One of the radical woke left’s favorite narratives is that if we fail to socially and medically affirm the gender confusion of queer or transgender individuals, it will have devastating and potentially fatal consequences for them, due most significantly to supposedly higher suicide risk in those individuals who are denied that affirmation. But the data on the subject do not at all support this narrative. In fact, it shows just the opposite.
The Heritage Foundation just published a report of their study on “Puberty Blockers, Cross-Sex Hormones, and Youth Suicide,” by Jay P Greene, PhD, in which they show that youths who received so-called “gender-affirming care” are actually at significantly greater risk of suicidal ideation and attempts than those who are not. This directly contradicts the leftist assertion that failure to provide “gender-affirming care” results in higher suicide rates and is thus fatally dangerous to trans and queer youths.
Specifically, The Heritage Foundation’s study examined the limitations of past research on the subject and analyzed current trans suicide statistics as they pertain to the availability of “gender-affirming care.” As for prior research limitations, The Heritage Foundation lays out the significant issues with the major relevant studies generally cited, saying,
“The effects of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones as a medical intervention for adolescents who identify as transgender have never been subjected to a large-scale randomized controlled trial (RCT), like the kind that is typically required for approval of new medications. The fact that randomized experiments were not required for this use of puberty blockers and sex hormones, and that this novel use of these drugs is relatively recent, means that only a handful of studies examine their effects, and all these studies use inferior correlational research designs.
The main defect of studies relying on correlational research designs is that they are unable to determine with confidence whether any relationships between receiving these drugs and later health outcomes are causal. That is, one can never know with confidence whether the drugs cause those outcomes, or whether other factors that make people more likely to receive the drugs were the causes. This inherent weakness in correlational research is precisely why regulators, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, typically require randomized experiments before approving a drug.
This weakness of correlational research designs can be illustrated by examining one of the most prominent studies claiming to find that adoles- cents who receive cross-sex hormones have a lower risk of suicide.27 That study, led by Jack Turban of Stanford Medical School and published in PLOS ONE in 2022, examines the results of a 2015 survey of more than 27,000 American adults who identify as transgender.”
As far as the statistical findings of the study, The Heritage Foundation’s analysis determined that “gender-affirming care” actually increases longterm suicide risk.
“In the past several years, the suicide rate among those ages 12 to 23 has become significantly higher in states that have a provision that allows minors to receive routine health care without parental consent than in states without such a provision. Before 2010, these two groups of states did not differ in their youth suicide rates. Starting in 2010, when puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones became widely available, elevated suicide rates in states where minors can more easily access those medical interventions became observable.
Rather than being protective against suicide, this pattern indicates that easier access by minors to cross-sex medical interventions without parental consent is associated with higher risk of suicide. The Heritage model plotted the difference in a three-year rolling average of suicide rates between states with minor access provisions and states with no such provision. Chart 2 plots the trend in this difference for those ages 12 to 23 who could have been affected by the policy when cross-sex medical interventions became available. For comparison, Chart 2 also shows the trend in this difference for a group ages 28 to 39, who could not have been affected by these policies, since the people in this group would have been at least 18 when puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones became available.
Without making any adjustments, suicide rates among those ages 12 to 23 (blue line) begin to spike in states that have provisions that allow minors to access health care without parental consent relative to states that have no such provision around 2016, after cross-sex medical interventions became more common. By 2020, there are about 3.5 more suicides per 100,000 people ages 12 to 23 in states with easier access than in states without an access provision. There is no similar spike in suicide rates among those ages 28 to 39 (grey line) at that time.
Interestingly, this research is consistent with a number of other large-scale studies, although you might not know it by the way the research is discussed (or ignored). Independent journalist Jesse Singal published an extensive article analyzing seven studies which are frequently cited as support for radical woke leftist claims that medical “gender-affirming care” is not only non-controversial but even life-saving. But if you look closely at the actual results of the studies, as Jesse Singal did, you will see that the science and data on the subject clearly indicate the danger posed by such “care.” In fact, Singal recently also published an analysis of a very well publicized and praised study by Tordoff et. al. out of UW-Seattle. In this article titled, “Researchers Found Puberty Blockers And Hormones Didn’t Improve Trans Kids’ Mental Heath At Their Clinic. Then They Published A Study Claiming The Opposite.” Singal explains,
“All the publicity materials the university released tell a very straightforward, exciting story: The kids in this study who accessed puberty blockers or hormones (henceforth GAM, for “gender-affirming medicine”) had better mental health outcomes at the end of the study than they did at its beginning… It isn’t just the publicity materials; the paper itself tells a similar story, at least a few times. The “Key Points” box found to the right of the abstract reads, “In this prospective cohort of 104 TNB [transgender and nonbinary] youths aged 13 to 20 years, receipt of gender-affirming care, including puberty blockers and gender-affirming hormones, was associated with 60% lower odds of moderate or severe depression and 73% lower odds of suicidality over a 12-month follow-up.” The body of the paper also contains at least two sentences clearly claiming that the kids who went on blockers and hormones experienced improved mental health over time.
