The Federalist’s Chad Felix Greene doesn’t quite grasp medical science.
Chad Felix Greene
Chad Felix Greene (left) and his husband. Were it not for the efforts of the LGBTQ activists Greene denigrates for a paycheck, the man to his left would be just another boyfriend.
via Twitter

Chad Felix Greene is HIV+. Thanks to activists he is alive and well. Thanks to activists, Chad Felix Greene is also married. Marriage equality didn’t just happen.

People like Evan Wolfson gave up a great deal so that Greene could marry his husband. Yet, Greene spews the kind of rhetoric we expect from people like Mad Mat Staver.

Wednesday’s episode of Greene is titled: No, Pumping Kids Full Of Puberty Blockers Is Not Like Denying Asthmatics An Inhaler. I think that Greene is trying to say that denying children puberty blockers is not like denying an asthmatic kid an inhaler. However, that is not what he wrote. Well beyond his headline, Mr. Greene makes no sense whatsoever.

According to Greene’s subtitle:

Trans activists and the media are championing a new study saying puberty blockers are safe and necessary for transgender kids. The problem? The study is an unscientific mess.

It would help if Greene actually read the study in question. The conclusion of the study is that transgender adults who were administered puberty blockers as children have a superior quality of life compared to transgender adults who were not provided with puberty blockers as kids.

By inhibiting puberty trans youth did not develop cross-sex characteristics associated with their natal sex. As adults, their presentation is more consistent with their gender than would otherwise be the case.

If that study is an “unscientific mess,” as Greene contends, then it was made that way by Dr. Jack Turban, the principal investigator. Dr. Turban researches pediatric gender dysphoria at Harvard Medical School and treats trans youth at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Turban’s a smart guy who graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and obtained his MD from Yale where he became a research fellow. I, on the other hand, struggled with high school biology.

I should mention that peer-reviewers for Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics would also be complicit in making this supposed mess. Eureka! It’s a conspiracy!

Greene prattles on:

A new study, published in the January issue of the medical journal Pediatrics, titled “Pubertal Suppression for Transgender Youth and Risk of Suicidal Ideation,” is being celebrated as proof that using puberty blockers in children is positive, even “life-saving.” …

Prior research demonstrates that transitioned youth have mental health reasonably comparable to cisgender kids. Puberty blockers are part of that behavioral health asset.

Dr. Michelle Forcier, a pediatrician and associate professor of pediatrics at Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, argued, “Nobody would deny a child with asthma their inhaler, or refuse cancer treatment for a child with cancer, yet some parents express reservations about puberty blockers.” When they do, she reminds them that these drugs can be a “life-saving option.”

I am not familiar with Dr. Forcier but she makes a good point and she is not being hyperbolic. Children in distress from gender dysphoria have a significant risk of self-harm. Puberty blockers prevent (while they are being administered) the development of natal sex physical characteristics like voice-deepening in trans girls and breast development in trans boys.

It is more than reasonable to assert that such physical changes will only increase levels of anxiety and depression. Those are the conditions that might lead to self-harm. It is reasonable to claim that puberty blockers have saved lives.

I will give Greene some measure of credit for describing the study and its conclusions in a fair and reasonable way. That credit is short-lived:

Major Problems with the Study

Consider that the research performed on the positive connection between puberty suppression and less likelihood of suicide did not confirm the use of puberty suppression. Adults aged 18 to 36 were asked if they had wanted puberty blockers as children and then asked if they had received them. No other evidence appears to have been provided, including no examination of medical reports on the usage timeline nor the physical affects [sic]. It is entirely self-reported.

Researchers have found that self-reported data is reliable if the subjects fully understand the questions and have a sense of anonymity and safety. Complex questionnaires are subjected to split-half testing. These tests have formed the basis for positive opinions regarding the reliability of self-reported data.

Greene is incorrect. Subjects were never asked if they ever wanted puberty blockers.

The data source was the 2015 US Transgender Survey (USTS) which was conducted over a 1-month period in 2015 by the National Center for Transgender Equality. The protocol for the USTS was approved by UCLA. The current study excluded data from people over 36 years of age because puberty suppression would not have been available to them.

