Congress Hears from Experts on Gender Transition Harms to Minors
Medical experts and detransitioners met members of Congress at the Capitol Monday to discuss the lifelong damage America’s gender transition industry is inflicting upon minors. Coordinated by Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.), the information session aimed to improve member awareness of the issue with an eye toward holding a full-scale public hearing or even pass legislation to protect children through the House.
The developing issue caught LaMalfa’s attention after a constituent’s daughter was secretly transitioned in school, prompting the mother to file a lawsuit.
Other lawmakers attended for similar reasons. “My constituents care about it,” said Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), chairman of the Anti-Woke Caucus. “They’re outraged by it, by what’s going on in the culture and that kids can be coerced to make decisions that are life-changing and that they might regret later.”
LaMalfa has introduced the Protecting Children From Experimentation Act (HR 3328), which is similar to laws protecting minors from gender transition now enacted in 19 states, and the End Taxpayer Funding of Gender Experimentation Act (HR 3329), which would prohibit federal funds from subsidizing the experimental procedures. Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) has introduced companion legislation in the Senate (S 1597 and S 1595, respectively).
Lawmakers were aware of the seriousness and gravity of subject matter in advance. “It’s such an important conversation and really uncomfortable conversation,” said Banks. And yet, Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wisc.) added, “Anything we can do to prevent anyone else from going down this path is worthwhile.”
Yet they hardly could have prepared themselves for the gripping emotion of the story told by Chloe Cole, a young woman who identified as a boy until age 16, but who already suffered life-altering consequences of gender transition procedures before she detransitioned. “I was a victim of so-called ‘gender medicine’ when I was only a child,” she summarized.
Cole explained that she felt like becoming a boy from an early age, related to childhood trauma and an early start to puberty. She then explained that her doctors manipulated her parents into reluctantly consenting to gender transition procedures with false claims of suicide:
“My parents wanted to prevent me from transitioning until I was at least a legal adult — and for good reason. My doctors, however, had something else in mind. They emotionally manipulated my parents, telling them there was no other option but to allow me to start treatment — or else. They said, it would be life or death. And they had to choose, they said, between having a dead daughter or a live, transgender son.”
In studies of adults who identify as transgender, the “suicide rate actually goes up because of the numerous complications,” noted Cole. “If these are the rates we see in adults, what do we expect regarding children?” Along with Cole, FRC’s Director of the Center for Family Studies Dr. Jennifer Bauwens and American College of Pediatricians President Quentin Van Meter established during the session that people who identify as transgender are as likely or more likely to commit suicide after they undergo gender transition procedures.
Cole argued it is “irresponsible to expect a kid to fully understand what these treatments throughout life will entail.” Believing she was a boy, Cole received a double mastectomy at age 13, but from age 16 she has regretted that operation — which she said she was not competent to consent to in the first place. “It pains me that I will never be able to breastfeed my children,” said Cole, “that I may not be able to conceive a child or naturally give birth, or that I may never be able to have a level of sexual function or pleasure.”
Cole described long-lasting side effects, such as complications from the skin grafts that force her to wear bandages on her chest every day, missed social development, “waking flashbacks of my transgender self,” and “a heavy sense of guilt for my parents, my family, my future spouse and children.” Worst of all, her “gender-affirming” doctors “rudely” discounted her physical suffering, showed no sympathy for her detransition, and gave her no guidance on how to wean off of hormones.
Detransitioner Walt Heyer spoke after Cole, describing his experience with living as a woman for years “without hormones or surgeries” and then undergoing a gender transition surgery in 1983. He said that a pioneer of gender transition procedures, Dr. Paul Walker, decided he needed surgery, even though his problems were actually due to early childhood trauma. Heyer said Walker admitted in court filings that it is impossible to change gender, that it is only possible to neuter patients.
Heyer, who detransitioned decades ago, now runs a ministry that has helped hundreds of detransitioners, and from his experience he said most people who are diagnosed or treated as transgender don’t even have gender dysphoria, but that their feelings stem from other causes. Regardless, he concluded, “I don’t care whether it’s a child or an adult. No one needs their genitals cut off. It’s barbaric. It’s insane. No one needs hormones. That is also totally insane. We’ve got to stop this stuff.”
While those providing gender transition procedures to minors often represent them as reversible, Dr. Van Meter said the industry “is blocking puberty” in young people “so they cannot resolve the issue” causing their gender dysphoria. Far from a “pause,” “it’s a purposeful way to go right down the pathway” to complete gender transition, he said. Cole also disputed the point. “The younger the patient begins intervention, the higher the rate of complication as the course of natural development is disrupted. Past a certain amount of time on hormones, and once a patient has had their ovaries or testicles removed … they will be dependent on hormone replacement therapies for life.”
“I can’t imagine how that would feel,” LaMalfa reflected. “‘They told me this would be the fix. And now I’ve got all these physical problems, and I don’t feel at all differently.’ That’s a disservice. That’s malpractice. That’s criminal, what’s going on.”
Panelists contended that even social transition is irreversible. “Once you open up pandora’s box and give a child a new name, new haircut, new clothes, new identity, everyone in that child’s life looks at them differently forever,” argued Van Meter. “You cannot put that back together. You cannot sew the family back together that’s been torn asunder by this.” Heyer agreed that there are “consequences to even suggesting or encouraging” social transition.
Beyond the tragic personal impacts, the panel’s medical experts emphasized the unscientific nature of transgender treatments. “There is no scientific basis for this,” said Van Meter, such that “they’re scrambling to develop curriculum” to train medical school students. “Europe has finally opened their eyes,” and the countries that embraced gender transition procedures for minors earlier than the U.S. are now abandoning them as unsound. Most recently, an official review of Norway’s guidelines called in March for the country to join Sweden, the U.K., and other countries in revising them.
