American Academy of Pediatric Gender Politics?
An influential physicians group rejects open debate about transgenderism in children
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has approved a range of exhibitors for its national annual conference in October, from popular toy brands to companies selling homeopathic medicines or providing autism support. But last month, the association denied an information booth request from the Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine (SEGM) with no explanation.
The SEGM represents 100 international clinicians and researchers who evaluate the scientific evidence behind transgender medical interventions. The group objects to the “gender affirmation” approach endorsed by the AAP and other major U.S. medical associations. That approach sets adolescents and children with gender dysphoria on a path that involves puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and surgeries.
The AAP’s rejection of the SEGM signaled it has no interest in debate over what constitutes evidence-based care for children with gender dysphoria, the group said in a statement.
“Quelling the debate will not help America’s pediatricians guide patients and their families based on best available evidence,” SEGM said, while calling for an end to “the politicization of the field of gender medicine.”
WORLD contacted a media relations manager at AAP and asked why it rejected SEGM’s booth. She referred to the organization’s policy statement on caring for transgender children, which promotes “gender affirmative care.”
Questions and concerns continue to surface in the pages of prestigious medical journals, at renowned European hospitals, and in U.K. courtrooms over the lack of evidence supporting the gender affirmative approach. Those concerns include the harmful and irreversible effects of transgender medical treatments and surgeries on children’s bodies.
This month, The Lancet, one of the world’s oldest and most respected medical journals, published a series of rebuttals to a May editorial criticizing state legislative efforts to protect children with gender dysphoria from such interventions. (In April, Arkansas became the first state to enact a law restricting hormone drugs and surgeries for minors, but a federal judge blocked it from taking effect.)
Some SEGM-affiliated researchers and clinicians joined the rebuttals, challenging the editorial’s scientific basis for diminishing the health risks and the likelihood of regret involved in “gender affirming” care. The authors also critiqued the evidence behind the assertion that medical interventions minimized suicidality among gender-dysphoric youth.
Kenneth Zucker, a clinical psychologist and editor of the Archives of Sexual Behavior, praised The Lancet’s openness to allow open debate over transgender interventions: “If scientific periodicals suppress collegial discourse, we are in big trouble.”
Meanwhile, three major European gender clinics have reversed course and taken a more cautious approach to transgender interventions in recent years as the number of youth who claim to have gender dysphoria continues to skyrocket. The Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden, announced in May it had suspended pediatric transgender treatment outside of clinical trials. Finland’s gender clinic issued new guidelines last year prioritizing psychotherapy over hormones and surgery for children with gender dysphoria.
The United Kingdom halted hormone treatments for minors under age 16, and its pediatric gender transition policies are under review following a High Court ruling last year in the Keira Bell case. That ruling determined that children are incapable of providing informed consent to experimental transgender treatments and procedures.
In a separate U.K. case, an employment tribunal last week awarded 20,000 pounds (about $27,700) to a whistleblower who raised child safety concerns at the National Health Service (NHS) gender clinic. Sonia Appleby, the children’s safeguarding lead for Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, which oversees the gender identity development center, said she experienced a “full-blown organizational assault” after reporting staff concerns about the high number of young children being referred to the clinic and encouraged to pursue transgender treatments without scrutiny of their individual circumstances.
International developments such as these reveal the growing disconnect between reasonable doctors and scientists and U.S. medical organizations such as the AAP. “That’s ‘politics’ in a nutshell and a form of intellectual cowardice,” Zucker said.
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