WHO guidance on gender-affirming care for trans adults would be 'premature', says Christian psychologist

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A Christian psychologist has called for caution as the World Health Organisation works on new guidelines for transgender healthcare. 

WHO recently concluded its public consultation on the proposed guidelines, which will focus on adult care provision. 

WHO said the proposed guidelines would be based on its “vision of a world in which all people attain the highest possible level of health and well-being, leaving no one behind”.

“This new guideline will focus on five areas: provision of gender-affirming care, including hormones relating to adults; health worker education on and training for the provision of gender-inclusive care; provision of health care for trans and gender diverse people who have suffered interpersonal violence, based on their needs; health policies that support gender-inclusive care; and legal recognition of self-determined gender identity for adults,” it said. 

Dr Laura Haynes, chair of the International Foundation for Therapeutic and Counselling Choice (IFTCC), expressed alarm about promoting hormone-based interventions over psychiatric treatments. 

She said that such a move would be unscientific and premature, and would conflict with evidence from academic studies suggesting that medical interventions, including the use of hormones, “do not improve mental health and may worsen it”. 

In her submission to the consultation, Dr Haynes said, “Gender affirmative treatment is commonly founded on a viewpoint that discordant gender identity is biologically determined or inborn, hence who a person inherently and indelibly is.

“This viewpoint has never been scientifically substantiated, and there is not a professional consensus in support of it.”

She said that gender dysphoria was a psychiatric condition and should therefore be “appropriately treated by psychiatric treatments”.

“Cross-sex hormones are not a recognized treatment for these psychiatric conditions,” she said.

“Treating psychiatric conditions that predispose to or perpetuate gender dysphoria may be expected to help gender dysphoric individuals become more comfortable in their bodies, but more research is needed on treating gender dysphoria with psychotherapy and psychiatry, rather than gender specialist treatments.”

She concluded: “Developing a WHO affirmative guideline for treating adult gender dysphoria with hormones would be premature and scientifically unfounded. Gender discordant adults and detransitioners should have access to therapy that explores the context in which their gender discordance emerged.”

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