Van Meter explained that all the medical associations trace their approval back to a pair of highly questionable Dutch studies — which gave rise to the “Dutch protocol” of “gender-affirming care” — which was destroyed by a peer-reviewed study published earlier this year. He said that the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) and the Endocrine Society first adopted the Dutch protocol, and all the other mainstream professional associations simply “rubber stamped” their work.
But to maintain the façade, these professional organizations must quench all dissenting opinions, continued Van Meter. At the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting last month, he said “the meeting was designed to basically shut up anybody with a contrary opinion.” Attendees, including himself, were required to sign a pledge to respect others, which he said amounted to not airing contrary views. And when he lined up to ask a question after one session on the topic, conference organizers departed from convention and announced there would be no questions taken.
“There are no standards of care for transgender health. None whatsoever. They are the opinions of ideologues,” said Van Meter. “What we need is a consortium of all of us — me and those folks I completely disagree with — to sit down at the table and come up with something in the middle. That would be a standard of care.”
But Van Meter said his attempts to establish such a consensus standard of care have been rejected. “I have, for the past four years, sent in a request to the major teaching academic societies in endocrinology to have a symposium where they have a balanced presentation. … We will never get a standard of care.”
Because this industry collusion prevents medical associations from establishing legitimate guidelines to care for children who identify as transgender, the panelists asked Congress to erect guardrails. “My profession has completely gone off the rails. We need you to intervene. We’re not protecting kids anymore. We’re harming kids,” pleaded Bauwens.
Members of Congress who were present asked elucidating questions to the panel. “What goes on in these people?” asked Grothman. He tallied up 12 or 13 people who in his estimation would have to sign off on a hospital offering gender transition treatments — psychologists, endocrinologists, surgeons, hospital administrators, and the hospital board. “It goes against all commonsense. Right? You’ve got to be almost nuts in your own mind to even approve this. Even a normal person, assuming this to be okay, would say, ‘We’re going to wait until you’re 18,’” he said.
Bauwens responded that “clinicians see it as a civil rights issue, not a medical issue, so they’re no longer doing proper assessments.” Van Meter added that there is “no question” that the transgender movement hooked itself onto the gay movement’s civil rights juggernaut — even though the issues are separate.
Banks also asked a pointed question, “Why all of a sudden? Why is gender confusion in our face everywhere … all of a sudden?” When panelists agreed that the internet was involved — Cole explained her exposure in detail — Banks noted that the internet has been around a long time. The panelists offered two additional pieces of the puzzle. First, in the early days of the internet, “in 1993, no one had treated a child in the U.S.” with gender transition procedures, said Van Meter. Second, Cole offered, the “internet has evolved to become more personal.” Through phone browsers and social media, promoters of gender transition procedures have direct access to children.
All this will lead to a tsunami of children suffering from the harmful effects of gender transition procedures. “There is an impending massive influx of children like me,” said Cole, “all of them missing various body parts, all of them still wishing they still had their voice, their sexual function, their fertility, their health, and their life back. And we need to create a place for these kids.” There is so little guidance right now, she lamented, “nobody even knows how to detransition.”
“For many children, it’s already too late,” said Cole, who added that she is “personally aware of thousands” of young people who have detransitioned or are trying to do so. Van Meter agreed, warning the gender transition industry is “going to hurt lots of kids before it’s shut down.”
“It seems diabolical to me,” responded Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas), “doing this for profits, doing it to 13-year-olds. … I never would have thought that I would live to see this, where we don’t follow the science, where we can offer up our kids on the altar of profits and weirdness.” Babin added, “These doctors are playing God.”
The urgency of the situation required Congress to act, argued LaMalfa. “For people to be going alone on this, and be getting bad information — we’re elected leaders. And so, we need to buck up on this and lead and help get good information out to folks and then hold those accountable that are doing these barbaric things,” he said. “We need to drive this because it’s not a political agenda for us. It’s about getting the basic truth out.”
LaMalfa told reporters, “We just want to get the science out in front of people now. And so, we have a job to do here. You heard my colleagues say, ‘What committee can we do this in?’” While only four members attended the information session, a public committee hearing would publicize the truth far and wide. But LaMalfa set his sights even further. “I don’t [see a reason] why we can’t get something passed out of the House to get this started. We’ve already built on that earlier with the Women’s Sports [bill].”
LaMalfa also addressed some of the most common objections made against the bills, which were not debunked by the panel — such as the suicide myth. In response to those who might object that the bills deny health care or restrict personal liberty, LaMalfa said, “These decisions shouldn’t be made by minors. If this is something that adults want to make decisions about, that’s a different accounting. But even then, there needs to be clear information.”
LaMalfa also responded to federalism concerns, given that many states have already passed similar legislation. “If the federal government is going to be looking out for people’s individual rights and liberties … then maybe we need to have a federal standard. Because I don’t see California embracing what we’re talking about,” he said. “In fire season, people don’t care what color fire truck is coming … they just want the fire put out. I think they want solutions from their elected leaders whether it’s county, city, state, or federal to get things back on track to protect their kids and the values they have.”
Other members who attended agreed with the need to bring more publicity to the issue through a public hearing. “This conversation’s going to reach a lot of people, but most importantly it’s going to reach our policymakers as we wrestle over what to do about it,” said Banks. Babin added, “Truth can only be covered up for so long.”
Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.