CURE's Policy Analyst Testifies before Missouri State Legislators on Transgender Youth

For immediate release: April 11, 2023

Washington, D.C. – Today, CURE’s policy analyst Raheem Williams traveled to Missouri to speak before a hearing held by the Missouri House General Laws Committee. The hearing was partly centered on transgender youth care. Williams presented his research and answered questions from the state legislators.

Transcript of Raheem William’s Opening Testimony:

I’d like to say thanks to all the members of the General Laws Committee for allowing me the privilege of addressing you today. My name is Raheem Williams and I’m here on behalf of Do No Harm, an advocacy group dedicated to protecting healthcare from radical, divisive, and discriminatory ideologies. We fully support SB 49, here’s why…

Supporters of medically transitioning gender dysphoric youth would have you believe this is a sound practice, medically necessary, and lifesaving. They will claim puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones are simply a pause button, a safe option, and that youth gender transitioning surgeries are rare. Furthermore, some will imply or explicitly say that restricting these medical interventions will condemn these children to death by suicide. However, is this true?

Let’s first examine the use of puberty blockers. The use of these drugs, gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists, to treat youth gender dysphoria is considered “off-label”, meaning they aren’t FDA certified to treat the condition. Concerning gender dysphoric youth puberty blockers are often erroneously described as a pause button. We contend it’s anything but. We have ample empirical research that shows sex hormones impact cognition, behavior, mood, and brain structure. Removing or adding them does not constitute a “neutral” act within any context. By manipulating anyone’s hormones, you are by default manipulating their thinking and decision-making process. This is true even with adults.

Likewise, some puberty blockers have been documented to cause feminizing traits with natal adolescent males growing breasts within 6 months without the use of an estrogen supplement. We believe hormonal manipulation explains why some studies that show over 74%-98% of minors that use puberty blockers move on to cross-sex hormones.

Similarly, cross-sex hormones aren’t without their risk. Although much has been said to attempt to discredit Jamie Reed’s explosive allegations about the St. Louis Children’s Hospital. The effects of introducing testosterone treatments to natal females can cause vaginal thinning, tearing, and apathy and this is documented within published case studies. Likewise, the use of cross-sex hormones has been purported to cause a higher risk of adverse cardiac events, issues with bone density, and loss of reproductive function. Research has shown that prologued cross-sex hormone use can even change brain structure.

Furthermore, the practice of giving minors mastectomies (breast removal surgery) has been documented in kids as young as 13 in some corners of our country. Similarly, bottom surgery to transform the minors’ natal genitalia is also taking place. All of these highly invasive surgeries have varying complication risks.

Proponents say this is rare and outside of the norm. However, there isn’t an adequate way to confirm this at the state or federal level. We simply can’t verify the frequency of occurrence because oversight is currently nonexistent. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) latest Standards of Care (which there is no legal obligation to abide by anyways) make no attempt to establish a minimum age for puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, or surgeries. Furthermore, WPATH, a pro-trans affirmation organization, openly concedes there is a lack of quality studies addressing the treatment of gender dysphoric youth. The Endocrine Society makes a similar admission.

Some studies show minors who receive these experimental gender treatments have lower levels of depression and suicidality. These studies have been contested by scholars due to methodological limitations within study design such as an overreliance on self-reporting and potential selection bias. A recent study of over 1,600 parents found that these controversial gender treatments made mental health conditions worse in their children.

This brings us to the question of suicide. Those that advocate for these experimental treatments believe that this is life-saving care. It’s true that the LGBTQ community suffers from higher suicidal ideations, and it’s also true that many presenting to pediatric gender youth transition clinics often do so with comorbidities that are also associated with higher rates of suicide.

However, the idea these experimental treatments save lives has a few issues. According to Reuters the number of pediatric gender clinics has grown from 1 to 100 over the last 15 years. Coincidentally, this coincides with an increase in suicidal ideations and attempts in American youth. However, this is not enough to establish causation. This should not be interpreted to mean that clinics are causing youth suicides to spike. Similarly, recent research found that states that allowed for easier access to gender transition hormones had higher youth suicide rates, not lower. Again, correlation is not causation. However, this begs the question… When will this so-called lifesaving care start to manifest in the macro data? Because there is little evidence explosive use of these external medical inventions is simply not manifesting in lower youth suicides.

Health authorities in England, Finland, Sweden, and Norway have recently rejected the idea that these early medical interventions are backed by evidence. I believe an honest review of the current literature requires this legislative body to reach a similar conclusion.

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