The questions were not as simple as Greene suggests. Puberty blockers were among a number of treatment choices and those who indicated that they were administered puberty blockers were asked at what age they began. Those who indicated that they began taking the medication at 17 years of age were excluded as they would be in the final (Tanner) stage of puberty.

The point I am making is that this wasn’t some haphazard methodology. The study was designed by professionals who are agnostic to the outcome.

To this end, none of the subjects could have actually received the medical intervention being studied and therefore would have no way of knowing the short-term side effects nor long-term effects. Furthermore, there is no definition of what “pubertal suppression” entails nor what the survey respondents considered the phrase to mean. There is no evidence that the 87 reports used to validate the conclusion in favor of puberty blockers ever used them at all.

Completely wrong. The question was whether or not they received “puberty blocking hormones” not whether or not they received puberty suppression. Moreover, side effects are not at issue.

The report focuses on the mental health of those who self-reported using puberty blockers as children, but it fails to reconcile that 83 percent of respondents never wanted them or used them. If more than 17,000 transgender adults self-reported that they had no interest in puberty blockers in the first place and still matured into adulthood under their preferred gender identity, it would seem more reasonable to argue the lack of need for puberty blockers.

Wrong again. Roughly two-thirds of those people were too old to have had puberty blockers made available to them. Moreover, “interest” is the wrong word. Did they take GnRH analogues or not? Keep in mind that the decision to take puberty blockers was not the adolescent’s alone. Parental consent was required.

Some of Greene’s text suggests that he did what I did which was to invest $25 to obtain the study in full. Then some of his text suggests otherwise. My hypothesis is that he spent the $25 but did not read it in its entirety.

The study essentially measured quality of life by suicidality along with things like binge drinking and drug use. The fact that many transgender adults never took puberty blockers does not mean that puberty blockers are unnecessary as Greene contends.

Whether or not someone took puberty blockers has no logical relationship to whether or not puberty blockers are necessary. In 1899 A.G. Bayer started to distribute a powder we now call aspirin. That does not mean that aspirin was unnecessary prior to 1899.

The study determined that those who did take puberty blockers as adolescents were happier adults than those who did not. It is a conclusion that is elegantly simple.

Protect Children from Puberty Blockers

Then there’s the fact that the 87 people who wanted puberty blockers and received them also indicated they had supportive families, which would have been required for them to have undergone the medical intervention in the first place. While LGBT activists often cite this family acceptance as both necessary and positive, a disturbing possibility is that the children are the product of their parents’ motivations. Puberty blockers, per the cited medical professionals, are typically started by age 8 or 9 in both girls and boys.

Hence the title of my post. A “disturbing possibility” is that Chad Felix Greene’s penis fell off. Greene’s speculation is preposterous per se. Parents do not volunteer to have gender diverse children.

For the record, puberty blockers are provided on the basis of biological (not calendar) age which is measured by Tanner stage. Tanner stage 2 occurs in girls between the ages of 8 and 15. In boys it is usually between 10 and 15. Indeed, the full question that was asked was: “puberty blocking hormones (usually used by youth ages 9–16).”

Despite the wide praise the study is receiving due to its politically correct conclusion, closer inspection makes painfully obvious that the researchers were not upholding rigid scientific standards, even within the subjective field of psychology. … … …

Now I think that his penis ran away (last reference to Greene’s genitalia, I promise). What Greene is suggesting is that elite researchers were striving for an agenda confirmation. It is ludicrous.

Our episode comes to a conclusion (for which I am personally grateful):

Several states, including South Dakota, Missouri, and South Carolina, have proposed legislation to ban puberty blockers for minors. Despite wide acceptance from major medical authorities and organizations, it seems legislative efforts may be necessary to protect children from the reckless efforts of ideologically driven adults. If this study shows us anything, it is that those lending scientific validation to experts are just as unreliable.

Dead issue in South Dakota. There is absolutely nothing — zip — in Greene’s treatise to remotely support the notion that puberty blockers should not be available to children with parental consent. Children need to be protected from people like Chad Felix Greene; not puberty blockers. Greene and his ilk spread hysteria with falsehoods.

Chad Felix Greene has offered no valid evidence that the study in question is unreliable. He never should claim that a study he clearly does not comprehend is an “unscientific mess.” Edit thrice; post once.

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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.