The scientific community is pushing back, and its research is devastating to the left’s narratives
Dec. 6, 2023
Analysis by Bill Osmulski
Debating transgenderism can be surreal. Basic objective truths that society once took for granted must now be defended against a fanatical opponent. Wisconsin Republican lawmakers dove into that arena in October, seeking to advance a package of bills designed to protect women and children from the radical transgender agenda. During the subsequent debates, Democrats staked out two main positions:
- There are no physiological differences between boys and girls.
- Sex changes for minors are normal and necessary.
As untenable as those beliefs might appear, Democrats have powerful allies in this debate. Much of the medical establishment is completely onboard with those notions. Rep. Robyn Vining (D-Wauwatosa) listed them off during the Assembly floor debate on Oct. 12th, including Children’s Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Medical College. Another influential supporter is the mainstream media, which creates the impression that science is firmly on the side of the transgender movement. There are also countless advocacy groups and special interests that generate talking points and flawed research, which feed Democrat arguments on the debate floor.
Incredibly, there are still many experts willing to publicly challenge the transgender movement. Although under immense social pressure, these scientists and researchers continue to produce reports that frustrate Democrats and their allies. Their studies in peer-reviewed scientific journals provide what should be the only arguments that parents and all commonsense adults need to confront the transgender agenda.
Two bills in the Republican package sought to ban biological males from participating in girls’ and women’s sports. Rep. Dave Considine (D-Baraboo) led the charge opposing them. He claimed that there are no physiological differences between men’s and women’s athletic potential, and that girls will just need to try harder when competing against biological males. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSA) disagrees.
“Biological sex is a primary determinant of athletic performance because of fundamental sex differences in anatomy and physiology dictated by sex chromosomes and sex hormones. Adult men are typically stronger, more powerful, and faster than women of similar age and training status,” explained ten scientists who wrote a study in the current issue of the ACSA’s journal (Hunter et al., 2023).
Rep. Considine also claimed that women athletes are closing the performance gap on their male counterparts.
“Since we’ve funded Title IX sports, the gap has consistently lessened between the best men and the best women, and that is across all sports,” Considine claimed.
It’s not exactly clear where Considine got that data, because, again, scientists beg to differ.
“Since the 1990s, the difference in performance records between males and females has been relatively stable, suggesting that biological differences created by androgenization explain most of the male advantage, and are insurmountable,” according to a study in the 2021 issue of Sports Medicine (Hilton, 2021).
But what about men who take testosterone blockers? In 2015, the International Olympic Committee decided that biological men could compete in women’s sports, as long as their testosterone levels are suppressed for at least 12 months before a competition. The NCAA has the same policy in place for college athletes. Researchers at the Journal of Sports Medicine say testosterone blockers don’t level the playing field at all.
“If those policies are intended to preserve fairness, inclusion and the safety of biologically female athletes, sporting organizations may need to reassess their policies regarding inclusion of transgender women,” the journal concluded.
Just because science isn’t on their side, doesn’t mean liberals can’t lie about it. Take Psychotherapist Taylor Clark-Condon’s testimony on the assembly bills for example. She cited a 2021 study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine that found hormone therapy results in the loss of muscle mass and strength (Harper et al., 2021).
Clark-Condon quoted the study’s results: “After 4 months of hormone therapy, transwomen have Hgb/HCT [hemoglobin] levels equivalent to those of [biological] women. After 12 months of hormone therapy, significant decreases in measures of strength, LBM and muscle area are observed.”
In her testimony, Clark-Condon concluded, “This means that Trans Women would not have a major physical advantage to their peers.”
However, that’s the exact opposite of what the researchers concluded. Had Clark-Cordon read the very next paragraph, she would have learned that even after years of hormone therapy, biological males remain stronger than biological women.
The researchers’ conclusion stated, “hormone therapy decreases strength, LBM [lean body mass] and muscle area, yet values remain above that observed in cisgender women, even after 36 months. These findings suggest that strength may be well preserved in transwomen during the first 3 years of hormone therapy.”
Their findings are particularly significant because they are the result of a systematic review of scientific studies on transgender hormone therapy from 2001 – 2020. Science seems to be on the side of those arguing for banning biological males from women’s sports.
Permanent Medical Procedures
In addition to protecting female athletes from transgender athletes, Assembly Republicans also sought to protect children from permanent life-altering transgender medical procedures. That includes all sex change operations (both on the upper and lower body) and hormone therapy (such as puberty blockers).
