Two Transgender Specialists Wonder: Has The New Orthodoxy Gone Too Far?

Two Transgender Specialists Wonder: Has The New Orthodoxy Gone Too Far?

Two prominent providers in the field of transgender medicine have raised concerns about the serious risks of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and gender-transition surgery.
Paula Rinehart
By

For nearly a decade, the transgender movement has steamrolled through American society with a façade of certainty and moral superiority no one is allowed to question. Choosing one’s gender has been the brave new frontier our children are entitled to cross, and woe to the parent, doctor, or educator who takes issue.

In recent weeks, though, another major crack in this wall has appeared. In a groundbreaking interview, two prominent providers in the field of transgender medicine admit publicly there is much about transgender doctrine that needs to be questioned.

Abigail Shrier, author of “Irreversible Damage,” interviewed Dr. Marci Bowers, a world-renowned vaginoplasty specialist who operated on Jazz Jennings, and Erica Anderson, a clinical psychologist at the University of California San Francisco’s Child and Adolescent Gender Clinic. It’s a flashing red light that these two specialists are voicing doubts publicly. These practitioners are also transgender, and have helped hundreds of children and teenagers transition. Now they ask, has the new orthodoxy gone too far?

Anderson even submitted a co-authored op-ed to The New York Times warning that many transgender medical providers were treating kids recklessly. The Times declined to publish, citing this was “outside our coverage priorities right now.”

These bombshell interviews are welcome news to parents who have sensed something gravely amiss. Parents who mourn seeing a son become a daughter or who question life-altering surgery on their child’s healthy body are labeled unsupportive transphobes. Online peer trans-support groups make much of offering a kid a “glitter family” to replace the parents who don’t line up behind a teenager’s desire to change genders.

In 2007, this was a smaller issue, as there was one gender-transitioning clinic in the country. Today those clinics number in the hundreds.

Acknowledging the Risks of Puberty Blockers, Surgery

As these two practitioners reveal, protocols for gender transition will likely ruin a person’s ability to respond to sexual intimacy and in many instances produce sterility. Those are steep prices to pay. These interviews confirm just how gaslit we have been and how much there is to question in gender-suppression protocols.

Bowers explains what happens to patients who pursue gender-transition surgery after taking puberty blockers (drugs that delay puberty) and cross-sex hormones. Bowers admits he is “not a fan” of puberty blockers. When physical puberty is inhibited, there is not enough penile and scrotal skin for a surgeon to re-fashion female organs without taking stomach lining or even part of the colon from a patient. Bowers refuses to use the colon, although other doctors will: “You can get colon cancer … or chronic colitis over time. And it’s just in the discharge and the nasty appearance and it doesn’t smell like a vagina.”

Yet the transgender-rights movement of doctors and activists has claimed for a decade that it’s perfectly safe for children as young as nine to take puberty blockers. It’s all “fully reversible,” they said. The Mayo Clinic, the St. Louis Children’s Hospital, and The New York Times hardly mention the data that shows sexual dysfunction and sterility often result from puberty blockers.

Doctors giving puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones are guilty of magical thinking, as though “surgeons can do anything,” Bowers claims. Jennings, Bowers’ most famous patient, is a case in point. Days after Bowers removed Jennings’s penis and constructed female body parts with the available skin, Jazz experienced “crazy pain.” He was rushed back to the hospital where another doctor was waiting. “As I was getting her [sic] on the bed, I heard something go pop,” he said. Jazz’s new vagina had split apart.

In this video you can see just how much uncertainty exists, even in highly skilled doctors, as they attempt a repair. It’s hard to escape the sense that transitioning teens are guinea pigs in a huge national experiment.

Fast-Tracking Youths Leads to Dangerous Health Care

Puberty blockers are just the first step in this problematic process. The standard of care established by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) is called “affirmative therapy.” A “good” doctor, therapist, or educator is required to accept at face value a child’s desire to change genders and offer the child medications to inhibit puberty.

There is little exploration into the actual causes of a teenager’s depression or why she feels uncomfortable in her sex. In what many believe is social contagion, the number of natal females seeking gender transition has skyrocketed, affecting twice as many girls as boys. If a doctor accepted an anorexic patient’s firm belief that she is fat and prescribed liposuction or a weight-loss clinic as a treatment, we would hardly call him “compassionate.” Yet that exact suspension of logic is applied to gender dysphoria.

Puberty blockers are followed, almost inevitably, by cross-sex hormones that carry huge medical implications. A girl taking testosterone will feel bold and confident, soaring above her insecurities and depression. But she will also grow facial hair that likely won’t go away even if she stops taking hormones. Her voice will deepen, usually permanently. Her vagina will atrophy and due to thickened blood, she stands a much greater risk of heart attack. As the surgeon Bowers makes clear in her interview, over time cross-sex hormones will likely leave patients infertile and incapable of enjoying sexual intimacy.

This is a stunning protocol to push on vulnerable children and teenagers given the fact that 70 percent of children outgrow gender dysphoria with no intervention at all, as Shrier explains in her investigative book on the subject. Only in the field of transgender medicine do we allow procedures that halt normal, healthy biological functioning in a child or teen, based solely on “self-reported mental distress,” Shrier writes.

This reflexive rush to treatment has caused Anderson to state openly that many young adults are getting “sloppy healthcare.” Underlying emotional issues are not resolved by hormones and surgery. Indeed, nearly half of parents of transitioning children report that their child was in a worse place, not a better one, as a result.

A leaked 2019 report from the renowned Tavistock and Portman Trust gender clinic in the United Kingdom showed that rates of self-harm and suicidality did not decrease even after puberty was suppressed. The report was so damning the head of the clinic resigned. He feared the clinic was fast-tracking youths to transition with no positive effect and in some cases, real harm.

Driven By Ideology, Not Science

Bowers makes one more admission that major care providers have not dared state out loud, although it’s obvious to anyone who has worked or written in the field of transgender medicine. Bowers alludes to a built-in bias, a regimented dogma. He says, “there are definitely people who are trying to keep out anyone who doesn’t absolutely buy the party line that everything should be affirming and that there is no room for dissent.” Bowers thinks that’s a mistake.

How can a field of medicine claim to offer help based on “science” when inquiry and dissent are so openly derided — or when those who question may likely forfeit their careers? Why would parents risk their children’s futures on protocols for which no good long-term studies exist?

The determination to create a self of one’s choosing is driven not by science, but by ideology. As Carl Trueman explains in his landmark book, “The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self,” we have allowed sexuality to be “at the very heart of what it means to be an authentic person,” a profound claim “that is arguably unprecedented in history.” A belief system — not science — is governing how we approach the insecurities of childhood and adolescence.

The transgender wall we hear cracking is the myth that there is actual science behind this new gender orthodoxy. Two of the most active practitioners have begun to blow a whistle. There will be more. More parents, more doctors, more transitioners will raise questions and refuse to pretend this is a path of wisdom.

The curtain is being pulled back on the shaky underpinnings of an industry that threatens to reshape what it means to be human — to live as a man or a woman. The future may well surface hundreds of people with regrets, stuck in bodies that don’t work like they were designed. They will be asking how grown-ups in their past ever allowed them to pursue such madness.

Paula Rinehart, LCSW, is a therapist in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the author of the book "Sex and the Soul of a Woman." She writes about family and culture.

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