Quentin Van Meter

Dr. Quentin Van Meter (left) is unqualified to treat children with gender

dysphoria in any manner other than to provide hormones and puberty blockers.

American Principles Project (APP), founded by Robert P. George and Luis Tellez, is a hard-right ultra-conservative Catholic organization masquerading as something else. APP’s Jane Robbins and Erin Tuttle have authored “What’s Wrong with the New NIH Study on Transgender Kids?” The outlet for for this attempt to conform science to religion (which they will deny all day long) is none other than the pseudo-intellectual blog of Witherspoon Institute.

Witherspoon is also a hard-right Catholic organization co-founded by George and Tellez. Tellez, by the way, is an Opus Dei numerary.

Jane Robbins has the pretentious title of senior fellow at APP. She is a lawyer based in Georgia. Erin Tuttle, based in Indiana, is one of those nutty anti-Common Core crusaders.

The subtitle of their polemic reads:

A new study being launched by the NIH is intended to produce evidence supporting a particular conclusion: that transgender affirmation therapy is safe and effective for gender-dysphoric youngsters. And once the federal government speaks, states and other institutions will fall in line.

God forbid! After all, the pope himself has called this “gender ideology.”

The real purpose of the study, by the way:

to evaluate the long-term outcomes of medical treatment for transgender youth. This study will provide essential, evidence-based information on the physiological and psychosocial impact, as well as safety, of hormone blockers and cross-sex hormones use in this population.

According to Robbins and Tuttle:

These techniques are now being deployed in a new area: treatment for gender dysphoria. Dr. Quentin Van Meter, an Atlanta pediatric endocrinologist with extensive experience in the science of gender dysphoria who trained at Johns Hopkins Hospital, states flatly that there is “zero point zero zero” evidence that the concepts of gender fluidity and gender identity have any scientific basis. But it takes a courageous physician to risk opprobrium and accusations of insufficient compassion by rejecting the new dogma.

I need to spend some time on Dr. Van Meter because, like Paul McHugh, he is an “expert” that conservative Christians adore. Van Meter is, indeed, a board certified endocrinologist. He specializes in the treatment of juvenile diabetes. He is not a board certified psychiatrist. whatever experience he has with gender dysphoria is limited to not dispensing puberty blockers and hormones. Van Meter is a vice president of the anti-LGBT hate group, American College of Pediatricians. Thus, he is a Defender of the Faith. Medicine is secondary to religion.

By the way, I see that Van Meter recently settled a malpractice suit for $1 million. Only one in five malpractice suits ever leads to any form of payout.

Psychiatrists treat gender dysphoria. The role of endocrinologists is to provide gender affirmation support through puberty blockers and, eventually, hormones — upon the advice of clinicians experienced in the care of children with gender dysphoria. Endocrinologists do not diagnose, evaluate or treat gender dysphoria. Doing so would be malpractice.’

It is true that Van Meter trained at Johns Hopkins. He did a two year fellowship in endocrinology that concluded almost 40 years ago. In no way does that provide Van Meter with applicable erudition in gender dysphoria. I will not accuse Van Meter of having “insufficient compassion.” Rather, I will accuse him of having insufficient training and experience. The notion that there is no scientific basis for gender identity is untrue. It means that gender dysphoria does not exist. I think that we all know precisely why Van Meter would make such a ridiculous claim.

From what we can gather, Van Meter is an endocrinologist whose supposed treatment of gender dysphoric children is to withhold the treatments that he specializes in. Given that he is not a psychiatrist we cannot ascertain what his approach is, in the alternative. What exactly is he doing for these supposed patients? Why would any parent consult him rather than a professional who specializes in the treatment that their child requires? Does he really have any patients with adolescent gender dysphoria?

Going back to Robbins’ and Tuttle’s statement, the treatment of pediatric gender dysphoria does not constitute a “dogma” which relates to a belief system, or faith. It is science and science is based on evidence.

