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The US government and medical establishment are contributing to the deaths of minors at the altar of “gender identity”
And they’re getting away with it
January 28, 2023
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I typically write about the impacts of ignoring the material reality of sex on the rights, privacy, and safety of women and girls. Sometimes I write about the absurdity of “gender identity.” Usually, I’m examining some type of law or policy. Regardless, all of my thinking and writing on this topic comes through the lens of radical feminism. This post is, instead, about a government-funded study concerning the administration of wrong-sex hormones on young people. I believe that this analysis is consistent with Article 9 of the Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights, “reaffirming the need for the protection of the rights of the child.” If anyone thinks that I have gotten any of this analysis wrong, I hope you will correct me.
On January 19, 2023, the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published a study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and conducted by eight “gender medicine” doctors. The study is called “Psychosocial Functioning in Transgender Youth after 2 Years of Hormones.”
This is a study about the effects of wrong-sex hormones on young people. It goes beyond the effects of puberty-blocking hormones (although a subset of the study’s participants had previously been on puberty-blockers to suppress their correct sex puberty development (i.e., boys who had been prevented from growing into healthy adult men and girls who had been prevented from growing into healthy adult women)). This is, instead, a study about the impacts of testosterone on young women and estrogen on young men (some as young as 12).
One of the authors is Johanna Olson-Kennedy, the Medical Director of the Center for Transyouth Health and Development, and an Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. Dr. Olson-Kennedy has advocated for double mastectomies for healthy 13-year-old girls who believe they are boys, stating that “If you want breasts at a later stage in your life, you can go and get them.”
The study’s main conclusion is that “‘gender-affirming hormones’ improved appearance congruence and psychosocial functioning.” However, two young people committed suicide during the course of the study and, as far as I can tell, no effort was made to shut down the study or even ask why these suicides happened.
First, it’s worth noting that no one changes sex. Ever. The Sry gene is the gene on the Y chromosome that makes males male. According to Dr. Peter Koopman, who co-discovered the gene in 1990, it “leads to the development of male characteristics in mice, humans, and most other mammals” and “acts to trigger a cascade of gene activity that results in the formation of testes, instead of ovaries, in the embryo. Testes then stimulate the formation of other male characteristics.”
There is no amount of externally administered testosterone that can make girls male and no amount of externally administered estrogen that can make boys female. At best, these drugs can make young people appear to resemble the opposite sex. At worst, they can cause sterility, disease, and death.
As far as I can tell, the NIH has been conducting medical experiments on children since at least 2015.
As recently reported in The Star News Network (and almost nowhere else), in 2019, Dr. Michael Laidlaw (an endocrinologist in California) and Dr. William Mallone (the medical director at St. Luke’s Endocrinology and Diabetes Clinic in Twin Falls, Idaho) sent a letter to Dr. Jerry Menikoff. Dr. Menikoff is currently the Director of the Office for Human Research Protections at the Department of Health and Human Services (the NIH is an agency within HHS). From 2007 to 2008 he served as the Director of the Office of Human Subjects Research at the NIH itself.
The letter warned that:
In 2015, the National Institutes of Health awarded a five-year, $5.7 million dollar grant to a consortium of four pediatric gender clinics for an observational study that purportedly will “evaluate longitudinal outcomes of medical treatment for transgender youth and will provide essential evidence-based data on the physiological and psychosocial effects and safety of treatments. Given the numerous deleterious side effects of these medications that we will describe, and the lack of FDA approval for cross-sex hormones even in adult populations, the likelihood of serious harms accruing in these young patients is very great.
The medical protocol for this study involves treating transgender-identifying children who are otherwise perfectly healthy with powerful drugs that radically modify their endocrine systems, and indeed, their entire young bodies, negatively impact fertility, sexual function, cardiovascular health, bone health, and brain development.
This study has no control group and is not randomized. It is simply an observational experiment on otherwise unremarkable, healthy children with confusion about their sexed bodies.
The letter concluded:
Because this study poses irreversible medical harms (including infertility) to children, we request an immediate moratorium and investigation. Thank you for your prompt attention to this important and urgent matter.
They did not receive a response.
EDIT: I stand corrected by Dr. Laidlaw. He tells me that they did receive a response but that it was brief and bureaucratic.
Dr. Laidlaw told the Star News Network: “They blew us off. Now two kids have died by suicide and the rest have been harmed in other ways by high dose opposite sex hormones, likely permanently. When will this be investigated by authorities?”
In short, the NIH was warned about the dangers of this study and proceeded with it anyway, having ignored two prominent endocrinologists who tried to warn them. And now two young people are dead.
