Viewpoint: Why are misconceptions about transgender youth so widespread? Maybe too many people listen to misinformed pundits like FOX’s Tucker Carlson

Tucker Carlson. Credit: LA Blade
Tucker Carlson. Credit: LA Blade

[Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson has] repeatedly mangled and misrepresented the science on gender dysphoria and transgender youth.

“There is not a single study that I’m aware of that shows improvement in the mental health of children who take puberty blockers, who are chemically castrated. And you couldn’t cite one,” [Carlson said April 27 to Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson who vetoed a bill blocking healthcare for transgender youth.]

To directly resolve Tucker’s ignorance, here are two systematic reviews published late last year which document improved mental health outcomes for gender dysphoric youth given puberty-blockers.

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Tucker subsequently made an offhand reference that most dysphoric kids will end up wanting to keep their birth gender, and that many who choose to transition end up regretting it. This assertion goes against available evidence.

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“Empirical studies… show this isn’t a widespread phenomenon,” [Sai Shanthanand] Rajagopal and [Henna] Hundal wrote in Stat. “In a 2015 national survey of nearly 28,000 transgender people in the U.S., only 8% of patients detransitioned — and of that 8%, two-thirds detransitioned temporarily.”

Youth gender dysphoria and transgender medicine are complex issues. That’s why, when discussing them, it’s important to be intellectually humble, deferential to patients, doctors, and parents, and informed and honest about available scientific evidence. Tucker Carlson failed in all of these respects.

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