Released files show debate by transgender health authority

  • The World Professional Association for Transgender Health sets guidelines
  • A new report criticizes the group for what it claims is pseudoscience
  • WPATH guidelines are accepted by major medical associations

(NewsNation) — New video from an internal discussion by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, known as WPATH, an interdisciplinary medical association devoted to transgender health and gender medicine, shows the group discussing issues around trans medicine.

To understand the group’s significance in this space, major American medical groups recognize WPATH’s standards of care as the authoritative standards for the provision of transgender health care.

In the video, members are seen discussing the challenges of explaining medical concepts to kids who may not have even taken biology yet and data about transitioning and reproductive regret. 

The footage, released in a report called “The WPATH files,” shows doctors and therapists talking internally about cases and issues around medical transition for minors.

“It’s pretty shocking,” said reporter Michael Shellenberger. “You don’t need to be an expert in medical science to read these conversations and come away absolutely shocked at the things they’re describing, how they’re sort of making it up as they go along.”

Shellenberger, a journalist who was part of the team that released “The Twitter Files” about censorship issues within the social media company, along with report author Mia Hughes, is releasing the WPATH files in their totality for all to see.

The report argues WPATH is pushing “pseudoscientific surgical and hormonal experiments on children, adolescents and vulnerable adults.” 

The report’s authors are calling on the government to initiate a bipartisan national inquiry to investigate “how activists with little respect for the Hippocratic Oath could have risen to such prominence as to set the standards of care for an entire field of medicine.”

One internal conversation includes a doctor responding to a nurse practitioner who is struggling with how to handle a patient with PTSD, major depressive disorder, observed dissociations and schizoid typical traits who wishes to go on hormone therapy.

The doctor writes, “I’m missing why you are perplexed. The mere presence of psychiatric illness should not block a person’s ability to start hormones.”

Shellenberger said the report includes discussions around medications and treatments for different patients. 

“We’re seeing discussions of giving a ten-year-old girl puberty blockers, giving treatments to a 13-year-old with developmental delays,” he said. “There’s a case of a person with schizophrenia who’s also homeless. They’re talking about performing genital surgeries on this person.”

While the exchanges among gender care professionals point to some of the many challenges in a rapidly evolving field, Shellenberger believes they point to a bigger problem. 

“I think the heart of this is proof that the files offer that the patients and the parents are not giving their informed consent,” he said. 

It’s an issue that comes up in the footage.

“When we’re doing informed consent, I know that’s still a big lacuna that we do it, we try to talk about it, but most of the kids are nowhere in any kind of a brain space to really talk about it in a serious way. That’s always bothered me,” one expert said.

Mia Hughes is the author of the report. She takes issue with the way one endocrinologist describes fertility preservation for young girls. 

“We’ve got a pediatric endocrinologist who very clearly knows these young people, these adolescents, cannot understand lifelong sterility,” she said. “He says when he’s talking about fertility preservation with a 13-year-old, it’s like talking to a blank wall.”

The doctor can be heard describing such conversations with teens who think kids and babies are gross. 

“He says they’ll say, ‘Oh babies are gross,’ which is, of course, a perfectly natural teenage reaction. I was once a 13-year-old girl. That would have been my reaction,” Hughes said. “I’m now in my forties. I have three children, and they are my entire life because I was allowed to grow and mature and change.”

Hughes said the doctor describes those same patients coming back later.

“This doctor also sees that there’s regret because he sees the adolescents when they come back in their twenties and they’ve met someone and they want to settle down.” 

The doctor is heard describing such a visit. 

“I think now that I follow a lot of kids into their mid-twenties, I’m like, oh the dog isn’t doing it for you, is it?” the doctor said. “They’re like, no I just found this wonderful partner and now want kids.”

Dr. Julia Mason, a pediatrician in Oregon, has been speaking out about medical transition for minors for years and calls it a medical scandal. 

“I think that the pediatricians involved have somehow forgotten everything they were taught about childhood development, about adolescent development, and we are making strong recommendations for care based on weak evidence,” she said.

Hughes agrees.

“I believe this is one of the worst, maybe the worst medical scandal that we’ve ever seen,” she said. “If the medical world itself can’t face up to that, I believe it’s the duty of journalists and the wider public to force the conversation and force bringing about better care for a very vulnerable group in society.”

NewsNation asked Dr. Marci Bowers, the president of WPATH, for an interview. She responded with a statement. 

“WPATH remains a science and consensus-based organization whose recommendations are widely endorsed by professional, medical organizations around the globe. We are the professionals who best know the medical needs of trans and gender-diverse individuals and stand opposed to individuals who de-legitimize diverse identities and complex needs of this population,” the statement read.


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