I do not remember exactly when I learned about this NIH-funded study, but it would have been sometime in 2018 or 2019. I remember having a phone call about it with the mother of a girl who believed that she was a boy. This mother was doing her absolute best to get the word out. She had previously founded The Kelsey Coalition, a “national group of parents whose children suddenly began identifying as transgender,” on whose behalf doctors Laidlaw and Mallone sent the 2019 letter to the NIH. She contacted reporter after reporter, begging the media to cover the story. To the best of my knowledge, no one did. I’m happy to report that this particular mother’s daughter desisted before having any unnecessary medical procedures performed on her healthy body.
It’s not easy to wade through the study itself as a lay person both because it’s filled with gender jargon and also because it’s extremely technical. But I’ll do my best to break it down here.
The study participants were 315 “transgender and nonbinary” young people aged 12-20 who were “recruited from gender clinics at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals, Boston Children’s Hospital, and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.” The participants were examined at 6, 16, 18, and 24 months after initiation of “gender-affirming hormones” (GAH). The following tests were administered:
Transgender Congruence Scale,
Beck Depression Inventory–II,
Revised Children’s Manifest Anxiety Scale (Second Edition), and
Positive Affect and Life Satisfaction measures from the NIH (National Institutes of Health) Toolbox Emotion Battery
I don’t know what all of those things are, but according to the study, their purpose was to measure “individual trajectories of appearance congruence [how much a person’s physical appearance matches his or her “gender identity”], depression, anxiety, positive affect, and life satisfaction over a period of 2 years.” The study also examined “how initial levels of and rates of change in appearance congruence correlated with those of each psychosocial outcome.”
All of the study participants were on GAH. The phrase “gender-affirming hormones” refers to opposite sex hormones that are delivered exogenously (i.e., from outside the body). All women have some naturally-occurring levels of testosterone and all men have some naturally-occurring levels of estrogen. This isn’t that. This is the external administration of opposite-sex hormones.
The study’s main conclusion is that “GAH improved appearance congruence and psychosocial functioning.” The authors came to this conclusion despite the fact that two of its participants had committed suicide and eleven contemplated it during the course of the study.
The study simply refers to these suicides as “adverse effects.” In other words, the NIH-funded doctors who published the study are reducing dead teenagers to “adverse effects” in their zeal to push their foregone conclusion that “gender-affirming care” is a good thing (it doesn’t hurt that “gender-affirming care” lines the doctors’ pockets either).
Conducting medical experiments on minors is ghoulish and disgusting and never should have happened, but this more recent development makes things even worse. The study casually observes:
Two participants died by suicide during the study (one after 6 months of follow-up and the other after 12 months of fol-low-up), and 6 participants withdrew from the study. For these eight participants, data that had been collected before death or study withdrawal were included in the analyses.
If I am reading this accurately, this is saying that the study authors continued with the study not only knowing that it was likely to harm young people but also after two young people actually killed themselves during the course of it.
These facts, none of which are in dispute, are being documented in the New England Journal of Medicine - a prestigious journal that very few people read because it contains medical jargon that few of us understand. Most people who do read it are likely to assume, because it is an authoritative source that uses complex medical language, that it is legitimate.
Meanwhile, doctors are able to continue to conduct these scandalous medical experiments on minors with impunity while claiming respectability. They are hiding behind their credentials and the high degree of social trust that doctors carry. They get away with creating confusion while harming young people by confusing everyone into thinking that there is some legitimate reason for the ghastly things they are doing. And the US government is funding it.
Dr. David Bell is a former staff governor at the Tavistock and Portman NHS foundation trust on its Gender Identity Development Service in the UK. For anyone who doesn’t know, Tavistock is a clinic that has historically provided so-called “gender-affirming care” to confused young people in the UK. In July 2022, it was announced that it would close in 2023, after a report by Dr. Hilary Cass said that its model of care was “leaving young people at considerable risk of poor mental health and distress.” On January 27, Dr. Bell published a letter in The Guardian, stating “the UK should, like Finland, Sweden and France, follow a more cautious path; we should end medication and medical transition for children and adolescents now.”
Meanwhile, stateside, the poisoning of vulnerable children continues apace, courtesy of the US government.
All of these young people (the ones who have died, the ones who have been sterilized, and the ones who have otherwise been permanently harmed) and their parents deserve so much more from a government and a medical profession they ought to be able to trust.
What is happening is unconscionable. It’s high time that the general public sees what they are doing and that the media holds these actors to account.