When will transgender activists tell the truth about Europeans reversing course on so-called “gender-affirming” care for kids?
Several weeks ago, the Ohio House Public Health Committee heard testimony from critics and proponents of House Bill 68, which would prohibit medical transition (i.e. puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgeries) for children expressing gender dysphoria. One of the opponents of the bill was Christopher Bolling, a retired pediatrician who coauthored “several American Academy of Pediatrics policy statements and clinical practice guidelines.”
After his prepared remarks, Dr. Bolling was asked to discuss policy changes in Europe.
Representative: Talk a little bit about where the evidence stands in terms of gender-affirming care and then maybe even what people are referencing about other countries. I think there’s a lot of confusion.
Dr Bolling: There is a lot of confusion…In other countries, I would really encourage you to drill down. The Tavistock situation gets brought up a lot. It’s a lot about decentralization of gender-affirming care across the National Health Service. There’s also a lot of discussion around the Swedish and Scandinavian models. In all these circumstances my colleagues in Europe are discussing what’s best for these patients. They’re not talking about banning the care.”
Dr. Bolling only added to the confusion. Indeed, these characterizations are plainly deceptive. The Tavistock gender clinic in London was ordered closed after years of whistleblower complaints and an NHS investigation that rated their services as “inadequate.” Among the concerns raised: Doctors were rushing kids into treatment and initiating puberty blockers after a single consultation. Moreover, they were not conducting appropriate differential diagnosis, especially for kids with a history of trauma or those on the autism spectrum.
British clinical guidelines were informed by the “Dutch Protocol” which was written when the pediatric incidence of gender dysphoria was vanishingly rare and when most cases were natal males, a balance that has since shifted to 3:1 in favor of natal females. British health officials retain enough political courage to recognize that the dramatic shift in referrals can be linked to social and cultural factors (i.e. social contagion) and that higher guardrails are needed to prevent harm.
The recommendation to delegate services away from Tavistock emphasizes that a multidisciplinary approach to treatment demands “strong links to mental health services.” Unlike the American healthcare establishment, British medical experts acknowledge that expressions of dysphoria often arise from emotional or psychosocial disturbance rather than vice-versa.
Pediatric gender services in the U.K. are being shifted toward clinical research settings (i.e., “decentralized”) precisely because Tavistock—like American gender clinics and professional medical associations— was not adapting to the explosive growth in referrals and the growing risk of transitioning kids who would be harmed by these irreversible “treatments.”
Changes in Sweden were similarly compelled by explosive growth in the medical transition of children. The Swedes too reject the theory that more kids are suddenly discovering their truer and happier selves. As one expert there frames it, “tolerance has been high in Sweden for at least the last 25 years, so you can’t say it has changed.” The decision to limit the use of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to clinical research settings is being done to ensure that these interventions are only provided in the most “exceptional” cases, a protocol that was easier to follow fifteen years ago when the incidence of dysphoria among natal girls was 1500% lower.
It all begs the question: Why deceive on what is happening in Europe when reality is so easy to discover? The plain truth is that activists must lie about it. “Gender-affirming care” for kids is a consensus-based rather than evidence-based practice. The revelation that the consensus doesn’t even extend as far as some of the world’s most progressive countries is so politically damning that its acknowledgement would almost certainly force the reckoning that activists are hoping to stave off.
The U.S. has become an extreme outlier when it comes to pediatric gender medicine. Activist gaslighting won’t allow it to remain that way forever.
Ian Kingsbury is the Director of Research for Do No Harm.
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