An international reaction mobilising Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual as well as LGBT rights organisations, doctors’ associations, feminists, parents of young people expressing gender dysphoria, and people regretting their medical transition has denounced clear violations of fundamental principles of governance by the World Health Organisation. WHO has appointed a working group of trans-affirmative activists, most of whom have no scientific expertise, to establish international standards for the “provision of gender-affirming care, including hormones”, and to promote the legal recognition of gender self-determination as a universal human right.
More than 11,000 organisations and individuals have signed the “who-decides.org” petition, which was launched on 28 December 2023 by LGBT Courage Coalition (LGBTCC), a US organization which opposes the censorship of critical voices in the issue of pediatric gender medicine, founded by Jamie Reed, a whistleblower from a Missouri-based pediatric gender clinic.
Several LGBT organizations, medical and mental health professional organizations, and parent groups have written WHO about their concerns. They point out that the working group does not include any experts in child and adolescent development – even though young people are now the main cohort consulting gender medicine services, nor does it include a single critic of the controversial gender-affirmative model of care. Countries that pioneered LGBT rights, including Sweden, Finland and the UK, have halted hormone treatments for children and adolescents outside the framework of clinical research after systematic evidence reviews showed that the risks of these treatments outweigh their benefits. These countries, which now favor a holistic approach with an emphasis on psycho-social support for treating gender dysphoric youth, are among WHO’s most generous contributors.
Among the many letters of disapproval sent to the WHO, 22 parent groups from 14 countries, representing thousands of families affected by the explosion in the number of young people claiming to be of the opposite sex, have shared their experiences. Their testimonies reveal the stories of children rushed into experimental and high-risk medical interventions, families torn apart, young people, including detransitioners, coping with irrevocable damage to their physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive health.
WHO announced the guidelines just before Christmas, only giving the public until January 8, 2024 to comment on possible conflicts of interest among the appointed experts, whose first meeting is already scheduled for February 2024 in Geneva. Helen Joyce, former editor at The Economist and committee member of Sex Matters (a signatory of LGBTCC’s petition), said, “This is part of a disturbing pattern worldwide, in which trans healthcare guidance and programs are written by small, ideologically driven groups behind closed doors, and then presented as definitive.”
Of the 21 members of the WHO-appointed group, the majority have serious conflicts of interest. Some are well-known, radical activists who promote experimental medical interventions and stigmatize exploratory therapy. Many are WPATH senior leaders who promote a singular position. Among the “experts” is Florence Ashley, a “transfeminist lawyer and bioethicist” whose preferred pronouns are ” They/Them/That Bitch,” and who says that “puberty blockers should be seen as the default option” for treating young people. Ashley has argued that allowing this vital stage of human development to proceed “strongly favors cis embodiment by increasing the psychological and medical costs of transition.” This careless approach puts countless young people around the world at serious risk of medical harm.
Concerned citizens are calling on WHO to facilitate open and transparent dialogue about proper treatments for gender dysphoria, the importance of recognizing biological sex, and the best way to protect trans-identified individuals without sacrificing protections for women, children and gay people. The public must be given more time to weigh in. And WHO’s guidance development group (GDG) must include experts with a diversity of perspectives and take the time to understand all the risks, benefits, and unknowns involved, rather than arriving in Geneva with their minds already made up.
For more information
- The petition WHO DECIDES?
- Letter to the WHO from 22 parent groups
- Other letters to WHO
- Clinical Advisory Network on Sex and Gender (CAN – SG)
- Helen Joyce
- LGBT Courage Coalition
- LGB Alliance Canada
- Partners for Ethical Care
- Reem Alsalem, United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls
- Sex Matters
- Society for evidence based gender medicine
- Therapy First
- Transgender Trend
- Women’s Forum Australia