The U.S. continues to offer life-altering transgender treatments to minors in many states, even as a number of other Western nations place restrictions and even bans on the practice.
And that is unlikely to change, according to one group of doctors who hosted a booth warning of the dangers of such treatments at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting June 15-18 in Chicago.
Endocrinologists, some of whom specialize in transgender treatments such as hormone therapy and puberty-blocking, attend the event to share the latest research in the field. Endocrine Society has endorsed transgender care for children since 2017.
This year, medical professionals with the nonprofit Do No Harm hosted a booth to try to persuade others to take a more cautious approach.
“Our experience confirmed what we have long suspected: medical organizations like the Endocrine Society are putting political demands ahead of the scientific patients’ needs, and that most practicing endocrinologists are deeply concerned about the Society’s elevation of transgender activism and would prefer strong guardrails to protect adolescents and children from a rush to transition,” Do No Harm wrote in a newsletter after the event.
Roy Eappen, a 30-year member of the Endocrine Society, agrees.
“Thousands of teens and preteens are transitioning genders every year, a number that’s rising fast,” Eappen wrote in a guest column at Daily Herald. “Yet to date, no professional medical association in the U.S. has fully reviewed the evidence to determine whether children are being helped or hurt.”
The Society has continued to encourage minors to undergo risky procedures and take medications, Eappen writes, saying the Society can no longer ignore research showing that the procedures and medications cause irreversible damage.
“Hormone blockers, it turns out, can decrease bone density and contribute to infertility,” Eappen writes. “They may also inhibit cognitive development. Ditto cross-sex hormones, which can irreversibly change the body, cause infertility, and even lead to strokes, heart attacks, and diabetes.
“Then there’s mental health, which appears to deteriorate in many children who get transgender treatments. More study is needed before anyone can unequivocally recommend these treatments to teens and preteens.”
In May, Norway banned adolescent medical transition outside of research settings, as did Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Italy, Ireland and Australia are also urging caution and issuing warnings of the risks of giving children gender treatments.
In the last two years in the U.S., 19 states have passed laws restricting gender affirming care for minors while other states have reacted by increasing access.
However, Eappen wonders when America as a nation will follow the lead of other countries and enact new guidelines that are consistent with the new scientific findings.
“Why hasn’t America caught up with the science?” Eappen asked in his article. Why is it standing still, or perhaps going backward, while other countries are moving forward? The answer is that groups like the Endocrine Society haven’t updated their guidelines to keep up with the times.
“Maybe it’s waiting for even more research. Maybe it’s worried about the blowback from the very vocal activist community. I’ve talked with many of my fellow endocrinologists who are afraid of speaking up. Yet inaction potentially endangers more children with every passing day.”
Do No Harm is calling on the Endocrine Society to withdraw its current transgender guidelines and conduct a thorough review of the latest research, much like European countries have done.