Friday, Heritage Foundation’s Kelsey Harkness writes: The Alarming Findings of a New Study on Transgender Teens and Suicide. The intended inference is that teens should not be permitted to transition. In an email I received from Russell Toomey, the study’s lead investigator, he called it “unfortunate” that the study is being used to promote a right-wing agenda.

According to Dr. Toomey’s paper:

CONCLUSIONS: Suicide prevention efforts can be enhanced by attending to variability within transgender populations, particularly the heightened risk for female to male and nonbinary transgender adolescents.

In the same email, Dr. Toomey wrote: “studies from the Netherlands show that transitioned youth are as well-adjusted as their cisgender peers – and there is one study now by Dr. Kristina Olson showing that children who socially transition are just as healthy as their cis peers.” I was aware of the study in the Netherlands. I was not aware that Dr. Olson published a similar study (although I have written about Olson frequently).

Getting back to Ms. Harkness, she outs herself as a religious extremist:

The new study comes on the heels of another alarming and controversial one examining the contagious nature of transgender ideology.

Religion is an ideology. Sexuality is not. Being transgender is neither a doctrine nor a philosophy. It is a means of mitigating the ill-effects of gender dysphoria.

That study, published Tuesday in the journal PLOS One by Brown University’s Lisa Littman, looked at “rapid-onset gender dysphoria”—that is, gender dysphoria not present in early youth but that manifested within days or weeks in teens and young adults.

So as not to rewrite what I have already written, that study is flawed according to experts in the field and PLOS-One has the article under further review. ROGD is a myth. To her credit Harkness writes that the Littman study was not peer reviewed. My impression was that it was peer reviewed but that the review was substandard. I might have been incorrect. Either way, it is junk science.

Every day, more and more children and teens are identifying as transgender.

Harkness is suggesting that being transgender is contagious. Occam’s Razor prevails. The simpler and likelier explanation is that (according to Dr. Jack Turban) the approach has changed. Previously, psychiatrists and parents would try to prevent a child from transitioning. Now they are allowed to transition which relieves suffering. There are no volunteers among trans youth. They become targets for bullying and oppression.

The religious right often claim that kids are encouraged by doctors to transition which is nonsense. The suffering child feels compelled to transition to garner some relief and stability. In fact, many parents first become aware of their child’s condition when he or she adopts some presentation associated with the opposite (to natal) sex.

Harkness concludes with:

Families, schools, doctors, government, and the media have an obligation to figure out how to differentiate between celebrating differences and encouraging dangerous behavior. Because if being transgender poses such a grave risk to adolescent lives, it’s hard to understand why any sane society would embrace the trend.

Harkness is intellectually honest about one thing. It is hard for a religious zealot to “understand” transgender youth and gender dysphoria. In point of fact, transitioning saves lives. That is what the research demonstrates.

In the Toomey study, questioning adolescents have a 27.9% suicide rate. These are kids who have not transitioned because their gender dysphoria has not driven them to do so. The high suicide rate demonstrates that it is the dysphoria that causes the distress.

You might think that the higher rates of suicide for transitioned youth mean that transitioning is responsible. Not really. A youth who transitions usually does so because they are driven there by depression and anxiety caused by gender dysphoria. Once transitioned they face the full brunt of societal rejection which increases the potential for self-harm.

Therefore, Harkness is asserting that children should not be permitted to transition because bigots will make them miserable. Dr. Toomey is correct. What is required is suicide intervention because transitioning is the only thing known to medical science that addresses the severe discomfort caused by the condition.

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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.