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American Progressives Ignoring the Warning Signs: The Troubling Support for 'Gender-Affirming Care

AP Photo/Armando Franca

At some point, you have to wonder what it will take for progressives to finally give up their blind, unthinking, and destructive support for the “gender-affirming care” approach to treating children suffering from gender dysphoria. Despite a miles-deep dearth of data and evidence supporting the notion that prescribing puberty blockers and performing invasive surgical treatments is actually beneficial to children, high-profile leftists insist on foisting these “treatments” on young children.

What makes this even more puzzling is the reality that several European nations, which have used the “gender-affirming care” model for decades, are quickly abandoning the practice. One would think that seeing this might cause some on the left to rethink their positions. Unfortunately, it is going to take a lot more than that, apparently.

While America continues embracing these questionable treatments, several countries are going in a different direction:

The U.S. is becoming an outlier among many Western nations in the way its national medical institutions treat children suffering from distress over gender identity.

For years, the American healthcare industry has staunchly defended medical interventions for transgender minors, including puberty blockers, which suppress the physical changes of adolescence as a treatment for those distressed over their gender.

The European medical community, by contrast, is expressing doubts about that approach. Having allowed these treatments for years, five countries—the U.K., Sweden, Finland, Norway and France—now urge caution in their use for minors, stressing a lack of evidence that the benefits outweigh the risks. This month, the U.K.’s publicly funded National Health Service for England limited the use of puberty blockers to clinical trials, putting the drugs beyond the reach of most children.

Leor Sapir, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, notes that these countries conducted “systematic reviews of evidence” and “found that the studies cited to support these medical interventions are too unreliable, and the risks are too serious.”

Even in other countries that still allow the use of puberty blockers, many are urging caution. In Italy, for example, the president of the Italian Psychoanalytic Society wrote a public letter to the Italian prime minister in January expressing “serious concerns” over the use of puberty blockers.

While European nations are reevaluating their stance, it is perplexing, and even infuriating, to see American progressives doubling down on their support for these treatments despite mounting data pointing to potential risks.

The fact that European nations, including the U.K., Sweden, France, and Norway, are moving away from the widespread use of “gender-affirming care” is a significant indicator that these treatments are not as beneficial as initially believed. Reviews of evidence conducted by these countries have revealed serious doubts about the efficacy and long-term consequences of interventions like puberty blockers. The decision by the U.K.’s National Health Service to limit the use of puberty blockers to clinical trials reflects a growing consensus regarding their risks outweighing the benefits.

Numerous studies conducted in Europe have pointed to potentially irreversible harm caused by puberty blockers and surgical treatments when individuals reach adulthood. These studies suggest that rather than allowing patients to navigate their gender identity struggles naturally, early intervention can lock children into feelings of being the wrong gender.

The long-term consequences, including fertility issues and compromised bone density, raise significant concerns about the safety and ethics of these interventions. Other studies have shown that children who undergo “gender-affirming care” are more likely to commit suicide after becoming adults.

Despite the mounting evidence and cautionary measures taken by European countries, progressive advocates in America continue to champion “gender-affirming care” while giving little thought to the potential risks of harm to the children being affected. It is concerning that they are doubling down on the use of puberty blockers and surgical treatments for minors, ignoring emerging data that challenges the effectiveness and safety of these interventions.

The question remains: What will it take for proponents of “gender-affirming care” to rethink their support? Apparently, the fact that various countries that have been using the model for decades are abandoning it doesn’t seem to faze those who desperately want these kids to take puberty blockers and go through irreversible surgical procedures.

Unfortunately, it seems the only way to make these people reconsider “gender-affirming care” is to hit them in their pocketbooks. Medical professionals, schools, and other entities pushing this treatment on children must face legal repercussions en masse due to the irreversible harm caused by these treatments.

When individuals who were subjected to these interventions during their formative years grow up and start filing lawsuits, the magnitude of the issue may finally compel proponents to reconsider their position. This has already started happening. Detransitioners who took puberty blockers and went through surgery as minors have begun filing lawsuits against the medical professionals who manipulated them and their parents into consenting to such treatment.

It is tragic that these people even had to go through such a horrific experience. For many, their lives are changed forever, which makes this whole situation even more galling. But lawfare might just provide an avenue through which these individuals can hold accountable those who failed them as children. Even more, if there are enough of these lawsuits being filed, these institutions will be placed in a position in which they will think twice before summarily giving puberty blockers to children.

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