Are medical malpractice lawsuits coming?
Laidlaw believes that in a few years those who regret going on Lupron and other hormones, particularly when the reality of lost fertility and other side effects hits them, will be making noise and taking legal action against those who encouraged them down this path.
"I would imagine what is likely to happen is that these kids will go into young adulthood and will start desisting and realize what they've been through and how traumatic it was. And I would think they would start having lawsuits against physicians, hospitals, and even pharmaceutical companies," he told CP.
"I'm sure some young adults are going to start asking: 'How come I can't have children at this point?' Well, it's because their fertility was destroyed by some combination of puberty blockers, wrong sex hormones and surgery."
While it's often framed in mass media that the only people opposed to transgender ideology are bigoted right-wingers and religious people, opposition to this does indeed span the political spectrum. Some radical feminists and others on the left have referred to the transing of young people as "gay and lesbian eugenics."
"If you look at it from a certain point of view, it makes sense," Laidlaw concurred.
"They are seeing that this will cause sterility to these young people and also likely sexual dysfunction as well. It's such an early stage of these children being treated that we don't hear a lot of these side effects cropping up yet."
Many people simply cannot believe this is happening because it seems too outlandish, he emphasized, but it is occurring. And it doesn't just stop with hormonal agents. Today, girls as young as 13 are undergoing mastectomies, Laidlaw said, citing a Sept. 12 investigative report from Jane Robbins at The Federalist.
Yet even as these horrors are being exposed, it hasn't slowed down the steady march toward normalizing these procedures on the West Coast.
The Rocklin physician was one of the doctors who testified earlier this year against AB 2119 in California, legislation that guaranteed resources for "gender-affirmative" treatment for children in the state foster care system who identify as transgender or nonbinary.
Dr. Andre Van Mol of Redding, California, a friend and colleague of Laidlaw who testified alongside him, noted in the Public Discourse in late October that the legislative hearings amounted to "kabuki theater" where they had limited time to make their case.
Nevertheless, they implored lawmakers to scrap the measure.
"Please do not pass this bill. Instead, I call for a formal investigation into ethical violations and violations of federal law regarding human experimentation on minors at UCSF and Children's Hospital Los Angeles. I have specific details of the laws being violated if you wish to ask," Laidlaw testified at the time.
"Children are being sterilized. Their sexual function is being permanently destroyed. They are being exposed to lifelong health risks for this 'affirmative' therapy, without being given the needed psychological therapy. AB2119 is a mistake. Please strike it down."
AB 2119 was passed and signed into law on Sept. 14.
Why has this been allowed to happen?
While transgenderism has been covered in news outlets more visibly in recent years, the medical developments have been brewing for decades under the radar.
In the 1970s, Dr. Quentin Van Meter, a pediatric endocrinologist in private practice in Atlanta, Georgia, was a fellow at Johns Hopkins where Dr. John Money began the concept of gender as an identity of one's inner sexual self. It was called "transsexual" back then, Van Meter explained to CP. Prior to this, the word "gender" was linguistic, generally used interchangeably with "sex" and was not medicalized.
"He had patients that he treated as adults and then he also had the pediatric patients treated with surgical and hormonal manipulations with really phenomenally bad outcomes," Van Meter said.
The Atlanta doctor credits Money with dividing sex and gender in a way that has spread so much confusion, both in the lives of patients and more broadly in culture.
"He thought perhaps we could societally change one's gender by treating people differently, socially and with hormones. And what he found was that he was trying to change sex," which was impossible, he said.
The entire project collapsed and Johns Hopkins ultimately closed the program in the early 1980s. It stayed relatively dormant until 2006 when Dr. Norman Spack in Boston, Massachusetts, decided to reinvigorate transgender medicine in the United States, Van Meter explained, "and from there it literally spread like a viral infection."
Van Meter recalled hearing a presentation from Spack at the combined European Pediatric Endocrine Society and the American Pediatric Endocrine Society and was appalled by what he heard, particularly what Spack was calling "solid science."
"There was no 'solid science' but it was not in a forum where I was comfortable raising my hand and saying, 'Excuse me, but where did you make up all this crap?' It wasn't my modus operandi and I just thought 'Well, this is a crazy person, this isn't going anywhere."
He was wrong.
Little did Van Meter know that between 2006 and 2009 Spack would help engineer the now infamous guidelines for the Endocrine Society. In Europe, prior to 2006, the thought of administering blockers to children was widely regarded in the academic and medical community as "wild nonsense," he told CP, and providers of this kind of treatment and surgeries were sparse and largely underground in the United States.
Yet with new professional directives, everything changed rapidly.
"When the 2009 guidelines were published they were astonishingly devoid of science. They were mostly recommended on hopeful thinking," Van Meter said, and they have only gotten worse.
Between 2009 and now the number of transgender medical clinics went up from a mere few to 55 in the U.S., he added, "and every academic center is clamoring to have one."
