American College of Pediatricians says gender surgery adversely affects adolescent mental health outcomes

Gender Roles
Unsplash/Delia Giandeini

The report also presents significant findings from a survey of 1,665 parents of gender dysphoric children, indicating that 57% of trans-identified adolescents displayed mental health concerns nearly four years before experiencing discomfort with their biological sex, with 42.5% receiving a formal psychological diagnosis. McMaster University's study raises uncertainties about the effectiveness of puberty blockers in alleviating gender dysphoria, depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation.

A comprehensive 2021 review of 3,754 trans-identified adolescents in US military families over 8.5 years suggests that cross-sex hormone treatment correlates with increased mental health service utilization, psychiatric medications, and elevated suicidal ideation. When evaluating transgender-identifying adolescents using gender-affirming pharmaceuticals separately, their mental health service utilization remained constant, but the use of psychotropic medications increased.

The report asserts strong evidence linking transgender identification in youth to significant psychological trauma leading to gender dysphoria. Dr. Anderson contends that current “gender-affirming” medication and surgical protocols lack long-term evidence supporting their mental well-being benefits. High rates of suicide attempts post-” gender-affirming” interventions underscore the need for long-term controlled trials.

Affirming their stance against gender transition procedures for trans-identified youth, the ACP recommends “intensive psychotherapy for the individual and family to determine and hopefully treat the underlying etiology of their gender incongruence.”

The ACP's stance faces strong opposition from organizations like the AMA who point to studies showing reduced depression, anxiety and suicide attempts among transgender individuals receiving gender-affirming care. They argue that the ACP report cherry-picks data and ignores significant evidence supporting the benefits of such interventions.

Internationally, the debate mirrors the US situation. While some countries like Sweden and Finland have restricted medical transition for minors due to similar concerns, others continue to offer and advocate for access to these procedures.

Reflecting the divided opinions, 23 states in the US have implemented bans on minors accessing some or all gender transition procedures. This highlights the complexity of the issue and the need for nuanced conversations.

The ACP urges the US to prioritize further research before actively promoting gender transition procedures for minors. They call for investigations into the long-term impacts on mental and physical health, exploration of alternative approaches like intensive therapy and ensuring minors fully understand the potential risks and benefits before making irrevocable decisions.