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More Gender Activists Than Medical Professionals on WHO Transgender Health Panel

More Gender Activists Than Medical Professionals on WHO Transgender Health Panel

Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that it had formed a Guideline Development Group made up of 21 members tasked with writing WHO guidelines on “the health of trans and gender diverse people.”

As a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health, WHO is looked to by most of the world’s nations for leadership on public health policy. Of the world’s 195 countries, 194 are WHO member states, with Taiwan being the lone exception.

It is therefore no small scandal that WHO appointed more activists than medical professionals in selecting the 21 members it appointed to draft new transgender health guidelines.

As reported by the Daily Mail, just over a third of the panel are trained medical doctors; more than half have no formal medical training whatsoever; and nearly two-thirds of the members are social justice activists, human rights lawyers, STD researchers, or policy advisors. A full one-third of the panel consider themselves transgender.

The guidelines they will develop and promulgate globally will focus on five areas, according to the WHO:

gender-affirming care, including hormones; health workers education and training for the provision of gender-inclusive care; provision of health care for trans and gender diverse people who suffered interpersonal violence based in their needs; health policies that support gender-inclusive care, and legal recognition of self-determined gender identity.

In the days since the Daily Mail exposé, one of the group’s members, Florence Ashley—a Canadian man who identifies as a woman and works as an assistant professor at the University of Alberta Faculty of Law—voluntarily pulled out of the event, citing a busy schedule.

In truth, Ashley had come under heavy fire for his controversial stance on gender issues. The Daily Mail had reported that he has “a significant TikTok following” where he “expresses hardline views on trans issues, calling for mental health checks on trans children to be scrapped before they are given puberty blockers and hormone drugs.”

He has labelled gender assessments “an unnecessary form of gatekeeping” for which “there’s really no evidence,” and complained “it’s just a lengthier process for no real reason.”

Ashley also argues that “puberty blockers and hormone therapies ‘ought to be treated as the default option’ for children with gender dysporia,’” according to the Daily Mail.

He has a “be gay, do crimes” tattoo and uses “They/Them/That B*tch” pronouns on social media.

Another member of the panel, Teddy Cook, has an entirely positive view of so-called medical transition, claiming that its “actual side effects” are “a significantly improved quality of life, significantly better health and wellbeing outcomes, a dramatic decrease in distress, depression and anxiety and a substantial increase of gender euphoria and trans joy.”

Some of the panel members are supportive of children accessing transgender medications and surgery, though the Daily Mail did note a statement by WHO spokesman Tarik Jašarević indicating that any guidelines developed by the panel would be for “adults only.”

The “gender-affirming care” ideology set to be promoted by  WHO has reigned supreme in Western nations for the better part of a decade, though in recent years this trend has happily begun to reverse.

As recently highlighted on Intellectual Takeout, “health authorities in one country after another in Europe have expressed their alarm, citing serious medical and psychological problems amongst people who have received ‘gender-affirming care.’”  In  “A Cloud Hangs Over Trans Medicine,” Michael Cook summarizes the good news:

  • In France, the National Academy of Medicine declared on Feb. 25: ‘great medical caution must be taken in children and adolescents, given the vulnerability, particularly psychological, of this population and the many undesirable effects and even serious complications that can be caused by some of the therapies available.’
  • In Sweden, the National Board of Health and Welfare issued new guidelines for gender-affirming care in February. It said, based on current knowledge: ‘the risks of puberty suppressing treatment with GnRH-analogues and gender-affirming hormonal treatment currently outweigh the possible benefits, and that the treatments should be offered only in exceptional cases.’
  • In the United Kingdom, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence(NICE) published two systematic reviews of puberty blockers in March 2021. It found that they ‘lead to little or no change in gender dysphoria, mental health, body image, and psychosocial functioning. In the few studies that did report change, the results could be attributable to bias or chance, or were deemed unreliable.’
  • In Finland, the Finnish Health Authority (PALKO/COHERE) reversed coursein 2020. Its new guidance stated that ‘psychotherapy, rather than puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, should be the first-line treatment for gender-dysphoric youth.’

Ironically, the World Health Organization prides itself on “promoting science-based content” and “fighting misinformation.”

The WHO’s Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has made something of a hobby of leaning into this topic, decrying so-called “misinformation” in many of his speeches, and tweeting variously that “misinformation and disinformation can spread rapidly online,” and that “We find ourselves in a time where fake news, lies, conspiracy theories, misinformation and disinformation are rampant.”

Indeed, a September 2023 article published on WHO’s website explains:

Some of the ideas that show up in the news media or come up over coffee conversations can seem laughable. That’s because ideas or theories that have long been discredited in research—or have no evidence-backing at all, are frequently presented as “facts” in popular and social media (while evidence-based information is sometimes referred to as “fake facts”). The stakes for misinformation (false information that is spread, regardless of intent to mislead) and disinformation (the intentional spreading of misinformation) are high.

Perhaps it’s time for the World Health Organization—and its Director-General—to take a look in the mirror and apply their many warnings to the pseudoscience known as “gender-affirming care.”

The sooner they do, the sooner people struggling with gender dysphoria will be able to access the help they really need.

Image credit: Pexels

Kurt Mahlburg
Kurt Mahlburg
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