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Over 3,600 12- to-18-year-olds underwent sex-change surgeries from 2016 to 2020, study shows

Operating room staff perform a surgery.
Operating room staff perform a surgery. | Getty Images

At least 3,600 individuals between the ages of 12 and 18 underwent body-disfiguring gender transition surgeries across the United States between 2016 and 2020, according to data released this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

JAMA Network Open, a monthly open-access medical journal, published the study "National Estimates of Gender-Affirming Surgery in the US" last week, examining the "temporal trends" of gender transition surgeries between 2016 and 2020.

The report examines 48,019 patients who underwent such surgeries and was authored by Drs. Jason Wright, Ling Chen, Yukio Suzuki and Dawn Hershman of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons' Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Dr. Koji Matsuo of the University of Southern California Los Angeles' Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Among this sample, 3,678 individuals (7.7%) who underwent gender transition surgeries were between 12 and 18.

Most patients who received such procedures were between the ages of 19 and 30 (52.3%) while 21.8% were between the ages of 31 and 40. About 9.1% were between the ages of 41 and 50. Significantly smaller shares of patients who had the surgeries were aged 51-60 (6.2%), 61-70 (2.6%) or older than 70 (0.4%). 

Breast and chest surgeries, which involve the removal of healthy breasts from trans-identified females or the construction of breast tissue in trans-identified males, constituted the overwhelming majority of gender transition procedures performed on individuals ages 12 to 18.

Specifically, 87.4% of 12-to-18-year-olds who underwent gender transition procedures had breast or chest surgeries performed on them. 

Meanwhile, 11.0% of patients between the ages of 12 and 18 underwent genital surgeries, which result in the removal of reproductive organs that align with an individual's biological sex and/or the construction of reproductive organs that correspond to their stated gender identity, between 2016 and 2020. 

Overall, the total number of gender transition surgeries about tripled from 4,552 in 2016 to 13,011 in 2019 before decreasing slightly to 12,818 in 2020. Breast or chest surgeries constitute a larger share of the operations performed among the population as a whole (56.6%) than genital surgeries (35.1%). 

The study describes gender transition procedures, which it refers to as "gender-affirming surgeries," as "associated with improved quality of life, high rates of satisfaction, and a reduction in gender dysphoria," as well as "decreased depression and anxiety."

However, several detransitioners, those who once identified as a member of the opposite sex but have seen their discomfort with their biological sex subside as they got older, have come forward to dispute this narrative.

Chloe Cole, who underwent a double mastectomy at 15, has filed a lawsuit against the medical providers who treated her gender dysphoria as a youth.

The complaint maintains that the treatment Cole received, which also included cross-sex hormones, left her with "deep physical and emotional wounds, severe regrets, and distrust of the medical system." As explained in a notice of intent to sue last year, Cole experienced suicidal thoughts and a deteriorating state of mental health as a result of the life-altering procedure. 

In addition to the mental health effects on those who undergo them, gender transition procedures also leave behind unsightly scars.

Earlier this year, the office of Florida's Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis released pictures of post-op trans-identified patients, one of whom had a scar formed following the removal of forearm tissue to create a fake, flaccid penis in a trans-identified female. The other picture documented the scars from a double mastectomy that removed a trans-identified female's healthy breasts. 

Nearly two dozen states have taken action to prohibit the performance of some or all types of gender transition surgeries on minors in light of concerns about their long-term effects: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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