Hard on the heels of the recent global campaign to legalize same-sex “marriage” has come another more radical product of the sexual revolution: the promotion across all levels of society of the radical ideology of transgenderism.
It is the sheer speed with which such changes have hit society that is so astonishing. According to Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, “Previous generations experienced moral revolutions over decades, even centuries. This current revolution is happening at warp speed.”
Referring to the current campaign to promote transgenderism, Drs. Michelle Cretella and Felipe E. Vizcarrondo, two American pediatricians, recently commented that:
In the last five years, gender ideology has overtaken every major public institution in our society from mass and social media, to public and private education from pre-school forward, to professional medicine and psychiatry, and increasingly, law. It has essentially become America’s government-sponsored religion.
In this essay, we examine two principal outcomes of the current promotion of transgenderism. One of them is the tragic reality that people who seek to change their sex through hormone treatment and surgery may suffer grave medical and psychological consequences. The other is gender ideology’s sinister assault on the independence of the medical profession from political interference.
The Dutch Protocol
Dr. John Whitehall, Professor of Pediatrics at Sydney University, has frequently warned about the grave medical risks associated with the massive hormonal and surgical intervention in the body of a child in the futile pursuit of a change of sex.
He has described the mechanism of the “Dutch Protocol” medical pathway, pioneered in the Netherlands, that much of the Western world follows. Its five phases may be summarized as follows:
1) Social transitioning: the child adopts the name, pronouns, dress and persona of the opposite sex.
2) The blocking of puberty: drugs known as puberty-blockers are administered. Dr. Whitehall warns that “The effects of blockers are not ‘safe’ and ‘reversible,’ as asserted by proponents of the Dutch Protocol.”
He explains: “The induction of puberty begins deep in the brain where it is started by a biological clock and involves a cascade of hormones with various checks and balances.” But what happens if the working of this intricate mechanism is blocked by drugs?
Last year, a landmark article by three medical experts, entitled “Growing Pains: Problems with Puberty Suppression in Treating Gender Dysphoria,” was published in The New Atlantis. The co-authors, after consulting more than fifty peer-reviewed studies on gender dysphoria in children, reported that puberty-blockers can lead to an increased incidence of obesity and testicular cancer in boys and decreased bone density in young adults.
Writing shortly afterward, Dr. Michelle Cretella, president of the American College of Pediatricians, quoted studies that found that blockers also led to “brain abnormalities in the area of memory and executive functioning among adult women” and risked increasing the “possibility of significant cognitive decline” among men.
3) Cross-sex hormones: administering cross-sex hormones, e.g., testosterone for a female seeking to identify as male, and estrogen for a male seeking to identify as female. According to Dr. Whitehall, “In time, exposure to [these] opposite hormones will lead to chemical castration.” He continues:
What effect can be expected from administration of cross-sex hormones on the growing brain? There are no relevant studies, but imaging of brains of adult transgenders has revealed shrinkage of male brains exposed to estrogens at a rate ten times faster than ageing [sic], and has revealed hypertrophy of female brains exposed to testosterone.
4) Surgical remodeling of the genitalia: cosmetic remodeling, through surgery, of one’s genitalia along with other features of one’s birth sex such as the masculine “Adam’s apple” and distribution of body hair. Not all people who identify as transgender, however, go this far.
Regarding the construction of alternate genitals, Dr. Whitehall observes that “these surgeries are difficult, often multi-staged, fraught with complications, and limited in outcome.”
For male-to-female transition, sex-change surgery involves what is called vaginoplasty, which is an extreme re-engineering of the male sex organ. Female-to-male transition means the removal of breasts, womb and ovaries. Creating artificial male sex organs, according to one surgeon, is a task that “assumes nearly Herculean dimensions.”
5) A lifetime of medical intervention: a “lifetime commitment to supervision of hormonal therapy and, probably, psychological state.” Dr. Whitehall adds that for those emerging from Phase 4, “there will be the need to maintain urogenital plumbing and the problems of leaks and blockages.”
The Dutch Protocol is risky
There is always, however, the risk of post-operative complications, some of which are the stuff of nightmares.
Consider the plight of Amy Hunter, the transgender advocacy coordinator for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan. She underwent a male-to-female transition in 2009. Today, instead of the vagina she had always longed for, she has what she calls a “fibrous lump between my legs and a colostomy bag.”
Hormonal complications also pose a major threat to one’s long-term health. In July of this year, Annals of Internal Medicine published a comprehensive study on the health of transgender individuals treated with cross-sex hormones.
It found that male-to-female transgenders were 80 to 90 percent more likely to suffer a stroke or heart attack, and also had a greater risk of blood clots from the female hormone, estrogen.
