A recent correction to a 2019 study included in the American Journal of Psychiatry reveals that sex-reassignment procedures do not achieve often-promised mental health benefits.
Published in October 2019, the study, titled “Reduction in Mental Health Treatment Utilization Among Transgender Individuals After Gender-Affirming Surgeries: A Total Population Study,” originally claimed that after having had sex-reassignment surgeries, a patient was less likely to need mental health treatment. But on Aug. 1, authors of the paper issued a correction stating that “the results demonstrated no advantage of surgery in relation to subsequent mood or anxiety disorder-related health care.”
In fact, “individuals diagnosed with gender incongruence who had received gender-affirming surgery were more likely to be treated for anxiety disorders compared with individuals diagnosed with gender incongruence who had not received gender-affirming surgery,” says Ryan Anderson, senior research fellow in American Principles and Public Policy at The Heritage Foundation.
What led to the correction? The authors of the study admitted that the Journal had received “letters containing questions on the statistical methodology employed,” which prompted them to reanalyze the data.
Mark Regnerus, professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin and senior fellow at the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture, was one of the first scholars to raise questions about the original study.
In a November 2019 article for Public Discourse, Regnerus pointed out that although the study included data from 9.7 million people, the results of the original analysis the authors put forward hinged on the outcomes of just three people.
“That the authors corrupted otherwise excellent data and analyses with a skewed interpretation signals an abandonment of scientific rigor and reason in favor of complicity with activist groups seeking to normalize infertility-inducing and permanently disfiguring surgeries,” he wrote.
Anderson suggests that rather than encouraging those who suffer from gender dysphoria to undergo sex-reassignment surgery, medical professionals need to “find better, more humane and effective responses to those who experience dysphoria.”
“The best therapies focus on helping people accept and embrace their bodies,” he adds. “Rather than attempting to do the impossible—‘reassigning’ bodies to line up with misguided thoughts and feelings—we should at least attempt what is possible: helping people to align their thoughts and feelings with reality, including the reality of the body.”
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