Swedish documentary: Stopping the Trans Train

Written by Genspect parent Derek Duval.

Sweden, home of the Nobel Awards that in 1949 gave the prize in Medicine for the lobotomy, has also produced Part Four of the high-impact documentary series “Trans Train,” released at the end of November with English subtitles.  Produced by investigative journalists from Mission: Investigate, the prior three installments were a significant catalyst for the Swedish parliament’s shifting stance on healthcare policy for trans-identified youth.

This fourth episode focuses primarily on one young child, a natal female who at age 10 proclaimed a transgender identity.  Like many others, her parents believed the “affirmation” narrative and began a social transition, allowing their daughter to rename herself “Leo.”

Despite her parents’ supportiveness through social transition, Leo began self-harming – an all-too-common comorbidity seen in trans-identified youth.  She became depressed and withdrawn, so her parents sought help and were referred to a gender clinic in Sweden’s nationalized healthcare system where they were told “the earlier you stop puberty, the better.”

Trusting the advice of the health service, Leo’s parents agreed to start her on puberty blockers at 11 years old.  After a period of euphoria following the beginning of the treatment, Leo’s mental health deteriorated, and she became suicidal.  In spite of sharing their growing doubts, anxiety, and distress with the healthcare providers, Leo’s parents were continually told that things would get better.  Leo and her parents were instead praised and reinforced for being “brave.”

The exposé follows Leo’s heartbreaking degradation. Her back begins to hurt constantly, but there is no follow-up from the health service, and treatment with puberty blockers continues.  Finally, tests and images confirm the worst fears.  Sweden’s head of pediatric endocrinology (who had no involvement in Leo’s treatment) reviewed her test results and concluded that she had spinal fractures and two malformed vertebrae – highly likely as a result of the puberty blockers that were nonetheless continued for three more months after the damage was diagnosed.

Puberty blockers stop the body’s growth and bone mineralization, but these risks were never adequately described to the parents.  Leo’s mother calls it “a healthy skeleton that was destroyed” by experimental medicine. (For more information on puberty blockers and their side effects, please refer to Stats for Gender, Sweden’s evidence review, and the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) systematic evidence review.)

Against the backdrop of Leo’s tragic outcome, Trans Train 4 explores the gradual transition from ideological to scientific rationales for the medical treatment of trans-identified youth and indicates that many doctors in Sweden who had been providing gender transition services are leaving the field.  Whether they are following their conscience or trying to escape liability (or both) is left to the viewer to ponder.

What is made crystal clear is the squirming of the officials who authorized the treatments.  They obfuscate, duck for cover, and shift blame with the deftness of practiced bureaucrats.  Mission: Investigate concludes “those with the ultimate responsibility blame each other.”

Sweden, along with Finland, the UK, and to some extent Australia, are in various stages of taking a more cautious stance toward puberty blockers, hormone treatments, and surgeries for trans-identified youth, taking heed of the dangers of these interventions weighed against the paltry evidence for their long-term effectiveness in treating gender dysphoria.

Meanwhile, in the US and Canada, the affirmation approach is still rampant. For instance, this video released on November 17th 2021 by the reputable University of Virginia’s Teen and Young Adult Health Center describes an all-too-common approach to Pediatric Gender Health in the US:

“We think it is incredibly important to create an inclusive and affirming environment for our patients,” states Mary Sullivan, the outreach coordinator for the clinic.  She continues that “we believe all patients deserve respectful, affirming care from their healthcare providers.”  In another UVA Health promotional video, she claims that “puberty blockers are wonderful because they provide sort of a break and their effects are reversible.”  It is relevant to note that Sullivan speaks on behalf of UVA Health but is neither a medical professional nor a psychologist.

What will it take for the US, Canada, and other nations to take note of Sweden’s caution and heed the efforts of organizations like The Society for Evidence Based Gender Medicine (SEGM) and sites like statsforgender.org that provide scientific evidence piercing the veil of ideology that currently dominates and subverts rational discussions about care of trans-identified youth? While ultimately it will be about lawsuits (money), insurance companies denying payment for procedures (money), and malpractice insurance rates skyrocketing for doctors prescribing hormones (money), it is the growing number of detransitioners, concerned parents, and damaged young bodies that should be enough to stop this train wreck.

Voices like Mission: Investigate are calling out from distant yet ever increasing platforms to insist on the understanding of childhood and adolescent development, the wisdom of in-depth exploration of comorbidities, and the directive for medical professions to first to do no harm. 

Watch the entire fourth episode of Trans Train with English subtitles.

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons (flag) and Derek Dibert of Pexels (bullet train)

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