In defense of the faith, Ryan T. Anderson is a pathological liar. “Anderson’s mindset is comparable to the orchestrators of the Spanish Inquisition.”
Ryan T. Anderson is once again asserting that transgender people do not really exist by claiming that transitioning is unnecessary. Once again Anderson is being deceptive. I suppose that we should not be shocked that self-righteous people are content to lie in defense of the faith. At this point it is expected from the holier than thou crowd.
The title of Anderson’s latest polemic is: ‘Transitioning’ Procedures Don’t Help Mental Health, Largest Dataset Shows. That is simply untrue. Anderson is being thoroughly dishonest.
By most accounts Ryan T. Anderson is an ultra-pious Catholic in perpetual defense of the teachings of the Church. Anderson employs a no-questions-asked approach; assuming that Church doctrine represents incontrovertible truth regardless of evidence to the contrary and without considering other points of view.
A year ago, to the day, Anderson released a book. The tome is intended to prove that transgender people do not really exist (in conformity with Church doctrine). The faithful eat this shit up. That’s their problem, … unless they happen to have a child in distress from gender incongruence.
In that event (which, fortunately, is statistically unlikely) Anderson’s advice is not only reckless but potentially lethal. Neither Anderson nor I have the necessary training or experience to claim expertise regarding a medical condition. Mr. Anderson insists that he is an expert. I admit that I am an idiot. I simply follow the best available science.
According to Anderson:
In October 2019, the American Journal of Psychiatry published a paper titled “Reduction in Mental Health Treatment Utilization Among Transgender Individuals After Gender-Affirming Surgeries: A Total Population Study.” As the title suggests, the paper claimed that after having had sex-reassignment surgeries, a patient was less likely to need mental health treatment.
That is reasonably correct. The approach, according to the paper:
Despite professional recommendations to consider gender-affirming hormone and surgical interventions for transgender individuals experiencing gender incongruence, the long-term effect of such interventions on mental health is largely unknown. The aim of this study was to ascertain the prevalence of mood and anxiety disorder health care visits and antidepressant and anxiolytic prescriptions in 2015 as a function of gender incongruence diagnosis and gender-affirming hormone and surgical treatment in the entire Swedish population.
Study subjects were diagnosed with gender dysphoria between 2005 and 2015. Please bear with me. I have exchanged some email with the lead investigator in an attempt to sort out how certain variables are handled. In other words, at least six major variables produce an infinite number of conditions. These are:
- Time between diagnosis and surgery.
- Time between diagnosis and 2015.
- Time between surgery and 2015.
- Subject’s age at the time of diagnosis.
- Subject’s age at the time of transition.
- Subject’s age at the time of surgery.
Two people having their mental health evaluated in 2015 would probably not be similarly situated if one had surgery in 2006 and another in 2015. Furthermore, people who transition earlier in life seem to enjoy better mental health as they age.
I lack the training to make a definitive conclusion. It would appear that the results have not been properly adjusted to the many variables.
There is (at least) one more potential problem and variable. How have changes in diagnostic criteria over the span of ten years affected the subjects?
Moreover, if I make the assumption that WPATH guidelines are followed, then the diagnostic cut-off for surgery would be 2014 rather than 2015 allowing for the minimum one year of real life experience.
While stated as facts, all of the above are really questions. I remain confused. Therefore, I have no opinion regarding the study in question, one way or the other. Furthermore, I am uncertain about the conclusion:
In this first total population study of transgender individuals with a gender incongruence diagnosis, the longitudinal association between gender-affirming surgery and reduced likelihood of mental health treatment lends support to the decision to provide gender-affirming surgeries to transgender individuals who seek them.
At least in the United States people who seek gender-confirmation surgery are not the same group that receives the procedure. That is because candidates for surgery are carefully screened, primarily in the area of behavioral health.
One thing that I am absolutely certain of
Ryan T. Anderson has not considered any of these issues.
Anderson babbles on with bullshit:
Well, over the weekend, the editors of the journal and the authors of the paper issued a correction. In the words of the authors, “the results demonstrated no advantage of surgery in relation to subsequent mood or anxiety disorder-related health care.”
