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DOD Prompts Gender Dysphoria In Military Kids And Hides Health Records From Parents

Military parents will need to be their own advocates as they appeal to Congress to restore their parental rights in this federal health care system.

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Parents across the United States are being restricted from accessing their adolescent children’s online electronic health records. Not only are military parents barred from accessing all but basic information on their 13- to 17-year-olds in the military’s online health care portal, but the adolescent minor also is not allowed to have a user logon until 18. Though elected officials are tackling this issue on the state level, military parents will need to be their own advocates as they appeal to Congress to restore their parental rights.

Military insurance provider Tricare finally issued a press release in March explaining Department of Defense (DOD) policies that restrict parents from adolescent records in the portal, Military Health System (MHS) Genesis, as well as from “sensitive” physical records.

Last year, I wrote about my experience of spending months trying to obtain the official policy that barred parents from these records. Now that the policy is out in the open, it must not be allowed to stand, as it is ultimately harmful to children.

Many military parents object to providers’ having a confidential relationship with their children because they do not trust activist MHS doctors who believe a child can be born in the wrong body to counsel their children on anything in secret — as some are doing.

One sobering example of what can happen when parents are excluded occurred in Louisiana, where two civilian parents were treated as the enemy. After less than an hour behind closed doors with their 13-year-old, the provider tried to manipulate them into affirming their daughter’s new identity as a boy by asking them if they would “rather have a dead daughter or a live son.” One of the doctors involved, Dr. Ryan Pasternak, is a leader in adolescent medicine and has co-written recommendations for the Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM) on the management of electronic health records. SAHM’s ideal method includes permitting full access only to the adolescent, while actively blocking parents so they receive only nonconfidential information.

Even as state legislatures are moving to restore parental access to unemancipated minor medical records, the MHS seems to be plowing ahead with its efforts to keep parents in the dark. With all I’ve uncovered about adolescent confidentiality and gender activists within the MHS, parents are right to be concerned.

Congress Fails to Act

In 2017, the Defense Health Board, a federal committee that advises the secretary of defense, acknowledged in a report that the emerging field of adolescent medicine had “recently made a profound shift from its traditional role. Instead of providing preemptive guidance to parents, providers now work to reduce risk-taking behaviors with their focus aimed directly at the adolescent.” The board also recommended expanding the use of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to address gender dysphoria and suggested possibly including surgeries for gender-confused children in the future. The board pointed out that the Tricare Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Treatment final rule on Sept. 2, 2016, “permits ‘coverage of all non-surgical medically necessary and appropriate care in the treatment of gender dysphoria.’” This was a final rule that came from unelected bureaucrats — not Congress.

Nevertheless, recent efforts in Congress to prohibit coverage for transgender procedures for minor military children were removed by the Senate from the House-passed fiscal 2024 National Defense Authorization Act. Language to prevent the Exceptional Family Member Program from being used to facilitate child transgender transitions was also removed.

Bases, Schools Push Transgenderism

Today, adolescents can receive confidential care on military bases and in school-based clinics. For example, Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s Madigan Army Medical Center’s adolescent clinic offers subspecialty care for transgender confusion, sexuality issues, and substance use, among other services. Madigan also runs a system of school-based health clinics in 10 area schools; dependents on Tricare Prime insurance can visit the clinic once each week.

If military parents aren’t “affirming” of a transgender identity, activist group PFLAG recommends that children talk with “a school counselor, the on-base youth Military Family Life Counselor (MFLC), a chaplain (if from an affirming denomination), or an online friend or peer.” PFLAG also reveals that MHS Genesis “now allows patients to mark their gender identity in addition to their sex assigned at birth.” This will “allow transgender youth to receive appropriate care without as many obstacles.” And “military LGBTQ+ organizations are currently working with DoDEA [schools for children of military families] to incorporate the same procedures in school documents.”   

In the school-to-scalpel age, confidential care being provided to adolescents should cause alarm bells to go off. Ian Prior, founder of Fight for Schools, in his article, “Queer Whistleblower Exposes Evils of the School to Scalpel Pipeline,” shows how indoctrination into transgenderism can begin at school as young as kindergarten. In many cases, children are encouraged to socially transition at school. By the time parents find out, children can be convinced they were born in the wrong body, and doctors who favor the “gender affirmation” approach steer parents and their dysphoric children down that path of care.

