Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The continuing obsession with transgender people

Earlier today I wrote about the strategy of the now defunct Tobacco Institute: Dishonestly claim that the science is not settled and then emphasize the nonexistent controversy. That approach has since been adopted by climate deniers, Creationists and others.

Wednesday, at Witherspoon Institute's pretentious blog, Nathaniel Blake writes: What We Don’t Know: Does Gender Transition Improve the Lives of People with Gender Dysphoria? The subtitle reads:
The studies assembled by the What We Know Project do not prove that transition is the best treatment for gender dysphoria, let alone that it should be the only permissible treatment. Rather, they show that the science is not settled.
The What We Know Project is housed at Cornell University's Center for the Study of Inequality. I note that the following is featured on the home page:


According to that study:
Hormone-based interventions and surgery were followed by improvements in body satisfaction. The level of psychological symptoms and the degree of body satisfaction at baseline were significantly associated with body satisfaction at follow-up.
So right off the bat, Mr. Blake is not fairing very well. Furthermore, according to the project:
We conducted a systematic literature review of all peer-reviewed articles published in English between 1991 and June 2017 that assess the effect of gender transition on transgender well-being. We identified 56 studies that consist of primary research on this topic, of which 52 (93%) found that gender transition improves the overall well-being of transgender people.
I haven't gotten past Mr. Blake's subtitle and already he is in trouble. I have written about Nathaniel Blake twice before. He has never appeared on my list of geniuses. One of my posts regarding Mr. Blake confirms that nothing is too stupid for the Federalist. But let us continue:
Is the science about transgenderism settled?

Transgender activists and their allies claim that it is. For example, last year the New York Times published an op-ed by Nathaniel Frank, director of the What We Know Project at Cornell University, who declared: “Our findings make it indisputable that gender transition has a positive effect on transgender well-being.”
So far so good. However, after reviewing the Project's literature review Mr. Blake concludes:
In sum, in a set of studies notable for small sample sizes, the five largest all have significant weaknesses, especially in relying on self-selecting subjects taking one-time online surveys.
This goes on an on until:
When it comes to transgender issues, there is serious cause for concern that the scientific process is being corrupted by political and social pressure. For example, the groundbreaking qualitative study that identified the phenomenon of rapid onset gender dysphoria was subject to aggressive criticism and the author lost a consulting job even though her work was vindicated. Faced with the prospect of such backlash, some researchers may choose not to publish results that might upset transgender activists.
Vindicated? Excoriated is more like it. Has Mr. Blake bothered to read the journal's correction notice and the formal comment? Not to mention that the journal apologized. This has nothing to do with mythical activists. This is about the quality of a study that Blake calls “groundbreaking.” Blake just concluded that studies he does not like are weak because of “self-selecting subjects taking one-time online surveys.” Yet Lisa Littman recruited anonymous participants from anonymous trans-denial websites who completed one-time online surveys.
Who the hell is he trying to fool?
Mr. Blake has an obvious religious objection to transgender people. What? You actually think that he is concerned for their well-being? He has taken his objection to a pseudo-intellectual ultra-orthodox Catholic outlet edited by the anti-trans extremist, Ryan T. Anderson. It is religion that gets us to this:
Even though many transition procedures are irreversible, American activists insist that transition is the only treatment for gender dysphoria, that it should be begun immediately even with children, and that therapeutic efforts to resolve gender dysphoria by reconciling patients to their natural, biological bodies should be outlawed. In their view, any manifestation of gender dysphoria indicates an immutable transgender identity that requires transition.
Let's talk about kids first. To be diagnosed with gender dysphoria a child must meet six of eight criteria and be in significant distress for at least six months. It's not like we are creating guinea pigs. Puberty blockers are reversible and they represent the initial approach to treatment, if warranted.

The best review of the available research is probably what was undertaken by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Their research has caused them to embrace the affirmative care model for children. The bottom line is that science embraces gender affirmation as the best treatment for children with gender dysphoria where the severity of the condition requires treatment.

In contrast, conservative Christians find that transgender people create a contradiction to Genesis where their god is said to have created men and women. They reject gender identity as a separate construct from natal sex in an effort to conform the real world to their ancient texts.

It seems more than fair to suggest that the researchers at the American Academy of Pediatrics know and understand more about children with gender dysphoria than Nathaniel Blake.
Dishonest substitution:
This radical agenda is simply not supported by the evidence. The studies assembled by the What We Know Project do not prove that transition is the best treatment for gender dysphoria, let alone that it should be the only permissible treatment. Rather, they show that the science is not settled. When it comes to helping those who suffer from gender dysphoria, there is much more work to be done.
Mr. Blake is substituting the available evidence from the What We Know Project with the available evidence provided by medical science and then promoting the result as dispositive.

He is also calling, for example, the guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics part of a “radical agenda.” Radical would be conforming the treatment of children and adolescents to scripture. That is also immoral. It's not radical and there is no nefarious agenda at work.

 Witherspoon Institute is obsessed with transgender people. This is at least their fifth recent article about transgender youth. Every one of those is trying to convince others (presumably parents) that the people who actually understand gender dysphoria have a radical and evil agenda, usually due to extremist LGBT activists. Every one of the Witherspoon essays suggests alternate therapies (usually some version of conversion therapy) that have no scientific basis. Every one of those provides arguments from ignorance.

The simple fact is that Witherspoon is doing this because the teachings of the Catholic Church are against gender transition. Doctors are not responsible for the catechism. Oh no. It is all based on pampered prelates who are theologians and catechists. It would be laughable if the possible consequences of adherence were not so dire.

Nathaniel Blake, we are told, has a has a PhD in political theory. How does that make him remotely qualified to attempt to advance a theory about trans youth that is inconsistent with the best available scientific research? Religion has no place in the medical treatment of children. A parent would have to be certifiably insane to defer to the judgment of priests and prelates. Or, for that matter, to the judgment of Nathaniel Blake.

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