So, the bottom line: The largest dataset on sex-reassignment procedures—both hormonal and surgical—reveals that such procedures do not bring the promised mental health benefits.
First, let us return to Anderson’s title which includes: ‘Transitioning’ Procedures Don’t Help Mental Health. The study involves “the decision to provide gender-affirming surgeries to transgender individuals who seek them.” Therefore, those who did not seek surgery were still transgender.
In other words, what the study might have determined is that there is no advantage to surgery for transgender individuals. I say “might” because I have far too many questions. My reading of the correction indicates flawed methodology.
Anderson is a liar when he refers to “‘Transitioning’ Procedures.” Anderson might respond that a procedure means surgery but then he should have used different verbiage. His intent seems clear (and becomes clearer as he goes along).
Anderson would like his audience to believe that transitioning provides no benefits.
It seems safe to hypothesize that my audience is far more intellectually curious that Ryan T. Anderson’s. In fact, Anderson, himself, displays a stunning lack of intellectual curiosity.
Here is a very small sample of research:
- Dissatisfaction with gender-affirming surgery is rare. Best results achieved with thorough pre-surgical counseling.
- Quality of life improves early after gender reassignment surgery in transgender women.
- …gender affirmation surgery will likely improve the QoL of transgender individuals.
- Current studies indicate that quality of life improves after sex reassignment surgery.
Getting back to Mr. Anderson and the blue pill
One of the first scholars to raise questions about the original study was Mark Regnerus, a professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin.
Writing at Public Discourse (the Journal of the Witherspoon Institute, which I edit), Regnerus praised the study for having such a robust dataset. But he pointed out oddities in the way the authors presented the results to the public, and which results the media touted.
The one constant with Mark Regnerus is that he is wrong most of the time. Presumably because he amalgamates religious dogma with science. Regnerus, like Anderson, is a Defender of the Faith™ — first, last and always.
Regnerus highlighted that “the study found no mental health benefits for hormonal interventions in this population.”
The above is false. Those are not the conclusions of the study and common sense dictates that the presentation of people taking hormones is better than that of people not taking hormones. Presentation has a major effect on quality of life.
As I previously wrote (when Regnerus posted this nonsense): According to the study, “Years since initiating hormone treatment was not significantly related to likelihood of mental health treatment.” Regnerus rephrases this as: “The study found no mental health benefits for hormonal interventions in this population.” Regnerus’ statement is false. The study found that people are less likely to require mental health therapy.
Translation: Regnerus has a habit of being untruthful. Anderson is repeating a falsehood.
Anderson in a nut shell (pun intended)
Given all of these concerns, why the media celebration of the study? Why the “consensus” among the medical elite that transitioning benefits patients? Why the claim that it’s the only acceptable treatment?
Why are children being “transitioned”? And why are parents being told puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and surgeries are the only way to treat their children?
“All these concerns” means dishonest concerns concocted by Anderson over the treatment of adults. Now Anderson is more explicit. Anderson is falsely claiming that a study correction is essentially a retraction. What the correction says is precisely what I wrote above (just because someone wants surgery doesn’t mean that they should get it):
…the conclusion that “the longitudinal association between gender-affirming
surgery and lower use of mental health treatment lends support to the decision to provide gender-affirming surgeries to transgender individuals who seek them” is too strong.
In the quoted text from Anderson, he is dishonestly conflating surgery with transitioning. Those are two entirely different things.
Furthermore nothing in the study in question pertains to children. Anderson is trying to convince parents that their kids can be talked out of their acute gender dysphoria. Science does not support that view.
Anderson does so in order to reduce the existence of transgender people. That is because the Church has explicitly claimed that their existence conflicts with Genesis 1:27.
Trying to convince parents to treat their children’s medical conditions according to religious doctrine is not just ridiculous. It is reckless and malevolent. It is potentially lethal.