Thanks to an official Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) teacher training in May 2021, we know that secret transgender transitions are happening in overseas schools for military children. Former Rep. Vicky Hartzler wrote a letter to DOD in 2021 asking why teachers were being trained at a DODEA teachers summit to transition children at school without parents’ knowledge. She never received a response — and DODEA has avoided accountability even to this day.

I spoke with a military mom whose daughter, Cami (not her real name), was enrolled in a public school in Fairfax County, Virginia, that concealed from her parents that she had transitioned to a boy at school. Though the mother only wanted Cami to see a therapist to address her depression, military medicine additionally referred her to a so-called gender clinic in the Washington, D.C., area. When the mother didn’t take her daughter to the clinic, she received a call from a military doctor who suggested Cami might need puberty blockers to give her time to decide about her sex. At the time of our conversation, the family was still reeling from the harm that “trusted” adults at school had caused.

MHS Treats Thousands of Confused Dependents

Armed with this information about a gender clinic on base, I found research conducted by active-duty medical doctors and a medical school professor that mentioned a regional referral-based adolescent medicine clinic that opened in 2014 and serves dependents between the ages of 9 and 24. It provides “services including diagnosis, puberty suppression, affirming-hormone treatment, reproductive health services … and affirming counseling, and refers for surgical, ancillary (e.g., voice therapy) and complex mental health services.”

Ft. Belvoir in Virginia fit the clinic’s description, and transgender-confused children do, indeed, seek care there. Dr. David Klein was chief of adolescent medicine at Ft. Belvoir in 2016. He and his associates have diligently documented their research on transgender-identifying military dependents. They reveal that from 2009 until 2017, more than 2,500 military dependents, ages 4 to 25, sought treatment for gender confusion from the MHS. When Tricare began to pay for puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for dependents in 2016, they observed a marked increase in the number of patients seeking such care. One can only imagine how high the figures are today when taking into account estimates that the number of transgender-identifying youth in the United States nearly doubled between 2016 and 2022.

Another Klein study looked at 53 gender-confused adolescents and measured parental support for their care. Researchers looked at MHS data from 2014 to 2017 and rated strong support of parents for initiation or continuation of “gender transition” at 55.8 percent, non to moderately supportive at 25 percent, and conflicted support at 19.2 percent.

Though numerous studies show that military kids suffer from a higher rate of anxiety and depression than their civilian peers, key recommendations from Klein and his co-authors provide advice to doctors as if wrongly named “gender affirmation” is the only approach for treating gender dysphoria. They claim a transgender diagnosis is not necessarily related to other mental health concerns and that attempts “to convert a person’s gender identity to align with their sex assigned at birth are unethical and incompatible with current guidelines and evidence.”

Klein and colleagues made the news last year and caught congressional attention when they stated in their latest research, in a discussion about understanding the risks and benefits of “gender-affirming” care, that 7-year-olds can begin participating in medical decision-making. Fortunately, as former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard pointed out to Tucker Carlson, 53 percent of MHS physicians in that study said they would refuse to prescribe hormones even if trained to do so. Sadly, others would be willing to, and Klein is now the Family Adolescent Medicine Program director at Travis Air Force Base in California — training the next generation of military physicians.

Falling out of Favor Around the World

Even as MHS leaders continue to promote this harmful medicating of children, it is rapidly falling out of favor among doctors around the world, who are opting for psychotherapy as a first line treatment for gender dysphoria, after studies have shown “no demonstrable, long-term benefit” on “psychosocial well-being of adolescents with gender dysphoria.”

Additionally, the leading organization for transgender care, WPATH, was recently exposed for its lack of evidence and safeguards that led to members performing pseudoscientific surgical and hormonal experiments on minors. And, similarly, the Cass Review, released this month, detailed how England’s leading specialist youth transgender “clinic,” now permanently closed, was untethered from evidence-based medicine.

As the rationale for transgender drugs and surgeries unravels, a legal reckoning is being led in the United States by detransitioners such as Chloe Cole, who began transitioning at 12 and had a double mastectomy by 15. DOD and affirming doctors in the MHS must be included in this reckoning and held accountable for any harm suffered by military dependents under their care.

Laws and policies that allow medical records and medical treatment of adolescents to be hidden from parents are potentially harmful to children and destructive to families, and this is why military parents must urge Congress to strike DOD’s policies that drive a wedge between them and their children and to pass legislation that clarifies their right to guide the medical care of their children.


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