Multiple doctors and therapists pushed back against Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levine’s recent assertion that “there is no argument” about gender-affirming care among medical professionals who specialize in children and adolescents.
Several medical professionals told Fox News they have seen rates of gender dysphoria skyrocket among young people in recent years, but that many of their colleagues are reluctant to speak publicly against transgender ideology for fear of both professional and personal retaliation.
Medical professionals took issue with Levine’s blanket claim, including the Florida Department of Health. Citing peer-reviewed studies as well as a “lack of conclusive evidence, and the potential for long-term, irreversible effects,” Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo released a fact sheet on April 20 advising against the HHS’s list of treatment options for children and adolescents experiencing gender dysphoria.
Levine, who is the highest-ranking transgender person in the U.S. government, made headlines last month for claiming during an interview with NPR that “there is no argument among medical professionals – pediatricians, pediatric endocrinologists, adolescent medicine physicians, adolescent psychiatrists, psychologists, etc. – about the value and the importance of gender-affirming care.”
According to definitions laid out in a fact sheet from Levine’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in March, “gender-affirming care” includes social affirmation at any age, puberty blockers during puberty and cross-sex hormone therapy starting during early adolescence. Irreversible surgery is “typically used in adulthood or case-by-case basis in adolescence,” according to the agency.
Ladapo’s office told Fox News he believes Florida’s guidance and fact sheet speak for themselves, and that “the burden of proof to support the outlandish claims made on NPR falls on Dr. Levine.”
When reached for comment, Levine’s office doubled down on the assistant secretary’s claims. “There is no debate in the medical community about the medical or scientific validity of gender-affirming care,” Levine’s communications director Adam Sarvana told Fox News.
Sarvana said the standards of care from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) have been endorsed by multiple medical organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP).
Dr. William Malone, an Idaho-based assistant clinical professor of endocrinology, is a member of the Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine (SEGM), which is an international group of more than 100 clinicians and researchers concerned about what they call the “lack of quality evidence for the use of hormonal and surgical interventions as first-line treatment for young people with gender dysphoria.”
On April 7, SEGM released an extensive rebuttal of the March guidance from the HHS, alleging that the department failed to adequately review available literature and also rendered biased recommendations without taking into account the low quality of evidence, diversity of clinician viewpoints or possible alternative treatments.
A board-certified endocrinologist, Malone has waded into the international debate on such issues by raising concern about the potential long-term physical effects of treating gender-dysphoric youth with puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgery, as endorsed by the Endocrine Society (ES).
In March 2021, he and several colleagues penned a letter to the editor of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, pointing out that the “standards of care” laid out by WPATH and the ES are technically only practice guidelines that are potentially subject to the bias of their sponsor.
The ES forwarded Fox News to a published response to Malone that claims he and his colleagues “overstate concerns and conflate appropriately conservative statements from the existing literature with absence of data.” WPATH did not respond to request for comment in time for publication.
“They’re trying to make it seem that the evidence base is a done deal and is settled science, and that’s just simply not the case,” Malone told Fox News. “And so the language that they’re using does not reflect the actual medical evidence.”
Malone pointed out how other countries are urging caution regarding gender-affirming care, especially for minors.
This is an excerpt from Fox News.
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