Mainstream social scientists are on a mission to prove that transgenderism is innate and gender identity affirmation is the only hope of health for transgender individuals.
A new study out of the University of Texas claims to have proven that when transgender youth are allowed to use a chosen name, their risks of depression and suicide drop. But the study only looks at short-term benefits, not long-term consequences.
The study was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health late last month and has been widely cited since. Researchers interviewed about 130 young adults, ages 15 to 21, in three U.S. cities. They found their participants using LGBT community organizations.
In the study, those who said that they were allowed to use their chosen name—which corresponded with their gender identity, not their biological sex—at school, home, work, and with friends reported 71 percent fewer symptoms of severe depression, 34 percent fewer thoughts of suicide, and 65 percent fewer suicidal attempts when compared to those who were not allowed to use a chosen name. Just being allowed to use a chosen name in one social setting, but not the other three, was associated with 29 percent fewer suicidal thoughts.
Of the 129 youth, only 74 changed their name. Participants in the study self-identified as both transgender and gender nonconforming, a wide spectrum that could include young people who affirm their biological gender but don’t like gender stereotypes.
Lead author Stephen T. Russell, a professor and chair of human development and family science at UT, said in a statement he was “surprised by how clear that link was,” and concluded, “It’s practical to support young people in using the name that they choose. It’s respectful and developmentally appropriate.”
But short-term benefits do not erase long-term suffering, said Michelle Cretella, a pediatrician and the president of the American College of Pediatricians.
“Think of it this way: Just as a tantruming child becomes content when parents give into the tantrum, so too does a distressed gender-confused child when parents cooperate with the confusion,” she told me. “This sort of contentment does not indicate sound mental health; the false belief is still there.”
Cretella pointed to the research of two international experts on the treatment of child gender identity disorders, Susan Bradley and Kenneth Zucker. In nearly 40 years of working with gender dysphoric children, Cretella said Bradley and Zucker found social reinforcement of a child’s false belief led to persistence of the disorder.
Gender confusion is hard on children, but far from solving the problem, gender transition comes with its own severe physical and mental health risks. Children and teens who take puberty blockers and then cross-sex hormones risk sterility, cardiovascular disease, elevated blood pressure, and breast cancer, among other side effects. And studies of transgender individuals who have embraced a new gender identity still show elevated rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide.
The best evidence for the long-term benefits of encouraging children to embrace their biological sex, according to Cretella, are studies that show the vast majority of children who are not fast-tracked to gender transition eventually desist in their gender identity disorder. In short, affirming the false belief prolongs the disorder and pushes the struggle down the road.