© 2019 The Kelsey Coalition


The Kelsey Coalition is a non-partisan, unfunded, volunteer-run organization whose mission is to promote policies and laws that protect young people from medical and psychological harms. Our inspiration is 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.

Summary of Concerns: In recent years, an unprecedented number of young people have begun to self-identify as transgender. Preliminary research has identified potential social and psychological factors fueling this rise. However, children’s self-proclaimed gender identities are often quickly affirmed by therapists and clinicians who have not examined possible underlying issues. Even more concerning is the growing practice of treating young people with powerful puberty-blocking drugs, hormones, and irreversible surgeries


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.

Our Strategy:

  • Personal Testimony: We show that harms are real, not theoretical, by providing law- and policy-makers with first-person testimonials from parents whose children have been harmed, as well as from young people who regret their medical transitions and concerned professionals.

  • Nationwide Activism: We train Kelsey Coalition members to work as informed constituents to educate their local communities and implement targeted outreach projects across the U.S.

  • Personal Outreach: We equip members with step-by-step Action Plans and downloadable one-pagers so that they can be effective activists through face-to-face meetings, phone calls, and letter-writing campaigns.

  • Nonpartisan: Our members leave political differences aside to work with groups and individuals across the political spectrum.

Please Join Us.  Do you share our concerns? Please join us in promoting policies and laws that protect young people by participating in our projects. Just click on an “Action Plan” for step-by-step instructions.