Letter: Utah doctor completely misrepresents research on gender-affirming care

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Flags at City Hall in Salt Lake City — shown on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020 — mark Transgender Awareness Week.

I am a biopsychology professor and have a forthcoming book on research methods. The letter from Dr. David Boettger supporting Utah’s ban on gender-affirming care for youth completely misrepresented the research and facts.

First, “rapid onset gender dysphoria” is not a type of gender dysphoria that a single legitimate mental or physical health organization acknowledges, including the ones he practices under. So, as a doctor, he is going outside his diagnostic lane.

Second, the oft-mentioned research article he focuses on is GIGO: garbage in, garbage out. That study with such wild stats was not even studying the youth themselves, but instead was a survey solicited to parents of kids in — get this — an anti-trans online forum! Many clinicians and scientists have called for the retraction of that paper.

Thirdly, I am shocked he would take one instance of a mass shooting where the assailant was trans and then imply that giving gender-affirming care would cause more mass shootings! There have been only two or three mass shooters in modern times who were somehow under the trans or gender nonconforming umbrella. Trans people are far less likely than cisgender people to commit such an atrocious act.

Boettger is a doctor and he should know better, but he is blinded by his own biases and is twisting the research to fit that.

Lastly, when you look at the potential negative outcomes, you must study how society’s response plays a role. The higher risks of suicide, drug use, mental illness, and potential de-transitioning come from the severe social stigma and ostracization from their families, religious community, and the pediatricians they should have been able to trust — not their gender identity.

Justice Morath, Salt Lake City

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