“Journalism can never be silent: that is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault. It must speak, and speak immediately, while the echoes of wonder, the claims of triumph and the signs of horror are still in the air.” – Albert Camus
There is a growing medical scandal in the United States that is harming children and destroying families. It has destroyed mine.
Five years ago, when my 13-year old daughter told me she was transgender, I was shocked by her out-of-the-blue announcement. My reaction was not fueled by prejudice—indeed, I am liberally-minded in my political beliefs—but based on a lifetime of caring for her as an observant and sensitive mother. It simply made no sense.
I sought professional guidance, as I was unsure how to respond to her. Yet therapists were not interested in exploring the possible reasons for her sudden identity. Instead, they told me that I must treat her as my son. I was advised to call her by a male name, refer to her by masculine pronouns, and purchase a binder (a restrictive garment that would flatten her breasts, but also cause tissue damage, and possibly other physical harms) to help her “pass” as a boy. The many therapists that I consulted did not consider any underlying issues, such as peer and media influences, or the fact that over 5% of the students at her school also considered themselves transgender.
I sought help from a gender clinic, ignorantly assuming that she would receive a thorough expert assessment. Instead, her identity as male was immediately affirmed. I was pressured to consent to puberty-blocking drugs, with assurances that they were safe and well-studied. My research later confirmed that this was not true.
As I examined the practice of pediatric transgender medical care, I was disturbed by what I learned. Therapists and clinicians are trained not to question children’s new identities; in many states and municipalities across the US, this is against the law. Even more shocking is the unchallenged medical protocol that alters children’s bodies in serious and irreversible ways.
Drugs are used to block puberty in pre-teens, impacting their future fertility. Teen boys are treated with feminizing hormones, while girls as young as 13 are offered mastectomies, and at the tender age of 12, they are injected with testosterone. (It was recently revealed that in 2017, the age of testosterone treatment for girls in this $5.7 million taxpayer-funded NIH study was lowered to eight years old.)
There is no objective test on which to base such invasive medical interventions, nor a single long-term study that supports their medical necessity. These hormonal treatments and irreversible surgeries are based on unprovable identities, resulting from myriad complex issues, that are likely to change over time. This is not evidence-based medicine.
Clinicians successfully obtain parents’ consent to these risky, and likely regrettable, hormonal and surgical treatments. They use false, coercive assurances that they are lifesaving and necessary to prevent their children’s likely suicide. In fact, serious complications, sterility, and loss of sexual function are the likely immediate outcomes of this medical experiment on children. And the long-term consequences are simply unknown. This is a medical scandal.
Yet few people know anything about this thanks to the failure of the mainstream media.
Over the past few years, media stories about “transgender” kids have become increasingly common, but critical questions are seldom asked. These children’s identities are portrayed as immutable, while the ideologically-driven medical practices solidifying them are not investigated. The stories follow a predictable narrative: The children are sympathetic, their medical transitions are imperative, and their parents are celebrated for their bravery.
In an attempt to reveal the truth behind these feel-good stories, I have written to news outlets and met face-to-face with many journalists. They have heard my anguish as they promised that they will report on this scandal, but they never do. Why won’t they report the truth: that these children and their families are victims of ruthless medical practices with no basis in science?
The Washington Post
I began my futile quest to get media attention in January 2017, writing to any journalist who I thought might actually care. One of these was Steven Petrow, The Washington Post’s “Civilities” columnist. Instead of sending me a thoughtful, private response, he betrayed my confidence: without my knowledge or permission, he used my personal plea as the basis for a future column.
In my original letter to him, I explained how my daughter began to believe that she was transgender after attending a school presentation, how therapists told me not to question her beliefs, urged me to buy her a breast binder, and pushed me to consent to hormonal treatment. I told him how it was impossible to find proper help, and that there are countless parents like me desperate for a journalist to listen and report the truth.
Instead, Petrow selectively quoted from my letter to write this February 24th, 2017 column, pushing the very narrative that I had asked him to question. My formal complaint to The Washington Post was ignored.
Two weeks later, Petrow hosted this online parent chat with Brown University gender clinician Michelle Forcier, MD, whose apparent mission was to portray parents like me as ignorant bigots. Forcier dismissed one parent’s concern that mastectomies are “drastic,” by calling this “biased language.” Forcier claimed that surgeries have “really changed many trans boys’ and men’s lives” with “low risks and outcomes for complications and regret” and stated: “We are lucky that many parents understand waiting for [the] arbitrary age of chest surgery for some young teens is cruel and harmful from a physical and psychiatric perspective.”
When questioned about the ethics of putting children on lifetime hormone medication and surgery, Forcier answered:
How ethical is it to negate a person’s identity—to tell them you know them better than they do? How ethical is it to deny a person access to medication that is very safe, effective and proven to help. . . . Would you also propose letting a diabetic slip into diabetic ketoacidosis and coma before offering them fluids and or insulin if you suspected a high likelihood of diabetes? Would you wait for an asthmatic to collapse unconscious before offering oxygen and albuterol? Gender care has many safe medical options that in many instances are safer than withholding care.
