A new declaration was launched on Tuesday to challenge the widely-adopted “gender affirming” model of care and the leading transgender health association that endorses it.
The declaration website describes how a group of “mental health professionals, public health scientists, and allied organizations and individuals” have joined forces for the purpose of denouncing the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), which they believe “can no longer be viewed as a trustworthy source of clinical guidance.”
“WPATH’s neglect of safeguarding issues for children, its adherence to ideological views unsupported by evidence, its exclusion of ethical concerns, and its mischaracterization of basic science all make its Standards a fundamentally unreliable guide,” the declaration reads.
WPATH released their new Standards of Care guidelines last month, removing the minimum age recommendations for minors to receive medical interventions, eliminating a chapter on ethics, and introducing a new “Eunuch” gender identity.
The idea for the website, Beyond WPATH, was created by psychologist Dr. Joseph Burgo, who saw an opportunity for individuals and organizations who oppose WPATH’s guidelines to speak out. “I’m a part of different organizations that all tend to work in their silos and have different objectives that kind of align, but don’t always, so I just thought ‘this is our chance’ for everybody to get together to sign something that calls it out,” Burgo told The Daily Wire.
Burgo, who has 40 years of experience as a clinical psychologist and primarily works with detransitioners now, felt it was crucial to create a uniform platform for all who oppose the WPATH’s “deeply flawed” new guidelines in favor of a more cautious approach to gender-related distress.
“The first thing we want to do is raise public awareness and bring together all these disparate voices that are speaking in isolation,” said Burgo. “We need to create enough volume and enough momentum to make the professional world and the public understand that there’s a lot of opposition to WPATH.”
“It looks like the WPATH is just accepted as this authority when in fact, there’s a lot of people out there who think it’s an outrage, so it’s mostly to raise the profile of the dissenters,” he added.
To write the declaration, Burgo said he consulted with the different organizations he belongs to, including Genspect, an advocacy group that strives for an evidence-based approach to gender distress, and the Gender Exploratory Therapy Association (GETA), a network of mental health professionals who offer therapy “without a political agenda.”
“We wrote it in such a way to try to address what we thought were everybody’s concerns and worries about those Standards of Care,” said Burgo. Outlined on the website are the various ways the new guidelines are “fatally undermined” by “errors and ethical failures,” including their endorsement of the “gender-affirming” model of care, a protocol adopted by pediatric gender clinics across the country that look to WPATH for expert guidance.
“Gender-affirming” care discourages medical professionals from questioning a minor’s self-reported transgender identity or exploring possible underlying factors that may be causing their dysphoria. The standard protocol for gender affirmation is administering puberty blockers, followed by cross-sex hormones and then surgery, if desired.
The declaration confronts the poor quality of evidence WPATH used to support their guidelines. “While presented as evidence-based, the Standards of Care fail to acknowledge that independent systematic reviews have deemed the evidence for gender-affirming treatments in youth to be of very low quality and subject to confounding and bias, rendering any conclusions uncertain,” the website reads, noting that Sweden, Finland, France, and the United Kingdom have all retreated from the affirming approach following review.
Additionally, the declaration acknowledges the need for alternative approaches to the gender-affirmation model. “In response to dramatically rising numbers of gender-questioning youth, a wide range of alternative guidance has become available, embodying professional expertise that is ethical, minimizes the risk of iatrogenic harm, and respects the limitations of our current scientific evidence base,” the website reads.
Beyond WPATH has amassed 630 signatures so far, and is open for anyone to sign, including “all concerned medical and mental health professionals, advocates for sex-based rights, members of parent support groups, and concerned individuals around the world.”