The Claim That ‘Gender-Affirming Care’ Saves Lives Is Falling Apart
Monday’s tragic shooting at The Covenant School, a Presbyterian private school in Nashville, Tennessee, is exposing the sobering reality that what is being marketed to the public as “gender-affirming care” is not doing what we were told it would do - alleviate mental health issues and gender confusion.
In the past few years, several mass shootings have been carried out by members of the transgender-identifying community. This is a rather alarming statistic, given that only 0.1% of the population experiences gender dysphoria, according to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders V-TR. So, what is going on here?
At one time, gender dysphoria was considered a mental disorder, but now, due to the increasing prevalence of a worldview shaped by gender identity ideology, it has morphed into a human rights issue. The ideology borrows from the mental health aspects of gender dysphoria in order to justify medical “intervention.” It claims that the elevated mental health issues in the transgender-identifying community can be pinned on the social discrimination these individuals face. In the simplest terms, the transgender-identifying person’s mental well-being is based on having the right external circumstances, such as being called by the “correct” pronouns, undergoing all the desired plastic surgeries, having access to the opposite sex’s hormones, and having others affirm their internal idea of reality. What could possibly go wrong with that approach to life?
In the aftermath of The Covenant School tragedy, we can be assured that discrimination will be offered up as an excuse for a transgender-identified person carrying out a mass shooting. But if facing discrimination is cause for someone to commit such a heinous act as mass violence, then we ought to adjust how we flag potential perpetrators and offer other mental health interventions to gender-affirming care, such as ones that help people develop stronger internal loci of control rather than be subject to the changing tides of their circumstances.
Advocates of gender-affirming care insist it is both lifesaving and evidence-based health care for those who identify as transgender. But the research used to make such a claim is full of methodological errors and can be easily disputed as a research body that is incomplete. In just one example, it is well known that the trans-identifying community has experienced a high rate of childhood traumas. It is also well-known that trauma victims have high suicide attempt and completion rates. The problem is that the supposed scientific research on the transgender issue doesn’t explain how researchers have differentiated those in the transgender community who are suicidal because of the influence of childhood trauma from those they claim are suicidal because of the lack of affirmation and pharmaceuticals.
Not only are the currently published studies problematic, but there is a lack of ongoing and long-term follow-up reports that address the impact of cross-sex hormones and surgeries. Most of us have seen the commercials in which the lawyer announces a class action suit against a pharmaceutical company for a particular drug’s side effects that were discovered later. Why did the suit come about? It was a result of continual study and monitoring of a particular drug to understand if the harms of taking that medication outweigh the benefits.
In our current climate, there is no sensible monitoring of the psychological effects of minors or adults taking cross-sex hormones or engaged in any aspect of gender-affirming care. We don’t know the long-term psychological effects of social transition (e.g., adopting the opposite sex’s name and pronouns) either. Although we don’t know if the perpetrator of the March 27 shooting was on cross-sex hormones, we do know that she was in counseling and, given the state of the profession, was most likely encouraged to identify as the opposite biological sex.
To address this unscientific and dysfunctional approach to treating gender dysphoria, bills have been proposed across the country to place age requirements on the physiological aspects of gender-affirming care. Although most of these proposals require a person to be 18 years old before they can receive cross-sex hormones or undergo surgical procedures to change their sexual organs, the evidence to support these “interventions” isn’t good for any age.
Unfortunately, the tragedy at The Covenant School proves to be one more big piece of evidence suggesting that gender-affirming care (whether social or physiological) is not doing what it set out to do — treat mental health issues. On the contrary, the evidence shows that those who take these drugs are 19 times more likely to commit suicide. There is also mounting evidence that those who have detransitioned have experienced compounded psychological complications as a result of what they went through under “gender-affirming care.” Now, we face the tragic reality of a transgender-identifying biological female, who, against the normative profile, committed an act of mass murder.
We do not understand the long-term psychological ramifications of the so-called gender-affirming approach to mental health care, but we do have growing evidence that this sort of “affirmation” is not a remedy for mental health problems.
One thing this tragedy has confirmed is that our leaders and legislators should focus on saving lives and invoke a moratorium on these risky, baseless “gender affirming” interventions.
Dr. Jennifer Bauwens is the Director of the Center for Family Studies at Family Research Council.