What’s surprising, in light of all these quotes, is that the kids who took puberty blockers or hormones experienced no statistically significant mental health improvement during the study. The claim that they did improve, which was presented to the public in the study itself, in publicity materials, and on social media (repeatedly) by one of the authors, is false.
Among the kids who went on hormones, there isn’t genuine statistical improvement here from baseline to the final wave of data collection. At baseline, 59% of the treatment-naive kids experienced moderate to severe depression. Twelve months later, 56% of the kids on GAM experienced moderate to severe depression. At baseline, 45% of the treatment-naive kids experienced self-harm or suicidal thoughts. Twelve months later, 37% of the kids on GAM did. These are not meaningful differences: The kids in the study arrived with what appear to be alarmingly high rates of mental health problems, many of them went on blockers or hormones, and they exited the study with what appear to be alarmingly high rates of mental health problems.
In addition to the flawed studies discussed by Singal and The Heritage Foundation, there are also extensive scientifically sound studies, primarily out of Europe, which demonstrate the danger of “gender-affirming care,” specifically longterm. A study out of Sweden which followed 324 “sex-reassigned persons” over a 30 year period, 1973-2002, concluded,
“The overall mortality for sex-reassigned persons was higher during follow-up than for controls of the same birth sex, particularly death from suicide. Sex-reassigned persons also had an increased risk for suicide attempts and psychiatric inpatient care. Comparisons with controls matched on reassigned sex yielded similar results.”
Several years ago, The Heritage Foundation published an article by Ryan T. Anderson, PhD, who quoted Dr. Paul McHugh of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine,
“Transgendered men do not become women, nor do transgendered women become men. All (including Bruce Jenner) become feminized men or masculinized women, counterfeits or impersonators of the sex with which they ‘identify.’ In that lies their problematic future.”
Anderson also quoted The Guardian’s summary of the results of a Birmingham University’s Aggressive Research Intelligence Facility’s review of “more than 100 follow-up studies of post-operative transsexuals,” saying,
“[The Aggressive Research Intelligence Facility], which conducts reviews of health care treatments for the [National Health Service], concludes that none of the studies provides conclusive evidence that gender reassignment is beneficial for patients. It found that most research was poorly designed, which skewed the results in favor of physically changing sex. There was no evaluation of whether other treatments, such as long-term counseling, might help transsexuals, or whether their gender confusion might lessen over time.”
More recently, a research and consulting firm for evaluating safety and health outcomes of medical technologies, Hayes, Inc., reviewed the available scientific literature and determined,
“Statistically significant improvements have not been consistently demonstrated by multiple studies for most outcomes. … Evidence regarding quality of life and function in male-to-female adults was very sparse. Evidence for less comprehensive measures of well-being in adult recipients of cross-sex hormone therapy was directly applicable to [gender dysphoric] patients but was sparse and/or conflicting. The study designs do not permit conclusions of causality and studies generally had weaknesses associated with study execution as well. There are potentially long-term safety risks associated with hormone therapy but none have been proven or conclusively ruled out.”
Even the Obama administration determined that there was a distinct lack of evidence that sex reassignment surgery, or “gender-affirming care,” actually benefits the patients, thus the treatments would not be covered by Medicare.
“Overall, the quality and strength of evidence were low due to mostly observational study designs with no comparison groups, subjective endpoints, potential confounding (a situation where the association between the intervention and outcome is influenced by another factor such as a co-intervention), small sample sizes, lack of validated assessment tools, and considerable lost to follow-up.”
Interestingly, this “lost to follow-up” may likely be due to the high rates of suicide longterm, and thus their unavailability for follow-up assessment.
Ultimately, The Heritage Foundation’s recent study argues,
“Lowering legal barriers to make it easier for minors to undergo cross-sex medical interventions without parental consent does not recuse suicide rates -in fact, it likely leads to higher rates of suicide among young people in states that adopt these changes.”
Anecdotally, there is a growing movement of “detransitioning” individuals, many of whom share devastating stories (like this one) of the irreparable psychological and physical harm they inflicted upon themselves with the help of so-called medical “professionals” who appear to be no more than leftist gender ideology activists.
With the extensive research on the subject, that on the “pro” side being significantly flawed and unreliable, and that on the “con” side being statistically sound and scientifically compelling, why is society being led to believe that “gender-affirming care” (or rather gender-affirming harm”) is not only safe but even essential for the life and health of gender-confused individuals?
While opponents of the radical woke leftist gender ideology narrative agenda are often condemned as hateful, bigoted, and dangerous to vulnerable individuals, the science seems to support their contention that socially and medically affirming gender confusion ultimately does more harm than good, and alternative care and treatment options should be explored before normalizing and encouraging life-altering gender-affirmation practices.
Unfortunately, the radical woke leftist narrative trumps all, including the science and data. Including the health and wellness of America’s youth. While they are happy to cite data that confirm their narrative, all else is ignored or overtly manipulated in order to protect the desired narrative and support the desired social outcome. Meanwhile, how many of America’s youths are being unduly influenced and subsequently subjected to devastating “gender-affirming harm” in the name of the almighty radical woke leftist gender narrative?