November 15, 2022 - 3:00pm

The edifice is beginning to fall — and it’s happening faster than anyone could have predicted. The latest evidence comes from the New York Times, which has published a long article questioning the use of puberty blockers in children who reject stereotypical behaviour. “They paused puberty, but is there a cost?” asks the headline. But the bylines on the piece, Megan Twohey and Christina Jewett, are as significant as their investigation.

Twohey is one of two Times journalists who broke the story about Harvey Weinstein’s long history of abusing women. She and Jodie Kantor shared a Pulitzer, while a screen adaptation of their book, She Said, has just opened in British cinemas. Their work took down a Hollywood mogul who had previously been regarded as untouchable, which is why Twohey’s name on the article is so striking. Her colleague, Jewett, is an award-winning journalist whose beat includes drug safety.

Their article acknowledges that “concerns are growing about long-term physical effects and other consequences” of prescribing puberty blockers to children as young as eight. It cites cases where teenagers have developed osteoporosis, a condition of weakened bones that is usually seen in adults in their 50s and 60s. A girl in New York, who had been taking the drugs for two years, was found to have lost as much as 15% of her bone density.

These risks are widely recognised in the U.K., where the interim Cass report has led to the use of puberty blockers in children being restricted to research settings. But gender ideology has embedded itself in a wide range of institutions in the U.S., including much of the medical and political establishment. The Biden administration is completely captured, so much so that the President recently held a meeting in the White House with a 25-year-old man who ‘identifies’ as a girl. Biden told him that individual states have no right to restrict “gender-affirming” health care, including puberty blockers. He described attempts to do so as “outrageous” and “immoral”. 

In this context, the New York Times article is close to sedition, even though it repeats some of the most questionable claims of trans activists. “Transgender adolescents suffer from disproportionately high rates of depression and other mental health issues,” the authors say, claiming that the drugs “have eased some patients’ gender dysphoria”. The existence of ‘trans children’ is a central pillar of gender ideology, even though NHS England points out that most kids will grow out of it. 

Many of these children are just gender non-conforming. What the New York Times article calls “anguish” is what happens if they’re encouraged to reject their own bodies by well-meaning parents, and by doctors with an agenda. Prescribing powerful drugs is a way of medicalising healthy children, putting them on a pathway that leads in many cases to mutilation of the body. 

Even so, the pushback against trans ideology in the U.S. had to start somewhere. Any breach in the wall of silence is welcome, and what feels like heresy in Biden’s America has the ring of truth to anyone who dares to listen.

Joan Smith is a novelist and columnist. She has been Chair of the Mayor of London’s Violence Against Women and Girls Board since 2013. Her book Homegrown: How Domestic Violence Turns Men Into Terrorists was published in 2019.