Last fall, a different Washington Post journalist expressed interest in speaking with me. Although I was certain that this would be another wasted effort, I never turn down any request to talk about this issue. We spoke in person for two hours, during which time I shared my daughter’s story and showed her my files to prove evidence of the medical scandal. I told her that I doubted her editors would publish any story that did not promote the current transgender narrative. She assured me this would not happen and said that she was a brave journalist. At the end of our time together, I did what I try very hard not to do in front of strangers: I broke down crying. In a follow-up email, she expressed her sympathy and told me the editor approved the story. That was five months ago. She hasn’t written a single story about this topic, while The Washington Post continues to publish stories like this.
Silence from Other Major News Outlets
In the past year, other parents and I have talked to two journalists at The New York Times. Both were earnest and interested, and they promised they would publish our stories. Yet this proved to be another waste of time. This was especially disturbing, given the NYT’s numerous one-sided (appalling) stories like this and this and this and this and this. . . .
The same thing has happened countless times with other lesser-known outlets. A journalist contacts me or a parent I know to say they’re very interested. They do some digging. They get spooked. They kill the story. Then they ignore us.
Even my husband’s friend betrayed me. “John” is a medical news editor. My husband assured me that he would respect our privacy and, as the father of girls, would be personally moved to help. With great apprehension, I told John what happened to our daughter and how frustrating it has been to get the media to report on what is happening to children like mine. After I provided him with extensive written documentation, John told me he was “definitely interested.”
I was excited to receive such a positive initial response, but apparently, John changed his mind and didn’t have the courage to tell me. Months later, I wrote to John one last time:
We desperately need someone to help us reveal the truth behind this movement, and how every major medical and psychological association has been hijacked by ideology. The implications for children caught up in this are serious. The surgeries euphemistically described as “gender affirming” are irreversibly mutilating young people who—as time goes by—often realize it was a mistake.
Anyway, I am reaching out again in the hope that I might be able to convince you of the importance of this story. Or if not, if you could possibly make an introduction to someone who might be interested.
As you know, this is a personal family issue. I spend every waking hour trying to do anything I can to save my daughter from its grip before she follows through with her plans to medically transition. Any critical media attention would be so appreciated. I feel like I am running against the clock.
John never replied, even to my husband’s follow-up attempts to ask him what happened. (So much for that thirty-year friendship.)
By July 2018, I shifted my focus to investigative journalists. I had amassed quite a collection of evidence that I compiled into lengthy documents to prove the medical scandal. All I needed was one brave journalist. I had done most of the work and wanted to share it freely, so I pitched the story to every Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist (as well as the runners-up).
Once again, no one could be bothered to respond.
To Spread the Truth
It’s not just a problem of journalists who refuse to report and/or editors who won’t let them. My posts on online forums have been censored as well. My comment on the College Confidential discussion board (about what happens to young trans-identifying college students) was removed immediately. I was permanently banned from the site within minutes. My comment on this story in The Washington Post was deleted hours after it posted. The folks at Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted blocked me from their Twitter page. My offenses: merely attempting to spread the truth.
In the end, I decided to go “outside the mainstream” and approached Ryan Anderson at the Heritage Foundation. He agreed to host a politically left-leaning panel where, for the first time, stories of children who have been harmed by “gender identity” medical practices were read out loud. The audience learned about a school “where several students were already on hormones and one had a mastectomy at the age of 16.” They learned how parents who do not support their child’s gender identity risk being reported to Child Protective Services and losing custody of their children . . . and how a minor child underwent a double mastectomy and radical hysterectomy as a minor, without her parents’ consent. The audience was visibly disturbed and shocked.
This was how NBC News reported on the event. (The original libelous article was revised in response to numerous online and formal complaints. Both versions ignored the personal testimony of indefensible medical harms to children.)
Last month, Anderson hosted another panel at Heritage, The Medical Harms of Hormonal and Surgical Interventions for Gender Dysphoric Children. A mother of a trans-identifying daughter spoke publicly for the first time as she pleaded: “Transgender-identifying children need our compassion and they need our help. They need responsible adults to gently question their beliefs, not blindly affirm them. They need proper therapy and guidance, not drugs and surgeries.” Panelist Dr. Michael Laidlaw echoed her concerns as he described the dangers of hormonally treating children and stated emphatically: “We are giving very harmful therapies on the basis of no objective diagnosis.” Dr. Marian Rutigliano testified to the active silencing of the medical community, while detransitioner Walt Heyer shared his personal story of regret and the tragic consequences of medical transition.
And once again, the only media outlets that covered this story were conservative. Indeed, why is it up to National Review to publish the groundbreaking investigative pieces that were once the purview of 60 Minutes and the formerly esteemed national newspapers of record? Since when did medical harms to children become a right-wing-only issue?
Meanwhile, very few Americans know the truth about these dangerous, untested medical interventions that are used to treat transgender-identifying children and that therapists in many states are compelled by law to affirm these kids’ identities.
Why do they not know this? Because the mainstream media have remained silent.
Last month, I met with other parents in Washington, DC to begin a national grassroots movement, the Kelsey Coalition. Our transgender-identifying children (boys, girls, minors, and young adults) have been harmed by physicians, therapists, and clinics throughout the US. We have decided that since the mainstream media have yet not investigated this medical scandal, we will have to do this job ourselves. We encourage others to join us.