WPATH clinicians stand by statements that more assessment needed

In a Medscape Medical News article published yesterday, Transgender Docs Warn About Gender-Affirmative Care for Youth (you can create a free account to read the entire piece), WPATH psychologists Erica Anderson and Laura Edwards-Leeper reiterated their independent statements made in October that more assessment is required for gender-questioning young people under the age of 25. They also worry about activist pressure stifling public discussion of the contentious topic.

Anderson says she stands by the comments she made to Shrier. “I’m concerned that there are some…providers of mental health [care] and medical providers who are not observing WPATH standards of care and who may be less fully qualified to deliver care.” One of the “sloppy” things she says she’s witnessed is providers “believing that the gender-affirmative approach is simply taking what the children say and running with it.”

-Alicia Ault

Anderson, who is herself a transgender woman, goes on to say that “[a]n evaluation for gender dysphoria requires a comprehensive picture of every young person, their journey, and a medical and psychological profile.” She says she is worried about the “haste” that is expediting transition based on the sole word of a child.

Even Dr. Jason Rafferty, the lead author of the American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement on affirmative care for gender-questioning youth, agrees that Anderson’s concerns are “legitimate.”

Edwards-Leeper, currently WPATH’s chair of the child and adolescent committee and the psychologist who introduced the Dutch Protocol to the United States, concurs with Anderson and adds clinicians should also be concerned about the care for gender-questioning young people up to age 25.

“We’re not going to be helping any youth if we’re not trying to look critically at the practices that are happening and try to improve upon things that maybe need to be changed.”

-Laura Edwards-Leeper

Both psychologists acknowledge the potential role of peer influence: “Teenagers influence each other, so it should not come as a surprise that peer influence is a factor for sexual or gender identity,” [Anderson] says. She goes on to ask, “How do we determine which of these kids are going to fit into an identity different than cis?… Honestly I’m not sure we have the data yet to be certain.”

Edwards-Leeper notes that this is not a partisan issue. Of the concerned families she has talked with, “They’re almost all liberal, progressive, left-leaning, supportive of LGBTQ people, very smart, very resourceful parents.”

Both Anderson and Edwards-Leeper call for more assessment:

Providers should be “properly and comprehensively assessing the individual young person and figuring out an individualized treatment plan for them, which may or may not involve medical interventions, but they should always be done before any medical intervention per the standards of care, but especially before hormones….”

This is “not conversion therapy, you’re not trying to change their gender, you’re just trying to help them sort out where this all came from and what it is that’s actually going to help them feel better….”

Laura Edwards-Leeper

Hopefully Anderson and Edwards-Leeper with their insider knowledge will continue to speak out on this issue – and mainstream media will start to listen to them.

Image credit: cottonbro, Pexels

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