FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—Fifteen Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate sent a letter to the National Institutes of Health Tuesday, demanding answers about a study on experimental medical interventions for youth who claim to identify as transgender.
Two of the study participants committed suicide, 11 experienced suicidal ideation, and the drugs participants took will likely sterilize them, the Republicans noted.
“It is sickening that the federal government is preying on young people and using our taxpayer dollars to advance its radical gender ideology,” Rep. Josh Brecheen, R-Okla., told The Daily Signal in a statement on the letter, exclusively provided to The Daily Signal. “We are rightfully demanding answers from NIH and we are committed to holding those responsible accountable for this tragic loss of life.”
The National Institutes of Health granted $477,444 in a five-year grant to the Boston Children’s Hospital, the University of California at San Francisco, and the Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago for the study, “Psychosocial Functioning in Transgender Youth after 2 Years of Hormones.” Dr. Diane Chen at the Lurie Children’s Hospital led the study, which the New England Journal of Medicine published in January.
The study analyzed 315 participants, identified as transgender and nonbinary, between the ages of 12 and 20, over the course of two years. These participants received “gender-affirming hormones,” i.e. hormones to make their male or female bodies resemble bodies of the opposite sex.
“During the study period, appearance congruence, positive affect, and life satisfaction increased, and depression and anxiety symptoms decreased,” Chen’s article on the study claims. Eleven participants experienced suicidal ideation, and two committed suicide.
In the letter, the Republicans express “grave concerns” about the study, noting that 240 of the 315 participants were minors.
The Republicans cite a report from the medical organization Do No Harm, which found the study “fatally flawed and borderline unscientific.”
“Notably, the four clinics and some of the researchers who conducted this experiment are outspoken advocates for conducting gender transition interventions on children,” the GOP letter notes. “In a video it later removed from its YouTube channel, Boston Children’s Hospital, one of the clinics involved, went as far as to claim that children can know their gender identity ‘from the womb.’ Johanna Olson, a co-author of this paper, told CNN in 2014, ‘We’re definitely in the middle of a gender revolution and it’s exciting.’ This same researcher later received a federal grant for a study in which she altered protocol to allow children as young as 8 years old to receive cross-sex hormones.”
The Republicans note the two suicides and 11 episodes of suicidal ideation. “Rather than shutting the study down after such serious adverse events, the researchers published their paper, concluding that the study was a success because cross-sex hormones had altered subjects’ physical appearance and improved psychosocial functioning,” the letter notes. “However, the researchers admitted that they were not able to properly establish causality between the administration of cross-sex hormones and improved psychosocial functioning because their study lacked a control group.”
“It is alarming that vulnerable young people died by suicide while participating in a taxpayer-funded study that will almost certainly inflict devastating physical harm on those who participated,” the letter adds. “Twenty-four participants in this study received cross-sex hormones after puberty suppression or ‘in early puberty’ and are likely sterile as a result. Further, participants are now at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, blood clotting, and a list of other complications.”
The Republicans also cite research showing that “gender dysphoria in minors often resolves as they progress through puberty—completely undermining the idea that children should have their bodies permanently altered to match their changing identities.”
“Despite overwhelming evidence that chemically transitioning children is not safe, the NIH plans to give more than $10.6 million to experiment on children and adolescents through 2026,” the letter adds. “We are deeply concerned about your agency’s use of taxpayer dollars to advance experiments on children who will be irreversibly harmed by radical gender ideology.”
The letter ends with a request for responses to 14 questions by a deadline of June 9, 2023. The Republicans ask how old the two individuals who died by suicide were, where they received “treatment,” and when the researchers at that site alerted other researchers of the suicides. They ask the NIH to “list the steps that were taken to halt and review the study after the first and second deaths,” and whether other participants were notified of the suicides. They also ask whether other participants and their parents were given the opportunity to withdraw from the study following the suicides.
“Have study participants been evaluated to assess sterility or impaired fertility as a result of receiving cross-sex hormones?” the Republicans ask. “Will a follow-up occur to evaluate the long-term physiological state of the subjects?”
The letter notes that six participants withdrew from the study, and asks for these participants’ ages and their reasons for withdrawing. It also requests information on “ongoing or proposed NIH funding for studies involving transgender or nonbinary identified minors.”
“Despite glaring shortfalls, this government-funded research is already being used to further the fallacy that chemically transitioning children is safe and effective,” the letter laments.
Five Senate Republicans joined the letter, including North Carolina’s Ted Budd, Florida’s Marco Rubio, Kentucky’s Rand Paul, Oklahoma’s James Lankford, and Utah’s Mike Lee. Ten House Republicans joined the letter: Brecheen; Illinois’ Mary Miller; Colorado’s Lauren Boebert; Arizona’s Andy Biggs and Eli Crane; South Carolina’s Jeff Duncan; and Texas’ Randy Weber, Chip Roy, Ronny Jackson, and Michael Cloud.
Budd, who led the effort in the Senate, declared that taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for studies on “gender-affirming care” for minors.
“Taxpayer dollars should not be used to fund studies that encourage gender transition interventions on young people,” Budd told The Daily Signal in a statement Monday. “The NIH must be held accountable for using taxpayer dollars to study these highly questionable experiments.”
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