Dr. Michelle Cretella has added: “From studies of adults we know that the risks of cross-sex hormones include, but are not limited to, cardiac disease, high blood pressure, blood clots, strokes, diabetes, and cancers.”
The psychological consequences of transgenderism are especially alarming. A Swedish study from 2011 showed that people who “transition” had a suicide rate almost twenty times higher than the rest of the population.
Dr. Paul McHugh, the University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School and the former psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, explains that “‘sex change’ is biologically impossible.” People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa.
In reality, gender dysphoria is more often than not a passing phase in the lives of certain children. The American Psychological Association’s Handbook of Sexuality and Psychology has revealed that, before the widespread promotion of transgender affirmation, 75 to 95 percent of pre-pubertal children who were uncomfortable or distressed with their biological sex eventually outgrew that distress.
Dr. McHugh says: “At Johns Hopkins, after pioneering sex-change surgery, we demonstrated that the practice brought no important benefits. As a result, we stopped offering that form of treatment in the 1970s.”
Elsewhere he has also expressed his concern about impressionable youngsters being vulnerable to misinformation emanating from school “diversity counselors,” who, like “cult leaders,” may “encourage these young people to distance themselves from their families and offer advice on rebutting arguments against having transgender surgery.”
Campaigns of intimidation
However, in today’s climate of political correctness, it is more than a health professional’s career is worth to offer a gender-confused patient an alternative to pursuing sex-reassignment. In some states, as Dr. McHugh has noted, “a doctor who would look into the psychological history of a transgendered boy or girl in search of a resolvable conflict could lose his or her license to practice medicine.”
In the space of a few years, these sorts of severe legal prohibitions—usually known as “anti-reparative” and “anti-conversion” laws—have spread to many more jurisdictions, not only across the United States, but also in Canada, Britain, and Australia.
Transgender ideology, it appears, brooks no opposition from any quarter. Here are just a few recent examples of individuals who have fallen foul of its dictates.
A British doctor was sacked in July as a medical assessor for a government department after he refused to disavow his Christian—and scientifically founded—belief that sex is genetic and biological. Dr. David Mackereth had worked twenty-six years for the National Health Service, but he has now been deemed “unfit,” under Britain’s 2010 Equality Act, to work for the department because of his religious views.
Dr. Mackereth’s plight prompted American conservative commentator Rod Dreher to exclaim: “Wait a minute. Holding the view that people are born male or female is now a theological belief? Do you see how radical this is? Here’s the theology angle: this doctor was fired because he blasphemed against the militant new religion.”
Since August, David van Gend, an Australian family doctor who has long campaigned for the sanctity of life and natural marriage, has been under investigation by the Medical Board of Australia. His misdemeanor? He displayed on his Twitter page a photo of Public Discourse Founder and Editor-in-Chief, and Heritage Foundation Fellow, Dr. Ryan T. Anderson promoting his book, When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment.
As a result, Dr. van Gend stands accused by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency of “presenting as a medical practitioner and providing information that is ‘clearly not medically, psychologically, nor scientifically based’ and not promoting public health.”
In the United States, Brown University succumbed to political pressure when it cancelled authorization of a news story of a recent study by one of its assistant professors of public health, Lisa Littman, on “rapid-onset gender dysphoria.” Science Daily reported:
Among the noteworthy patterns Littman found in the survey data: twenty-one percent of parents reported their child had one or more friends who become transgender-identified at around the same time; twenty percent reported an increase in their child’s social media use around the same time as experiencing gender dysphoria symptoms; and forty-five percent reported both.
A former dean of Harvard Medical School, Professor Jeffrey S. Flier, MD, defended Dr. Littman’s freedom to publish her research and criticized Brown University for censoring it. He said:
Increasingly, research on politically charged topics is subject to indiscriminate attack on social media, which in turn can pressure school administrators to subvert established norms regarding the protection of free academic inquiry.
What’s needed is a campaign to mobilize the academic community to protect our ability to conduct and communicate such research, whether or not the methods and conclusions provoke controversy or even outrage.
The examples described above of the ongoing intimidation—sometimes, actual sackings—of doctors and academics who question transgender dogma represent only a small part of a very sinister assault on the independence of the medical profession from political interference. Dr. Whitehall recently reflected: “In fifty years of medicine, I have not witnessed such reluctance to express an opinion among my colleagues.”
Babette Francis is founder and coordinator of Australia’s Endeavour Forum, Inc., an NGO having special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations. John Ballantyne is a Melbourne-based historian and journalist. Republished with permission from The Public Discourse.