Two fundamentalist Catholic activists are on a mission to invalidate transgender children to defend Church teachings.

Dr. Kristina R. Olson is one of the most respected researchers in the country on the subject of trans and gender nonconforming children.

The headline at The Federalist reads: Feds Send $1 Million To Study Designed To Push Transgenderism On Children with the subtitle:

The National Science Foundation has made a $1 million grant for a longitudinal study of gender-confused children. It appears designed to reach conclusions more political than scientific.

The piece is by Jane Robbins and Erin Tuttle who are associated with American Principles Project, a religious-right, anti-LGBT organization founded by Robert P. George. Jane W. Robbins has the pretentious academic title of senior fellow at APP. She is a Georgia lawyer with a Harvard JD. Erin Tuttle, based in Indiana, is one of those nutty anti-Common Core crusaders. These two Defenders of the Faith have previously contributed to Witherspoon Institute’s blog with an attack on an NIH study of transgender children they do not like. The same Dr. George was a co-founder of Witherspoon Institute.

May I indulge in real-speak not tainted by ancient texts? Dr. Kristina Olson was named winner of the National Science Federation’s Alan T. Waterman Award. It is the government’s highest honor for scientists still in the early phases of their careers. The award comes with a $1 million grant which Olson will use to continue her study of transgender children.

You will not find the term “gender-confused children” in any scientific literature. It is the religious substitute for gender dysphoric children. Those kids are most definitely not confused. They are quite certain of their gender. The Church is hard at work to invalidate the construct of gender.

All that verbiage and I haven’t gone past the headline and subtitle. Moving along:

As part of the campaign to wrench human society from its foundations by abolishing the two sexes, the federal government is trying to fabricate a scientific basis for radical new theories of gender identity and fluidity.

Ugh (I am never going to get through this). There is no campaign. Gender is a separate construct from (presumably natal) sex. No one has fabricated anything. There is nothing radical, or even new, about gender dysphoria and they are introducing fluidity to cause confusion. The concept of gender has a solid scientific foundation with a mountain of peer-reviewed research published to respected scholarly journals.

I am going to be selective with quotes or I will end up competing with the multiple volumes of Gibbon’s History.

… the study will follow several hundred transgender children whose parents “affirm” their gender dysphoria—that is, who let the children impersonate members of the opposite sex in appearance, name, pronoun usage, etc.

Those parents are not affirming the condition (gender dysphoria). They are affirming the child’s gender. This is not on a whim. Nobody wants a trans kid. It is a reasonable certainty that these children have received considerable professional care from experienced and capable clinicians.

According to peer-reviewed research by prestigious investigators those parents are doing the right thing. Who knows more? Scientists or Vatican eunuchs?

Early Indications Flag High Levels of Bias

The first red flag concerning TYP is the orientation of the lead researcher, Olson, who is firmly on the side of affirming the child’s mistaken gender …

They are doing this to suggest that there are two sides to something. Given their perspective that is almost understandable. Religion is a belief system which is based on faith. Science is based on evidence. According to them, any gender that does not align with natal sex is “mistaken.” That is not the view of medical science.

Let us visit Ryan T. Anderson land. After all, the philosopher knows a thing or two about medical science. At least they could credit Anderson with their nonsensical statements:

This is another version of the “sex assigned at birth” trope, which denies the biological reality of chromosomes and reproductive organs. “John’s” parents and doctor said the baby was a girl because the baby was a girl.

The above sentence is demonstrably incorrect. No one makes those assertions. Gender is a separate construct from natal sex. It does not challenge chromosomal realities. Were that not the case there would be no such thing as gender dysphoria. I could go to the beach and these two could go pray or do something equally constructive.

Olson … seriously accepts the fantasies of toddlers as evidence of immutable rejection of their biological sex. Three-year-olds think they’re many things—dinosaurs, superheroes, whatever—and basing a supposedly serious study on their claims of being a different sex calls into question the scientific foundations of the study.

The next time I communicate with Dr. Olson (I respect the fact that she is extremely busy) I will ask her for a population breakdown by age. That aside, children with gender dysphoria are quite certain of their gender. It is not the same thing as a fantasy. Again, these two are trying to create a reality that conforms to the teachings of the Church. It is worth noting that, according to the research (2015):

Socially transitioned transgender children who are supported in their gender identity have developmentally normative levels of depression and only minimal elevations in anxiety, suggesting that psychopathology is not inevitable within this group. Especially striking is the comparison with reports of children with GID; socially transitioned transgender children have notably lower rates of internalizing psychopathology than previously reported among children with GID living as their natal sex.

This is overall identical to the results of the NIH study released this year. The 2015 study subjects were prepubescent. The NIH study subjects were post-pubescent.

At what point are you sensible enough and smart enough and sufficiently intellectually honest to accept the research over faith-based wishful thinking?

I am rapidly running out of patience. However:

Even with children who clearly do suffer gender dysphoria, Olson is determined to find some evidence to affirm them in their confusion. She acknowledges prior research showing elevated levels of anxiety and depression in gender-confused children, but suggests those results are invalid because many of the children in the stulove to spout are based on old and inapplicable studies explained more fully here.dies didn’t have “affirming” parents. She doesn’t mention the longitudinal research establishing that the vast majority of dysphoric children will outgrow the condition if allowed to progress normally through puberty.

