A national organization of pediatricians and other health care professionals claims that “gender-affirming” therapies have not been shown to benefit adolescents with gender dysphoria.
The American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds), based in Florida, released a position statement on Feb. 7 stating that “social transition, puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones have no demonstrable, long-term benefit on the psychosocial well-being of adolescents with gender dysphoria.”
“A review of at least 60 research papers demonstrates no benefit to social affirmation, puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones or surgical interventions for these youth,” lead author and vice president of ACPeds, Dr. Jane Anderson, wrote in an email to Fox News Digital.
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All 60 of the reviewed studies focused on the mental health of adolescents struggling with gender dysphoria.
The position statement was voted on and passed by the ACPeds board and members, a spokesperson told Fox News Digital.
In a fact sheet summarizing the findings, ACPeds noted that “youth whose perceived gender identity does not align with their biological sex have high rates of mental health problems regardless of any affirmation of their gender identities.”
Adolescents who identify as “gender-incongruent” often have existing mental health illnesses, including depression and anxiety, according to Anderson.
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ACPeds also stated that over half of LGBTQ+ sexual minority individuals experience “adverse childhood experiences,” including child abuse.
Transgender youth reported the highest levels of abuse and neglect, the data showed.
The researchers said their review “casts doubt on claims that social affirmation (like using desired pronouns) of transgender-identified youth helps their long-term psychosocial well-being.”
“Adolescents have immature brains and should not be allowed to make decisions with lifelong implications, such as decreased fertility, when they are so young,” Anderson told Fox News Digital.
In terms of specific therapies, the researchers found that the use of puberty-blocking drugs — medications that delay puberty in children — did not have significant benefits for youths experiencing gender dysphoria.
“Adolescents have immature brains and should not be allowed to make decisions with lifelong implications, such as decreased fertility, when they are so young.”
“A study [that] purported to show a ‘lifetime suicidal ideation’ reduction in those who received puberty blockers actually found twice as many serious suicidal attempts in participants who received the blockers than in those who just wished they had received them,” the study’s fact sheet noted.
Cross-sex hormonal interventions — treatments that trigger a transition to a desired gender — were also shown to have “little mental health benefit” and were even linked to a higher need for psychiatric care, ACPeds stated.
The review also discovered that many teens who pursue gender-affirming therapy — whether surgical or hormonal — ultimately revert to their biological gender.
“There are individuals who now express regret regarding their transition,” Anderson told Fox News Digital.
Doctors react to the report
Dr. Brett Osborn, a Florida neurologist and longevity expert, was not involved in the analysis but shared his input on the topic, which he said is “often fueled by political bias and religious undertones.”
“I agree with the position statement of the ACPeds,” he told Fox News Digital. “Namely, a holistic approach with intense psychiatric interventions should be adopted prior to any gender-altering therapeutic.”
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The data shows that a large percentage of gender-dysphoric adolescents will ultimately identify with their birth sex, which means in those cases the treatments are proven unnecessary, the doctor noted.
Medical professionals should strive to address gender dysphoria primarily through a holistic psychological approach — involving both the patient and family — before more invasive pharmaceutical or surgical measures,” Osborn told Fox News Digital.
While taking hormone-altering therapies or transitioning to the opposite sex has become “all the rage,” he said, the data suggests there is no long-term mental health benefit.
“In addition, those opting for hormone-altering therapies are potentially interfering with not only sexual development, but also brain development,” Osborn warned. “Testosterone and estrogen, the hormones primarily manipulated with such therapies, are integral to memory formation and mood.”
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The doctor also noted the dangers associated with “gender-affirming” surgeries.
“Adolescents, prior to undergoing intense psychiatric therapy, are opting for sex-change operations in an almost whimsical manner,” he said. “But this is short-sighted, and the decision is often tainted by ongoing psychological issues.”
He added, “Such surgeries permanently alter one’s physical appearance, carrying with them irreversible consequences, such as infertility and sexual dysfunction.”
Adolescents haven’t lived long enough to make such high-level decisions, according to Osborn.
“They’re confused,” he said. “An alternative must be sought.”
Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and a Fox News medical contributor, was also not involved in the ACPeds study, but commented on the findings of what he described as a “conservative advocacy group.”
“Hormone-altering therapies are potentially interfering with not only sexual development, but also brain development.”
“I am in favor of a more conservative approach as well in minors,” he told Fox News Digital.
“Long-term effects of puberty blockers may include bone loss, trouble concentrating, interference with learning and interference with fertility.”
Siegel added, “I think it makes sense in most cases to treat underlying mental health concerns before jumping into treatments, including surgery, that may be difficult to reverse.”
The doctor also emphasized that gender issues should not be overly politicized.
“This means not superimposing an ideology or pushing physicians to act in a certain way or under pressure,” Siegel said.
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“The welfare of the child must come first. In this case, it means going very slowly and providing support to a child or teen with gender dysphoria.”
Siegel also pointed out that many U.K. and European countries, from Sweden to France, have restricted gender-affirming care for adolescents in favor of mental health support.
Organizations in favor of gender-affirming procedures
The American Medical Association (AMA) states on its website that “improving access to gender-affirming care is an important means of improving health outcomes for the transgender population.”
“Receipt of gender-affirming care has been linked to dramatically reduced rates of suicide attempts, decreased rates of depression and anxiety, decreased substance use, improved HIV medication adherence and reduced rates of harmful self-prescribed hormone use,” the organization claimed.
The AMA also said it supports public and private health insurance coverage for the treatment of gender dysphoria.
The Office of Population Affairs (OASH), part of the Department of Health and Human Services, released a similar statement in support of gender-affirming care, calling it a “supportive form of health care that may include medical, surgical, mental health and non-medical services for transgender and nonbinary people.”
“The welfare of the child must come first.”
“Research demonstrates that gender-affirming care improves the mental health and overall well-being of gender-diverse children and adolescents,” the statement continued.
OASH claimed that gender-affirming care allows “transgender and nonbinary children and adolescents” to focus on social transitions and can increase their confidence in navigating the health care system.
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The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also has expressed support of gender-affirming care, stating on its website that it recommends “providing youth with access to comprehensive gender-affirming and developmentally appropriate health care.”
The AAP also calls for electronic health records, notifications and research files to be updated to reflect the patient’s desired gender identity.
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Fox News Digital reached out to the AMA, OASH and the American Academy of Pediatrics requesting comment on the ACPeds study.
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