Jane Robbins
Jane Robbins

Image via American Principles Project

Jane Robbins is attempting to denigrate an ongoing study of transgender youth with an argument ad hominem. Robbins has written: Tax-Funded Researcher Studying Trans Children Is Married To Trans Woman; Both Profit From Child Mutilation.

Jane Robbins, a Georgia lawyer, is a fellow with the American Principles Project. APP, founded by Robert P. George, has a considerable anti-LGBT advocacy record. Ms. Robbins is obsessed with attempting to marginalize transgender people, presumably on behalf of the Catholic Church.

The researcher that Robbins is referring to is Johanna Olson-Kennedy, MD. Dr. Olson-Kennedy is not married to a transgender woman. She is married to a transgender man . I do not know whether Robbins is gender confused or if her misstatement was intentional.

“Child mutilation” is religious-speak for gender-affirming surgery which is quite rare until, perhaps, late teens. Trans boys should not require a mastectomy if properly treated with puberty blockers at the onset of the medically verified condition.

Dr. Johanna Olson-Kennedy and her husbandAydin Olson-Kennedy

Image Credit: Gay Weddings Magazine

All that verbiage by me from the damned headline. I will try to be less verbose. Robbins goes on to write:

Transgender activists and their hard-left political supporters have erected a wall of propaganda to block any objections founded in science, reality, or genuine compassion for sufferers of gender dysphoria. …

Those “activists” are presumably the doctors who specialize in the care of transgender and gender nonconforming youth. Robbins has a significant hurdle: Virtually every expert in this specific area of medicine supports the gender-affirming care model. Gender-affirming care is now the official treatment protocol of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

…Websites such as 4thWaveNow and Transgender Trend (in the United Kingdom) allowed parents to compare notes about their remarkably similar experiences with this “rapid onset gender dysphoria” …

Both of those sites are anti-transgender outlets. I am more familiar with 4thWaveNow. The founder and primary author is anonymous. It could be Archbishop Cordileone for all we know. Whoever it is, he or she claims that trans kids, if left untreated, will grow up to be gay. He or she also seems to have multiple personality disorder — authoring comments as someone else.

Then came a study from Dr. Lisa Littman at Brown University, demonstrating that such psychological and environmental factors can indeed contribute to ROGD.…

I will skip the gratuitous victimization of Dr. Littman. I have written about her study. Suffice it to say, her sample of parents (not children with gender dysphoria) was based on communication with sites like 4thWaveNow. I am quite confident in asserting that ROGD is a myth.

Troubled parents now have scientific validation that they’re not crazy for believing their daughters are girls and their sons are boys—and for resisting the imposition of harmful, perhaps irreversible medical treatments.

Not really. I reported that peer-review of the Littman study was substandard. A Christian advocate who supports the Littman study has claimed that it is not peer-reviewed. My version is correct. The study is still under further review by the journal due to the sample sourcing.

…in the United States, focus has been trained on the political agenda behind federally funded research into transgender treatment…

To support that contention Robbins cites a polemic in Witherspoon Institute’s blog and two posts of hers to The Federalist.

I am quite accustomed to the notion that something religious conservatives do not approve of is deemed politically correct in an attempt to smear something that they do not like. The study is under the auspices of NIH. Historically NIH has been apolitical.

Time to denigrate Dr. Olson-Kennedy 

Dr. Olson-Kennedy is not to be confused with Kristina Olson, a trans youth expert at University of Washington. Olson-Kennedy (hereafter Olson) is one of the nation’s leading expert on trans youth. She is board certified in both pediatrics and adolescent medicine:

Olson has made clear that she believes in “affirming” treatment, including double mastectomies for young teenagers, with little or no use of therapy to explore potential psychological pathologies underlying the dysphoria. Her statements show that Olson can hardly be trusted to produce an objective scientific analysis.

The affirming-care model is the generally accepted medical paradigm. Science is evidence-based and it is reasonable to assume that Dr. Olson will go with the evidence.

Mastectomies could be unnecessary with early detection of the condition by a trained specialist. Trans boys experience substantial distress from the growth of breast tissue.

People who oppose gender-affirmation are religious conservatives. They seek to replace evidence with faith because they subscribe to a belief system. Jane Robbins is projecting. If she had the training and experience to investigate transgender issues, she would conform the results to her religious beliefs.

The psychological counseling to reverse gender dysphoria that Robbins refers to is a close cousin of discredited “reparative” or conversion therapy. It is based on pseudoscience and its promoters are religious conservatives.

But Olson may have even deeper reasons for an agenda. She is married to Aydin Olson-Kennedy, a woman who identifies as a man and has very publicly undergone a double mastectomy—the very procedure Olson pushes through her federally funded research. Moreover, Olson-Kennedy (the spouse) is a counselor who advises gender-dysphoric youth and adults on transitioning issues. The Olson-Kennedy couple collaborates professionally in “affirming” gender-dysphoria treatment, and they are stars on the transgender speaking circuit.

