BROWN: ‘Gender modification’ techniques are experiments on minors

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At 12, Chloe was confused; at age 13, she told her parents she believed she was a boy. Her parents took her to a doctor who put her on puberty blockers and testosterone to help her “transition”. At 15 – years before she was allowed to get a tattoo or buy a drink – doctors cut off both of her breasts. At 16, she knew she had made a mistake.

Chloe shared her story with the New York Post in an article about the growing “de-transition” trend. As the Post noted, “Tragically, many will struggle for the rest of their lives with the irreversible medical consequences of a decision they made as minors.”

The push for children transitioning medically at an early age is activism disguised as science that effectively turns children into experimental subjects and puts their health and the well-being of their families at risk. States are right to enact laws protecting children from these potentially dangerous medical procedures. But they should do so in a limited way that avoids punitive approaches to families that could lead to traumatic separation or entry into foster care.

States that want to protect children face serious backlash from Washington. President Joe Biden signed an executive order on June 15 directing the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services to expand access to so-called “gender-affirming care” for children .

On the same day, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), the leading association of physicians who practice transgender medicine, announced that it was lowering its recommended minimum age for gender transition procedures. The new recommendations allow children to start puberty blockers as young as 8 and hormone therapy at 14. At age 15, around the time most young people are learning to drive a car, girls can have their breasts removed. Genital surgery, including removal of the uterus and testicles, can be performed at age 17, just in time for high school graduation.

Despite insistence from activists and the Biden administration that “there is no argument” among medical professionals about the value of performing these procedures on children, the reality is that ‘there is no conclusive evidence that these procedures actually help children struggling with their gender identity. .

New research shows that using these puberty blockers and hormones in children carries significant risks and long-term side effects. Known side effects include loss of bone density, growth retardation and infertility. Because of these risks, countries like Finland and Sweden, which have been well ahead of the United States in providing “gender-affirming care” to children, are reversing the trend and no longer prescribing blood sugar blockers. puberty and cross-sex hormones to children.

In response to the rapid proliferation of pediatric gender clinics and efforts to ease the medical transition of minors, several state legislatures are taking various approaches to limiting the practice. In 2021, for example, Arkansas enacted a law prohibiting doctors from providing puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, or transition surgery to anyone under 18. A 2022 Alabama law makes it a crime to provide transgender medical services to youth under 19, and Texas Child Protective Services has begun abuse investigations of families requesting these procedures for their children.

Lawmakers seeking to protect children from physical and emotional harm associated with sex reassignment drugs and procedures must be aware of the collateral consequences of their policy solutions and avoid subjecting children and their families to unintended harm. While calls to define the practice as child abuse are understandable, we must recognize that this approach triggers a legal process that subjects troubled children and their families to the additional and unnecessary trauma of being in foster care. . In contrast, legislation aimed solely at prohibiting doctors from performing these experimental procedures on children gets to the root of the problem – the drugs and procedures themselves – without causing further harm.

The United States should take lessons learned from countries like Finland and Sweden to heart and prioritize proven alternatives like professional mental health counseling to help young boys and girls cope with their feelings of dysphoria. , anxiety and depression rather than making the false promise that one magic pill will make everything better. Above all, policies designed to protect children must also protect their families.

Andrew C. Brown, JD, is the Distinguished Senior Fellow in Child and Family Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

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