September 8th 2018

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Caution with gender transitioning: children's futures at risk

EDITORIAL Turnbull the architect of his own demise

CANBERRA OBSERVED Coal-Hand ScoMo pulls off an accidental coup

ENERGY Daniel Andrews' sun worship turns delusional

MEDICINE AND POLITICS Sacrificial Virgins: Is Gardasil even necessary?

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Turkey-U.S. dispute further destabilises Middle East

GLOBAL BAILOUT Follow those zeroes! U.S. Federal Reserve doled out $US29 trillion to save the world

POLITICS AND SOCIETY Business next to fall to 'progress'

OPINION The Victorian ALP observed from up close

SPECIAL BOOK REVIEW Assault on Kokoda Track heroes fails evidence test

BOOK LAUNCH Live not by lies. An appraisal of Patrick J. Byrne's new book, Transgender: One Shade of Grey

CINEMA In praise of horror: That most visceral of genres

MUSIC Aretha Franklin: A singer of spiritual intensity

BOOK REVIEW A self-defeating experiment?

BOOK REVIEW The four firms that rule the world


EDITORIAL Power companies in clover after closures

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COVER STORY Caution with gender transitioning: children's futures at risk

by Terri M. Kelleher

News Weekly, September 8, 2018

“Transphobia has a body count.”

So screamed the protesters who disrupted the address in Melbourne of international guest speaker Dr Quentin Van Meter as they were removed from the venue. In Perth the University of Western Australia cancelled the lecture theatre booked for Dr Van Meter’s address because of opposition.

Dr Van Meter is president of the American College of Pediatricians. He runs his own practice in Atlanta, Georgia, as a paediatric endocrinologist, where he treats children and young people with gender dysphoria, and their families. This is his professional expertise and experience. He should know what he is talking about when addressing the issue of gender dysphoria and the best ways to assist sufferers.

Putting aside the distraction of disrupters who did not want to hear, nor let anyone else hear, what did Dr Van Meter have to say?

Dr Van Meter was in Australia to speak about how social theory is trumping science when it comes to the transgender issue. He outlined the origins of the concept of “transgender” in the work of three men in particular: Alfred Kinsey, John Money and Harry Benjamin.

Alfred Kinsey was an entomologist, a zoologist specialising in the study of insects, who made his name for his studies in human sexuality. His book, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, chronicled systematic sexual stimulation of boys aged two months to 15 years old. Kinsey was one of the first scientists to suggest that sexual identity exists on a spectrum. According to his scale, people are either a zero (totally straight), a six (totally gay), or some number in between based on past socio-sexual interactions. Kinsey himself had homosexual encounters.

John Money was a psychologist who joined the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore in 1951. He “trained himself” to be a paediatric endocrinologist and it was Money who decided that the term “gender” identified “the internal sexed self” as male or female.

Money trained in Boston and was intrigued by the opportunity to study patients with various disorders of sexual differentiation.

Johns Hopkins was the epicentre of patient care for such individuals since the understanding of steroid biochemistry as it applied to human fetal development came from the clinical studies done there in the United States’ first paediatric endocrine department

Money joined the faculty of Johns Hopkins psychiatry department and established protocols to interview all paediatric patients who had abnormal sexual anatomy or early hormonal changes. Adult patients who believed they were “in the wrong body” were recruited and surgical procedures to alter genitalia were developed.

Money’s work fell into disrepute in particular because of the suicide of a teenage patient who was medically transitioned because his penis was destroyed during a botched circumcision. Further, eight of the 14 male patients with disorders of sex development (DSD) who were surgically “corrected” in infancy to become “females” reverted to male sexual identity and because of the reported poor outcomes of the adult transsexual patients who described living as caricatures of their new sex identity, with their neuroses persisting. As a result the Psycho-hormonal Program was shut down by Dr Paul McHugh, after he was appointed as head of the gender reassignment program at Johns Hopkins.

Harry Benjamin was a GP with no training in psychiatry. He set up the World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH), the only membership requirement being having an interest in transgenderism. WPATH worked to “legitimise” transgender as a normal variant and blamed society for the distress experienced by the patients.

These are the roots of the modern transgender movement and the current explosion, certainly in Western countries, of children and young people transitioning gender.

Dr Van Meter pointed out that there are good reasons not to automatically affirm transitioning gender. Ethical guidelines for clinical research require a number of conditions to be met.

First, there must be informed consent. The American College of Pediatricians has pointed out:

“There is a serious ethical problem with allowing irreversible, life-changing procedures to be performed on minors who are too young to give valid consent themselves. This ethical requirement of informed consent is fundamental to the practice of medicine, as emphasised by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website: ‘The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.’ Moreover, when an individual is sterilised, even as a secondary outcome of therapy, lacking full, free, and informed consent, it is a violation of international law.” (

Second, there must be a clear assessment of benefits versus harm. Dr Kenneth Zucker, a psychologist who was sacked from his position as head of the Child Youth and Family Gender Identity Clinic (GIC), in Toronto, referred to a consistent body of research that shows that 80-98 per cent of children and adolescents with gender-identity disorder (GID) revert to the identity of their natal sex (desist) if allowed to go through puberty spontaneously, with counselling. A study by A. De Vries and P.T. Cohen-Kettenis states: “International consensus declares that up to 90 per cent of children who question their sexual identity will orientate to their natal sex by puberty.” (“Homosexuality. Clinical management of Gender dysphoria in Children and Adolescents: the Dutch Approach”, 2012, 59 (3): pp301-316)

Treatment should be scientifically based. There is no evidence that gender dysphoria is innate, that a person can be “born in the wrong body”. The Royal Children’s Hospital’s Position Statement on “Australian standards of care and treatment guidelines for transgender and gender diverse children and adolescents” admits: “The recommendations provided are based primarily on expert consensus. The scarcity of high-quality published evidence on the topic prohibited the assessment of level (and quality) of evidence for these recommendations.

“It is clear that further research is warranted across all domains of care for TGD [transgender and gender diverse] children and adolescents, the findings of which are likely to influence future recommendations.”

Dr Van Meter referred to the risk of infertility. Children and young people who medically transition will require a permanent regime of sex hormone suppressants to maintain the appearance of the sex they identify as. This renders them infertile. Gender reassignment surgery renders the person permanently infertile.

Then there is the risk of suicide. A long-term Swedish study reveals that the suicide rate of adults who progressed into adulthood with affirming therapies (medical and surgical) had a 20-fold increase in suicides compared with the general population.

Transitioning treatment before more conclusive evidence that it is safe is a huge medical experiment. The American College of Pediatricians has stated its position that: “A protocol of impersonation and pubertal suppression that sets into motion a single inevitable outcome (transgender identification) that requires lifelong use of toxic synthetic hormones, resulting in infertility, is neither fully reversible nor harmless.”

The protesters who disrupted Dr Van Meter’s address in Melbourne, and those who prevented him speaking at the University of Western Australia, would have been better advised to listen to what he had to say, to the warnings about the serious risks of medical and surgical transitioning that do indeed have a “body count”. Dialogue rather than confrontation and an open-minded assessment of the risks is the way forward to provide the best help for children and young people suffering from gender dysphoria.

All you need to know about
the wider impact of transgenderism on society.
TRANSGENDER: one shade of grey, 353pp, $39.99

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