Youth suicide rates rose significantly in states that allow minors to receive gender-transitioning medical treatment without parental consent, a study finds.
Advocates of gender transition by minors claim that providing such medical treatment reduces suicides among pre-teens and adolescents troubled by their birth sex. Gender-affirming care uses puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to alter a patient’s sexual characteristics and was largely unknown in the United States as recently as 15 years ago.
But in states where such treatments are allowed without parental consent, suicide rates among young people actually rise, according to Jay P. Greene, Ph.D., a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Education Policy, in a working paper titled “Puberty Blockers, Cross-Sex Hormones, and Youth Suicide,” released June 13.
“In the past several years, the suicide rate among those ages 12 to 23 has become significantly higher in states that have a provision that allows minors to receive routine health care without parental consent than in states without such a provision,” wrote Greene.
Changing Suicide Rates
Greene analyzed youth suicide rates by state over 20 years and found there was little difference in youth suicide rates among the states before 2010.
“Starting in 2010, when puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones became widely available, elevated suicide rates in states where minors can more easily access these medical interventions became observable,” wrote Greene. “Rather than being protective against suicide, this pattern indicates that easier access by minors to cross-sex medical interventions without parental consent is associated with higher risk of suicide.”
As various states adopted laws and regulations to restrict or facilitate access by children and youth to medical treatment, Greene found the difference in suicide rates became substantial, The Daily Signal, published by The Heritage Foundation, reported on June 16.
“The Heritage study found that the 33 states with legal provisions for children to receive health care without parental consent experienced 1.6 more suicides per 100,000 preadolescents and young adults ages 12 to 23 than the 17 states without such provisions,” states The Daily Signal. “That represents a 14% increase in the average state suicide rate among the same ages from 1999 to 2020.”
Gender transition advocates claim the research shows denying such treatment harms children, writes Greene.
They say “laws and systems barring gender-affirming health care will contribute to higher rates of significant mental health problems, including deaths by suicide,” writes Greene.
But the studies that have been done to prove this have been poorly executed and fail to demonstrate a causal relationship between suicide and denial of chemical intervention, Greene told Health Care News.
“My study highlights how thin and weak the evidence is to support the suicide threat and shows that examining the evidence in a better way reveals that these drugs may actually elevate suicide risk,” said Greene.
Advocates use suicide claims to advance their cause, says Greene.
“Only by threatening that young people will kill themselves could they get policymakers, parents, and school officials to overcome their natural hesitancy and get on board for a radical gender ideology,” said Greene.
Parents are pressured to affirm and consent to treatment if they value their children’s lives, stated Virginia Gentles, director of the Education Freedom Center at the Independent Women’s Forum, at a Heritage press conference on Greene’s study, on June 14.
“At its horribly rotten core, the culture created by the question ‘Do you want a dead daughter or a live son?’ intentionally drives a painful wedge between parents and children unless parents consent without question to immediate social and medical transition,” said Gentles.
‘Pathway to Sterilization’
Hormone therapy has irreversible effects when given to adolescents and prepubescent children, stated Jay Richards, director of the DeVos Center for Life, Religion, and Family at The Heritage Foundation, at the Heritage event.
“They are a pathway to sterilization,” said Richards. “Injecting huge amounts of testosterone in girls leads to sterilization.”
There is pressure on many children to self-identify as transgender, stated Gentles.
“Many young people are caught up in the social contagion of gender identity,” said Gentles.
In most cases, time and maturation are the cure for dysphoria, stated Richards.
“For many children, puberty has been a way out of gender dystopia,” said Richards.
President Joe Biden issued an executive order directing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to design policies to protect access to gender-affirming care and prevent “discriminatory legislative attacks” by states, on June 15.
HHS had already released guidance on transition care that includes unsupported claims, according to David Gortler, a former safety official at the Food and Drug Administration (see article, page 19).
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) introduced identical bills in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives allowing adults who underwent gender-transition procedures as minors to sue the medical practitioner for up to 30 years after turning age 18 on several grounds, on June 22.
Their bill, the “Protecting Minors from Medical Malpractice Act,” defines “biological sex” as “the genetic classification of an individual as male or female, as reflected in the organization of the body of such individual for a reproductive role or capacity, such as through sex chromosomes, naturally occurring sex hormones, and internal and external genitalia present at birth, without regard to subjective sense of identity of the individual.”
The word is getting out about how harmful gender-altering treatments can be, says Greene.
“I sense the tide is turning on this gender ideology issue,” said Greene.
Bonner Russell Cohen, Ph.D. (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research.
Jay Green, Ph.D., “Puberty Blockers, Cross-Sex Hormones, and Youth Suicide,” The Heritage Foundation, June 13, 2022: https://www.heritage.org/gender/report/puberty-blockers-cross-sex-hormones-and-youth-suicide
This article was updated on July 12, 2022.