Susan Berry - Breitbart's transphobic moron in residence
Breitbart’s Susan Berry is reliably transphobic and reliably wrong on science.

Defenders of the faith would have people falsely believe that they are concerned for the wellbeing of transgender persons.

I hate to call Breitbart’s Susan Berry a liar. However, Berry has been known to fib from time to time; usually regarding transgender medicine. Berry does not approve of trans folks.

Friday’s headline attributed to “Dr.” Susan Berry (more on the PhD later) reads: Transgender: Endocrinologist Warns Study Hides Dangers of High Dose Testosterone in Females.

That endocrinologist is Michael K. Laidlaw who has been rather quiet of late. A few things that people should know about Dr. Laidlaw:

Michael K. Laidlaw
Dr. Michael K. Laidlaw | via YouTube

  1. Laidlaw has consistently been a Defender of the Faith. A doctor who prioritizes Christian doctrine over medical science.
  2. Laidlaw does not practice transgender medicine. He does not treat transgender persons.
  3. Laidlaw has only a vanity board certification. He is not certified by any member of the American Board of Medical Specialties. In his case that should be by the American Board of Internal Medicine. The lack of certification is telling.

As for Dr. Susan Berry, the source of her PhD is unknown. That is intentional. Dr. Susan Tozzi Berry was a licensed psychologist in Connecticut. That is no longer the case. Apparently when she was in practice it was out of an audiology center (the folks who prescribe hearing aids). Her reviews are generally awful. My guess is that she is hiding a degree from the likes of Liberty University.

Having disposed of the “who,” here is the “what”:

Michael K Laidlaw, Andre Van Mol, Quentin Van Meter and Jeffrey E. Hansen wrote a letter to the editor of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Laidlaw, Van Mol and Van Meter are well known as religious crackpots who favor dogma over science.

“If I had to guess, I would say that four Defenders of the Faith™ wrote a letter in order to get an anti-transgender message into Breitbart.”

Jeffrey E. Hansen is a (presumably religious) psychologist:

Life is full of unlimited opportunities and joys if we choose to live in connected harmony with one another, our beautiful world, and our creator. My mission is to help children, teens, and their parents find this balance.

A psychologist added his name to a paper regarding endocrinology; something that he knows as much about as I do (and I don’t). Why three MDs would add an unqualified name to their letter is perplexing. Apparently, being sufficiently transphobic for Christianity and scripture is the qualifier.

I am not qualified to evaluate either the research or the letter. Neither is Susan Berry.

The research acknowledges that there are some dangers (potentially erythrocytosis) associated with treating transgender males with testosterone. Erythrocytosis means that the person has too many red blood cells which increases the potential to have blood clots. The condition can be addressed as follows:

A reasonable first step in the care for trans men with erythrocytosis while on testosterone is to advise them to quit smoking, to switch to a transdermal administration route, and if BMI is high, to lose weight.

The letter from the cranks … well, I’ll allow Susan Berry to explain:

“Women who identify as trans males are being given very high, very risky doses of testosterone,” Laidlaw explained to Breitbart News about his concerns. “These high doses lead to high red blood cell counts. High red blood cell counts can lead to heart attacks and death. We believe these risks are being hidden.”

The science is beyond my capabilities. However, my ability to analyze the logic of an argument is not thus compromised.

“This is all irrelevant noise because it is out of context.”

The research published to an academic journal intended for medical professionals clearly identifies the possible side effect of erythrocytosis. That’s not “hidden.” Is Laidlaw suggesting that medical professionals (endocrinologists) lack the training to understand a medical condition? Apparently.

“Hidden” describes Dr. Laidlaw’s religious agenda.

If I had to guess, I would say that four Defenders of the Faith™ wrote a letter in order to get an anti-transgender message into Breitbart. On its own, the letter — intended for the medical professionals who read that journal — is nonsensical.

Later on, Berry continues the transphobic sophistry:

“Studies of trans males have already shown up to a nearly five fold increased risk of myocardial infarction compared to females not taking testosterone,” the doctors explain at Gender Sanity …

Actually it is “study” (singular) Moreover, the rate is 2-fold to 4-fold. But why quibble? It is entirely irrelevant.

This is all irrelevant noise because it is out of context. The erythrocytosis study noted the risks and preventative measures. Furthermore, Berry’s attempt to put a cherry on top is also a fail. While the risk is greater than it would be for cisgender women, the risk for myocardial infarction (a heart attack) can be reduced with lifestyle changes. These changes include — as you might guess — diet and exercise.

“At the end of the day this is solely about religious disapproval of transgender persons.”

Yet even prevention of consequences is less important than the analysis:

Doctors and transgender patients have to make some decisions. The formula is simple. It is the same for almost every intervention known to medical science:

Do the benefits outweigh the risks?

Every time someone takes an Aleve for a headache there is a risk of ulcer. All of my many medications come with risks. Sometimes I take meds to reduce the risks of other meds. My doctor and I have agreed that this is the right treatment for PTSD.

Consider the following:

  • Gender dysphoria can be a debilitating condition.
  • Untreated gender dysphoria creates suffering which can lead to suicide.
  • Quality of life is often dependent upon the quality of one’s presentation in accordance with their gender identity.
  • Hormones improve one’s presentation which improves the quality of life.
  • Alternatives do not exist.

Therefore, the risks of the consequences of hormone therapy can be mitigated with lifestyle changes. Thus, for many people, hormone therapy is less risky than not receiving hormones.

It is not for Susan T. Berry to decide. Nor is it up to the four people who authored that letter. None of them treat transgender patients. Therefore, they do not have to help make therapeutic decisions.

What I find most infuriating about all of this is the inherent dishonesty. Susan T. Berry and those four doctors don’t give a rat’s ass about the lives of people with gender dysphoria. Oh they try so hard to convince people otherwise.

At the end of the day this is solely about religious disapproval of transgender persons. Shame on all of them for trying to pass this off as genuine concern for the wellbeing of transgender persons. “Do no harm” has become meaningless unless you think that marginalizing a vulnerable minority is harmless.

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.