The fact that Dr. Olson-Kennedy is married to a trans man is irrelevant to peer-reviewed research conducted by qualified experts. Robbins is implying economic malfeasance because of self-interests. That is outrageous. According to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles:

Johanna Olson, MD is an Adolescent Medicine physician specializing in the care of gender non-conforming children and transgender youth. Board certified in Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Dr. Olson has been an Assistant Professor at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for the past nine years. Dr. Olson has been providing medical intervention for transgender youth and young adults including puberty suppression and cross sex hormones for the past six years, and is considered a national expert in this area. Dr. Olson is the Medical Director of The Center for Transyouth Health and Development at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, the largest transgender youth clinic in the United States.

May I speculate a bit? If Olson’s motivation was money, she might have chosen a different sub-specialty with far more potential patients.

Olson’t husband has an MSW and he counsels kids with gender dysphoria.

Time for Robbins to vilify him:

High-profile cases involving Olson-Kennedy the counselor suggest a distinct preference for resorting to medical interventions rather than using psychological therapy to ease or eliminate the dysphoria (or even just waiting for the child to outgrow the condition, which the vast majority of them do).


  1. There is no psychological therapy known to medical science that reverses gender dysphoria.
  2. The ability of a child to outgrow gender dysphoria is predicated on the severity of the condition. If it is serious enough to compel the child to transition then outgrowing the condition is highly unlikely. Gambling on that potential puts the child at considerable risk for self-harm.

One of these cases involved a girl who, with Olson-Kennedy’s counsel, underwent a double mastectomy at the age of 14. If mutilating a child of that age weren’t disturbing enough, the girl had suffered from psychological problems most of her life, perhaps related to the fetal alcohol syndrome afflicting her at birth.

The kid was 16, not 14. He did not receive early treatment and was binding his breasts. He transitioned at 12 years of age. At this point he is not going to revert to female.

His body, though, did not cooperate. At tae kwon do, he wore a white T-shirt under his uniform to keep breasts from slipping out. After surfing lessons, he wrapped his torso in a towel while pulling off his wetsuit.

Ms. Robbins would presume that the boy should continue to be miserable because of religious dogma. If you read the story his parents are ridden with guilt for allowing their child to suffer.

A second case, even more shocking, involved a Down syndrome girl whose mother was trying to raise money to pay for the child’s double mastectomy. The child suffered from complex medical issues and was apparently unable to tell her own story, which her mother completely scripted.

The fact that someone with Down syndrome has the condition does not, should not, alter the gender-affirming model. More assessment might be required but neither Robbins nor I are qualified to comment on the assessment. The medical issues associated with Down syndrome may or may not be relevant. At least three people were involved: Dr. Olson, her husband and a surgeon. They had to be in agreement for the surgery to proceed.

The overriding conclusion is that none of this has anything to do with an NIH study, the evidence produced by the study or the ethical obligations of the investigators.

Robbins is essentially claiming that Dr. Olson was part of a team involved in gender affirming surgery on a patient with Down syndrome which means that she is incapable of objectively analyzing evidence in connection with an NIH study in spite of the fact that juvenile gender dysphoria is her specific medical sub-specialty. Robbins makes no sense.

Robbins is trying to discredit the inevitable which is a result confirming the efficacy of gender affirmation. Robbins is making all this noise because she has a religious objection to gender transitioning which is about as unscientific as might be possible.

More accusations:

Moving from ideology to good old-fashioned self-interest, it’s worth noting that the Olson-Kennedy team apparently benefits financially from their “affirming” treatment beyond just insurance reimbursement for services rendered. Both are on the consultant payroll for Endo Pharmaceuticals, which formulates and markets the hormones administered to dysphoric patients …

I am going to guess that Endo is paying Dr. Olson for consultations regarding the results of prescribing those hormones. I doubt that she is being paid to promote the drugs. The financial conflict of interest is tenuous at best. The claim that a financial interest will affect Olson’s research is without any support whatsoever. Endo has not provided a grant for this research — something that is routine for big pharma.

Jumping to the conclusion:

True compassion for these children demands a halt to the radical agenda of the activists. A good start would be to shut down politicized “research” and divert funding to scientists genuinely seeking the truth. Public funds should never be misused in this manner—especially when the victims are children and families who have suffered enough.

So the American Academy of Pediatrics is an activist organization making unsound treatment recommendations? What Robbins is really saying is that taxpayer money should not be funding research that conflicts with her religious beliefs. Otherwise, what is her standing in this issue?

Jane Robbins knows what the scientists will find and quantify because of the peer-reviewed research that already exists. She is attempting to inoculate religious conservatives while angering financial hawks. In doing so, Robbins besmirches dedicated professionals she calls activists. If there are activists here they are people like Robbins who try to advance a religious agenda. They do so regardless of what the science says is best for children.

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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.