As I pointed out two years ago in my book … the best therapies focus on helping people accept and embrace their bodies. Rather than attempting to do the impossible—“reassigning” bodies to line up with misguided thoughts and feelings—we should at least attempt what is possible: helping people to align their thoughts and feelings with reality, including the reality of the body.
Anderson is not qualified to make that judgment. He is promoting gender identity conversion therapy which is profoundly harmful. The overwhelming scientific consensus is for gender-affirming care.
It shouldn’t surprise us that the results of this most recent study—and its correction—show that hormonal and surgical transition procedures don’t bring the promised benefits. Even the Obama administration admitted that the best studies do not report improvement after reassignment surgery.
The correction does not say that and Anderson’s contention is not the scientific consensus. His reference to the supposed views of the Obama administration is just more bullshit on top of bullshit. Anderson links to a prior post at Witherspoon Institute which links to a proposed decision memo which applies to Medicare recipients.
According to Medicare administrators, the evidence is “inconclusive” which makes perfect sense. How many people over the age of 65 have had gender confirmation surgery?
Continuing the Medicare theme without ever mentioning Medicare
And sadly, such surgeries can have deadly consequences. In a discussion of the then-largest and most robust study on sex reassignment, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services pointed out: “The study identified increased mortality and psychiatric hospitalization compared to the matched controls. The mortality was primarily due to completed suicides (19.1-fold greater than in control Swedes).”
Ryan T. Anderson is a lying sack of shit. Medicare refers to a Swedish study. Nowhere in that study is there a correlation between surgery and suicidality. The study did determine that transgender people are at higher risk for self-harm than the general population. Anderson is claiming that people committed suicide because they had surgery which is categorically false.
As I have pointed out many times, some of the subjects of the Swedish study in question had gender confirmation surgery as far back as 1973. The Christian right never mention those little details.
After more lies about the Medicare proposed decision memo:
So when the media tout studies that track outcomes only for a few years, and claim that reassignment is a stunning success, there are good grounds for skepticism. Indeed, it will be interesting to see which media outlets report on this past weekend’s correction—and the true results of the study.
Which media said what? Most of the noise comes from religious zealots determined to prove that no one should transition because doing so offends scripture. What? You think that Ryan T. Anderson and Mark Regnerus actually give a crap about the quality of life of transgender persons? Their only interest is Catholic dogma.
They do not care if people are miserable. They do care if people kill themselves because then they can dishonestly claim (as he has done here) that suicides are the result of gender-affirmation which is the biggest lie of all.
As I point out in [my idiotic book] gender dysphoria is a serious condition. People who experience a gender identity conflict should be treated with respect and compassion. And they deserve to know the truth.
Now the world’s largest relevant dataset reveals hormones and surgeries don’t bring wholeness and happiness. We need to find better, more humane, and effective responses to those who experience dysphoria.
The above is what is the most disturbing thing about this nonsense. Anderson is claiming that conforming evidence-based medical science to faith-based Catholic dogma demonstrates “respect and compassion.” He makes that claim as he continues to marginalize transgender persons because the Church disapproves of them.
Anderson does not respect gender diverse people and he has no compassion whatsoever. His only concern is for protection of Catholic doctrine. The overwhelming majority of Catholics disagree with Anderson.
Anderson’s minority mindset is comparable to the orchestrators of the Spanish Inquisition. The inquisition was intended to maintain Catholic orthodoxy throughout the realm. In defense of the faith 150,000 people were prosecuted and more than 5,000 were murdered for things like blasphemy. Countless people were tortured horribly to have them confess to witchcraft. Many thousands of people were imprisoned because of tortured confessions.
While Ryan T. Anderson is less violent, the ideology is the same. Anderson does do violence to LGBTQ people. He promotes misinformation and offers opinion as fact. Anderson persists in misstating the science. All the while he attempts to portray his condemnation of LGBTQ people as concern for the wellbeing of LGBTQ people. Anderson could not care less.
Anderson is certainly not motivated by the best interests of LGBTQ people. I continue to believe that Ryan T. Anderson is a closeted gay man. Fred Karger once said that I embarrassed him into getting married. That is highly speculative but Anderson’s obsessions coincide with self-loathing.