The left’s first approach was to deny sex change surgery is ever conducted on minors. Now, that could be true for vasectomies, hysterectomies, and genital alterations. However, minors do indeed get mastectomies (breast removal) as “gender affirming care.” Even the left concedes that point, at least a little.
“If, in rare cases, top surgery — removal or reduction of breast tissue — is approved for a patient under 18, the patient is almost always over the age of 16,” according to the Capital Times.
It’s not clear where the Capital Times got the idea that mastectomies on minors are “rare,” because it’s wildly inaccurate according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers conducted a study of 68 transgender children and young adults in L.A. who had mastectomies (Olson-Kennedy et al., 2018). The average age at the time of surgery was 17.5 years. In other words, most of them were under 18. Furthermore, of the 68 individuals, 16 of the kids (23.5%) were 15 years old or younger. Two of them were only 13 years old. By the way, the authors’ purpose was to promote transgender mastectomies, but even they did not attempt to claim that procedure is rarely conducted on minors.
Long Term Effects of Puberty Blockers
The ban on medical procedures would include puberty blockers and hormone therapy. Some opponents of the bill argued that the effects of puberty blockers are reversible.
Tessa Meurer, a medical student at UW, testified that puberty blockers are “reversible hormonal interventions” that “essentially ‘press pause’ on puberty to give youth time to explore and understand their gender identity, or provision of exogenous testosterone and estrogen hormones.”
There is little, if any evidence that the effects of puberty blockers are “reversible.” Researchers have documented several serious and permanent side effects associated with attempts to “pause” puberty.
First, researchers point out that there are no drugs that have been developed specifically to delay puberty, according to the American Journal of Bioethics. The drugs that doctors do prescribe were developed for other purposes like treating prostate cancer. Using them as “treatment for gender dysphoria” is an off-label use, according to a 2019 study in the American Journal of Bioethics (Laidlaw, 2019). The study identified several side effects of the puberty blockers including stunted genital development, infertility, impaired sexual function, and the disruption of normal bone development.
Not everyone who testified against the bill denied that taking puberty blockers have side effects, but they tried to minimize them by arguing that mental health is more important. This included a 17-year-old who began taking puberty blockers at age 12. The researchers pointed out that it’s wrong to allow a children to make such life-altering decisions.
“Children and adolescents have neither the cognitive nor the emotional maturity to comprehend the consequences of receiving a treatment for which the end result is sterility and organs devoid of sexual pleasure function,” the researchers stated.
Furthermore, researchers in a 2019 study for the journal Translational Andrology and Urology add, “The risks of long-term exposure to hormones by transgender individuals is not understood, and thus, any potential risks to the patient or future offspring is unknown. Also, offering any services that are currently experimental could cause harm to the patient, given that they are only available under a research protocol and the risks are still unclear” (Cheng et al., 2019).
Transgender Suicide Risks
The debate over youth sex change procedures inevitably turns to the issue of suicide. The left claims that transgender youth are more likely to commit suicide if they are denied those procedures. That’s a difficult claim to prove.
First, we don’t know how many transgender youths commit suicide. There is no publicly available data on the subject. The CDC, which is the clearing house for suicide statistics in the US, does not even make a distinction for LGBTQ status in its data on actual suicides.
That’s probably why researchers who have looked into the issue of LGBTQ suicides focus on thoughts and attempts of suicide, not actual suicides. Even with that omission, these are inherently flawed studies. They are not longitudinal, which would track large populations over long periods of time to determine the impact of different variables. The studies also rely on convenience sampling, which means they focus on people who are easily accessible rather than on a representative sample of the entire population. Because of those two factors, these studies all produce dramatically different results. The Journal of Adolescent Health reviewed a dozen different studies in 2016 with estimates of transgender youth who attempt suicide ranging from 9.3% to 30% (Connolly et al, 2016).
During the recent debates in the Wisconsin Capitol, many on the left cited a recent study by the Trevor Project. The Trevor Project is a national LGBTQ advocacy organization that frequently weighs in on state-level policies. Its stated mission is to “end suicide among LGBTQ young people.”
The Trevor Project’s study also does not address actual suicides, but only examines thoughts and attempts. It argues that half of transgender youth have considered suicide. According to the study, 57% of all transgender youth who are denied sex change therapy think about suicide, compared to 44% of those who received that therapy. 23% of those denied that therapy attempted suicide, compared to 15% of those who received it.
