Episcopal Church Endorses ‘Gender-Affirming Care’ in Children

August 19, 2022 Updated: August 22, 2022

Commentary

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church recently voted to embrace radical transgender ideology. Specifically, its House of Deputies passed—and the House of Bishops concurred in—a resolution stating:

“Resolved, that the 80th General Convention calls for the Episcopal Church to advocate for access to gender affirming care in all forms (social, medical, or any other) and at all ages as part of our Baptismal call to ‘respect the dignity of every human being.'”

“Gender-affirming care” (GAC), as it’s known, requires psychologists, parents, and teachers to unquestioningly validate the child’s feelings about their “true sex,” first through social means, but often proceeding to “medical” interventions such as puberty blocker medications, cross-sex hormone injections, mastectomies for teenage girls who identify as boys, and, even worse, mutilating “bottom” surgeries. These interventions can deleteriously impact a child’s physical health. Puberty blockers can stunt bone growth, and hormone injections can cause blood clots and lead to physical changes that can’t be reversed if the patient ceases to identify as the opposite sex. Mastectomies destroy a girl’s breasts, while bottom surgeries cause sterilization, and, often, lifelong difficulty (or impossibility) in attaining orgasm.

Yet, the Episcopal Church wants these GAC interventions “in all forms” available to children “at all ages.”

The Episcopal Church’s resolution is a case of follow-the-woke-leader. GAC is being pushed hard by the Biden administration, to the point that it’s even striving to enact regulations that would prevent doctors from saying no to requests for such interventions. Much of the increasingly ideological medical establishment also supports GAC, while California is so in the tank for the trans agenda that it’s on the verge of declaring itself a GAC sanctuary state.

This is worse than misguided. Not only can these interventions cause serious side effects, but, as other commentators have already suggested, blanket social affirmation of a gender dysphoric child’s subjective belief is akin to agreeing with an emaciated anorexic teenager that she is, indeed, fat. Moving onto blocking puberty to prevent the development of secondary sex characteristics is like giving her laxatives to prevent weight gain, and doing surgeries is akin to performing gastric bypass surgery to help her lose more weight.

Of course, no ethical psychologist would yield to the anorexic that she is too fat, nor would any doctor perform bariatric procedures on such a child—no matter how adamantly the girl insisted that was what she wanted. So why treat transgender children differently? The answer we usually hear is to prevent suicides—but anorexic children become suicidal too, and we don’t claim that the answer to their despair is “fat-affirming care.” So, again, why the divergent approaches between these different agonizing but analogous emotional states?

Blame ideology—and politics. The LGBT-etc. movement is a cultural tsunami. Activists tolerate no dissent—to the point that even fervent gay rights supporters such as gay journalist Andrew Sullivan and the socially liberal “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling have been subjected to vicious criticism and professional canceling for daring to question transgender orthodoxy.

But it’s hardly settled science that GAC is the best approach to treating gender dysphoria in children. Indeed, a growing chorus of heterodox voices is now urging caregivers to hit the brakes.

Interestingly, Europe is leading the way. Sweden and Finland have both pulled back from quickly offering puberty blockers, with Finland’s medical guidelines (pdf) stating, in part: “The initiation of hormonal interventions that alter sex characteristics may be considered before the person is 18 years of age only if it can be ascertained that their identity as the other sex is of a permanent nature and causes severe dysphoria.” Also, no more youth mastectomies or bottom surgeries. In other words, the ready application of GAC in that country is no more.

Last year, after a careful review of published studies, the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence reached a similar conclusion. It recommended against puberty-blocking drugs after concluding that there’s “very low” evidence that they’re beneficial for children with gender dysphoria, while their potential for physical harm is very real.

Even more startlingly, the National Health Service’s Tavistock gender clinic was recently shuttered after a damning report accused the facility of not keeping children “safe” by too readily engaging in gender-affirming medical interventions. Children with gender dysphoria will now be sent to local clinics, but their mental and emotional issues will be more thoroughly explored before deciding how best to determine their course of care. More potently, more than 1,000 families are expected to join a medical negligence lawsuit soon against the clinic by the victims of GAC because of the alleged harm these interventions caused.

An announcement by France’s National Academy of Medicine (pdf) also turned against GAC, noting a recent exponential spike in gender dysphoria cases in young people, which it called “epidemic-like” and driven by “excessive engagement with social media, greater social acceptability, or influence by those in one’s social circle.”

Moreover—and this is very important—the academy found that “there is no test to distinguish between persisting gender dysphoria and transient adolescent dysphoria,” meaning that some of these children will come to accept that they are the sex they were born by the time they reach majority. “It is, therefore, appropriate,” the announcement reads, “to extend the phase of psychological care as much as possible.”

These aren’t exactly Bible Belt countries. So, I ask readers: What better preserves the “intrinsic dignity” of children who have gender dysphoria; which approach is more loving, protective, and rational—unquestioning and unequivocal endorsement of GAC, as epitomized by the Episcopal Church’s stance, or the more prudent and child-protective approach advocated by the Finns, Brits, Swedes, and the French Academy (as well as by some U.S. states, such as Florida)?

Given the increasing number of angry “detransitioners” complaining that they weren’t protected by adults from the harm caused by GAC when they believed mistakenly they weren’t their birth gender, the answer seems obvious to me.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Award-winning author Wesley J. Smith is host of the Humanize Podcast (Humanize.today), chairman of the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism and a consultant to the Patients Rights Council. His latest book is “Culture of Death: The Age of ‘Do Harm’ Medicine.”