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JK Rowling attempts to use science to justify trans views, doctors disagree

JK Rowling attempts to use science to justify trans views, doctors disagree

  • Doctor responds: ‘You have literally no idea what you’re talking about.’
JK Rowling

JK Rowling has launched a fresh attack on access to healthcare for trans youth – attempting to use scientific studies to back her views.

But medical experts and trans campaigners have fought back, pointing out the flawed science in her argument.

The Harry Potter author sparked the fresh Twitter storm on Sunday evening (5 July). In it she suggested that life-saving hormone treatment for trans people may become ‘a new kind of conversion therapy for young gay people’.

Rowling noted she had taken antidepressants in the past. And she added:

‘Many health professionals are concerned that young people struggling with their mental health are being shunted towards hormones and surgery when this may not be in their best interests. 

‘Many, myself included, believe we are watching a new kind of conversion therapy for young gay people, who are being set on a lifelong path of medicalisation that may result in the loss of their fertility and/or full sexual function.’

However multiple studies have found that treatments for trans young people, including puberty blockers, save lives. They allow young people to delay puberty until they are old enough to make informed decisions about transitioning.

Indeed, studies say that young people who receive treatment have better mental health than those who don’t.

This is in sharp contrast to ‘conversion therapy’ – attempts to ‘cure’ LGBT+ people of their sexuality or gender identity. Psychological and psychiatric organizations around the world have concluded this is always pointless and can do long term harm.

‘Affirming trans youth is not conversion therapy’

Responding to Rowling, medical experts pointed out her flawed argument.

Dr Alastair McAlpine, replied: ‘Doctor here. Equating medically accepted and safe therapy for trans-teens with something as scientifically bankrupt as “conversion therapy”, is disingenuous and cynical.’

And Dr Adrian Harrop said: ‘You have literally no idea what you’re talking about. Your statement is biased, entirely unqualified and is not in any way in line with the global medical consensus on the best treatment for transgender children and young people.’

Meanwhile child psychiatrist Dr Jack Turban replied: ‘Affirming trans youth is not conversion therapy. Forcing kids to be cisgender is conversion therapy.’

Rowling also claimed that studies have tracked the ‘risks of cross-sex hormones’. And she claimed trans campaigners play down the side-effects of the treatments.

But again, medical experts came to the defense of the trans community.

Dr Nikki Stamp told Rowling: ‘Hi there – heart surgeon here. The risk of heart disease related to gender affirming hormone therapy has not been “proven”.’

Dr Stamp also said that suffering ‘lifelong bias’ may cause ‘biological responses’ for trans people ‘that also lead to heart disease’.

Moreover, Gendered Intelligence argued: ‘Anyone starting hormone therapy is warned, at least in the UK, ad nauseam about the potential risks that the medications may bring about.’

Many of the commentators pointed to flaws in the scientific studies Rowling cited in her thread. They argued she is quoting single scientific articles out of context. Meanwhile in general the experts back appropriate use of hormone treatments for trans people.

‘Death and rape threats’

In the same thread, Rowling also reported she had suffered abuse on Twitter.

This includes ‘fake tweets attributed to me and RTed widely’ as well as ‘porn tweeted at children on a thread about their art’ and ‘death and rape threats’.

In response, many of the comments urged her to report this abuse.