Turning Tide? New York Times Offers Detransitioners' Testimony
By SA McCarthy/The Washington StandFebruary 07, 2024
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One of the mainstream media's flagship publications appears to be reversing course on gender transitions for children and finally listening to the warnings issued by detransitioners.
The New York Times published an article last week featuring interviews with detransitioners, psychologists, and medical experts urging against what has often been called "gender-affirming care" for children. The article begins with the story of a young girl named Grace Powell, who began the gender transition process at the age of 17, including receiving hormone drugs and a double mastectomy.
"At no point during her medical or surgical transition ... did anyone ask her about the reasons behind her gender dysphoria or her depression," the article notes. "At no point was she asked about her sexual orientation. And at no point was she asked about any previous trauma, and so neither the therapists nor the doctors ever learned that she'd been sexually abused as a child."
"Transitioning seemed like the obvious solution," the article says of Powell's mostly-online exploration of transgenderism. "The narrative she had heard and absorbed was that if you don't transition, you'll kill yourself." This ultimatum has become a standard of the gender transition industry, even according to The New York Times.
One woman interviewed for the article related her first experience taking her teenage son to a "gender therapist." She recalled, "In front of my son, the therapist said, 'Do you want a dead son or a live daughter?'" The article notes, "Parents are routinely warned that to pursue any path outside of agreeing with a child's self-declared gender identity is to put a gender dysphoric youth at risk for suicide, which feels to many people like emotional blackmail."
But gender transition procedures are not a cure for suicidal ideation, and "the incidence of suicidal thoughts and attempts among gender dysphoric youth is complicated by the high incidence of accompanying conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder." In fact, the article notes that children who identify as transgender are very often autistic -- sometimes that's diagnosed, sometimes it isn't, but it's almost never taken into account when hormone drugs and surgeries are offered.
A recent documentary focused on how transgenderism has impacted young men revealed a similar correlation. One psychologist interviewed in the documentary, Dr. Az Hakeem, explained, "The thing about the autistic mind is it's very 'black and white,' it loves categories, it loves rules." Thus, when an autistic young man feels as though he doesn't fit into the category of "male," he wants to know where he does fit in.
In comments to The Washington Stand, Dr. Jennifer Bauwens, director of the Center for Family Studies at Family Research Council, explained, "The first thing to address on the suicide scheme is the fact that there is no other psychological 'treatment' that warns a patient or a patient's family that they will commit suicide if that particular recommendation is not followed."
She continued to ask, "So what makes 'gender-affirming care' so special that they can use this threat? If you really sit with that for a minute, that is a fantastical claim. You should be able to claim that 100% of the people given this 'treatment' should have no inclination towards suicide afterwards."
Other conditions which "gender-affirming care" refuses to address include chronic depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention-deficit hyperactive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and many others, any of which may lead to suicidal thoughts.
Another factor often ignored or outright denied by transgenderist activists is the phenomenon of rapid onset gender dysphoria, which is a sudden appearance of discomfort with one's own biological sex during adolescence and puberty. Some medical experts have suggested that rapid onset gender dysphoria may be a result of social contagion.
The New York Times notes, "Many parents of kids who consider themselves trans say their children were introduced to transgender influencers on YouTube or TikTok, a phenomenon intensified for some by the isolation and online cocoon of Covid."
It may also be a result of grooming: "Others say their kids learned these ideas in the classroom, as early as elementary school, often in child-friendly ways through curriculums supplied by trans rights organizations, with concepts like the gender unicorn or the Genderbread person."
Bauwens, who has worked extensively as a clinical researcher and clinician treating psychological trauma, explained that rapid onset gender dysphoria "is not a diagnosis, not a formalized diagnosis. It is a sociological phenomenon."
She continued, "If you look at this from a research perspective, you have a whole new cohort of people who are now identifying as transgender. It used to be prepubescent boys, and now it's primarily young women who are identifying as transgender. It's a complete discrepancy from history. This is so uncharacteristic from how a specific disorder plays out. To say that there's nothing there is irresponsible -- but there is something there, because the numbers across the world bear this out."
Many medical and mental health professionals reportedly want to explore other options and treatments before rushing to hormone drugs and genital surgeries, but "feel their hands have been tied by activist pressure and organizational capture."
As noted in the NYT article, numerous health care professionals have reported harassment and persecution for simply referring children for further mental health care rather than prescribe them hormone drugs. A biological woman now calling herself Aaron Kimberly was forced to resign from her job at a health clinic when she refused to prescribe children hormone drugs and puberty blockers within the first few sessions, referring them instead to mental health experts for further assessment.
When therapist Stephanie Winn urged colleagues to consider the testimony of detransitioners, she was labeled "transphobic" by transgenderist activists and targeted for repeated harassment. She no longer conducts therapy in an office but online, saying, "I don't feel safe having a location where people can find me."
One of the issues noted by most opponents of the "gender-affirming" model is the flawed nature and faulty mechanisms of most studies conducted on the success of gender transition procedures. The New York Times notes that much of the Western world's understanding of gender transition procedures is based on several Dutch studies from within the past 15 years.
"Those studies were riddled with methodological flaws and weaknesses," the article explains. "There was no evidence that any intervention was lifesaving. There was no long-term follow-up with any of the study's 55 participants or the 15 who dropped out. ... But in America ... the results of those widely criticized Dutch studies are falsely presented to the public as settled science."
Bauwens is one of the many experts who has been critical of many extant studies on gender dysphoria and gender transition procedures, arguing that the studies are not only methodologically flawed but overly myopic. She explained to The Washington Stand:
"If you were going to do a study on depression and you enlisted people in your study who had been experiencing depression in the last month, and you asked a bunch of questions but never asked something like, 'Did you have a recent loss in your life?' you wouldn't have the right conclusion. It's the same concept with the transgender studies. When you are asking about how someone's mental health fares after the 'gender-affirming care' but you don't ask them about preexisting conditions or their trauma history, then we're going to come up with a faulty conclusion.
Gender dysphoria seems like it's -- much of the time -- a symptom of something else in someone's life. That alone tells us that there's something missing in the literature. We can talk about sample sizes, poor methods used in these studies, but the bottom line is that the transgender literature holds conclusions about its success that are not included in the research methods of the study design alone."
In fact, many of the most advanced medical communities in Europe have begun warning against gender transition procedures for minors, citing a lack of evidence that such procedures are beneficial and even cautioning that they may be damaging. In particular, the U.K.'s Gender Identity Development Service at the Tavistock clinic was completely shut down after a government investigation found that children were being rushed onto hormone drugs and into surgery with little or no psychological oversight.
One factor not addressed by The New York Times is the lasting damage done by gender transition procedures. In the documentary "The Lost Boys," young men who had actually gone through the gender transition process recounted the horrors of "gender-affirming" surgeries.
Referring to his own experiences, one of the detransitioners interviewed lamented, "Some people are now messed up for life -- I'll never be able to have kids, my rugged masculinity is never gonna come back." Other detransitioners like Chloe Cole have also spoken of the lasting, irreparable damage done by gender transition surgeries.
Previously, The New York Times has dismissed the testimony of Cole and other detransitioners as "a few stories of regret."