Two medical professionals who specialize in transgender surgeries and also identify as trans themselves are warning that some in the medical community may be too hasty to prescribe puberty blockers for children who struggle with gender dysphoria.
Speaking to journalist and author Abigail Shrier for Bari Weiss’ Substack newsletter Common Sense, Dr. Marci Bowers and clinical psychologist Erica Anderson, who both identify as women, each revealed why they are concerned that common treatments for transgender youth may be going too far.
Shrier, the author of Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters, writes:
They said it was perfectly safe to give children as young as nine puberty blockers and insisted that the effects of those blockers were “fully reversible.” They said that it was the job of medical professionals to help minors to transition. They said it was not their job to question the wisdom of transitioning, and that anyone who did — including parents — was probably transphobic. They said that any worries about a social contagion among teen girls was nonsense. And they never said anything about the distinct possibility that blocking puberty, coupled with cross-sex hormones, could inhibit a normal sex life.
Their allies in the media and Hollywood reported stories and created content that reaffirmed this orthodoxy. Anyone who dared disagree or depart from any of its core tenets, including young women who publicly detransitioned, were inevitably smeared as hateful and accused of harming children.
But that new orthodoxy has gone too far, according to two of the most prominent providers in the field of transgender medicine: Dr. Marci Bowers, a world-renowned vaginoplasty specialist who operated on reality-television star Jazz Jennings; and Erica Anderson, a clinical psychologist at the University of California San Francisco’s Child and Adolescent Gender Clinic.
“We zig and then we zag, and I think maybe we zigged a little too far to the left in some cases,” Bowers told Shrier. “I think there was naivete on the part of pediatric endocrinologists who were proponents of early [puberty] blockade thinking that just this magic can happen, that surgeons can do anything.”
“There are definitely people who are trying to keep out anyone who doesn’t absolutely buy the party line that everything should be affirming, and that there’s no room for dissent,” Bowers also said when asked if those with certain viewpoints are being shut out of the discussion. “I think that’s a mistake.”
Shrier explained that over the last century that gender dysphoria has been a known diagnosis, it was generally treated with a “watch and wait” approach with the understanding that most children who experience it go on to accept their bodies as they are.
Now, however, “affirmative care” has replaced this approach, and families are “pressured to help the child transition to a new gender identity — sometimes having been told by doctors or activists that, if they don’t, their child may eventually commit suicide.”
Puberty blockers have become the norm in such cases, although neither Bowers or Anderson could express emphatic approval for their liberal administration to children, particularly due to the potential irreversible effects they can have on a child’s sexual development.
“It’s kind of an overlooked problem that in our ‘informed consent’ of children undergoing puberty blockers, we’ve in some respects overlooked that a little bit,” Bowers explained.
This and other potentially irresponsible approaches on the part of the medical community could lead to a lifetime of regret for transgender youth, Anderson said.
“It is my considered opinion that due to some of the — let’s see, how to say it? what word to choose? — due to some of the, I’ll call it just ‘sloppy,’ sloppy healthcare work, that we’re going to have more young adults who will regret having gone through this process. And that is going to earn me a lot of criticism from some colleagues, but given what I see — and I’m sorry, but it’s my actual experience as a psychologist treating gender variant youth — I’m worried that decisions will be made that will later be regretted by those making them,” the psychologist explained.
The “sloppy” work, Anderson said, can be typified as “Rushing people through the medicalization, as you and others have cautioned, and failure — abject failure — to evaluate the mental health of someone historically in current time, and to prepare them for making such a life-changing decision.”
All too often, Bowers explained, doctors are rushing to prescribe puberty blockers or cross-hormone treatments to patients on the first visit.
“When you have a female-assigned person and she’s feeling dysphoric, or somebody decides that she’s dysphoric and says your eating disorders are not really eating disorders, this is actually gender dysphoria, and then they see you for one visit, and then they recommend testosterone — red flag!” Bowers said. “Wake up here.”
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