According to my former personal physician, Dr. Darren Reimer, who spoke at an event in Steinbach, “There is lots of evidence that gender affirming care is helpful.” Yet sadly, gender affirming care has been viciously and relentlessly attacked by conservatives around the world–from Russia to the United States. Dr. Rimer said that much of this evidence is clinical. That means it has been tried and has worked! According to Dr. Reimer, “gender affirming care is real and effective.” It reduces gender dysphoria.
Some people experience debilitating gender dysphoria which is the acute and chronic distress some persons experience of living in a body that does not reflect one’s gender and the desire to have bodily characteristics of that gender. This is not something invented by the libs. It is real. It exists. Conservative hysteria won’t make it go away.
Yet, notwithstanding it’s general acceptance by the medical community, conservatives have attacked gender affirming care with relentless hostility. I think the reason is that conservatives fear liberals will take advantage of such care to impose their presumed agenda to get as many people as possible to change their identity. I don’t know why liberals would want to that, but conservatives seem to believe this is part of the liberal agenda. On the other hand, I believe that the conservative view is part of their hysteria about sexuality. Hysteria is their agenda. Many conservatives believe that the only permissible sex is that between men and women and then only when each maintains their birth sex and gender.
In part the problem here is the fact that this battle is being conducted in the world of the internet gone mad. As John Oliver said, “So much of the fear of and arguments against transgender people comes from misinformation and misunderstanding. And maybe the biggest and most dangerous area of ignorance comes from the concept of gender affirming care.”
In US four states have already scratched access to such care and 15 more are considering similar legislation. According to Oliver, “They have been fuelled by a lack of basic knowledge about what of gender affirming care actually consists.”
As Michael Knowles, the host of his own TV show: said If a child walked into a doctor’s office and said Doc I want you to cut my fingers off, the Doc would say ‘you’ve got some problems kid we need to refer you to a psychiatrist.’ If the child walked into the same doctor’s office and said, ‘Doc I want you to cut my uterus out, that Doctor would say, ‘Oh you’re a wonderful brave person. You’re right we do need to cut you uterus out as soon as possible. Let’s get this young lady over to the operating room.’
That of course is nonsense in hi def. Many conservatives believe that as soon as child declares that he or she is trans, an immediate irreversible decision is made to make the surgery happen. That just is not the way these things work.
This is what I understand about gender affirming care: In young children gender affirming care consists mainly of things like a social transition where the child is allowed to use a new name ,with the parent’s consent, or have a new hair cut or wear new clothes. They might get psychological supports to help them to avoid bullying or harassment. When puberty is onset a child, with parental consent, might be given puberty blockers to delay puberty. This can buy time for the young person to make a decision when older about gender identity.
If that treatment is later suspended endogenous puberty will resume. It is not irreversible. It just gives time to think about it.
The next medical intervention is usually hormone therapy which boosts levels of testosterone or estrogen as the case may be. Opponents of such treatment claim this is experimental medical treatment, but that is not true. Some falsely claim it sterilizes people. There are some specific rare risks to fertility in some cases but according to the Yale School of Medicine, the effect is anticipated to be reversible if medication is discontinued.
Nonetheless, as a result of conservative hysteria many states are making efforts to ban gender affirming care.
According to Heather Boerner, in her article in Scientific American, earlier this year, “A decade of research shows such treatment reduces depression, suicidality and other devastating consequences of trans preteens and teens being forced to undergo puberty in the sex they were assigned at birth).” Scientific American also said this in an introduction to the her article: “Laws that ban gender-affirming treatment ignore the wealth of research demonstrating its benefits for trans people’s health.”
As Michelle Forcier, a pediatrician and professor of pediatrics at Brown University, said,
“The bills are based on “information that’s completely wrong…[Those laws] are absolutely, absolutely incorrect” about the science of gender-affirming care for young people. “[Inaccurate information] is there to create drama. It’s there to make people take a side.”
Here is the truth according to Heather Boerner in her Scientific American article:
“The truth is that data from more than a dozen studies of more than 30,000 transgender and gender-diverse young people consistently show that access to gender-affirming care is associated with better mental health outcomes—and that lack of access to such care is associated with higher rates of suicidality, depression and self-harming behavior.”
This aligns nicely with what our own Steinbach physician Dr. Darren Reimer said. In other words, (these are my words now) the misinformation is part of a culture war, not a rational argument, and as we all know, in any war, even a cultural war, truth is the first casualty.