March 5, 2024 - 7:00am

Over the last few years, prominent doctors, medical experts and media figures have claimed that the best way to help adolescents in distress about their gender is to give them puberty blockers, hormones, and surgeries to align their physical sex with their gender identity. The alternative to doing this, they have said, is suicide. And yet a new study published last month found no scientific evidence to support the claim that drugs and surgeries prevent suicide among people with gender dysphoria.

While we should be concerned about children and adolescents experiencing distress over their biological sex, there is new evidence to warrant far greater caution in how we treat them. Last year, whistleblowers presented me with a video and selection of messages from an internal chat system sent between members of the World Professional Association For Transgender Health (WPATH).

A message from the WPATH files

The WPATH files show surgeons, therapists, and activists discussing internally how to treat people with gender distress. They reveal that what is happening is neither good science nor good medicine. There is a discussion, for example, of blocking the puberty of a 10-year-old girl and a 13-year-old developmentally delayed child. Another exchange details carrying out genital surgery on people with schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as multiple personality disorder.

At the core of medical ethics is the principle “do no harm”. Doctors and medical professionals obtain what is known as “informed consent” from the people receiving the medicine or their caregivers.

Yet these files outline overwhelming evidence that some gender clinicians associated with WPATH know that they are not receiving consent from children, adolescents, and vulnerable adults or their caregivers. They are fully aware that the so-called “gender-affirming care” they provide can result in lifelong complications and that their patients do not understand the implications, including sterility and the loss of sexual function.

A message in which a WPATH doctor acknowledges the preponderance of mental illness among patients.

The documents also reveal that, despite decades of surgeries and drugs, there is nothing scientific at all about so-called gender medicine. WPATH has produced eight versions of its “Standards of Care”, but they are based on ideology rather than science. As a result, the surgeons, doctors, and therapists practising “gender medicine” are essentially making it up as they go along, conducting uncontrolled experiments and doing barely anything to follow up on whether they work.

After I received these files, my colleagues and I tried to report on them as journalists would. We quickly became overwhelmed by the size and complexity of the project, and decided to produce a full report about the files for Environmental Progress, our nonprofit research institute, to provide context of the best available science about gender distress. That report, written by journalist Mia Hughes, is now available to read, its entirely justified subtitle referring to “Pseudoscientific Surgical and Hormonal Experiments on Children, Adolescents, and Vulnerable Adults.”

Like most people, I have no problem with adults changing their bodies. But we should all be concerned with uncontrolled medical experiments being conducted on people who, due to their age or mental ability, are unable to consent. The files aren’t easy to read, but we urge you to do so.

Michael Shellenberger is the founder and president of Environmental Progress, as well as the author of the best-selling book Apocalypse Never (HarperCollins 2020) and San Fransicko (HarperCollins 2021).