A new report suggests that chest reconstruction surgeries performed on adolescents with gender dysphoria increased nearly 400% from 2016 to 2019 as concerns about the ethics and consequences of medical interventions for trans-identified youth persist.
The Journal of the American Medical Association released the report Monday examining the frequency of gender transition surgeries involving the human chest among adolescents in the United States.
The report, authored by Rishub Karan Das, Dr. Galen Perdikis and Dr. Salam Al Kassis of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, analyzed data from the Nationwide Ambulatory Surgery Sample on youth with gender dysphoria who underwent "top" surgeries between 2016 and 2019.
The research analyzed the incidence of both masculizing and feminizing chest reconstruction surgery. Masculinizing chest surgeries involve the removal of the breasts, while feminizing chest surgeries involve the augmentation of breast tissue designed to make the organs more visible in biological males who identify as females.
The report found that the number of chest reconstruction surgeries performed on minors increased from about 100 in 2016 to 489 in 2019, a 389% increase in three years.
The number of chest reconstruction surgeries has steadily increased over the years, surpassing 200 in 2017 and eclipsing 300 in 2018.
The study analyzed a weighted estimate of 1,130 operations performed. According to the research, masculinizing chest surgeries accounted for the overwhelming majority of chest reconstruction surgeries in the three-year period. Feminizing chest surgeries comprised just 1.4% of the total.
While the majority of children who had the surgeries were 17 years old, about 5.5% were under 14. The median age for recipients of the surgeries was 16 years old.
The research did not provide statistics about "bottom" surgeries among minors, which involve the removal of the sex organs that correspond with the patient's biological sex and/or creating artificial sex organs that match their stated gender identity.
Many children's hospitals, including the one at Vanderbilt University, have come under fire for performing life-altering procedures on children.
Vanderbilt announced that it will halt those surgeries following backlash to reporting indicating that the hospital offered them.
While the authors contend that "gender-affirming surgery may improve the functioning and mental health" of teens with gender dysphoria, other medical organizations remain skeptical about the benefits of gender transition procedures.
The American College of Pediatricians, which describes itself as a "national organization of pediatricians and other healthcare professionals dedicated to the health and well-being of children," warns about the long-term and short-term impacts of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, which are commonly prescribed to youth with gender dysphoria.
The organization identified the side effects of puberty blockers as "osteoporosis, mood disorders, seizures, cognitive impairment and when combined with cross-sex hormones, sterility." Additionally, the medical organization states that cross-sex hormones come with "an increased risk of heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, blood clots and cancers across their lifespan."
Concerns about the negative consequences of surgical interventions for trans-identified children have prompted several states to outlaw the performance of such procedures on minors.
Alabama, Arizona and Arkansas have passed laws to that effect while the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton have classified gender transition surgeries on minors as a form of child abuse.
Critics contend that the gender-transition procedures offer a permanent solution to what might be a temporary problem for many adolescents suffering from gender dysphoria.
Detransitioners, those who formerly struggled with gender dysphoria and have since come to regret the gender transitions they underwent, have become increasingly outspoken about sharing their stories.
Last week, Chloe Cole, an 18-year-old who underwent a double mastectomy at 15, discussed the regret of having her breasts removed when calling into a Conejos Valley Unified School District board meeting in Ventura County, California.
"Very quickly, I was given what I wanted, but it was far from what I needed. Two years later, I was still suffering from major complications," she explained.
Cole suggested that as a minor, she lacked the maturity to understand the ramifications of her life-altering decisions.
"I will not be able to breastfeed any children I have in the future, and my sexuality has permanently been affected because I was allowed to make adult decisions starting at 13 and then again at 15," she said.
Cole characterized her experience as an example of "what happens when we treat children like adults and expect them to have the mental faculties for proper long-term decision-making."
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org