Like the other studies on transgender suicide, the Trevor Project’s survey has serious problems. First, it uses an enormous sample size of 34,759 participants. Sample sizes that large are likely to produce exaggerated results. A more serious problem is that those participants were found using ads on social media. That’s referred to as a voluntary response sample, which is highly susceptible to biased results. That’s because the people who take the time to answer the ad and complete the survey are likely to have similar opinions. Additionally, the study did not include non-LGBTQ participants, which means there is no control group with which to compare its results.
These studies are also susceptible to countless spurious variables and make little to no attempt to isolate them. For example, research has found that transgender individuals are three to six times more likely to be autistic than the general population. Researchers have found that individuals with autism are seven times more likely to attempt suicide than their non-autistic peers. Furthermore, individuals who are autistic and/or transgender are more likely to be bullied, which other researchers have also linked to an increased risk of suicide. It’s also important to point out that the suicide rate among all adolescents tripled in recent years.
There are other risk factors that could be contributing to suicidal inclinations among transgender youth. The CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey does not collect much information about LGBTQ youth nationwide, but it does provide some locally collected data from places like Boston, Los Angeles, Nashville, and Washington D.C. These show a trend of LGBTQ consistently engaging in risky behavior more often than their heterosexual peers. They’re twice as likely to get in a car with a drunk driver. They’re twice as likely to experience mental health problems. They’re also three times more likely to be in a sexually abusive dating relationship and over 26% of LGBTQ youth have tried illicit drugs, more than twice the percentage of heterosexual youth.
All of this is tragic, but there seems to be a lot more going on here than these individuals wanting to commit suicide simply because they’re being denied sex change procedures. As even the Trevor Project study’s authors admit, “causation cannot be inferred due to the study’s cross-sectional design.”
It can be frustrating having to argue common sense, but that does not excuse lazy arguments. The fact checking above demonstrates that the left’s talking points on transgenderism are either completely fabricated or based on flawed research to justify the political agenda it’s forcing on women and children. Conservatives need to take advantage of actual research and construct thoughtful and persuasive arguments to confront the left and their indefensible positions. There’s no need to settle for anecdotes or shouting matches when scientific fact is clearly on our side.
Cheng, P. J., Pastuszak, A. W., Myers, J. B., Goodwin, I. A., & Hotaling, J. M. (2019). Fertility concerns of the transgender patient. Translational Andrology and Urology, 8(3), 209–218. https://doi.org/10.21037/tau.2019.05.09
Connolly, M. D., Zervos, M. J., Barone, C. J., Johnson, C. C., & Joseph, C. L. M. (2016). The Mental Health of Transgender Youth: Advances in Understanding. Journal of Adolescent Health, 59(5), 489–495. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2016.06.012
Harper, J., O’Donnell, E., Khorashad, B. S., McDermott, H., & Witcomb, G. L. (2021). How does hormone transition in transgender women change body composition, muscle strength and haemoglobin? Systematic review with a focus on the implications for sport participation. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 55(15). https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2020-103106
Hilton, E. N., & Lundberg, T. R. (2021). Transgender Women in the Female Category of Sport: Perspectives on Testosterone Suppression and Performance Advantage. Sports Medicine (Auckland), 51(2), 199–214. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-020-01389-3
Hunter, Sandra K.1; Angadi, Siddhartha S.2; Bhargava, Aditi3; Harper, Joanna4; Hirschberg, Angelica Lindén5; Levine, Benjamin D.6; Moreau, Kerrie L.7; Nokoff, Natalie J.8; Stachenfeld, Nina S.9; Bermon, Stéphane10. The Biological Basis of Sex Differences in Athletic Performance: Consensus Statement for the American College of Sports Medicine. Translational Journal of the ACSM 8(4):p 1-33, Fall 2023. | DOI: 10.1249/TJX.0000000000000236
Laidlaw, M., Cretella, M., & Donovan, K. (2019). The Right to Best Care for Children Does Not Include the Right to Medical Transition. The American Journal of Bioethics, 19(2), 75–77. https://doi.org/10.1080/15265161.2018.1557288
Olson-Kennedy, J., Warus, J., Okonta, V., Belzer, M., & Clark, L. F. (2018). Chest Reconstruction and Chest Dysphoria in Transmasculine Minors and Young Adults. JAMA Pediatrics, 172(5), 431. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.5440