“I was transgender.  Until I wasn’t.”  Those are the words of Stephen, a  19-year old college sophomore and lacrosse player. Six years earlier, at age 14, Stephen was feeling very uncomfortable in his own body.  “I was depressed a lot,” he said, “and my anxiety was so bad I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror.  I used to tell my mom I wanted to die.  I hated everyone.”  Stephen said that at first he believed his inclination for femininity meant that he was gay, which he is.  “But it was more than that,” he says. “I found solace and acceptance in the transgender community.  Three other students at my high school were transitioning.  I thought it would bring the relief I needed.”

Stephen’s mom, desperate to help the son she loved so much, took him to a doctor who, at the second visit, affirmed his desire to transition from male to female. Three years of puberty-blocking drugs ensued.  Today, as a detransitioned adult man, Stephen is living with the negative after-effects of those decisions.  “I’m not the same.  I live with regret and I’m struggling with some physical issues as well.  I was around 17 when I realized my mental health issues were driving my decisions.  I was suffering, but back then I didn’t have the maturity to discern the root cause of my problems. Everyone around me wanted to affirm that I was transgender.  I was just a kid.”

A social contagion is sweeping the U.S. and exposing children to serious medical harm.  In the upcoming 2020 legislative session, I will be introducing the Vulnerable Child Protection Act, which seeks to protect children who struggle with the belief they were born in the opposite-sex body (gender dysphoria) from the largely irreversible effects of powerful, experimental drugs and mutilating surgeries.  The burgeoning transgender medical-industrial complex is placing children on medications to block their normal bodily development (known as puberty-blockers), then administering alarming levels of cross-sex hormones (testosterone for girls, estrogen for boys) to masculinize or feminize their appearance.

The long-term medical consequences of these treatments are unknown. What we do know is that opposite-sex hormones are associated with increases in heart attacks, blood clots, strokes, infertility, sterility, loss of bone density, cancers, worsening of psychiatric illness, and numerous other medical conditions.  Puberty-blocking drugs such as Lupron, which is not FDA-approved for the treatment of transgender children, is the subject of thousands of complaints to the FDA and multiple lawsuits. Lupron can cause numerous adverse conditions such as pain, paralysis and interference with brain development.  Despite the assurances of providers who profit from these protocols, most of these consequences are irreversible.  Furthermore, the sex-reassignment surgeries themselves are not only irreversible but render the child permanently sterile and carry enormous risks of complications.

Opponents of the bill point to the endorsement of these treatments by medical societies such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).   But Dr. Joseph Zanga, past president of AAP, and former professor of pediatrics at the Medical College of Georgia and Mercer University School of Medicine, explains that these endorsements are issued by tiny committees of AAP without the approval of the membership at large.  A growing number of physicians who object to the politicization of the medical societies are speaking out in defense of the evidence-based, “do no harm” medicine that the societies are abandoning under political pressure.

Transactivists who actively push for the sexual transition of children often spout the fear-mongering mantra that children will commit suicide if not permitted to transition.  The problem with this argument is that it is false.

Dr. J. Michael Bailey of Northwestern University and Dr. Ray Blanchard of Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Clinical Sexology Services have analyzed suicide data from multiple studies and reached the following conclusions: (1) Children (most commonly, adolescents) who threaten to commit suicide rarely do.  (2) Mental health problems, including suicide, are associated with some forms of gender dysphoria, however suicide is rare– even among gender dysphoric persons.  (3) There is no persuasive evidence that gender transition reduces gender dysphoric children’s likelihood of killing themselves.

As this new mania works its way through our culture, hundreds of adolescents and adults who were harmed by the drugs, hormones, and surgeries are now “detransitioning” and warning others to get help for their real psychological problems rather than embark on the destructive transgender journey.  Studies show that more than 80 percent of transgender youth, if not administered puberty-blockers or cross-sex hormones, will realign with their biological sex by the time they reach adulthood.

The Vulnerable Child Protection Act would stop doctors and other providers from helping children destroy their health and their futures. It would ease the emotional blackmail that desperate parents are subjected to when providers threaten them with horrible outcomes if they don’t allow their kids to be guinea pigs in a monstrous experiment. These children need genuine help through psychotherapy for what is causing their body distress– not drugs, hormones and scalpels.

Rep. Ginny Ehrhart represents state House District 36 in Cobb County

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