By Dr. Thomas Patterson |
Phoenix Children’s Hospital has now confirmed on a Twitter feed that their standard treatment for gender dysphoria is “gender-affirming care.” This is strictly bad news for Arizona’s troubled or gender-curious adolescents.
The wildly expanding world of transgender services has generated its own euphemisms, so a translation is in order. “Gender-affirming care” means that when any adolescent professes doubt or confusion about their gender, the only acceptable response is to agree that the child’s feelings are reality-based and immutable. Therefore, they must be encouraged to advance into treatment (more on that later).
Critics of this approach, even those simply urging caution, are ridiculed and threatened with professional sanctions.
Teenage females are the largest and fastest growing demographic for “transitioning.” Yet anyone who has raised, lived with, or been a teenage girl knows that they’re notoriously subject to mood swings and temporary infatuations.
Many adolescents today live in an Internet/social milieu that works to encourage transgenderism. Internet quizzes ask “Are you sure” you’re not trans.
Coming out as trans is seen as courageous. It is rewarded with admiration and respect. It can be seductive for teens with self-esteem issues and limited ability to foresee long-term consequences.
But the gender-affirming care model is unique in believing the feelings of a teenager alone justify life-altering medical and surgical treatments. There are no tests of any kind available to confirm or deny the diagnosis. According to this model, if the youngster reports they feel like the other sex, then they are transsexual. Period.
Gender dysphoria, feeling psychological discomfort with your biological sex, clearly exists. Some transgendered adults who made the considered decision to transform once maturity had been reached are living productive, satisfying lives.
Rare individuals who have been clearly gender dysphoric from birth seem to have a legitimate if ill-defined psychological disorder which can be ameliorated by passing as the opposite sex.
But these examples have no relation to the waves of transgendered teens now occurring. In her meticulously researched book “Irreversible Damage,” Abigail Shrier recounts interviewing hundreds of parents with essentially the same story.
They thought they were raising a bright, well-adjusted daughter with normal emotional riffs. Then, suddenly, supported by her authority figures, she comes out as “trans.”
By the time they realize what happened, the deed is done, often medications have been prescribed, and the parents are out of the decision-making loop. If they don’t fully cooperate, they can lose custody of their child.
The result of this approach has been a huge leap in the incidence of transsexualism. Until recently, about 0.3% of Americans identified as transgender. Among today’s youth, that number is 1.8% and climbing.
In 2007 there was one American “comprehensive pediatric gender clinic.” Now there are 60.
It’s not logically possible that an identifiable, biologically-based condition would undergo such an enormous increase spontaneously. Yet patients continue to pour in from school clinics and pediatricians’ offices.
But what about those treatments? Once on the track, younger patients (i.e., some grade schoolers) are given puberty blockers which delay the effects of sex hormones, essentially causing an arrested development.
Later in high school, patients are given the hormones of the opposite gender—most commonly testosterone for girls, followed by mastectomy and other surgeries to remove unwanted organs, implant facsimile organs, and produce desired cosmetic results.
These ministrations are depicted as benign and reversible, but they are neither. At a minimum, they permanently terminate key functions like fertility and breast-feeding. Complications of organ transplants like the phallus can produce grotesque results. The medical ethics of sacrificing a body function for aesthetic or psychological purposes is questionable at best.
The human toll of this departure from normal scientific standards of care is now coming into view. According to a 2022 study by the National Institutes of Health called “Suicidality Among Transgender Youth,” “56% of transgender youth reported a previous suicide attempt and 86% reported suicidal thoughts.”
We are in the throes of an epidemic, not a viral but a social one. PCH and the other group-thinking experts serve us poorly by promoting this faddish, non-medical behavior. They should review the Hippocratic oath: First, do no harm.
Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.