Johns Hopkins Researchers Warn Against Drastic Transgender Decisions Involving Children

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University cautioned against drastic transgender decisions involving children. In a new study published Monday, they warned that most children who identify with the gender opposite their birth sex do not continue to do so as they enter maturity.

"There is no evidence that all children who express gender-atypical thoughts or behavior should be encouraged to become transgender," wrote Johns Hopkins University scholar-in-residence Lawrence Mayer and Johns Hopkins University professor Paul McHugh. The three part, 143 page report, published in The New Atlantis, also investigated other commonly accepted ideas about homosexuality and transgenderism.

The report emphasized that "only a minority of children who experience cross-gender identification will continue to do so into adolescence or adulthood." The authors quoted the most recent American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which puts the persistence of gender dysphoria among biological males between 2.2 and 30 percent, and the rate among biological females between 12 percent and 50 percent.

Mayer and McHugh admit that some children may have improved psychological well-being if encouraged and supported in their transgender identity, but cautioned that "there is little scientific evidence for the therapeutic value of interventions that delay puberty or modify the secondary sex characteristics of adolescents."

These efforts to delay puberty and modify sex characteristics often involve hormone therapy. This type of "treatment" can have devastating effects.

"I am a real, live 22-year-old woman, with a scarred chest and a broken voice, and five o'clock shadow because I couldn't face the idea of growing up to be a woman, that's my reality," admitted de-transitioning woman Cari Stella in a deeply personal YouTube video. She recalled, "When I was transitioning, I felt a strong desire — what I would have called a 'need' at the time — to transition," but her transition only hurt her more. "Testosterone made me even more dissociated than I already was."

Another de-transitioning woman told her story on YouTube as well. "I had trauma that led to me disassociating from my female body, and ... the longer I chased that disassociation — the more I asked people to call me special pronouns, the more I tried to change my body, the more I ensconced myself in a community that would affirm a trans identity, the worse I felt," Carey Callahan said.

The Johns Hopkins University study echoed these struggles, discussing the negative effects of some transgender treatments. Those who choose sex-reassignement surgery "continue to have a higher risk of experiencing poor mental health outcomes," the report stated, citing one study which found that, "compared to controls, sex-reassigned individuals were about 5 times more likely to attempt suicide and about 19 times more likely to die by suicide."

Next Page: Do transgenders have higher suicide rates because they're not accepted by society?

Mayer and McHugh found that homosexual and transgender people are at higher risk of mental problems, including anxiety disorders, depression, substance abuse, and suicide. Their rate of lifetime suicide attempts is estimated at 41 percent, compared to under 5 percent of the overall population.

LGBT activists argue that the mental health problems result from societal pressure and discrimination against gays and transgenders. The researchers did find "evidence, albeit limited, that social stressors such as discrimination and stigma contribute to the elevated risk of poor mental health outcomes for non-heterosexual and transgender populations."

Nevertheless, Mayer and McHugh insisted that the evidence for this "social stress model" is "limited, inconsistent and incomplete." It is not yet a "useful tool for understanding public health concerns."

The Johns Hopkins University report attacked the central thesis of transgender identity as unscientific. "The hypothesis that gender identity is an innate, fixed property of human beings that is independent of biological sex — that a person might be 'a man trapped in a woman's body' or 'a woman trapped in a man's body' — is not supported by scientific evidence."

The report found that studies comparing the brain structures of transgender and non-transgender individuals have only shown "weak correlations" between brain structure and cross-gender identity. Even these correlations "do not provide any evidence" for a neurobiological basis for transgenderism.

So, not only is it inadvisable for children to pursue cross-sex treatments, but the very idea behind transgenderism does not stand up to scientific investigation. The science on transgender issues is still incomplete, but this study confirms one thing: the cultural rush to embrace an identity at odds with biological sex is not, as commonly claimed, based on science.

This provides yet more reason to tread carefully on these issues, especially when dealing with minors. Children under the age of 18 should not be pressured — and should not be allowed to pressure their parents — into making life-altering decisions on gender.