Feds Send $1 Million To Study Designed To Push Transgenderism On Children

Feds Send $1 Million To Study Designed To Push Transgenderism On Children

The National Science Foundation has made a $1 million grant for a longitudinal study of gender-confused children. It appears designed to reach conclusions more political than scientific.
Jane Robbins and Erin Tuttle
By

As part of the campaign to wrench human society from its foundations by abolishing the two sexes, the federal government is trying to fabricate a scientific basis for radical new theories of gender identity and fluidity.

We’ve written about the $5.7 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) study, designed to justify chemically sterilizing children who suffer from gender confusion or dysphoria. Now the Associated Press reports that the National Science Foundation (NSF) has made a $1 million grant for a longitudinal study of gender-confused children. Unfortunately, the circumstances surrounding the NSF-funded study suggest that it, too, is designed to reach conclusions more political than scientific.

The study is called the TransYouth Project (TYP). Designed by Dr. Kristina Olson, a psychology professor at the University of Washington, the study will follow several hundred transgender children whose parents “affirm” their gender dysphoria—that is, who let the children impersonate members of the opposite sex in appearance, name, pronoun usage, etc. Participants ranged from age 3 to age 12 at the inception of the study in 2013 and will be followed for 20 years.

Early Indications Flag High Levels of Bias

The first red flag concerning TYP is the orientation of the lead researcher, Olson, who is firmly on the side of affirming the child’s mistaken gender identity. In an article for the Los Angeles Times, Olson wrote about a child named John who used to have a girl’s name because, as Olson puts it, “when John was born his parents and his doctors said he was a girl.”

This is another version of the “sex assigned at birth” trope, which denies the biological reality of chromosomes and reproductive organs. “John’s” parents and doctor said the baby was a girl because the baby was a girl.

In the same article, Olson wrote disdainfully of clinics that “counsel families to ‘guide’ children to become satisfied with their biological sex.” She clearly disagrees with medical professionals who think it’s better for a child to develop satisfaction with reality rather than spend a lifetime at war with his or her own body.

Olson displays this mindset in TYP when she seriously accepts the fantasies of toddlers as evidence of immutable rejection of their biological sex. Three-year-olds think they’re many things—dinosaurs, superheroes, whatever—and basing a supposedly serious study on their claims of being a different sex calls into question the scientific foundations of the study.

Even with children who clearly do suffer gender dysphoria, Olson is determined to find some evidence to affirm them in their confusion. She acknowledges prior research showing elevated levels of anxiety and depression in gender-confused children, but suggests those results are invalid because many of the children in the studies didn’t have “affirming” parents. She doesn’t mention the longitudinal research establishing that the vast majority of dysphoric children will outgrow the condition if allowed to progress normally through puberty.

So through TYP, Olson is focusing only on a particular type of child with a particular type of family. Participant children had to impersonate the opposite sex in all facets of their everyday life, and their parents had to agree and play along with the impersonation. Participants were recruited from transgender clinics, conferences, and support groups, further ensuring that only families that already accept the concepts Olson and her colleagues embrace would be studied.

Likely to Merely Reaffirm Researchers’ Biases

Olson’s website displays her acceptance of a wide variety of gender concepts in her quest for research subjects. “In addition to transgender children,” she says, “we are recruiting intersex children, gender nonconforming children, tomboys, princess boys, pink boys, non-binary children, gender creative kids – you name it!” Parents who recognize these bizarre terms are, by definition, parents who already share Olson’s mindset. And the idea that any adult would label a little boy, regardless of whatever psychological issues he has, as a “princess boy” or “pink boy” is deeply troubling.

How will the TYP children and their families be monitored? “For the official TYP cohort,” participants are told, “we aim to see families in person every 1-3 years until each child in our study is about 12 years old. Then we rely primarily on surveys.” Who completes the surveys? “When possible, 2 parents completed these forms . . . in all other cases, only 1 parent completed the forms.”

So the results will be evaluated based primarily on self-reporting of parents. Probably with no training in assessing anxiety and depression, parents will report how well their children are doing in those areas. The likelihood that parents will admit that what they’re doing to their children is having an adverse effect is pretty small. Olson even admits that this reporting mechanism may reflect “a desire to have their children appear healthier than they are.” But not to worry: “we have no reasons to believe this was an issue.”

Perhaps most troubling of all aspects of TYP is that Olson and colleagues have already reported their preliminary results, only two years into a 20-year study. To no one’s surprise, the preliminary results show the affirmed children are doing just fine:

Socially transitioned transgender children who are supported in their gender identity have developmentally normative levels of depression and only minimal elevations in anxiety, suggesting that psychopathology is not inevitable within this group. Especially striking is the comparison with reports of children with GID [Gender Identity Disorder]; socially transitioned transgender children have notably lower rates of internalizing psychopathology than previously reported among children with GID living as their natal sex.

It seems reckless at best to be publishing even initial “conclusions” about such radical child-rearing techniques after only two years of observation (by parents, not trained mental-health professionals). Especially is this true when research shows initial satisfaction with affirming treatment, followed, 10 or more years out, by elevated levels of depression, as well as a likelihood of death by suicide 19 times higher than that of control groups.

Using Taxpayer Dollars To Push a Dangerous Social Agenda

Why would a supposedly legitimate researcher be engaging in such unprofessional conduct? The answer, it appears, is that politics is triumphing over science. Pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Quentin Van Meter, who has extensive experience with both the politics and the science of “gender diversity,” bluntly describes the situation:

Dr. Olson’s study was rushed to publication after two years into the study to give the transgender activists a ‘success’ story. The results were anything but scientific. The assessment of anxiety and depression was done by the parents. The kids in the study were those whose families were recruited from their transgender clinic[s] and did not include all [types of] patients and their families. . . . Olson’s plan is to affirm everyone and see how they look 20 years out. The already published Swedish study has shown what will happen: appearance of happiness until 10 years out, and then a precipitous dive into depression with a 19-fold increase in suicide completion.

In light of these circumstances, Van Meter asks the obvious question: “Why do we even give Dr. Olson the time of day? She clearly doesn’t understand the magical thinking of young children. How can she be respected at all by any peers?”

But not only is she respected by at least some in her orbit, our taxpayer money is being funneled to her work, courtesy of the NSF. As we’ve written here, and in more detail in our book “Deconstructing the Administrative State: The Fight for Liberty,” the federal government routinely funds “research” designed to promote bureaucrats’ preferred policies. Even in the Trump administration, federal bureaucrats—the administrative state—make policy on their own by directing tax dollars to researchers who can be depended on to reach the desired outcome.

That’s what’s happening with Olson’s study. The predictable results will harm children and their families for years to come. Referring to Olson’s premature publication of her “conclusions,” NSF proclaims, “Although many of [Olson’s] findings have been made relatively recently, pediatricians are already using them to educate families and the public about social and health issues related to gender diversity.”

Families are being fed taxpayer-funded misinformation that will have tragic consequences. This is the operation of the administrative state in its most destructive form, and with its most helpless victims.

Jane Robbins is a senior fellow at American Principles Project, an attorney, and the co-author, with Erin Tuttle and Emmett McGroarty, of "Deconstructing the Administrative State: The Fight for Liberty." Tuttle is an American Principles Project policy analyst.
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