NIH Grants $3.3 Million for Boston Children’s Hospital to Promote Gender Transitions to Out-of-State Minors
Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) has received a $3.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to build a training program and a pro-trans website targeting trans-identifying youth in other states. The grant, which began on September 23, 2021 and will end on August 31, 2023, represents the most direct interaction known to date between a federal agency and the burgeoning industry for pushing gender transition procedures on minors.
BCH found itself mired in scandal last August when it was revealed the hospital was performing gender transition surgeries on minors. The hospital not only performed gender transition surgeries on minors as young as 13, but it publicly promoted these in a series of videos on its website. Although the hospital tried to remove the evidence once it became a national scandal, a peer-reviewed study published in March 2022 confirmed that BCH had performed 65 gender transition surgeries on minors from January 2017-August 2020, as they formed part of the study’s dataset.
While the NIH does not directly fund gender transition procedures for minors, activists and policymakers alike widely recognize that money is “fungible.” That is, an organization can easily reallocate money from one purpose to another purpose, if it can find another source of funding for that first purpose.
The grant made news as momentum builds to address the issue of gender transition surgeries for minors in the U.S. Congress. The End Taxpayer Funding of Gender Experimentation Act, introduced by Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) and Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kans.), “would be focused on cutting government funding for anything that could cover … hormone[s], gender reassignment surgery,” explained LaMalfa. LaMalfa hosted a roundtable in June for members of Congress to hear directly from medical experts and detransitioners about the harms, unnecessary risks, and lack of scientific evidence for gender transition procedures.
The BCH research team proposed “a transformative, multi-level intervention to advance equity and reduce health disparities for TGD [transgender and gender-diverse] youth,” aged 13-24. It proposed to do so “through (1) systemic changes that increase access to gender-affirming care and (2) individual, interpersonal, and community-based changes that increase knowledge and caregiver support, thereby reducing suicidality and improving mental health.”
Specifically, the research team proposed to create “a provider-training and support program to expand the local workforce of gender-affirming care providers,” which “entails a free online training course for continuing education credit,” and “a provider network and pathway for remote … consultations with specialists.” They also proposed “an interactive educational digital platform for TGD youth and caregivers” featuring “interactive features” and “educational simulations that are tailored to users’ needs identified at the time of intake.”
By themselves, these activism and education initiatives would not qualify for NIH funding, whose statutory mission is to fund research. So, the researchers pitched “a hybrid effectiveness-implementation trial,” with a six-month “intervention” period “followed by an observation period of up to 12 months with continued access,” for two groups separated by six months. They would then “assess changes in proportion of individuals reporting suicidal ideation” and other variables. Essentially, they would make their resources available to trans-identifying youth and measure whether those youth still contemplated suicide after a period of time.
The grant description did not describe a research-related purpose for this data-collection, such as a hypothesis it would be testing. Instead, it stated as fact, “this innovative, multi-level intervention fulfills a significant unmet need for near-term and sustainable solutions to the health disparities faced by TGD youth and addressing intersecting forms of stigma and inequity.”
One way the BCH researchers sought to address “intersecting forms of stigma and inequity” was by targeting its intervention specifically for transgender identifying youth who were also black or Hispanic. Specifically, they said, “we focus on five southeastern states with large black transgender populations and limited access to gender-affirming care.”
The grant was issued only months after Arkansas became the first state in the nation to protect minors from gender transition procedures. In their pitch to the NIH, the BCH research team told the NIH the grant would promote gender transition procedures for minors in conservative states that might restrict them.
Since the date the grant was issued, many southeastern states — including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee — have enacted laws to protect minors from the irreversible effects of experimental gender transition procedures, especially in 2023. The only southeastern states without legal protections for minors against gender transition procedures are Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and (depending on how “southeastern” is defined) Virginia.
While the “obligated amount” of the grant to BCH was $3.3 million, the “outlayed amount” is only $1.6 million. This means that, with six weeks to go in the two-year grant, the researchers have only been able to spend nearly half of the money the NIH placed at their disposal.
The grant to Boston Children’s Hospital is not the NIH’s only outlay of taxpayer dollars to promote or expand pro-trans programs. Last fall, the NIH awarded Johns Hopkins University $2.4 million to “characterize intersectional stigma” and its link to high HIV positivity among “both transgender women (TW) and cisgender men who have sex with men” (September 22, 2021-June 30, 2026). Apparently, this is because “transgender women are prioritized in the U.S. national strategy to end the [HIV] epidemic,” according to another HIV-related NIH grant to Johns Hopkins University totaling $1.8 million (August 9, 2022-July 31, 2022).
The NIH has also awarded the No/AIDS Task Force $1.3 million to test a “trans-specific” social media and other digital methods (September 17, 2021-July 31, 2026), and it awarded the Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene $1.1 million to test an anti-“stigma” HIV intervention for “transgender women of color” (September 1, 2022-June 30, 2027). The NIH even awarded the University of Michigan $527,825 to expand its “Trans Sistas of Color Project” that aims to combat “extreme HIV inequities among trans women of color” by providing “unconditional cash grants” up to $1,200 (May 20, 2022-April 30, 2025).
Nor is the BCH grant the only trans-specific NIH research grants to focus on minors. The NIH awarded the Center for Innovative Public Health Research $1.4 million to “explore … the sexual decision making of transgirls 14-18 years of age” (of whom one in five have HIV, according to the grant description) and develop and test an HIV prevention and treatment program specifically for “transgirls” (September 8, 2021-June 30, 2025). The government is paying adults to study the sexual behavior of 14-year-olds with HIV.
All told, since President Biden took office, the NIH has awarded at least six grants worth $8.5 million specifically to study HIV in people who identify as transgender women — that is, biological men who have sex with men.
At least one more grant awarded since Biden took office funds a research project devoted to minors who identify as transgender. The NIH awarded the University of Pennsylvania $2.2 million to study social media messaging strategies to reduce vaping among “sexual and gender minority teens” (July 1, 2021-April 30, 2026).
In total, the NIH under the Biden administration has awarded at least $14 million across eight grants for projects specifically focusing on people who identify as transgender. Three of the projects, accounting for $6.9 million, focus specifically on minors who identify as transgender. While some of the projects conduct legitimate research, others are primarily designed to build pro-trans infrastructure, such as affirmation networks, educational platforms, and cash payments.
However, NIH sponsorship of trans-specific research projects did not begin with President Biden. In 2020, the NIH awarded $299,262 to Brown University to test “a uniquely targeted HIV intervention for young transgender women” (September 21, 2018-September 20, 2020), $383,432 to Michigan State University to study “minority stress in transgender individuals” (September 14, 2020), and $7.1 million to Johns Hopkins University to study “testing gaps and epidemiological disparities among transgender people” (September 23, 2020-December 31, 2021).
“It’s outrageous that our taxpayer dollars are being used to mutilate and sterilize vulnerable children,” LaMalfa told The Washington Stand. “I have authored several pieces of legislation to put an end to this maltreatment and stop the harmful radical gender ideology. Lawmakers cannot tolerate this state-sponsored abuse — we need to protect our nation’s children.”
Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.