Increasingly, parents, grandparents, school administrators and teachers are being pressured to support hormone treatments and even surgeries for children, teens and young adults who suffer from gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is a condition where an individual asserts their own self-perception of their gender is at odds with their physical body. It’s what compels a person to identify as transgender.
It is important to note that most children who suffer from gender dysphoria come out of it, or desist in clinical terminology, by the time they reach puberty. It is seldom a permanent condition. Only 2 to 27 percent of children suffering from gender dysphoria persist with it beyond puberty. Some of the world’s leading clinicians in this field working from one of the leading clinics in the Netherlands explain, “The results unequivocally showed that gender dysphoria remitted after puberty in the vast majority of children.” This demonstrates that gender dysphoria and transgenderism is a perception problem of the mind that can be successfully corrected. It is not a problem of the objective body itself.
Given the seriousness of the condition and the way it afflicts the individual, every responsible adult involved in the life of a child struggling with gender dysphoria must ask this question: What does the research actually say about the effectiveness of hormone treatment or surgery in alleviating the distress of the gender dysphoric patient? The answer is far simpler and more direct than most assume.
To date, the best research on the topic tells us there is no indication that hormone treatments nor surgeries are effective in alleviating the mental distress of gender dysphoric individuals. In fact, the American Journal of Psychiatry explained it this way October 2019,
“Despite professional recommendations to consider gender affirming medical interventions for transgender individuals who experience gender incongruence, the effect of such interventions on long-term health is largely unknown.”
The demonstrable effectiveness of what medical professionals have been recommending for such patients is to date: Largely. Unknown. You can see for yourself where they make this statement right here:
This means that medical professionals have been recommending surgeries and hormonal treatments to children and adults without any actual data indicating that such treatments are actually effective. These professionals have just been assuming they make people better.
This article claimed their new research changed all this, finally establishing that surgery is shown to be effective, even while admitting their research provided no support for hormonal protocols. It is critical to recognize these scholars were working from a truly impressive, world-class, gold-standard population data set of Swedish citizens. Thus, their claim that gender-reassignment surgery (or gender-affirming as they put it) did show promise for increased mental health for gender dysphoric patients was highly significant. As such, this news got reported far and wide in the mainstream and medical press.
However, it was later shown their data, in fact, did not indicate support for surgery. After its October 2019 publication, the American Journal of Psychiatry received a number of letters to the editor from other researchers and clinicians challenging the conclusion. The journal conducted its own independent analysis of the original data, printing a correction in August 2020 explaining that in truth, “the [new] results demonstrated no advantage of surgery in relation to subsequent mood or anxiety disorder-related health care visits or prescriptions or hospitalizations following suicide attempts in that comparison.” (emphasis added) You can read the correction here:
This means that the prevailing assumption that surgery and hormones are the compassionate and scientifically backed course of treatment for gender dysphoria in children and adults is still in search of any research-based support. And this major study using an impeccable gold-standard data set was well situated to establish such a connection if it is was possible. But it showed no such affect, even in the highly trans-affirming culture of Sweden. As such, it is unlikely any support will be found.
Thus, parents, grandparents, pediatricians, school administrators and teachers who are uncomfortable with pressure to subject children under their care to such serious, deeply consequential and often irreversible procedures are actually the ones who have science on their side. This latest research is a highly compelling encouragement for them to remain and stand strong, stiffening their voices and resolve as the ones who are the informed and compassionate advocates for children (and adults) struggling with gender dysphoria.