockers and other medical treatments for trans children increasingly puts the White House at odds with public opinion, Republican lawmakers and European allies.
The administration recently gave a full-throated endorsement of so-called ‘gender-affirming care’, for children, with Assistant Secretary of Health Rachel Levine saying trans people had ‘support at the highest levels of the federal government.’
At a public appearance last month, Levine, a trans woman, argued that puberty blockers and other drugs and surgeries that help minors change their gender cut the risks of suicide, saved lives, and were backed by major US medical bodies.
The pediatrician also acknowledged that such care has become hugely controversial, putting the administration at odds with voters, Republicans, and recent studies that trans drugs and procedures do kids more harm than good.
‘I think that it’s not going to be politically advantageous,’ Levine said at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, predicting ‘challenging’ rows in next year’s presidential election.
Joe Biden’s trans male-to-female health official, the pediatrician Rachel Levine, says she has stepped into a political ‘minefield’
A recent YouGov survey of 1,000 adults across red and blue states found that Americans were largely against gender-affirming procedures for children
‘But I am positive and optimistic and hopeful that the wheel will turn after that. And that this issue won’t be as politically and socially such a minefield.’
Levine’s vocal support for gender-affirming care has since been slammed by Republican politicians and medical groups. This echoes the fallout from President Joe Biden’s controversial decision last year to host at the White House Dylan Mulvaney, an adult trans TikToker who records her transition into ‘girlhood.’
Gender-affirming care covers everything from puberty blockers to cross-sex hormones and, in rare cases for trans children under 18, surgery. Several medical associations say such healthcare saves lives among a suicide-prone group.
But opponents of trans ideology say sex is determined at birth and cannot be changed, that medical groups have been hijacked by trans ideologues and that politicians must intervene to stop parents, doctors, or therapists from permanently harming children.
Many are alarmed by the sharp uptick in teenage girls with autism and other mental health woes asking for sex-change drugs in recent years, and of new studies linking puberty blockers to weaker bones and osteoporosis.
Republican lawmakers in Kentucky passed a measure on Thursday to ban gender-affirming care for trans minors, the latest state to do so this year after conservatives proposed hundreds of bills across the US pushing back on various LGBTQ rights.
Voters differ with the Biden administration on this frontline issue in America’s culture wars. A recent YouGov survey of 1,000 adults across red and blue states found that Americans were largely against gender-affirming procedures for children.
Some 61 percent said rejected giving puberty blockers to 12-year-olds, while 21 percent said it was acceptable. They also deemed cross-sex hormones and breast surgeries unacceptable by similar margins.
DailyMail.com readers take a tougher line — 94 percent want the procedures banned in their state. There is still time to have your say and vote in our poll.
Many critics of gender-affirming care in the US point to recent policy shifts in Europe, where health chiefs in several countries have backtracked after carrying out their own policy reviews.
Critics of the trans movement often point to de-transitioners, who come to regret their decisions to change gender and seek reversals. Pictured: Scars on the chest of Prisha Mosley, who had her breasts removed when she was 18 and now wants to reconstruct her chest through surgery that is expected to cost thousands of dollars
Britain’s health service recently decided to close the country’s only gender identity clinic for children, after a damning review and a slew of allegations by former staff and patients about rushing young people onto treatment.
A major Swedish clinic in 2021 stopped giving puberty blockers and hormones to children, and Finland’s health chiefs decided that psychotherapy, not drugs and hormones, should be the first-line treatment for gender-dysphoric youngsters.
Finland’s top transgender treatment expert, Dr. Riittakerttu Kaltiala, last month said ‘four out of five’ teens who question their gender come to accept their bodies if they don’t receive medical intervention.
A recent study by the medical watchdog, Do No Harm, found that the US has more lenient policies on chemical and surgical sex change services for children when compared against 11 European allies.
Researchers found that the US offers more legal and medical access to gender transition services for kids, such as clinics, puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgeries, in some cases without parental consent.
Dr Stanley Goldfarb, who campaigns against radical gender ideology and other ‘wokery’ in healthcare and contributed to the report, said there was a growing body of evidence showing that Levine’s comments on trans care were ‘wrong and must be countered.’
‘There is no good evidence that children treated with gender-altering hormones or puberty blockers have improved mental health assessments,’ Dr Goldfarb told Fox News.
