Paediatrician group calls for health bodies to 'follow science' not ideology in caring for children with gender dysphoria

By Chris Eyte |
Doctors Protecting Children Declaration Press Conference- June 6, 2024
Representatives from the American College of Pediatricians launch a declaration opposing trans surgeries on children at the National Press Club in Washington DC | Screenshot from American College of Pediatricians YouTube channel

An American pediatrician group is calling on U.S. medical institutions to follow some of their European counter parts in considering science rather than ideology in the care for transgender children. In recent months, an increasing number of medical professionals have come forward lamenting how an important health care and mental health issue has been politicized and voices pointing to scientific facts or calling for more rigorous research have been effectively silenced.

A global survey reported by Statista in May showed just three percent of respondents identifying as transgender from 30 countries in 2023. This latest data also relates to those describing themselves as “non-binary/non-conforming/gender-fluid, or in another way.”

Yet gender affirming surgery tripled in the U.S. between 2016 to 2019, according to JAMA Network. In a similar period 2017-2021, for children and teens, Reuters commissioned health tech firm Komodo, which found that for some youngsters within this demographic (42,000 to be exact), there was a triple uptake in diagnoses of gender dysphoria in the country. 

The European Society of Paediatric Endocrinology and the Paediatric Endocrinology Society also examined data from 25 centers across the U.S., South America and Europe, finding that from 2014-2017 there had been an increase in referrals. Pediatric doctors across the world, both Christian and otherwise, have expressed widespread public concerns about the pressing issue. 

The European Academy of Paediatrics (EAP) presented a cautious but resolute approach when issuing a statement in February this year on “the clinical management of children and adolescents with gender dysphoria.” Whilst advocating a rights approach, based on the individual child’s needs, the academy said urgent research was needed. 

“An international research programme to define optimal treatment and outcomes, based on meticulous observation and comparator studies, should be urgently funded and performed,” the EAP statement read. “In the interim, children and parents must receive appropriate support and care while issues are resolved.”

The now defunct Tavistock gender clinic in London, England has made headlines as an example of inappropriate support and care. Official figures show 382 children aged up to six were referred to the clinic before it closed in July 2022. About 70 of these youngsters were aged three or four years old.

An analysis of the Gender Identity Development Service run by Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, by retired pediatrician Dr. Hilary Cass, commissioned by NHS England, and known as the Cass Review, deemed services at the clinic such as giving puberty blockers neither “safe or viable.”

The Cass Review also found that clinical staff on an international basis have reported that adolescents “seem to have more complex presentations” (p90, Cass Review) and “with greater mental health and psychosocial needs, as well as additional diagnoses of ASD and/or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).”

Data also showed that “rates of depression, anxiety and eating disorders were higher in the gender clinic referred population than in the general population.”

“It is widely accepted that exposure to sexuality is happening at a younger age,” added Cass (p119, Cass report). “The impact of this on young people’s understanding of their sexuality and/or gender identity is unclear.”

The reality is that for young individuals, different social-cultural influences impact their understanding of both gender and sexual identity, opined Cass, adding: “and this is an area that warrants better exploration and understanding.”

On June 17, the Central Institute for Statutory Health Insurance in Germany published results showing that two out of three young people medically diagnosed with gender dysphoria will grow out of it within five years.

Meanwhile, harmful surgeries on children with gender dysphoria must stop immediately according to the American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds), which signed a joint declaration on June 6 with other concerned medical groups and individuals opposing the practice.  

The ‘Doctors Protecting Children’ Declaration authored by ACPeds stated that scientific evidence clearly showed that children risked being put in serious harm by unwarranted surgical interventions, alongside puberty blockers and cross-sex hormone treatment. 

The experts said such interventions have shown to be ineffective in improving the health, physical and mental, of adolescents with gender dysphoria.  

The declaration called on “the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Endocrine Society, the Pediatric Endocrine Society, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry to adhere to evidence-based research and utilize comprehensive evaluations and therapies for youth with gender dysphoria.”

“It is time that these American medical institutions follow the science and the lead of our European professional colleagues and cease to promote protocols that harm children, including the promotion of social affirmation, puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgeries for children and adolescents who experience distress over their biological sex,” said Dr. Jill Simons, pediatrician and Executive Director of ACPeds.

The issue of cultural responses to trans rights was recently addressed on Tuesday (June 18) by columnist Michael Deacon, who is not religious, for The Telegraph newspaper in the U.K. He referenced the “bizarre” fact that former Prime Minister Tony Blair felt compelled to issue a public statement recently, saying men have penises and women have vaginas. He said it had become commonplace for politicians in the West to air publicly their views on basic human biology. 

“Senior political figures are endlessly asked, with a straight face, whether women have penises and men have vaginas. It’s not considered at all surreal, or even mildly unusual. It’s become as run-of-the-mill as asking about taxes or immigration or NHS [National Health Service] waiting lists. And when – as Sir Tony Blair did yesterday – a senior political figure confirms that he or she grasps the basics of human biology, it makes headline news, and is thought to be wildly controversial.

“The whole business is a lesson in just how quickly, and dramatically, society can change. In next to no time these days, an idea can go from extreme to mainstream. Or, if not mainstream, then at least prevalent among the kind of people who get to decide what the rest of us are permitted to say and think.”

Other U.S. health organizations signing the ACPeds declaration earlier this month included Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine (AHM), American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), American College of Family Medicine (ACFM), Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), Catholic Health Care Leadership Alliance (CHCLA), Catholic Medical Association (CMA), Child & Parental Rights Campaign (CPRC), Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), Coalition of Jewish Values, Colorado Principled Physicians, Genspect, Honey Lake Clinic, National Association of Catholic Nurses, National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC), and North Carolina Physicians For Freedom (NCPFF). About 100 leading child doctors, nurses, psychotherapists and other health professionals also signed the declaration. 

ACPeds has created a website to help parents, teenagers, doctors, schools and politicians navigate the topic of gender dysphoria.