The most outrageous tactic used by transgender activists has been the “affirm-or-suicide” false choice offered to parents and policymakers. In other words, transgender youth must be “affirmed” in their gender choice by supplying puberty blockers, counseling, and “gender affirming interventions” or they will die by suicide.
Assistant Secretary for Health and Human Services Rachel Levine claims the federal government’s support for such gender-affirming interventions is “life-saving.” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s husband echoed that sentiment, claiming that Florida’s controversial Parental Rights in Education Act would “kill kids.” And in a recent exchange in Congress between Senator Josh Hawley and Berkeley Law professor Khiara Bridges, the good professor accused Hawley of conducting a “transphobic” line of questioning and that he and those like him are the reason why “one in five” transgender people attempt suicide.
Is that true?
Despite the unwaveringly confident manner in which these claims are often asserted, there is no good evidence that failing to “affirm” minors in their “gender identity” will increase the likelihood of them committing suicide. As I discuss below, that claim is based on a small handful of deeply flawed studies that, at most, find loose correlations between “affirming” interventions and improved mental health. Some find no reduction of suicide at all, and a new study claims to find that puberty blockers actually increase the risk of suicide.
Not only is the empirical basis for the affirm-or-suicide mantra shoddy at best, but its dissemination is also profoundly irresponsible. Such extreme rhetoric limits our ability to better understand and respond to mental health problems in vulnerable youth, and may itself contribute to the real and documented phenomenon of “suicide contagion.”
What sort of “evidence” do transgender activists use to justify this gender-affirming treatment? “Evidence” that’s been rejected by many woke European societies.
The dubious claims about mental health benefits from “gender affirming” medicine, alongside the obvious risks, is why Sweden and Finland have recently moved to restrict the practice, with the U.K. likely to follow suit. It is also why medical authorities in France, Australia and New Zealand have issued strong statements highlighting the uncertainties and experimental nature of “affirming” interventions.
Indeed, what is often left out of these studies of transgender-identified youth (TIY) is the very simple notion that other things may be bothering these teenagers besides their gender confusion.
Firstly, surveys of TIY suicidality rely on self-report and do very little to vet respondents when they say they “attempted” suicide. Secondly, studies purporting to show that TIY are at elevated risk of suicide tend to compare suicide rates in TIY with rates in non-TIY—a deeply misleading comparison. This is because [TIY], especially among the new clinical cohort of “rapid onset gender dysphoria” (ROGD) teenagers, exhibit extraordinarily high rates of mental health problems (psychological co-morbidities) quite apart from their gender-related distress.
But in service to a political agenda, these kids are shoehorned into the gender dysphoria box and cited as a statistic if they attempt suicide or are tragically successful.
Interestingly, the trans activists claim these “co-morbidities” are the product of “social hostility and lack of acceptance.” But then, how do you explain rising rates of transgender identification among the young? Activists, with no sign they are aware of the contradiction, claim those rates are on the rise because “of a society increasingly accepting of transgender identity.”
Sapir’s conclusion: “While it is true that suicidal behavior is much more likely among TIY, rates of actual suicide are extremely low within the population and there is no basis for believing that “affirming” them with puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgeries will reduce those rates even further.”
It’s despicable how some LGBTQ activists use a condition that, by definition, is hugely stressful on the mental health of young people, to “prove” a political point to advance an agenda. It just shows the lengths to which radical gender activists will go to make their non-conforming case.