New research published in the Journal of Adolescent Health by scholars at the University of Texas purports to show that the more transgender youth are called by their preferred name in society, it lowers their risk of suicide and depression. However, a top pediatrician denounced the research as "meaningless" and leading to "false" conclusions.
"Do not be fooled. This recent study, like all trans youth studies before it, is political agenda masquerading as science," Dr. Michelle Cretella, president of the American College of Pediatricians, which publicly opposes gender transition procedures and treatments for children, told The Christian Post.
"As is customary of all trans youth research, this is a woefully small study that is not at all representative of children who self-identify as transgender nationwide. Consequently, the statistics derived from it are meaningless and the conclusions false."
The study, conducted by Stephen T. Russell, chair of the school's Department of Human Development and Family Sciences, and his team of researchers, claims to have found a noticeable link between the use of preferred names and reduced mental health risks such as depressive symptoms and suicidal behaviors in transgender individuals.
The team interviewed 129 youths ages 15 to 21 in three U.S. cities — one in the Northeast, one in the Southwest and one on the West Coast — and asked if people call them by their chosen name at school, work, home and while they are hanging out with their friends.
According to Russell, the sample is "remarkably ethnically and geographically diverse and diverse in terms of social class."
Compared to peers who said they are not allowed to use their chosen name in any of the four societal settings, the study found that respondents who are allowed to use their name in all four areas experienced 71 percent fewer symptoms of severe depression, a 65 percent decrease in suicidal attempts and a 34 percent decrease in reported thoughts of suicide.
"Many kids who are transgender have chosen a name that is different than the one that they were given at birth," Russell said in a statement. "We showed that the more contexts or settings where they were able to use their preferred name, the stronger their mental health was."
The study also found that respondents who had only one social venue in which their chosen name is used is associated with a 29 percent decrease in suicidal thoughts.
"I've been doing research on LGBT youth for almost 20 years now, and even I was surprised by how clear that link was," Russell stated.
Russell suggested that allowing transgender youths to use their chosen name instead of their name assigned at birth in places such as schools, hospitals, workplaces, financial institutions and other areas of society is a step that should be taken to help affirm a person's transgender identity.
While a number of left-leaning media sites have picked up on the survey, Cretella is warning not to jump to conclusions based off of the findings in the new study.
Cretella, one of the most prominent critics of hormone therapy for children, told CP that only 74 respondents in the University of Texas study actually changed their birth name.
She added that the sample also included non-trans youth who are "merely gender non-conforming" — meaning they identify with their biological gender but express traits or preferences of that of the other gender.
"Out of 129 youth, some of them self-identified as trans (we are not told how many) and others were identified as 'gender non-conforming' which could include girls who think of themselves as tomboys. Seventy-four out of the 129 actually chose a new name," she explained, arguing that a sample of only 74 has "low statistical power." "We do not even know if those who chose a new name actually self-identify as trans."
"So, for example, there could be a 'gender nonconforming' girl named Samantha who is a stereotypical tomboy who chooses to go by 'Sam' — and lo and behold is perfectly mentally healthy," she continued. "We have no way of knowing from this study as it is written."
Cretella said it should come as no surprise that affirmation of a child's gender identity would produce short-term relief for children. She pointed to adult studies, including a long-term Swedish study from 2011, that indicate the existence of a "honeymoon period" or a "period of reported relief and happiness" for individuals who undergo sex reassignment procedures.
"Ten years beyond transition, however, rates of additional mental illness begin to rise precipitously, to the point that thirty years following surgical transition (mutilation), the suicide rate is 19 times greater than that of the general population," Cretella said. "In other words, it is no surprise that 'affirming' a child's charade should produce a degree of 'relief' and 'happiness' in the short term (less than 10 years after completion of transition)."
"At best, cooperating with a child's fantasy or delusion of being trapped in the wrong body temporarily mutes the impact of significant underlying emotional and psychological problems that are ultimately causing the gender dysphoria in the first place," she added.
Cretella warned that there are "far more glaring and dangerous problems" associated with "all trans youth research to date," suggesting that it is based around a central gender identity ideology.
"All trans research is rooted in a gender ideology which assumes as fact that a male or female essence may be innately trapped in the wrong body," she asserted. "This is not science, this is gnostic dualism found in pagan religions."