I have been trying to read a variety of articles to gain an understanding of the transgender issue. This one from First Things had a helpful summary of the scientific case against the celebration of gender-changing treatments:
Until recently, gender dysphoria in young people was treated by “watchful waiting” or by counseling. In 2007, however, Dr. Norman Spack of Boston Children’s Hospital introduced a new treatment protocol—originating in the Netherlands—which is fast becoming the norm. Today, young people who pursue “gender reassignment” begin a process that will consign them to lifelong dependence on the medical system. Generally, they receive puberty blockers at around age thirteen and begin opposite-sex hormones—estrogen for boys and testosterone for girls—at around age sixteen. Some eventually opt for “sex-reassignment” surgery. This can involve double mastectomies, in girls as young as sixteen, and removing or “creating” penises and vaginas.
Cross-sex hormones stimulate the development of secondary sex characteristics such as facial hair in females and the swelling of breast tissue in males. Most such changes cease when a patient stops using these hormones. The artificial “penises” and “vaginas” constructed through surgery do not function like their authentic biological counterparts. No treatment can cause a biological man to menstruate or give birth to an infant, or make it possible for a woman to produce sperm and father a child.
Gender transition treatments involve significant risks. Puberty blockers stunt growth and decrease bone density during use. Girls who take testosterone may develop serious acne or feel irritable, aggressive, or unbalanced. Individuals taking these hormones require lifelong monitoring for a number of dangerous side effects, including cancer and deep vein thrombosis.
Lifelong infertility may be the greatest risk of cross-sex hormone use by young people. Sterility is inevitable when puberty blockers are followed by cross-sex hormones at an early stage of adolescent sexual development, or if prepubertal children are placed directly on these hormones, according to Dr. Michelle Cretella of the American College of Pediatricians. Postpubertal adolescents are advised to consider freezing their eggs or sperm before beginning hormone use. “If your teen may want to have a biological child, it’s important to look into sperm banking before treatment is started,” Seattle Children’s Hospital advises parents. Hormone-induced changes “may be irreversible” for girls who receive testosterone, the hospital adds. “It’s very important that a patient starting [female-to-male] therapy be sure this is the course they [sic] want to follow,” its web site warns. Despite these concerns, Seattle Children’s Hospital enthusiastically supports pediatric gender-transition treatment and opened a clinic to provide it in October 2016.
In short, the use of sex-reassignment treatments in children amounts to a massive uncontrolled experiment. Such an unscientific approach to irreversible, life-altering treatments is indefensible in the age of “evidence-based” medicine, when lengthy clinical trials are generally required for federal approval of a new medication.
There is little evidence that cross-sex treatments actually benefit gender-dysphoric youngsters. In 2014, Hayes, Inc.—a widely respected research firm that evaluates the safety and value of medical technologies—performed a comprehensive review of the scientific literature on treatment of gender dysphoria. Hayes gave its lowest rating to the use of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones in children, finding that the literature is “too sparse and the studies [that exist are] too limited to suggest conclusions.”
McHugh compares treating the psychological confusion of gender dysphoria with hormones or sex-change surgery to treating anorexia with liposuction. He notes that the most thorough follow-up of individuals who have had sex-reassignment surgery, a 2011 Swedish study, found that sex-reassigned individuals were almost five times more likely to attempt suicide and nineteen times more likely to die by suicide compared to controls. Such treatment is irresponsible. It leaves a patient’s underlying psychological problems undiagnosed and unaddressed. In McHugh’s words,
Transgendered men do not become women, nor do transgendered women become men. All . . . become feminized men or masculinized women, counterfeits or impersonators of the sex with which they “identify.” In that lies their problematic future.
Because the author’s arguments agree with my position, I am inclined to find it helpful. But if others know of scientific arguments in favor of gender-changing treatments, I would be grateful to see them as well.