Doctors who treat gender dysphoria in children harbor a dirty secret: to achieve “best cosmetic results” during gender transitions, the treatment must begin before their patients reach puberty. This is a major problem for transgender military service that neither the Pentagon nor the courts should overlook.
In contrast to transgender children whose puberty has been blocked, the adults courts are forcing the U.S. military to help with sex changes have already been through a puberty that matches their biological sex. This makes the odds of achieving opposite-sex appearance far greater, if not impossible.
If the goal of treating gender dysphoria is to make the patients appear as much like the opposite sex as possible in order to alleviate gender dysphoria that allegedly results from the mismatch between their birth sex and the gender they identify as, the U.S. military faces significant and costly hurdles in attempting to perform sex changes on adults who enlisted as their birth sex.
It’s shocking that the important question of whether hormones or surgeries actually cure or even alleviate gender dysphoria wasn’t addressed in depth by the first and frequently hyped RAND study performed at the Obama administration’s behest as it considered its transgender soldier policies.
“In the absence of quality randomized trial evidence,” RAND concluded, “it is difficult to fully assess the outcomes of treatment for [gender dysphoria]…postsurgical transsexuals are a risk group that need long-term psychiatric and somatic follow-up. Even though surgery and hormonal therapy alleviates gender dysphoria, it is apparently not sufficient to remedy the high rates of morbidity and mortality found among transsexual persons.”
The Pentagon’s recent study by a panel of carefully assembled experts did, however, delve thoroughly into this serious question. The answer ultimately failed to convince Defense Secretary Jim Mattis that these off-label and unscientifically proven hormonal and surgical treatments actually do cure or alleviate gender dysphoria. That isn’t surprising because even some of the recipients of these genital surgeries publicly admit to not being cured of their gender dysphoria.
When I Listened to the ‘Experts,’ I Completely Regretted It
Unlike many journalists who blindly speak or write about gender dysphoria and transgender military service, I am both an Army veteran and a patient who has received these experimental medical treatments.
I was smart enough to forego any transgender surgical procedures, because I was also unconvinced of the science behind mainstream gender dysphoria treatments. My decision to not get genital surgery was because I discovered the high complication rates of these procedures. It was also based on the published experiences of other transsexuals. Even according to the RAND study, 6 to 20 percent of those receiving vaginoplasty experience complications, meaning that “between three and 11 Service members per year would experience a long-term disability from gender Reassignment surgery.”
I quickly came to believe that not only were these surgeries highly dangerous, but that they can’t cure gender dysphoria either. I didn’t need the RAND study to warn me about these surgical complications, or recent summaries of 30-year-old studies. The information was readily available all over the Internet. I was, however, foolish enough though to undergo four years of hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Like the transgender adults now serving on active duty, because my hormone treatments for gender dysphoria began after puberty, my results were abysmal. I needed extensive hair removal on my face and body, breast augmentation, and facial feminization surgery to even remotely begin to look like a stereotypical female. I also suffered numerous mental and physical health complications from taking the prescribed hormone treatments.
Cross-sex hormones failed to cure or even alleviate my gender dysphoria. The only thing that did was to stop believing that I was a female. The APA claims gender dysphoria is a treatable condition with social transitions and hormonal and surgical treatments. My experience as a transsexual patient proves otherwise. Four years of Defense Department-funded hormone treatments produced nothing more than a very small amount of breast growth.
Other than that, just like many other male to female transsexuals, I look nearly exactly the same now as when I began taking hormones. So much for APA’s claimed efficacy. As a middle-aged late transitioning trans-woman, after four years on hormones, without enhancements in my chest, I basically look like an overweight middle-aged man.
Taking Unnatural Hormones Made Things Worse
Not only were my hormonal treatments a horrific failure, the whole transition process actually caused my gender dysphoria to worsen. Therapy didn’t help resolve that. While I went into the transition process “feeling different” from my male peers and believing that I shared the feelings biological females experience, once I was formally diagnosed with gender dysphoria and indoctrinated to believe that I was actually a female, I then had the crushing pressure of having to actually look like one.
As noted by the Pentagon’s panel of experts, transgender people have a 41 percent attempted or completed suicide rate. The panel also noted rampant suicidal ideation by those afflicted with gender dysphoria. As the patient and recipient of these unscientifically proven treatments, and as a guinea pig for the toxic ideology that one can change his or her sex, I’ve come to believe the whole transition process is tragically and fatally flawed. The proof is in the suicide statistics and the rampant suicidal ideation.
The sex change process is inherently and fatally flawed because even if science eventually proves transgender people are more than the sum of their currently visible and measurable birth biology, this would make them intersex—a mixture of male and female. It would not make transgender persons the complete opposite sex.
Nor should the military be involved in attempting to medically shoehorn trans service members into the opposite sex, something at which they can’t possibly succeed. Because of the “at best” case of mixed male and female biology in this scenario, the transgender person will always be plagued by gender dysphoria. It’s the equivalent of claiming a mixed-race person can be made white or black by a medical treatment. Would RAND and the APA bless that as well?
Spending Taxpayer Money Ruining People’s Lives
The Pentagon’s panel of experts missed a study pointing out only 21 percent of transgender people ever actually achieve an appearance that convinces others the person is really a member of the opposite sex. The military operates on the premise that standards should be measurable and achievable. Turning males and females into the opposite sex is not an achievable standard, but the poor results are measurable.
Also missing from the Pentagon’s study is any discussion about the notable problem of transgender service members violating military regulations to treat gender dysphoria on their own. Numerous examples of service members taking medical transition steps before the 2016 ban was lifted have not only been reported, but celebrated by many large media outlets.
For example: “I started my medical transition in November 2013, before we were even talking about changing the ban. I started with therapy before that in 2012. At the time, I was stationed on a U.S. submarine, and completed two deployments while I was on the submarine on hormones. [The therapy and hormones] were out of my own pocket through a civilian provider.”
The fact that a substantial number of transgender service members self-medicated with hormones before the ban was lifted says a lot about the problematic nature of gender dysphoria. There’s nothing to celebrate when a transgender military leader who has punishment authority as an officer over other service members is downtown buying off-label drugs like a junky getting his fix. Part of any new transgender military policy should include a harsh remedy for this.
As evidenced in the new Pentagon study, the U.S. military is correct to ban those with gender dysphoria from serving. The military is also correct in refusing to participate in gender transitions, regardless of how many lawsuits that requires fighting. My failed sex change is proof of that.
The biological bell of puberty cannot be unrung for these service members. Arguably, the fight to change anyone’s biological sex cannot be won either, no matter how much money is thrown away in trying to do so, or regardless of how much political blood is spilled fighting over it.