On June 1, the Ohio House of Representatives followed Arkansas’s lead in passing a bill that blocks medical gender transition for minors, protects parental rights, and prevents biological males from competing in women’s sports. While critics of House Bill 454 claim its passage will “threaten” the mental health of Ohio’s youth, there is reason to doubt these “experts” are considering all the facts.
Ohio’s vote preceded the release of the “Let Kids Be Kids” report issued by Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida’s Agency for Healthcare Administration on June 2. The report summarizes the scientific research about the effectiveness of treatment for gender dysphoria in children, or rather, lack thereof, and has been met with heavy criticism from transgender activists who argue the report is motivated by bigotry.
The explosive growth of the population of young people who identify as transgender in recent years is unprecedented, as is the use of “gender affirmation” therapy and gender transition surgery. These continue to be experimental methods for treating a relatively new problem. Advocates of these “treatments” speak adamantly about their necessity, but the fact is that we simply don’t know enough to make those claims just yet. And as a new documentary by political commentator Matt Walsh reveals, dissenting voices are simply being silenced.
Interviewing therapists, academics, and transgender people in pursuit of the elusive answer to the question, “What is a woman?” Walsh uncovers a number of professionals whose objections to the trans party line have resulted in being cut out of the discussion altogether. As the documentary reveals, it is critical that their voices be heard and that the relevant data on the treatment of gender dysphoria come to light. If the facts about these “treatments” remain suppressed, the consequences for the next generation of children could be devastating.
Doctors and therapists often ask parents who object to gender affirmation, “Would you rather have a dead son or a loving daughter?” As one interviewee points out, this rhetoric is emotional blackmail. It is also deeply misguided.
In actuality, the suicide risk is exponentially higher for trans people for seven to ten years following surgery – the highest, in fact, of any known group in recorded history. If parents are seeking to improve the mental health of their children, it appears to be imperative that they actively avoid gender transition surgery.
Even when concerns about suicide are off the table, studies indicate that in all likelihood, symptoms will resolve in 93 percent of these children by the time they reach adulthood or even earlier – an outcome that is taken off the table for children subjected to experimental hormones with largely unknown effects, whose bodies are mutilated and fertility stolen.
What we do know about the effects of hormonal treatments on children isn’t promising, either. Loss of bone density, increased risk of blood clots, premature brain aging and increased aggression, reduced capacity for sexual pleasure, future infertility, and increased risk of heart disease are just some of the potential side effects of puberty blockers and hormones used for medical transition. As Walsh asks experts, are children truly capable of giving informed consent to risks of this magnitude?
Outspoken critics of Ohio House Bill 454 can decry “government control” interfering in family medical decisions all they like; the state has a vested interest in protecting its vulnerable children from dangerous and experimental “treatments.” Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare recognized this duty when it ended the use of puberty-blockers and cross-sex hormones for minors earlier this year.
With studies showing little to no benefit of hormonal treatments (and indeed increased mental health risks), a high likelihood of the condition resolving on its own, and pervasive detrimental side effects, where is the push to medicate these children coming from?
“Follow the money,” Scott Nugent speculates. As a trans man and founder of TreVoices, an organization that seeks to educate in order to protect children from medical transition, Nugent reveals that the annual profits from prescribing puberty-blockers and cross-sex hormones for children are eight times that of adult patients.
When doctors are removing the breasts of 13-year-old girls and companies like Target marketing symptom-causing chest binders to young women, one has to wonder why trans children are the only ones being told that yes, there is something wrong with their bodies, and no, they should not accept themselves the way they are?
“Gender affirmation” is a positive euphemism for an ideology that teaches children to reject their healthy, normal faculties in favor of rearranging their flesh into a more palatable configuration. Research tells us this will not serve to resolve but only deepen their anguish and dissatisfaction, feelings that are likely to resolve on their own with time unless we enter the equation to reinforce those feelings. In essence, what we “affirm” in our children is the notion that they have been formed incorrectly, and they must consume risky drugs and submit to irreversible mutilating surgeries to remake their bodies into more acceptable forms.
Some argue that a genuinely conservative position on these issues calls for governmental restraint (exactly what we aren’t seeing in cases where schools are secretly transitioning children and hospitals administering cross-sex hormones without parental knowledge or consent), and that consistency requires conservatives to advocate for policies that prevent government interference in these types of medical decision-making. If parents wish to help their children transition, who is the government to interfere?
Who has the best interests of the child at heart? This dilemma is best answered by the wisdom of Solomon, who was once presented with two mothers arguing for possession of the same child. Solomon’s solution was, of course, to cut the child in half and divide the pieces among the mothers, revealing the true mother: the woman willing to give up her child to preserve his life. This is the unfortunate reality of many parents, usually fathers, willing to lose custody and even endure jail time to prevent the literal hacking apart of their children’s bodies and identities.
Truly serving our children means guiding them into adulthood, not foisting absolute autonomy on them at a time they are not developmentally ready to grapple with the weight of the future consequences of their decisions. On issues of gender and sexuality, we ought to preserve their childhoods and allow them the space to grow, develop, and explore without rushing into irreversible changes with deeply damaging potential.
As the map included in Florida’s report reveals, many European nations are protecting that space. We can only hope more politicians, physicians, and parents will garner the courage to speak the truth on behalf of our children, whatever personal or professional costs they may face. Our kids are worth it.