Transgender Surgery Does Not Improve Mental Health, Academics Belatedly Admit

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Last year, a groundbreaking study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry (AJP) claimed to prove that transgender surgery improves the mental health of people suffering from gender dysphoria (the persistent and painful identification with the gender opposite one’s biological sex). Earlier this month, however, AJP issued a “correction” that acknowledged key flaws in the study and admitted that the true results “demonstrated no advantage of surgery.” This represents a severe blow to the transgender ideological takeover of American medicine.

The AJP article “Reduction in Mental Health Treatment Utilization Among Transgender Individuals After Gender-Affirming Surgeries: A Total Population Study,” written by Richard Branstrom, Ph.D., and John E. Pachankis, Ph.D. and published on October 4, 2019, analyzed a newly available dataset from Sweden. The study found that people with gender dysphoria were “about six times as likely” to have a mood and anxiety disorder health care visit and far more likely to be hospitalized for a suicide attempt.

The study compared gender dysphoric people who did not take cross-sex hormones or undergo transgender surgery with those who did. The authors admitted that “years since initiating hormone treatment was not significantly related to likelihood of mental health treatment,” but claimed that “increased time since last gender-affirming surgery was associated with reduced mental health treatment.”

Yet the study faced severe criticism from many quarters. Dr. Andre Van Mol, adolescent sexuality committee co-chair at the American College of Pediatricians (not to be confused with the pro-transgender American Academy of Pediatricians), served as lead author on one of six letters to the editor of AJP critical of the study’s methods and findings. Van Mol’s team included endocrinologist Michael Laidlaw and renowned psychiatrists Miriam Grossman and Prof. Paul McHugh.

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On Saturday, August 1, AJP published a “correction” to the study which is more of a retraction. AJP sought “statistical consultations” on the study and the authors agreed with the criticisms these consultations highlighted. “Upon request, the authors reanalyzed the data to compare outcomes between individuals diagnosed with gender incongruence who had received gender-affirming surgical treatments and those diagnosed with gender incongruence who had not.”

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This new analysis “demonstrated no advantage of surgery in relation to subsequent mood or anxiety disorder-related health care visits or prescriptions or hospitalizations following suicide attempts in that comparison.”

In what appears to be a desperate attempt to preserve the study, AJP minimized the monumental change in this conclusion, merely admitting that its pro-transgender conclusion was “too strong.”

Given that the study used neither a prospective cohort design nor a randomized controlled trial design, the conclusion that “the longitudinal association between gender-affirming surgery and lower use of mental health treatment lends support to the decision to provide gender-affirming surgeries to transgender individuals who seek them” is too strong.

In a press release responding to the correction, the American College of Pediatricians argued that “the study, and transgender affirming interventions, now seem invalidated.”

Indeed, the correction does invalidate the original conclusion of the study, much-touted last year for its pro-transgender results. Many activists inside and outside of the medical field are extremely invested in such studies to bolster the transgender narrative since basic biology undermines that narrative.

According to the transgender activists who have spread throughout America’s medical establishment, gender dysphoria is devastating for a patient’s mental health, and the only way to help such a patient is to encourage transgender identity as the resolution of that dysphoria. Rather than encouraging a person to accept his or her biological sex, these activists claim that the best way to combat depression and prevent suicide is to encourage a cross-sex identity, even to the point of providing cross-sex hormones and performing dangerous experimental surgeries.

These activists claim that the root problem is a lack of acceptance — gender dysphoric people experience depression and commit suicide because society does not accept their cross-sex identification. Societal acceptance and experimental “treatments” to “affirm” an identity at odds with a person’s biological sex are the only hope for struggling people.

But this argument is insane. Many people who once identified as transgender and later embraced their biological sex (known as detransitioners) have come forward, lamenting the irreversible changes they made to their own bodies in search of a false identity. Their tragic stories seem reminiscent of anorexic girls who endanger their health by starving themselves, falsely thinking that they are fat.

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“I am a real, live 22-year-old woman, with a scarred chest and a broken voice, and five o’clock shadow because I couldn’t face the idea of growing up to be a woman, that’s my reality,” admitted Cari Stella in a personal YouTube video. A man who formerly identified as a woman and had his male genitals removed and replaced with a facsimile of female parts later lamented his “Frankenstein hack job.”

Some misled doctors are actually harming kids as young as 8 years old by giving them so-called puberty-blocking drugs. Dr. Michael Laidlaw, an independent private practice endocrinologist in Rocklin, Calif., said of such drugs, “I call it a development blocker — it’s actually causing a disease.” He told PJ Media that this “treatment” causes hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, a condition where the brain fails to send the right signal to the gonads to make the hormones necessary for development.

“An endocrinologist might treat a condition where a female’s testosterone levels are going to be outside the normal range. We’ll treat that and we’re aware of metabolic problems. At the same time, an endocrinologist may be giving high levels of testosterone to a female to ‘transition’ her,” Laidlaw explained.

Even in its initial version, the AJP study admitted there was no evidence that cross-sex hormones improve mental health. Now, the authors have admitted that even surgery does not necessarily help.

Late last year, James Shupe, the first American to officially change his legal sex status to “non-binary,” petitioned to have his male sex once again recognized on official documents.

“Despite six years of hormonal treatments, my sex was immutable, and I remained the same biological male I was at the time of my birth. In hindsight, my sex change to non-binary was a psychologically harmful legal fiction, and I desire to reclaim my male birth sex,” Shupe wrote in his petition.

Detransitioners exist, and they prove that societal acceptance of transgender identity and experimental “treatments” like transgender surgery are not the only solution to gender dysphoria. Ultimately, human beings are either male or female, down to the cellular level. The few people who suffer from disorders of sexual development (referred to as intersex) are not evidence of a “third sex,” nor is their existence an argument for transgender identity.

The rush to embrace transgender identity has caused serious problems in the medical field. Last year, a pregnant woman rushed to the hospital with abdominal pains. Since she identified as a man, however, the doctors immediately dismissed the idea that she could be going into labor. They did not give her the treatment she needed, and the baby died. Tragically, the doctors took the entirely wrong lesson from the experience. Rather than returning to the basic acknowledgement of biological sex, they insisted that this woman was “rightly classified as a man,” and that doctors simply can’t assume that “men” won’t be pregnant.

The retraction of this AJP study undermines the medical argument in favor of redefining basic biology. It should serve as a wake-up call to the medical community, showing that the dangerous transgender movement is not worth its high cost.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.

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