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Medical Harms of Hormonal and Surgical Interventions

The video discussed in this essay depicts a panel of various people who have had experiences with transgender-affirming therapies, whether applied to themselves or others close to them. A number of different speakers make speeches in order, including a mother of a gender-dysphoric child, an endocrinologist, an emergency medicine specialist, and a former transgender individual. They focus on the issues of the effectiveness of transgender-affirming therapies and affirmative care as well as the appropriateness of using them, especially for children and adolescents. The panel notes statistics such as high rates of natural disappearances of gender dysphoria and the high suicide rates in the transgender community. It also highlights the adverse effects of therapies, such as surgeries on healthy organs and hormone usage for developing bodies. Overall, the panel is strongly opposed to the current paradigm surrounding gender dysphoria, calling it unethical and poorly-informed experimentation on children.

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The relevance of the video to this course is in the path that the science surrounding transgenderism has taken to arrive at its current state. The panel in the video believes that it was strongly influenced by activist lobbies that worked to silence any opposing voices. Marian Rutigliano, the third speaker in the video, cites multiple cases, starting in 2003, where professionals and researchers that proposed alternative approaches and explanations of gender dysphoria and related phenomena were actively pressured, often successfully (The Heritage Foundation, 2019). The attacks were highly unethical, including false reporting and online attacks on the individuals and their families. Social media was a powerful tool for this purpose, as it let attackers coordinate and discourage people and organizations from helping their targets. As a result of these attacks, freedom of academic expression was limited severely due to potential authors fearing the loss of their positions and careers, leading to a medical perspective that may be more harmful than beneficial.

Overall, pressure from groups can have significant effects on research that will typically be adverse. Active personal attacks such as those described in the video are one approach, creating the danger that any researcher who detracts from the current artificial consensus will suffer damage to their life. Seeking to maintain their neutrality, academic institutions such as universities and journals will often refuse to support the individual or actively take measures against them to avoid perceived reputation damage. Moreover, the groups can often influence laws in the absence of a unified opposition that can lobby against them, leading to risks of being sued for refusing to conform to the activist paradigm (The Heritage Foundation, 2019). Another prominent way of influencing research in one’s interests is promoting conflicts of interest in studies, which is an accusation often used in climate change arguments.

In my opinion, the current situation surrounding gender dysphoria and transition, especially for children and adolescents, is highly problematic. Gender transition therapies seem to be applied overly broadly with little regard for the consequences. The adverse consequences of using hormone therapy for the purpose are still not fully known, but the studies that have taken place demonstrate potentially highly damaging consequences. Moreover, the massive suicide rates in the transgender community are still not well-understood. Treatments should focus on addressing the issue instead of making healthy people susceptible to it in service to a goal that they do not necessarily achieve. The surgery procedures described in the video are particularly problematic, as they seem to be highly damaging and serve a purely cosmetic purpose.

The long-term harms and limited usefulness of transgender-affirming therapies bring another question to the fore, that of the patients to whom they are applied. If an adult wishes to undergo a cosmetic surgical procedure or begin hormone treatment, they should be permitted to do so under a qualified medical professional’s supervision, as with cosmetic surgery. However, the treatments are being applied to children and teenagers, whose minds are generally considered too underdeveloped to be trusted with critical decisions or potentially harmful substances. In the case of gender dysphoria, especially within the affirmative care paradigm, this view is not present, and they are permitted and encouraged to make decisions that will change the course of their life. As several speakers noted, there is no clinical way to confirm gender dysphoria other than the patient’s self-diagnosis, which can be problematic when impressionable children understand they can attract attention by claiming to have it (The Heritage Foundation, 2019). In effect, to ostensibly help a small proportion of children who are legitimately transgender, a much larger number is likely subjected to unethical experimentation and lifelong physical and mental health issues.

The transgender situation highlights a significant issue in research when controversial issues are relevant to the topic. Scientists typically rely on public funding and established institutions for support when conducting their studies. If an activist group is able to coalesce into a semi-organized force, they can then influence policy and these facilities to cut off said support. Moreover, such movements will typically happen on one side of the debate, with the other staying disparate and vulnerable, failing to support each other. As such, the development of a solution to the issue appears challenging since no institution can be trusted to be entirely impartial and immune to outside pressure. For such an answer to emerge, awareness of the issue and the potential influences needs to be maintained in the scientific as well as the general community rather than an unconditional faith in the current consensus.


The Heritage Foundation. (2019). The medical harms of hormonal and surgical interventions for gender dysphoric children. Web.

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