The American College of Pediatricians has critically reviewed 60 studies focusing on the mental health outcomes of transgender-identifying youth and concluded that there is no substantial long-term evidence to support the efficacy of current gender-affirming treatments in enhancing their mental well-being. This position statement was issued in the wake of a complaint filed against a high-ranking official in the Department of Health and Human Services, Rachel Levine, for making unfounded claims about the unanimous medical consensus on the necessity of gender-affirming care for minors.
The group, which includes conservative pediatricians dismayed by the activist statements of the larger American Association of Pediatrics, advocates for a cautious approach. It argues that the dramatic rise in youth questioning their gender identity should prompt a more rigorous examination rather than an immediate endorsement of gender transition treatments.
Highlighting the significant mental health challenges often associated with transgender identification, the statement suggests that issues like depression, self-harm, and suicidal tendencies may not necessarily stem from societal non-acceptance of gender transition but could be linked to underlying mental health conditions. The group points out the disproportionately high rates of autism among transgender-identifying youth as an example.
Contrary to claims that gender-affirming care is life-saving, the review found that transitioning does not significantly improve the psychosocial well-being of transgender youth. Moreover, it noted a lack of evidence supporting the permanence of gender dysphoria in children, with a significant number of cases resolving without the need for medical interventions.
The American College of Pediatricians ultimately recommends against the social affirmation, medical treatment, or surgical alteration of minors identifying as transgender or gender non-conforming. Instead, it advocates for comprehensive psychotherapy to address the root causes of gender incongruence. The statement also calls for more support for individuals seeking to detransition, emphasizing the need for treatments that consider the long-term implications, including potential sterility and loss of sexual function.