They have no way of knowing what Dr. Olson is determined to find. Evidence is evidence. It has no sides if acquired according to generally accepted scientific methodology. As for that link, that is to a blog post by Paul R. McHugh. It has not been subjected to peer review. Oddly enough, McHugh (who is pushing 90) is determined to affirm the teachings of the Church which is why he does not publish articles to academic journals. He is at odds with his own professional organization.

As for outgrowing gender dysphoria, the research does not actually support that claim. The desistence rates that religious conservatives love to spout are based on old and inapplicable studies explained more fully here.

Likely to Merely Reaffirm Researchers’ Biases

Olson’s website displays her acceptance of a wide variety of gender concepts in her quest for research subjects. “In addition to transgender children,” she says, “we are recruiting intersex children, gender nonconforming children, tomboys, princess boys, pink boys, non-binary children, gender creative kids – you name it!” Parents who recognize these bizarre terms are, by definition, parents who already share Olson’s mindset. And the idea that any adult would label a little boy, regardless of whatever psychological issues he has, as a “princess boy” or “pink boy” is deeply troubling.

They conveniently left out the fact that she is also recruiting non-transgender children. Princess Boy refers to a 2009 book written by Cheryl Kilodavis about her gender nonconforming son. Maybe  they should read the book before being outraged. Similarly, Pink Boy is an award winning 15-minute film about a gender nonconforming child. Perhaps they should view it.

… the results will be evaluated based primarily on self-reporting of parents. Probably with no training in assessing anxiety and depression, parents will report how well their children are doing in those areas.


Perhaps most troubling of all aspects of TYP is that Olson and colleagues have already reported their preliminary results, only two years into a 20-year study. To no one’s surprise, the preliminary results show the affirmed children are doing just fine

These are not “preliminary results.” They are likely to publish interim results over the years or do these idiots think that she should wait 20 years? Furthermore, if they would read their own link (to the 2015 research cited earlier).

Parents completed anxiety and depression measures.

Parents are not being asked if their kid is depressed. They are asked a series of questions related to many areas of day-to-day behavior. Thus they do not need training to assess levels of depression and anxiety. The matters are resolved situationally. Kristina Olson is a highly professional scholar and researcher. The NIH’s Alan T. Waterman award is a competitive endeavor. She was selected by older peers (The Waterman recognizes younger researchers). This is not all part of a grand conspiracy to invalidate religious dogma.

Which brings me to:

Using Taxpayer Dollars To Push a Dangerous Social Agenda

Why would a supposedly legitimate researcher be engaging in such unprofessional conduct? The answer, it appears, is that politics is triumphing over science. Pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Quentin Van Meter, who has extensive experience with both the politics and the science of “gender diversity,” bluntly describes the situation:

Nothing is being pushed. This is not an agenda. This is not part of a social agenda. Quentin Van Meter is an endocrinologist. He is not a board certified psychiatrist. Therefore, this is not his field. He treats juvenile diabetes. Van Meter is another Defender of the Faith. They are suggesting that Dr. Olson is being unprofessional, not because of peer or scientific assessment, but because her research is independent of Church dogma. It is beyond irresponsible and outrageous.

Van Meter asks the obvious question: “Why do we even give Dr. Olson the time of day? She clearly doesn’t understand the magical thinking of young children. How can she be respected at all by any peers?”

That is defamatory. Moreover, an unqualified individual who knows nothing about gender dysphoria is critical of a professional whose specialty is this area of science. Dr. Olson is highly respected by her peers which is evidenced by the award. Why would anyone give Van Meter the time of day. He clearly preferences religious dogma over science which makes him a clear and present danger to patients. That might explain why he recently suffered a $1 million malpractice award. Only one in six malpractice suits end up with money going to the patient.

Skipping to the conclusion:

Families are being fed taxpayer-funded misinformation that will have tragic consequences. This is the operation of the administrative state in its most destructive form, and with its most helpless victims.

Nowhere in this diatribe have these two people cited conflicting research. Let’s bottom line this. These people are scared shitless that yet more research will determine that some gender dysphoric youth are best served by gender affirmation. These children are being evaluated by specialists who are free of an agenda. This is a medical issue, not a social controversy.

None of this tirade has anything to do with the best interests of children. This is about — and only about — defending the teachings of the Catholic Church. Those teachings are not based on science or medicine. They are based, rather, on ancient chronicles thousand of years old.

The research that we do have demonstrates the value of gender affirmation. If Jane Robbins and Erin Tuttle are successful at convincing parents to preference religious dogma over science there is the very real potential for tragic consequences. Even if we remove the prospect of self-harm, their promoted ideas will cause kids to suffer. It is outrageous to attempt to denigrate an accomplished researcher and to assign nefarious motives to her research. Dr. Kristina Olson’s sole interest is in what is best for these children. Again, there is no grand conspiracy at work to harm kids. The very notion is absurd.

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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.