White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said there were some 450 anti-LGBTQ bills being debated across the US this year. Other groups put the number at closer to 350
Trans rights activist Erin Reed (left) and Zooey Zephyr, a trans representative for Montana’s 100th House District, on the White House Lawn at the signing of the Respect for Marriage Act, Dec 2022
America has in recent weeks witnessed a series of seminal moments in the trans debate that are seeing a growing number of pediatricians, parents, politicians and even young trans people themselves question whether affirmation-on-demand is always the best answer.
Critics of the trans movement often point to de-transitioners, as they are known, like Chloe Cole, 18, who last month sued the healthcare providers who gave her puberty blockers at age 13 and a double mastectomy at 15 — procedures she now deeply regrets.
In a bombshell whistleblower testimony this month, Jamie Reed, a former employee at the Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, revealed how the clinic administered a litany of irreparable treatments to minors, often without parental consent.
Reed said doctors would ask questions like ‘do you want a dead daughter or an alive son?’ to ‘bully’ children’s parents into going ahead with gender transitions — under the pretense that not doing so would make them suicidal.
Some argue that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and other US institutions that promote affirmation-on-demand have been hijacked by trans ideologues.
DailyMail.com last year exposed how AAP leaders tried to suppress members who wanted to review that policy. The US should follow the UK and other European countries that have backtracked on doling out puberty blockers, say some members.
In numbers: the explosion of children seeking gender care
The US has seen an explosion in recent years in the number of children who identify as a gender different from what they were designated at birth. Thousands of families are weighing profound choices in an emerging field of medicine as they pursue what is called gender-affirming care for their children.
The spotlight fell on trans-identifying Sunny Bryant, 8, when Texas lawmakers declared illegal the hormone treatments she was planning to take upon reaching adolescence
In 2021, about 42,000 children and teens across the United States received a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, nearly triple the number in 2017, according to data Komodo Health, a technology company, compiled for Reuters. Gender dysphoria is defined as the distress caused by a discrepancy between a person’s gender identity and the one assigned to them at birth.
Overall, the analysis found that at least 121,882 children ages 6 to 17 were diagnosed with gender dysphoria from 2017 through 2021. Reuters found similar trends when it requested state-level data on diagnoses among children covered by Medicaid, the public insurance program for lower-income families.
Gender-affirming care covers a spectrum of interventions. It can entail adopting a child’s preferred name and pronouns and letting them dress in alignment with their gender identity — called social transitioning.
It can incorporate therapy or other forms of psychological treatment. And, from around the start of adolescence, it can include medical interventions such as puberty blockers, hormones and, in some cases, surgery. In all of it, the aim is to support and affirm the child’s gender identity.
These medical treatments don’t begin until the onset of puberty, typically around age 10 or 11.
But families that go the medical route venture onto uncertain ground, where science has yet to catch up with practice. While the number of gender clinics treating children in the US has grown from zero to more than 100 in the past 15 years — and waiting lists are long — strong evidence of the efficacy and possible long-term consequences of that treatment remains scant.
Puberty blockers and sex hormones do not have US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for children’s gender care. No clinical trials have established their safety for such off-label use. The drugs’ long-term effects on fertility and sexual function remain unclear.
New Yorkers took to the streets of Manhattan to participate in the Reclaim Pride Coalition’s (RPC) fourth annual Queer Liberation March, which in June focussed on transgender rights among other issues
And in 2016, the FDA ordered makers of puberty blockers to add a warning about psychiatric problems to the drugs’ label after the agency received several reports of suicidal thoughts in children who were taking them.
More broadly, no large-scale studies have tracked people who received gender-related medical care as children to determine how many remained satisfied with their treatment as they aged and how many eventually regretted transitioning. The same lack of clarity holds true for the contentious issue of detransitioning, when a patient stops or reverses the transition process.
The National Institutes of Health, the US government agency responsible for medical and public health research, told Reuters that ‘the evidence is limited on whether these treatments pose short- or long-term health risks for transgender and other gender-diverse adolescents.’
The NIH has funded a comprehensive study to examine mental health and other outcomes for about 400 transgender youths treated at four US children’s hospitals. However, long-term results are years away and may not address concerns such as fertility or cognitive development.
— By Reuters