Working to Change the Systems that Failed Our Kids
“Our lives begin to end the day we stay silent about things that matter.” Martin Luther King
The Kelsey Coalition is a non-partisan, volunteer-run organization based in the United States. Our singular mission is to protect young people who identify as transgender or nonbinary from medical and psychological harms.
What We Believe
People who identify as transgender deserve compassionate support. Their discomfort is real. But the causes are complicated, poorly understood, and under-researched.
While mature adults should be free to make their own informed healthcare decisions, young people must be protected from interventions that are not based on sound science. No child or teenager should be given powerful drugs, hormones, or invasive surgeries that are not supported by rigorous research. They deserve evidence-based care, not experimental medicine.
And their parents deserve to know the truth: that the use of puberty-blocking drugs, hormones, and surgeries are not supported by a single long-term study that proves efficacy and safety...and are not the answer to their child’s emotional pain. It is unconscionable that medical associations portray harmful hormonal treatments and risky irreversible surgical interventions as the standard of care when psychological approaches have never been studied for their efficacy.
Who We Are
We formed in March 2019 as a group of concerned parents whose children have been harmed by transgender healthcare practices. Our membership now includes:
Young people who express profound regret that healthcare professionals offered them hormones and surgeries without helping them understand possible causes of their profound dysphoria or desire to transition;
Endocrinologists who warn about the impact of puberty blocking drugs and cross-sex hormones on children which are known to cause serious harm, including infertility and loss of sexual function;
Teachers who voice concerns that they are now required to change students’ names and pronouns without informing their parents, and who are wondering why so many children in their classroom identify as transgender;
Medical students who are challenging their training that instructs them to affirm without question young patients' claims of being in the “wrong body”; and
Therapists who are worried about laws that now make it illegal for them to help their young clients explore why they believe they are transgender.
Summary of Concerns
In recent years, an unprecedented number of young people have begun to self-identify as transgender or non-binary. Preliminary research has identified potential social and psychological factors fueling this rise.
Research points to many underlying factors, including mental health issues, ADHD, trauma, and same-sex attraction. There is an especially high correlation with Autism Spectrum Disorder, as reported in replicated published research and observed in clinics around the world. In the UK, for example, nearly half of all children seeking Gender Identity Disorder Services displayed autistic traits.
Concerningly, children’s self-proclaimed gender identities are often quickly affirmed by therapists and clinicians who have not examined these underlying issues. As child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Sven Roman has stated:
Since gender dysphoria often is secondary to psychiatric conditions for which there is evidence-based treatment and gender-corrective therapy for adolescents lacks scientific support, all gender-corrective therapy for patients younger than 25 years should be discontinued.
And yet the practice of treating young people with powerful puberty-blocking drugs, hormones, and irreversible surgeries is growing rapidly.
In the past, such serious medical interventions were offered only to adults with a lifelong history of unremitting and severe distress, and only after extensive medical and psychological screening. Today, life-altering treatments and irreversible surgeries that impact future fertility, affect sexual function, and pose serious health risks are routinely offered to children based on feelings that are likely to change with time and non-invasive therapy.
These medical interventions are now offered at increasingly younger ages despite the lack of even one long-term study supporting their efficacy or safety. Puberty-blocking drugs and cross-sex hormones, such as testosterone, are currently prescribed to children as young as eight years old. “Gender-confirming” surgeries, including mastectomies, radical hysterectomies, vaginoplasties, and orchiectomies (testicle removals), are now performed on teenagers. Parents who consent to these treatments are often misled to believe that their child will be at greater risk of suicide if they do not.
Non-invasive therapeutic options are difficult to find. The “affirmative care” approach encourages healthcare professionals to follow the child’s lead on the false assumption that delaying transition can have serious negative consequences. “Conversion therapy” bans, currently in effect in many states and municipalities, further hinder therapists’ abilities to help their young clients. These bans legally require them to affirm children’s self-proclaimed gender identities.
As a result, children’s distress is unlikely to be alleviated through time-tested counseling techniques, further increasing the likelihood that they will pursue risky medical procedures. Meanwhile, growing numbers of young adults who have medically transitioned are beginning to speak publicly. Most report that they did not receive proper counseling and were not encouraged to consider non-invasive options, rather than irreversible surgeries and hormonal interventions that impact health, fertility, and sexual function.
Young adults are also at risk of hasty medicalization: an increasing number of “informed consent” clinics provide cross-sex hormones to young people after only one to three visits without thorough mental or physical health assessments. Young people should not be offered life-altering hormonal and surgical interventions that are not supported by rigorous studies establishing long-term efficacy and safety. The risks of irreparable harm and regret are too great.
We are inspired by the courageous FDA pharmacologist Dr. Frances Kelsey, whose refusal to authorize thalidomide for market use in 1961 prevented thousands of serious birth defects and helped strengthen FDA oversight of the pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Kelsey's bravery in the face of immense corporate and political pressure has inspired us to speak truth to power, regardless of the personal cost or strength of our opposition.
How You Can Help