EXCLUSIVE: The U.S. is more lenient than any European country when it comes to allowing children to access medical services for gender transitions, according to a new study.
The study, published by Do No Harm, a group that seeks to insulate the health care profession from “radical, diverse and discriminatory ideology,” analyzed the laws of European countries and concluded “the United States is the most permissive country when it comes to the legal and medical gender transition of children.” Laws vary in the U.S. by state, but overall, transgender youth in America have greater access to gender clinics, puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgeries, oftentimes without parental consent.
Dr. William Malone, a board-certified endocrinologist, said the U.S. political environment discourages doctors from critiquing the use of unproven and risky medical interventions in youth because they fear backlash from influential medical associations and politicians.
“We are dealing with what may be the biggest medical and ethical scandal of modern times,” Malone told Fox News Digital. “Transgender medicine is big business, and youth who are transitioning today will be medical patients for life, for the next 60-plus years. Mental health among youth is at an all-time low, making them particularly vulnerable to solutions that suggest an ‘easy fix.’”
The Biden administration has declared gender-affirming treatment to minors to be “life-saving care,” while some Republican-led states that have tried to limit access face legal challenges to those decisions. Meanwhile, several European countries have backtracked on the accessibility of transgender treatments for minors, the study notes.
The United Kingdom’s National Health Service last year announced it will close its only gender clinic for children and will move from an affirmation model to a focus on treating gender dysphoria with greater skepticism through psychotherapy. The country will discourage the use of social transitions in prepubescent children, and health services will require a wider range of medical input beyond gender experts, such as specialists in pediatrics, autism, neurodisability and mental health, before treating children for gender dysphoria.
In 2000, Finland announced it would deviate its approach to transgender youth from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) and use psychotherapy as the primary treatment for children with gender dysphoria.
Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare updated guidelines in December to urge caution on transgender treatments for youth unless there is an “exceptional” case of gender dysphoria. The board said there is insufficient evidence on what caused the dramatic increase in dysphoria for teenage girls and cited instances of detransition as a concern.
The French Academy of Medicine declared last year that more caution is needed to treat unprecedented increases in transgender youth and noted the challenge of identifying dysphoria as permanent or an adolescent phase.
Malone said the Biden administration’s approach to transgender medicine issues “does not make sense,” adding invasive treatments should not be promoted until they’ve been proven to help more than harm.
“We have jumped to hormones and surgery bypassing the most obvious alternative — therapy,” Malone said “We need to take a step back and study these various interventions before we can determine the best way forward. This is just what Sweden, Finland and England have done, and we hope the U.S. will follow suit.”
The Biden administration has promoted puberty blocker and cross-gender hormone treatment drugs for transgender children even as it spent roughly $17 million on studies to analyze the dangers and uncertainties of the drugs from 2021 to 2022 through the National Institutes of Health. These dangers include the possibility of increased cardiovascular risks, weakened ability to fight sexually transmitted infections and infertility.
Moti Gorin, a bioethicist at Colorado State University, said transgender policy has become too politicized in the U.S. and that legislators should join European countries as they backtrack on treatments for transgender youth to better study the impacts.
“It is very unusual in medicine to see such substantial international differences among wealthy countries in the approach their medical authorities take to treating patients,” Gorin told Fox News Digital. “While major American medical organizations assert that puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones are safe and effective for treating gender dysphoric youth, some of these European countries, all of which have a more progressive climate for LGBT+ people, have taken a closer look at the evidence.
“And they have come to a different conclusion. From an ethical standpoint, this is troubling because both approaches cannot be correct, which means some, perhaps many, of these vulnerable patients are not getting the right kind of care.”
Most states in the U.S. require parental consent for puberty blockers, which can begin as early as age 8. Oregon recognizes a right to puberty blockers for transgender youth who are 15 or older and can allow treatment without parental consent.
Most European countries, the study notes, do not issue puberty blockers without parental consent until age 18, and with parental consent at 16. However, Sweden allows access without consent at 12, Finland at 13 and Denmark and Ireland at 15.
Some U.S. states are attempting to restrict minor access to cross-gender hormone treatment, and others allow access with parental consent beginning at age 13.
Several U.S. states restrict minor access to transgender surgeries. More liberal states follow WPAT recommendations, which suggest surgeries can be conducted on transgender youth beginning at age 15. Surgeries for 14-year-olds have been documented in the U.S.
Nearly all European countries prohibit surgeries on transgender youth without parental consent because of their nationalized health care systems, which do not allow any surgeries without parental consent.
The U.S. has more than 60 pediatric gender clinics and 300 clinics that offer transgender treatments to minors, a sharp contrast to European nations, most of which have only one to three options for transgender youth.
Terry Schilling, president of American Principles Project, said the U.S. contrasts with Europe on transgender access because the American system can chase profit.
“There’s no mistaking it now: Our medical industry and government authorities care more about ideology and profit than they do about the health and well-being of our kids,” Schilling told Fox News Digital. “Hopefully, the looming cascade of malpractice lawsuits will finally convince them to return to sanity as Europe is now doing. Lawmakers in Congress and the states also need to start getting involved. For the sake of America’s families, it’s time to put a stop to this horrific experimentation.”