Study Undermines Widespread Claim That Puberty Blockers Prevent Suicide Among Trans-Identified Kids
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A just-released analysis by the conservative Heritage Foundation calls into question the left’s oft-repeated claim that giving puberty blockers and hormone therapies to children who experience dysphoria — feeling out of sync with their biological sex — prevents suicide.
The author of the report, “Puberty Blockers, Cross-Sex Hormones, and Youth Suicide,” concluded there is not compelling data to convincingly assert controversial medical interventions dissuade transgender-identified children from committing suicide.
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“The claim that puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones prevent suicides is being used by the Biden administration and state policymakers to ease access to those drugs,” Jay Greene, senior research fellow for the Center for Education Policy at the Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Wire. “As it turns out, the science behind that claim is extremely weak and when the evidence is examined properly, it shows that making cross-sex treatments more widely available risks raising youth suicide rates rather than reducing them.”
The Heritage study — which has not been peer-reviewed — comes not long after President Joe Biden joined the chorus of those strongly advocating for “early” interventions for transgender-identified kids.
“For transgender and nonbinary children and adolescents, early gender-affirming care is crucial to overall health and well-being, as it allows the child or adolescent to focus on social transitions and can increase their confidence while navigating the health care system,” read a statement from the White House, according to the Washington Examiner, adding transgender surgeries, hormones, and affirmations “increase positive outcomes for transgender and nonbinary children and adolescents.”
The CEO of the pro-LGBTQ Trevor Project, Amit Paley, said in December it’s “clear that gender-affirming care has the potential to reduce rates of depression and suicide attempts while banning this vital care and exposing young people to harmful political rhetoric can cause real harm.”
Green, for his part, argued there is no clear causal link in the scant research that has been done over the years into the effects of transgender therapies and surgeries as it relates to suicides. He went on to note there are only a handful of “correlational studies,” which he claimed are not convincing, have been “poorly executed,” and even suggest the opposite of what many politicians and activists have said.
Green referenced a study published this year by Jack Turban of Stanford Medical School. He wrote:
For example, the 2022 Turban study combines the use of testosterone for natal females and estrogen for natal males and only reports the combined effects of hormones. When Michael Biggs analyzes the same data and disaggregates the hormone by type, he finds that: “Males who took estrogen are more likely to plan suicide, to attempt suicide, and to require hospitalization for a suicide attempt.” This negative effect is masked in Turban’s study by the failure to report the separate effects by type of hormone.
Biggs, it should be noted, is a professor of sociology at the University of Oxford.
Green asserted it became “observable” in 2010 that suicide rates were elevated among minors living in states where puberty blockers and sex hormones were more easily accessible. He wrote that “rather than being protective against suicide, this pattern indicates that easier access by minors to cross-sex medical interventions without parental consent is associated with higher risk of suicide.”
“By 2020, there are about 3.5 more suicides per 100,000 people ages 12 to 23 in states with easier access than in states without an access provision,” Green’s report read, noting that “there is no similar spike in suicide rates among those ages 28 to 39.”
The states with minor access to transgender-related treatments are Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Michigan, New Hampshire, Vermont, New Jersey, New York, and Tennessee. Heritage noted there is “no obvious geographic, demographic, or partisan pattern to whether states have these provisions.”
“To believe that easier access to puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones are not the cause of elevated suicide risk in those states, one would have to be able to imagine other medical interventions that only became widely available after 2010 and would only affect young people,” concluded Green. “The lack of theoretically plausible alternatives strengthens the case for concluding that cross-sex medical interventions are the cause of the observed increase in suicide among young people.”
You can read the full report here.
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