U.S. taxpayers funded life-altering transgender surgeries, despite that fact that one of the global pioneers in the field says “gender transition has gotten out of hand” and likened it to the “recovered memory” craze that hurt vulnerable patients and tore families apart during the 1980s.
The hospital that opened the nation’s first pediatric gender transition facility, Boston Children’s Hospital, received $1.4 million from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) of Massachusetts for inflicting “gender transition services” between January 2015 and May 2023. The hospital’s Center for Gender Surgery carried out 204 transgender surgeries between 2017 and 2020 — including 65 gender-conversion surgeries on minors. The controversial facility offers double-mastectomies to children as young as 15 and phalloplasty to girls at the age of 17.
Boston Children’s Hospital would not disclose whether state taxpayer funds paid for minors’ transgender surgeries, according to the Daily Caller News Foundation, which broke the story.
This is far from the only time politicians have compelled taxpayers to fund transgender procedures at the child-mutilating facility. Boston Children’s Hospital received a $3.3 million grant from the Biden administration’s National Institutes of Health (NIH) to build a website targeting young people in other states who identify as transgender, as well as to train the hospital’s staff. The hospital also took part in a five-year, NIH-funded study that monitored minors aged 12-20 who received cross-gender hormones; 240 of its 315 participants were underage. Two committed suicide, and 11 more contemplated ending their lives.
The negative outcomes trans-identifying youth suffer as a result of “gender-affirming care” matches the experience of Dr. Riittakerttu Kaltiala, a Finnish psychiatrist who established a gender transition clinic for minors in 2011. She has since participated in the evaluation of 500 children dealing with gender dysphoria.
“Soon after our hospital began offering hormonal interventions for these patients, we began to see that the miracle we had been promised was not happening,” she writes in an exposé in The Free Press. “The young people we were treating were not thriving.” Even when “young people insisted their lives had improved and they were happier,” the evidence belied their self-assessment. “They were withdrawing from all social activities. They were not making friends. They were not going to school.” And her colleagues across the continent “were seeing the same things.”
These patients, and the detransitioners who followed, are the “kind of patient who wasn’t supposed to exist.”
In 2015, the children visiting her changed from young men who had always identified as female. Now, the overwhelming majority of her patients were young women suffering from Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD): “90 percent of our patients were girls, mainly 15 to 17 years old, and instead of being high-functioning, the vast majority presented with severe psychiatric conditions.”
“Some came from families with multiple psychosocial problems. Most of them had challenging early childhoods marked by developmental difficulties, such as extreme temper tantrums and social isolation,” she writes. “In adolescence they were lonely and withdrawn. Some were no longer in school, instead spending all their time alone in their room. They had depression and anxiety, some had eating disorders, many engaged in self-harm, a few had experienced psychotic episodes.” One of their patients was mute, and “more than a quarter of our patients were on the autism spectrum.”
An American whistleblower, Jamie Reed, said the same conditions held at The Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, where she said clinicians regularly ignored their patients’ panoply of other psychological and social conditions.
Most of the Dutch patients had never presented any gender dysphoria before coming to Dr. Kaltiala, who says ROGD had become the dominant patient profile for everyone working in the pediatric transgender field. The patients’ stories shared so many similarities, “We realized they were networking and exchanging information about how to talk to us.”
Although she authored a 2015 study questioning some aspects of the transgender-industry orthodoxy, she and her colleagues around the world felt pressured to keep their concerns private. “Even during the first few years of the clinic, gender medicine was becoming rapidly politicized,” Dr. Kaltiala writes. Activists in psychologists’ poses promised that young people would find “all their mental health problems would be alleviated by these interventions. Of course, there is no mechanism by which high doses of hormones resolve autism or any other underlying mental health condition.”
The condition holds true in the United States, she affirms, where the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry have refused to hear dissenting voices or read data that contradict their predetermined conclusions. Yet “one new study shows that nearly 30 percent of patients in the sample ceased filling their hormone prescription within four years.”
“Anyone, including physicians, researchers, academics, and writers, who raised concerns about the growing power of gender activists, and about the effects of medically transitioning young people, were subjected to organized campaigns of vilification and threats to their careers,” she states. “We were being told to intervene in healthy, functioning bodies simply on the basis of a young person’s shifting feelings about gender,” she writes. “Identity achievement is the outcome of successful adolescent development, not its starting point.”
The doctor finds the transgender industry’s high-pressure sales tactics, in which they falsely claim a child will commit suicide unless parents allow the industry to begin transgender procedures, disreputable. Research, she notes, showing transgender-related “suicide is very rare. It is dishonest and extremely unethical to pressure parents into approving gender medicalization by exaggerating the risk of suicide.” The U.K.’s Tavistock Institute, which until recently carried out transgender procedures on minors, reported only four out of 15,032 patients had ended their lives. “The proportion of individual patients who died by suicide was 0.03%,” reported a 2022 study. Although these deaths are tragic, “[t]he fact that deaths were so rare should provide some reassurance” to parents.
Dr. Kaltiala likens “[w]hat is happening to dysphoric children” to the “recovered memory craze of the 1980s and ’90s. During that period, many troubled women came to believe false memories, often suggested to them by their therapists, of nonexistent sexual abuse by their fathers or other family members.” The psychologist-guided lies tore families apart, as children falsely believed their family meant them harm.
“[L]ike recovered memory, gender transition has gotten out of hand,” writes Dr. Kaltiala. “When medical professionals start saying they have one answer that applies everywhere, or that they have a cure for all of life’s pains, that should be a warning to us all that something has gone very wrong,” she concludes.
Americans caught up in the transgender debate welcome the skepticism of Dr. Kaltiala and others across Europe, where nations have progressively changed their protocols to protect children and adolescents from these experimental interventions.
“Gender dysphoria is far more invasive than any other diagnosis in the DSM,” Dr. Jennifer Bauwens, director of the Center for Family Studies at Family Research Council, told FRC President Tony Perkins earlier this month. “Not only are we diagnosing early with something that would be considered a lifelong enduring pattern, but we’re also attaching interventions that are really dangerous and life-altering while a person is still a child.”
“Despite the popular spin, even the leading advocates of medically transitioning youth concede there are substantial research gaps and a lack of knowledge concerning long-term outcomes,” states “The Trans Youth Phenomenon: Critiques & Hard Questions,” a publication co-written by Bauwens as a collaboration between Family Research Council and the Center for Urban Renewal and Education.
Nationally, the transgender industry carried out transgender surgeries on 3,678 minors between 2016 and 2019 nationwide, and “405 patients (11.0%) aged 12 to 18 years underwent genital surgery,” according to a report from the Journal of the American Medical Association’s JAMA Network Open. More than one in four (25.3%) of the 48,019 people who underwent transgender surgeries during that time paid the bill with taxpayer-funded Medicaid. After the Obama-Biden administration swelled the ranks of Americans eligible for Medicaid, surging “Medicaid spending is ‘crowding out’ spending on other major state programs, most notably education and transportation infrastructure,” reported the Mercatus Center.
Transgender activists are advocating for Ohio’s Issue 1, which would make it illegal for the state to “directly or indirectly” burden any “individual” right to make “reproductive decisions,” language broad enough to require taxpayer-funded abortion and transgender surgeries for minors without parental notification — a position favored by several of Issue 1’s authors/sponsors.
Dr. Kaltiala’s decision to oppose transgender procedures for minors grew out of the reason she got into psychiatry in the first place: “My patients’ adult lives are still ahead of them, so it can make a huge difference to someone’s future to help a young person who is on a destructive track to find a more favorable course.”
Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.
EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.
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