"Johns Hopkins has reopened their clinic with much fanfare, praising the work of John Money."
Since the updated 2017 version of the Endocrine Society's guidelines were published —which were even more liberal and argued for starting patients on cross-sex hormones earlier while minimizing the psychological evaluation of the child — the approach now has been to train the parents psychologically to accept transition as the route to a new destiny for their child, he explained.
"And the most recent terrible iteration of the guidelines came from the American Academy of Pediatrics, published in October, which essentially said that counseling is of no use whatsoever in terms of looking for medical psychological issues, so bypass that and go directly to puberty blockers."
Like Hruz, Van Meter concurred that with youth who begin puberty at an abnormally early age they have plenty of clinical experience and evidence for using blockers for a short time and then the hormonal signals will resume at the proper age.
"But when you give puberty blockers to a pubertal-aged child, what you're doing is sideswiping them out of the physiological development that puberty is intended to create and facilitate. You are taking calcium out of the bones of girls which cannot be introduced later; you're putting them at risk for osteoporosis. On top of that, you're taking the ovaries and testicles, which have not yet started to mature to the stage of fertility, and you're cutting them off at the knees, essentially making them sterile."
"It's all based on hope and wishes, and there are no controls to show that not doing this, or letting the kid go through appropriate counseling, has a better outcome. We already know that to be the case," he said, pointing to Toronto's Dr. Kenneth Zucker's work with 560 patients over the course of 30 years.
Transgender activists have called Zucker's data "old and useless," Van Meter said, and they have asserted that his patients were never transgender.
"That's a political tactic. If you don't like what they're saying make something up and throw it in their face and see if they'll shut up," Van Meter said.
"But the answer is no. We will not shut up."
Silencing dissenting doctors
"We can't get published anywhere," Van Meter continued.
"The bias, all the people that are controlling the studies that we do will not allow you to be published in the major journals. I cannot give talks on this to the Endocrine Society or the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists because I'm not invited. When I invite myself they don't want me."
That has not stopped him from continuing to try. Van Meter and few other like-minded endocrinologists have co-authored a letter of protest to the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism about these pro-transition guidelines.
"This is how it works," he recounted with disgust. "There is a core of very diabolical people who are filtering large sums of money into this and using mass social pressure."
When they attempt to write rebuttals, they can't do so because they "get thrown in with 'xenophobe, homophobe, transphobe, phobe-phobes' and we're all called 'right-wing Christian nutcases' and that summarily dismisses us because they supposedly have the science and we don't."
Speaking to the view some hold about the transing of young people being a form of "gay and lesbian eugenics," he surmised that it's an attempt to eliminate same-sex attraction by "medicalizing it to make it essentially a valid biological disease ... which it's not."
"And in the process, they're permanently damaging thousands upon thousands of children nationwide."
CP asked Van Meter how many minors he estimates have been transitioned in the dozens of gender clinics in the U.S. While he could not give a number, he does know such facilities are burgeoning with prospective patients. He has been told of one particular clinic in upstate New York that has an approximately 700-patient waiting list.
At Emory's clinic in Atlanta, they had 40 patients in their transgender clinic two years ago and in 2017 that number had more than doubled, he said. Even more alarming, hospitals are rewarded in prominent publications that provide influential rankings for all kinds of institutions for increasing their numbers.
"If you do not have a transgender clinic and you don't have enough numbers you don't get points," he explained. "There's a perverse incentive by our lovely U.S. News and World Report's Best of the Best Children's hospitals. It's to get more points by making sure you have more transgender patients in large numbers and you're helping these kids out, supposedly."
In addition to all the medical risks, the endocrinologists are particularly concerned about the psychological effects of the drugs.
'It's theoretically 'Oh we're going to create so much more happiness.' Of course, when you do stop puberty in a kid who does not want to go through puberty you can ask them and they'll say 'Heck yeah, I don't want to go through things I don't believe I'm supposed to,'" Van Meter said.
"Well, you're not doing a blind study where you're treating one group with injections that do nothing and others with blockers and then both ask about happiness levels, not by the investigators, by an independent team to sort out what the benefits and side effects are. There is no control group whatsoever."
Doctors must start speaking up, he reiterated.
"Something has to stop this. And we will. We will be relentless in our best efforts to get this out in front of the public in any way we can."
What can parents do?
All three endocrinologists with whom CP spoke recommend appropriate counseling to uncover root causes for distress instead of immediately thinking something is wrong with their bodies and that gender change is the solution.
"Every one of those kids has an undercurrent of a psychological issue that is causing them to look for gender confusion as an outlet to explain how they feel," Van Meter said.
"And what they need to do is find regular, routine, local counselors to go to and find out what the real issue is. And it may be painful because the parents might be involved unwittingly in creating an environment that is causing the anxiety and depression for their child.
"But it's much easier to accept that and go clean out the cobwebs and the dark places in the basement and bring in light than it is to cover over it with this fake nonscience."