Dr. Michael K. Laidlaw
Dr. Michael K. Laidlaw

I missed Dr. Michael K. Laidlaw’s anti-trans essay in Witherspoon Institute’s pseudo-intellectual blog (I was in the process of coping—or not coping very well—with a recent home move). Witherspoon’s blog is edited by Ryan T. Anderson who has the most overrated intellect in all if Christendom. Given the choice of outlet, it is safe to say that Dr. Michael Laidlaw of Rocklin, CA, an endocrinologist, is also a Defender of the Faith©.

It turns out that Laidlaw was also interviewed by Church Militant, an ultra-orthodox Catholic site. Let me be clear that I am not attacking Laidlaw’s religious faith. In contrast I am questioning his judgment which, in my opinion, substitutes faith for medical science.

According to Church Militant:

A medical doctor is warning hormone dosages used by transgender persons will likely cause severe and deadly health conditions.

A recent editorial by Dr. Michael Laidlaw blasts hormonal and surgical treatment for gender dysphoria as something he “could not in good conscience recommend.” Laidlaw is a board-certified endocrinologist, trained in the study of hormones and glands and treats diseases caused by hormone imbalances in patients.

As for the warning, Laidlaw is at odds with his own peer organization, the Endocrine Society. With respect to Laidlaw’s practice, the Church Militant is fibbing a bit. Laidlaw specializes in the treatment of diabetes and metabolic disorders. He does not specialize in the treatment of people with gender dysphoria.

Laidlaw told Church Militant that he initially didn’t want to address the transgender issue when he was approached by a mother who wanted to talk to him about the risks of transitioning for her 19-year-old son. He said she persisted in her appeal to him and complained she couldn’t find a doctor that would explain the risks.

That is fine-grade, dry-aged BS. I know this because doctors are adverse to being sued for malpractice. It is a virtual certainty that a physician prescribing a course of hormones takes special care to explain the risks to both parents and children.

“I was very surprised that none of the risks were mentioned to them,” he said. “It was simply presumed that there was only one way to treat gender dysphoria and that the path of cross-sex hormones and surgery was the only sensible option.”

Surely the good doctor knows that there is no treatment for gender dysphoria. Mitigating the symptoms is a different matter. At issue is how to relieve the distress which can be quite severe causing depression and anxiety. Then a balance is required. Are the risks associated with taking hormones greater or less than the risk for self-harm. In that regard, Laidlaw is out of his depth.

I note that Laidlaw doesn’t specify what an alternative treatment would be. What it boils down to is a recycling of anti-gay rhetoric. They would like people to believe that a mystical form of psychotherapy exists to directly address gender dysphoria. It constitutes a form of conversion therapy which has no scientific basis. Conversion therapy only exists in an effort to conform medicine to scripture.

Furthermore, patients are not seeing the endocrinologist as their first stop. They are referred to an endocrinologist by a psychiatrist; hopefully a specialist in gender dysphoria who does have the training and experience to evaluate the comparative risks. This adds some crust to Laidlaw’s BS if you think about it.

[Laidlaw] found numerous omissions and factual inaccuracies being promoted by I am Jazz. The story implied Jazz was “diagnosed as transgender” instead of with gender dysphoria, a condition that 90 percent of children will outgrow if they are allowed to go through puberty naturally. They also promote the myth that he was born with a girl brain trapped in a boy’s body.

In the Witherspoon piece he cites the hate group, American College of Pediatricians. I have discussed this misleading statistic innumerable times. It is based on three questionable studies including one that is about 40 years old and not really a study of gender dysphoria. Very few of the subjects of these studies were, in fact, transgender. To cut to the chase, desisters very rarely get to the transition phase.

Moreover, as a matter of common sense, young children are provided with the simpler short-hand of being diagnosed as transgender. Explaining the underlying condition of gender dysphoria would not be age appropriate. Laidlaw is factually correct but fails to appreciate the audience for the information.

Church Militant, by the way, has been known to exaggerate from time to time. Check out this bit of hyperbole from July, 2017:

Tens of thousands of licensed professionals, thousands of their clients, as well as public policy organizations have formed a coalition called the National Task Force for Therapy Equality (NTFTE) and have filed a report to the Federal Trade Commission, accusing Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) of “mass deception and fraud in their efforts to ban counseling by licensed professionals for clients distressed with unwanted same-sex attractions and gender identity conflicts.”

That “tens of thousands” was actually three and that “thousands of their clients” was probably a handful of supposed ex-gays. The numeration originated with Christopher Doyle and Church Militant lacked the intellectual honesty and intellectual curiosity to explore the matter. They lacked the intelligence to realize that there are not tens of thousands of licensed professionals offering gay conversion therapy which is inherently unprofessional.

Speaking of unprofessional that would include misleading people which is precisely what Dr. Laidlaw is attempting to do. Either he is going to support his religion or support patients. When the two are in conflict the true professional is first and foremost a medical scientist. Deferring to religion makes a physician an irresponsible quack. But hey, if Laidlaw keeps it up he might find himself on a Heritage Foundation panel designed to prevent people from transitioning because … well, because the Bible tells them so.

Related content:

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.