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Doctors’ group warns of ill effects from gender ideology

Boy and girl with symbol of Catholic Medical Association

Shutterstock | Altered by Aleteia

John Burger - published on 09/13/23

Gender dysphoria is a psychiatric disorder that should be treated by a mental health specialist with the cooperation of loving parents, medical group says.

“First, do no harm” is the age-old guiding principle of medicine. But a controversial way to treat “gender dysphoria” is doing a great deal of harm, a national doctors’ organization charges in a new report.

“The sex reassignment movement is a vast, unregulated experiment based on studies with a high drop-out rate, non-randomized control studies, and no long-term studies past the first five years for interventions that are structurally and/or functionally mutilating and have long term and irreversible consequences,” says the Catholic Medical Association in its statement “The Ideology of Gender Harms Children.”

Parents and guardians must show unconditional love if a child professes to be “transgender” and asks for “affirmation,” the CMA says. But that affirmation should not cross the line into allowing treatments that contradict the child’s true nature as a boy or a girl.

“Parents and guardians must be free to determine how best to address lovingly this challenge through informed consent that is not obstructed by policies that deny that right,” the CMA says. “It is best to enter into dialogue and allow the child to tell his or her story. At the same time, the parent should gently inform the child of the correct scientific data.”

Scientific data

The CMA lays out that scientific data in the report, published September 8. It quotes the American College of Pediatricians in distinguishing “gender,” a term that refers to the psychological and cultural characteristics associated with biological sex, and “sex,” a biological term that indicates maleness and femaleness. Gender is a psychological concept, it says. “Gender identity refers to an individual’s awareness of being male or female, referred to as an individual’s ‘experienced gender.’”

Gender dysphoria (GD) is a psychological condition in which the individual feels an incongruence between his or her experienced gender and his or her biological sex, says the CMA. The condition is associated with varying levels of anxiety and unhappiness. 

“The traditional understanding of childhood GD had been that it reflected confused thinking on the part of the child,” the statement says. “The standard approach was watchful waiting by the parents with the advice of a mental health specialist. The goals of therapy were to address family pathology when present, treat any psychosocial co-morbidities in the child, and aid the child in aligning gender identity with biological sex.”

An industry

But that is no longer the default approach, and a veritable industry of gender dysphoria affirmation treatments has sprung up in recent years. 

Says the CMA report: “The so called ‘treatment’ for GD in the US includes affirmation of the child’s confusion, chemically blocking puberty, lifelong cross-sex hormones (testosterone for girls and estrogen for boys) and mutilating surgeries.”

The protocol consists of affirming the child’s confusion by using name and pronoun changes and facilitating the impersonation of the opposite sex as early as ages 3-4 years old. Then puberty is suppressed with GnRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone) analogues at ages 10-11 years old. Puberty blocking hormones “arrest bone growth, decrease bone density, prevent the sex steroid dependent organization and maturation of the adolescent brain, and inhibit fertility” (American College of Pediatricians, 2018). …

Cross-sex hormones are associated with dangerous health risks. Estrogen administration to boys will place them at risk of developing thromboembolism, elevated lipids, hypertension, decreased glucose tolerance, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and breast cancer. Girls provided with high-dose testosterone will be at risk of developing elevated lipids, insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease, obesity, polycythemia, and unknown effects on breast, endometrial, and ovarian tissues (American College of Pediatricians, 2018).

If children go even further with the “gender-affirming care,” they might be subject to mutilating surgery, the CMA continues:

Mutilating surgeries for girls include bilateral mastectomy, hysterectomy, and removal of the ovaries. Girls as young as 14 have had completely healthy breasts removed (Rowe, 2016). Girls may undergo removal of skin from another part of the body for attachment to the pelvis to simulate a penis. Genital surgery for males includes removal of the testes and dissecting the penis and inverting it into a pelvic wound (American Society of Plastic Surgeons).

There are frequent claims that children with GD will commit suicide if they are not affirmed in their decision to transition, but the CMA says those claims are not scientifically supported.

Says the CMA: “It is essential that concurrent treatment be given by a mental health specialist who will address the mental disorder of the child according to correct understanding of the nature of the human person. Parents should unite and work together to advocate for appropriate and effective treatments that affirm truths about the integrity of the human person as a sacred unity of body and soul.”

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