". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


BREAKING: FRC’s Dr. Jennifer Bauwens Testifies in Defense of Children before the Montana Senate

January 27, 2023

On Friday, FRC’s Dr. Jennifer Bauwens spoke before the Montana Senate in support of SB 99, the Youth Health Protection Act. SB 99 would protect children by ensuring they are not rushed into irreversible and lifelong-damaging gender transition procedures. The following is Dr. Bauwens’s testimony:

Members of the Committee,

My name is Dr. Jennifer Bauwens. I’m a licensed therapist and clinical researcher. I currently serve as Director of the Center for Family Studies at Family Research Council. On the basis of over 25 years of experience as a clinician providing trauma therapy to children and as a researcher investigating the psychological effects of traumatic stress, I offer my firm support for SB 99, the Youth Health Protection Act.

I support SB 99 out of a deep concern and a desire to see the children of Montana protected from misdiagnosis, and from scientifically unsupported and potentially irreversible interventions that will impact the rest of their lives.

Historically, children have been treated as a special and vulnerable class in the psychological and research fields. Greater caution has been applied to children in light of the fact that they do not have the developmental capacity to understand lifelong decisions. Don’t all of us wish we could change some of the things we did back in elementary, middle, or high school?

If our experiences of child development aren’t enough, neurological science affirms our need to give special protections to children:

  • A study looking at 20,000 brain scans found neurological development continues into a person’s mid-twenties. The structures known to play a role in many mental disorders are the ones that take the longest to develop.

Thus, the reason why the standard has always been to proceed very cautiously with regard to interventions for children, particularly when the evidence is weak or the research methods are in the early phases (which is the case with the research in this area).

It is important to note that what is being referred to as “gender-affirming” care is in direct opposition to this knowledge regarding development, and our understanding of good research and treatment. Compared to other psychological disorders found in the DSM V-TR, gender dysphoria is currently being treated with the most invasive interventions connected to a psychological issue. SB 99 would address this.

There are a few other concerns that I’ll name here:

1) These interventions are being endorsed based on consensus, not evidence: Practices were voted on rather than standing on the merits of solid research findings addressing gender dysphoria.

2) The success rates for nonintervention for gender dysphoria already exceed most psychological interventions.

3) The research and practice around this entire issue does not properly account for competing diagnoses and variables:

  • In just one example, 45% of transgender-identifying people reported childhood sexual abuse.
  • As a trauma clinician, I can tell you when someone experienced a sexual trauma, it is not uncommon for that person to hate parts of their body or want to get rid of those aspects of themselves that made them vulnerable to abuse.

4) The claim that a failure to provide these interventions increases the risk of suicide is an unethical practice. Further, the suicide argument is a clear departure from the practice of empowerment and self-management which are important goals of mental health practices.

I encourage you to look at The Cochrane Collaboration website at cochrane.org and type in “depression.” You will see a multitude of treatments that have been researched to help children through depression. Yet when it comes to gender dysphoria, there’s only one path currently being prescribed — that is to try to become someone else.

These kids deserve better. We should be innovating solutions to heal their distress, not coercing them onto a path that tells them they need to remove or change parts of who they are in order to be whole.

We call on you to support the health and well-being of Montana’s children, and support SB 99.

**To read Dr. Bauwens’s full, submitted written testimony, see here.