They continue:

Some doctors forge ahead with this “compassionate” (read: lucrative) care, but others are more cautious; they would welcome research into the physical and psychological effects of the “affirmation” therapy advocated by LGBT activists. Specifically, there is a clear need for research into the safety and efficacy of puberty-suppressing drugs and cross-sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen) administered to children and adolescents suffering from the mental illness of gender dysphoria. So the federal government, via the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is stepping in, funding a $5.7 million longitudinal study of kids who are treated with such therapies.

This has little to do with compassion or sentiment per se. It relates to the best interests of patients. They keep trying to stray from science into belief or emotions. Furthermore, the cynical suggestion that money is the issue is unsupported. NIH’s interest is in patients and science. Moreover, this has nothing to do with LGBT activists. That is an attempt to suggest that treatment has a political component. The bottom line is that the clinicians who work with these kids support gender affirmation on a case-by-case basis and that does not always include drug therapies.

It is also worth noting that clinicians are not pushing kids into transitioning. The children, themselves, force the issue. In the competition between gender and natal sex, gender prevails. That which is between the ears takes precedence of that which is between the legs. This is not new. We have known this for about 75 years.

Later on:

The selection of researchers to carry out the NIH study is the first signal that this might not be a truly objective undertaking. …

First of all they are suggesting the presence of a controversy that does not really exist. The researchers on this project are people who are actually experts in this field as opposed to religious crackpots like McHugh and Van Meter. Sorry about that.

All four of [the researchers], then, are deeply invested in affirmation therapy. The chances their study will find serious harm from these interventions are pretty slim.

One more damned time: Science is evidentiary! Ms. Robbins went to Harvard Law. She should be a critical thinker. What Robbins and Tuttle are suggesting is that clinicians should to everything that they can to prevent a fiercely determined child from transitioning. That was the approach up until about ten years ago. It resulted in a bloodbath of self-harm. Kids deserve better.

…multiple studies have shown the efficacy of psychological therapy to help gender-dysphoric children accept their biological sex, and the value of simply waiting for the child to outgrow the delusion. “Experts on both sides of the pubertal suppression debate agree that within this context, 80 percent to 95 percent of children with [gender dysphoria] accepted their biological sex by late adolescence.”

They do not cite any of those “multiple studies.” That is not the overwhelming consensus of science. The sentence that they quoted is from an article on the website of American College of Pediatricians, the hate group, and it is incorrect. It is true that many kids in the early stages of gender dysphoria outgrow it. However, by the time a child is in distress, they are long past that phase. And by the way, ACPeds has no interest in real experts who might disagree with ancient scripture.

Here is another helping that they quote from the hate group. For the record, the real professional peer group is the American Academy of Pediatrics.

But affirmation therapies interfere with this process. What data are there about children who are treated with puberty blockers so that natural puberty, with its likely positive effects on their gender dysphoria, is short-circuited? A study from the Netherlands of seventy such children found that all of them went on to embrace a transgender identity—unlike the vast majority of children not given such treatment. According to the American College of Pediatricians:

This is a cause for concern. . . . To have 100 percent of pre-pubertal children choose cross-sex hormones suggests that the protocol itself inevitably leads the individual to identify as transgender. There is an obvious self-fulfilling nature to encouraging a young child with GD to socially impersonate the opposite sex and then institute pubertal suppression.

It suggests no such thing. What it confirms is that children in sufficient distress to warrant puberty blockers don’t suddenly stop having dysphoria. Were that the case then those kids would be miserable and insist, with the same determination, to be taken off of those puberty blockers. There are considerable incentives to do just that because of societal pressures and discrimination. The kind of stress that these people are promoting: Unscientific religion-driven medicine that would have a kid suffer rather than present a challenge to an interpretation of scripture.

Apparently NIH and its newly funded researchers aren’t fazed by these results of existing studies.

What doesn’t disturb real scientists is crackpot interpretations of studies by a conservative Christian anti-LGBT hate group. What a shock.

Research has also established that administering cross-sex hormones after puberty-suppression creates a multitude of harmful physical effects (some certain, others potential) …

I will omit the quote from ACPeds. The administration of hormones is not done in a vacuum. These teens are in the care of experienced psychiatrists and others who, with the kid and his or her parents, weigh benefits against dangers. This is all about what is best for the patient. The folks at American Principles Project are primarily interested in what is best for the Catholic Church. They want the Vatican to have a say in medical treatment. The very premise is absurd — and dangerous.

