I am a 48-year-old transgender man. I was thrilled when the medical community told me six years ago that I could change from a woman to a man. I was informed about all the wonderful things that would happen due to medical transition, but all the negatives were glossed over. Since then, I have suffered tremendously, including seven surgeries, a pulmonary embolism, an induced stress heart attack, sepsis, a 17-month recurring infection, 16 rounds of antibiotics, three weeks of daily IV antibiotics, arm reconstructive surgery, lung, heart and bladder damage, insomnia, hallucinations, PTSD, $1 million in medical expenses, and loss of home, car, career and marriage. All this, and yet I cannot sue the surgeon responsible—in part because there is no structured, tested or widely accepted baseline for transgender health care.
Read that again: There is no structured, tested, or widely accepted baseline for transgender health care. Not for 42-year-olds, and not for the many minors embarking on medical transition in record numbers. It is not transphobic or discriminatory to discuss this—we as a society need to fully understand what we are encouraging our children to do to their bodies.
Throughout transition, I second-guessed my decisions, but each counseling session and doctor's appointment amounted to one more push convincing me I could be cured of being born in the wrong body. The truth was that I didn't fit in as a dominant, aggressive, assertive lesbian. The dream of finally fitting in dangled like a carrot: The idea that I could fit in catapulted me to a time much like adolescence, with its drive for acceptance, inclusive peers and the fantasy of being normal.
During my post-operation 17 months of sheer survival, I discovered that transgender health care is experimental and that large swaths of the medical industry encourage minors to transition due, at least in part, to fat profit margins. I was gobsmacked. Each day I researched more and became increasingly appalled. As I jumped from ER to ER desperately seeking help, I realized that nobody knew what to do. Each physician told me to return to the original surgeon. I was trapped like a child with an abusive parent.
My recurring bladder infection not only demolished my body; it started to ravage my mind, too. I stopped being able to problem-solve, and then lost my health insurance when I couldn't work. I spent many nights in the bathroom in too much pain to even make it to the toilet, forced to urinate on the floor, screaming as what felt like razor blades left my body. Rest came only in 45-minute increments that I induced with four shots of vodka, six Benadryl pills and a handful of melatonin—with only sleep-deprived hallucinations for my trouble.
One night I simply couldn't take it. I wanted to die. I crawled to bed and had another hallucination. My children's lives flashed before my eyes, and I saw the devastation my death would cause them. Right then, I made a deal with God, the universe, whatever you call it, that if my life were spared, if I were allowed to be here for my kids, I would help other kids by ensuring people knew what the experimentation of transgender health care really entails. I remember my whimpers: "God, an eye for an eye—in reverse. I will fight with a mother's passion for others if I can be here for my kids."
So here I am, a trans man, sifting through my good and bad decisions, and for the first time embracing who I am—what I have created, and the life I now lead. It took me 48 years to realize I transitioned because I never wholeheartedly accepted being a lesbian. Our children don't have a prayer to embrace the reality of something it takes a lifetime to understand. That's our job, as parents: to protect them from foolish, lifelong mistakes.
Here's what I could not comprehend before transitioning and what I honestly believe no child is capable of consenting to:
- Decreased life expectancy
- Increased risk of premature death from heart attacks and pulmonary embolisms
- Bone damage
- Possible liver damage
- Increased mental health complications
- Increased chances of mood-syndrome symptoms
- Higher suicide rates than non-trans population
- 12 percent higher chance than non-trans population to develop symptoms of psychosis
- Chance of stunted brain development
- Much reduced chance for lifelong sexual pleasure
- Higher chance of sterility and infertility
- No improved mental health outcomes
- Not completely reversible
Trans activists tout studies that say medically transitioning gender-questioning children improves mental health. But those studies have often been retracted (and those retractions underreported by the media).
Moreover, no long-term studies have been conducted on children who grow up without the benefit of natural puberty. No studies at all have been done on de-transitioners (people who return to identifying as their natal sex). What are the psychological effects? No one has a clue, and researchers are too often shut down by cancel culture for even raising the questions.
Peer-reviewed studies show a shocking correlation between gender dysphoria and autism, depression, anxiety, eating disorders and other co-morbidities. Additionally, it seems that many of these children are simply gay. Could pushing people on a one-way path to medical transition be a different form of "conversion therapy?" We need to ask and study these hard questions—for the good of all children. But we're not—not in the mainstream media, and certainly not in President Joe Biden's new administration.
America is proceeding down its path of total affirmation just as other countries are restoring greater balance. This past December, the U.K. High Court of Justice ruled that puberty blockers for minors are both experimental and a one-way ticket to permanent transition. Finland in 2020 completely overhauled its approach to treating minors with gender dysphoria, prioritizing psychotherapeutic non-invasive interventions and recognizing adolescence as a time of major identity exploration. Sweden is conducting a systematic literature review of the scientific basis of the long-term effects on physical and mental health of puberty blockers and hormones. The researcher who championed the "Dutch protocol" recently called for a rethink, while other research is beginning to show that the current one-size-fits-all status quo is too limited.
So if we are now waking up to the fact that gender dysphoria is over-simplistically conflated with transgenderism, medical treatments have understudied long-term consequences, some are getting rich off transgender medicine and de-transitioners are speaking up in skyrocketing numbers, why are we only making it easier for children to unquestioningly transition?
We now have the obligation to work together to slow trans medicalization of minors until they are adults and have the capacity to truly understand the lifelong consequences of transitioning. As a former lesbian and current trans man, I maintain this is not transphobic. It is actually sensitive and caring to recognize that not just one treatment or pathway is right for all kids.
Therefore, I am currently building a bipartisan army to protect our children, hold the medical industry accountable and educate our president and the rest of society about the dangers of transgender extremism. We must throw our differences aside for a moment; I promise you, once children are safe, we can resume fighting. But until children are safe, nothing else matters.
So, endocrinologists and pediatricians, moderate Democrats and moderate Republicans, radical feminists and evangelicals, lawyers and psychologists, parents and teachers: My hand is out. I will grab yours and turn down no one. Together, we can build a circle around our most precious resource: our children. Help me fulfill the promise I made on the night I almost gave up, to be here for my children—and now yours. Who's with me?
The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.