New Report Refutes Flawed Science of Transgender Lawsuits in Texas and Alabama
A major new report by legal and medical experts from Yale Law School, Yale Medical School’s Center for Child Studies and Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, and the University of Southwest Texas takes an in-depth look at the misleading scientific claims that have informed recent actions by Texas and Alabama. criminalize the medical treatment of transgender youth.
The report, “Biased Science: The Texas and Alabama Measures Criminalizing Medical Treatment for Transgender Children and Adolescents Rely on Inaccurate and Misleading Scientific Statements,” represents the first comprehensive review of the Texas Attorney General’s opinion and state law. Alabama targeting gender-affirming medical care for transgender children and adolescents. The report strongly refutes the flawed scientific claims that inform the measures in both states and argues that authorities in Texas and Alabama have omitted important evidence demonstrating the benefits of treating gender dysphoria and exaggerated potential harms, brushing “distorted picture” of scientific evidence.
Although a number of scientific and professional organizations have denounced the actions of Texas and Alabama, the report by a team of seven experts in science, medicine and law presents the first point-by-point rebuttal. The report specifically describes the following:
- Officials in Texas and Alabama have falsely claimed that doctors regularly sterilize children and teenagers with surgical procedures. The authors point out that authoritative medical protocols for the treatment of transgender youth and prepubertal children do not permit genital surgery before the age of majority.
- The Texas and Alabama actions consistently ignore mainstream scientific evidence that documents the substantial benefits of gender-affirming care. The best scientific studies show that gender dysphoria is real and that gender-affirming care dramatically improves mental health outcomes, including reducing suicide rates.
- The Texas and Alabama actions greatly exaggerate the risks of gender-affirming drug therapy. Puberty blockers and hormone treatments, which are only used in adolescents (not prepubescent children), are safe and effective and are only used after a careful, step-by-step process of psychological and medical counseling. These therapies have long been approved by major medical authorities.
- Authorities in Texas and Alabama are relying on shoddy evidence. The Texas Attorney General cites debunked and outdated studies and relies on an unverified website created by political activists with little or no relevant scientific expertise.
“These are not close calls or areas of reasonable disagreement,” the authors write. “The AG opinion and Alabama law findings ignore established medical authorities and repeat discredited, outdated, and shoddy information. The AG Opinion also misrepresents reliable sources and repeatedly cites a fringe group whose listed advisers have limited (or no) scientific and medical qualifications and include well-known anti-trans activists.
In Texas, the governor cited a legal opinion from the state attorney general to classify gender-affirming medical care as child abuse, and in Alabama, the legislature imposed criminal penalties on anyone providing gender-affirming care for people under the age of 19. The report comes at a time when anti-LGBTQ legislation is on the rise across the country. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, bills restricting health care for transgender youth were proposed in at least 19 states in 2022.
“After thoroughly reviewing the AG’s opinion and findings of ‘fact’ in Alabama law, we conclude that their medical claims are not based on reliable science and are fraught with errors of omission and inclusion,” write the authors of the report. “These errors, taken together, completely discredit the AG Opinion’s assertion that standard medical care for transgender children and adolescents constitutes child abuse.” The law in Alabama makes similar errors and assertions, according to the report.
The report’s authors include Yale law professor Anne Alstott ’87 and Yale School of Medicine and Child Study Center professors: Susan D. Boulware, MD; Rebecca Kamody, Ph.D.; Meredith McNamara, MD, MS; Christy Olezeski, Ph.D.; and Nathalie Szilagyi, MD The group of authors also includes Laura Kuper, Ph.D., University of Texas Southwestern and Children’s Medical Center Dallas.
“The Texas AG opinion and Alabama law do not represent good faith efforts with some errors,” Alstott said. “The scientific errors and omissions are so numerous that the conclusion is clear: these laws are bias-driven and designed to achieve a predetermined goal: to deny gender-affirming care to transgender youth.”
Henry Robinson ’24, who helped Alstott as a research assistant, said there was a coordinated effort in state houses across the country to ‘deny trans children access to health care , excluding them from public life and cutting them off from loving and supportive families. Robinson noted that the efforts rely on sources with little or no scientific credibility.
“This effort rests on ill-informed and often downright dishonest expressions of concern about the supposed harms of gender-affirming health care for children,” Robinson explained.
The authors hope that by bringing together reliable scientific evidence, the report will serve as a vital resource for journalists, the general public and litigants who challenge these laws, and help ensure that other states do not rely on the authority legal opinion of Texas to enact similar laws nationwide.
Texas AG’s opinion “was not a fair look at the research,” said Olezeski, another of the report’s co-authors. “It was biased and politically motivated work.”
By presenting the science in an unbiased way, the authors hope to combat misinformation about gender-affirming care that can quickly creep into the public mind.
“We need to ask for factual checks on legal opinions and legislation,” said co-author McNamara. “Scientists must have a seat at the table. And perhaps most importantly, there must be a penalty for writing false science into law. Trans and non-binary youth are facing the fight of their lives to simply exist and we cannot leave them alone. Its a question of life or death. »
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