These non-scientists are trying to shred the credibility of a study that has not been completed or published:

According to NIH, [gender affirmation] is the standard care for dysphoric youth. There is no mention of psychotherapy and letting natural puberty take its course. The appropriateness of affirmation therapy is assumed, not evaluated.

The standard of care is gender affirmation. What is the problem? They want a different study then the one in progress.

The design of the study is similarly problematic. As described by UCSF, the study will include 280 youth from two age groups: younger children in early puberty, who will be administered puberty-blockers, and older adolescents, who will be given cross-sex hormones. Then the researchers will see how these protocols work out.

Notice any group missing from this lineup? A control group.

Right. Missing is a group of kids who are forced to suffer. Who do they want to design this thing? Dr. Mengele? I am sure that we can find some twins for him to abuse. According to UCSF:

This study will provide essential, evidence-based information on the physiological and psychosocial impact, as well as safety, of hormone blockers and cross-sex hormones use in this population.


The study — which will begin enrollment in fall 2015 — will include 280 transgender youth with gender dysphoria, those who are persistently distressed by the incongruity between their gender of identity and the gender they were assigned at birth. Participants will be those who seek medical intervention to align their physical bodies with their gender identity and alleviate gender dysphoria and its associated negative effects, including anxiety, depression and substance abuse.

These are youth who are way past debate. Moreover, there is no scientific evidence that psychotherapy provides an alternative to the treatment of gender dysphoria. No reputable physician or psychologist would offer a therapy that has no proven benefit as an alternative to a demonstrably favorable intervention on the part of the patient. Clearly, researchers are interested in any negative effects of medications that assist patients in gender affirmation.

Another troubling design feature of the study is the time frame. The children will be studied for only five years. …

Van Meter considers this one of the worst features of the study. He maintains that children’s satisfaction with their “new sex” a few years after the therapy begins is essentially meaningless, especially when the study is designed to place the children and their families in a safe bubble in which their transgender identity is affirmed. The rubber will hit the road, Van Meter predicts, ten, twenty, or thirty years later…

The study, which will seemingly conclude in 2020, will produce scientific evidence of benefits and concerns over the five year period. There may very well be a need for a longer term study. However, Van Meter is presenting a logical fallacy. He is claiming that the shorter term study is meaningless in the absence of a study of greater duration when, in fact, those are two independent investigations.

Incredibly we find ourselves here:

Children Are Casualties of the War on Science

If NIH were serious about finding the truth, it would be funding a very different kind of study. As it is, the agency is demonstrating the tactics of the so-called “war on science” that the Left continually decries. Contrary to popular belief, this war is being waged not by conservatives, but by politicized researchers within the federal research apparatus.

Again, this is a logical fallacy. It presupposes that a specific study with specific goals is invalid because it does not address the supposed needs of a different study which they propose is necessary and which may, or may not, be underway. Furthermore, what, exactly, are they relying on for an alternative to gender affirmation? They are also suggesting that researchers are involved in a political controversy. There is no evidence to support such a charge.

They are trying to create a controversy where none seems to exist. It reminds me of the tactics of creationists.

Eventually this mess concludes with a call to politicize scientific research:

Without congressional action, the federal government and its agenda-driven medical allies will continue to push politically correct nonsense of the worst kind. The policies that will inevitably grow from this study will be foolish, yes, but in a way much worse than the usual foolish policies that develop from biased federal research. Such research usually harms taxpayers, industries, the Constitution, or all three; the NIH research will harm children. In fact, it may destroy their lives and the well-being of their families. “Compassion” indeed.

Right. Let’s have Congress decide what should and should not get funded for research. The same folks who disagree on settled climate science for political reasons. The bottom line is that Ms. Robbins and Ms. Tuttle want the NIH to do work that supports the teachings of the Catholic Church. That is wrong on so many levels including the fact that they want to mix faith with science.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.