Health professionals organize against drugs, surgery for gender-confused kids

Florida regulators resist pressure to relax ban on so-called gender affirming medicine for minors.

Updated: February 13, 2023 - 11:15pm

The field of so-called gender affirming medicine for minors is facing unprecedented scrutiny on both sides of the Atlantic after years of anecdotal stories from young people who came to regret their transitions and practitioners openly describing their lucrative work for friendly audiences.

Lawmakers and regulators are narrowing the circumstances under which children can get life-altering puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgical interventions in the name of gender identity, if not banning them entirely.

A federal appeals court has struck down two bans on counseling to preserve sex-based identity, while cross-ideological groups are promoting model legislation, organizing parents and challenging the evidentiary basis for minor transitions.

Former President Trump is using the controversy to boost his nascent presidential campaign, promising on "day one" of his second term to "revoke Joe Biden's cruel policies" promoting drugs and surgeries for gender-confused minors, the subject of an ongoing federal rulemaking.

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey announced recently that he has launched a "full investigation" of a St. Louis gender clinic prompted by a whistleblower who describes herself as far-left, queer and "married to a transman."

Jamie Reed left the Washington University Transgender Center as a case manager after four years because of its "morally and medically appalling" practices that "permanently" harm its patients, she wrote in The Free Press Thursday. She went to Bailey because "the safety of children should not be a matter for our culture wars."

South Dakota's House and Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill (HB 1080) that would prohibit healthcare providers from prescribing minors puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones or performing "any sterilizing surgery," genital construction or removal of "healthy" body parts for gender-identity purposes.

Two Florida medical boards not only resisted pressure to reverse their rules prohibiting such treatment for minors but removed a research exception at a joint hearing Friday, Action News Jax reported.

Board of Medicine Chairman Scot Ackerman rebutted a trans activist's claim that the "overwhelming weight of evidence and science" supports the treatment as "safe, effective and medically necessary." Such studies have been criticized for methodological problems, with one knowingly misrepresented by its own sponsor.

Boca Raton, Fla. agreed to pay two counselors $50,000 and $25,000, as well as their attorney's fees, after the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the city's ban on talk therapy to treat unwanted same-sex attraction and gender confusion. The same court overturned Tampa's similar ban the week before on the same First Amendment grounds. 

Oregon is going the opposite direction. Portland therapist Stephanie Winn, who says she represents "gender malpractice survivors," is urging followers to file public comments before a Tuesday night hearing on a bill that would expand the Beaver State's seven-year-old ban on "conversion therapy" for minors to adults.

"This bill would make it near impossible for therapists to question patients' complex reasons for wanting to pursue 'transition,'" Winn tweeted. She's also connected to detransitioner Camille Kiefel's lawsuit against the mental health professionals who authorized her for a taxpayer-funded double mastectomy.

Across the pond, BBC journalist Hannah Barnes told The Times Saturday that major publishers passed on her new book about the scandals of the U.K.'s central gender clinic for children, even though it's based on "hundreds of hours of interviews with former clinicians and patients,"  because their "junior staff" disapproved.

The National Health Service is shutting down the clinic, known as Tavistock, following detransitioner litigation and an independent review that questioned the research behind its practices and "unquestioning affirmative approach."

Do No Harm, which challenges wokeness in medicine, launched a multifaceted campaign against the affirming approach for minors last month with legal help from Cooper & Kirk and personal testimony from detransitioner Chloe Cole, who is active in multiple legislative battles and also suing her own doctors.

The effort includes a white paper and model legislation that prohibits drugs and surgery as well as school participation in the transition process, limits both public and private funding for such treatments, and creates private causes of action for minors harmed by the affirming approach. Do No Harm previously analyzed the U.S. diverging from much of Europe on gender identity and minors.

The Goldwater Institute is representing a Maine family challenging their daughter's school for socially transitioning her in secret, including a school social worker giving her a chest binder and advising her about transitioning.

Detransition Network attorney Daniel Cragg, a partner with Eckland & Blando, argued the affirming model inverts the legal definition of "informed consent" in a Jan. 30 essay for the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism, which is challenging the Biden administration's Title IX rewrite on gender identity.

Medical practitioners can be "vulnerable to litigation if they fail to inform the patient of all material risks associated with gender-affirming treatment," such as infertility, or "coerce" informed consent by, for example, telling parents their child will commit suicide without affirming treatment, Cragg explained, adding: "There is no compelling evidence" for such claims.

Parents With Inconvenient Truths About Trans recently launched a survey querying parents with transgender-identifying children about issues including their children's level of transition and "custody challenges" or visits from child protective services stemming from gender identity.

The survey, which is "completely anonymous and confidential," is open until month's end, PITT said. It will release results from a previous survey on "parent estrangement" this month.

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