PAEDIATRIC endocrinologist Dr Quentin Van Meter believes the harmful sex-change experiment that led to the tragic death of an identical twin in 2004 will be repeated under the latest standards of treating people with gender dysphoria.
Bruce and Brian Reimer were patients at the John Hopkins Hospital in the late 1960s, where Dr Van Meter trained as a fellow several years later.
At 22 months old, the twins were the subjects of an experiment by leading sexologist Dr John Money, who believed gender was socially constructed in the first two years of life.
“He would make recommendations which were accepted because he was the expert at the time, to take baby boys and turn them into girls,” Dr Van Meter said.
In the case of the Reimer family, whom Dr Van Meter never met, Dr Money recommended Bruce, whose penis was burnt off in a circumcision gone wrong, be surgically, medically and socially brought up as a girl – Brenda.
He was castrated, given hormone therapies to encourage feminine traits and his parents verbally reinforced his identity as a female.
“And that ended in a horrible tragedy because the boy grew up raised as a girl until he was about age nine and his depression and anxiety was legendary,” Dr Van Meter said.
A psychologist recommended the parents tell Brenda the truth in 1980 and she immediately reverted to her biological sex at birth.
“The tragic end was despite the fact that he resumed his identity as a male, which he was biologically, he committed suicide,” Dr Van Meter said.
He now believes that “horrible tragedy” that claimed the life of Bruce Reimer is about to repeat itself in the resurgence of pro-affirming physicians who “blindly” prescribe puberty blockers and sex-reassignment surgery to children with gender dysphoria.
Dr Van Meter claims physicians from the almost 50 gender clinics in the United States who treat children with gender dysphoria, though well meaning, see transgenderism as “a normal state of health” that can be treated with hormone or surgical therapies, essentially skipping puberty.
In Australia, children no longer need to apply to a judge to undergo hormone therapy.
The youngest child to access puberty blockers in Australia was 10 years old.
Many gender clinics in the US are working with young children who are at risk of suicide because of deeply psychological issues presenting as gender dysphoria.
But in his own work as a medically trained “healer” who has dealt with children and young people struggling with their gender identities, Dr Van Meter said children needed ongoing, intensive counselling rather than harmful hormone therapies.
“I’ve not seen a single transgender patient who has not had a significant amount of undercurrent psychological issues,” he said.
Dr Van Meter recommended further study into a program by Toronto psychologist Dr Kenneth Zucker, who took children with gender dysphoria through more than 20 years of counselling and found a majority were able to “cure” the psychological wounds.
“Now the ones that went through the Zucker program, two per cent of boys remained transgender at the end of intense counselling, and about twelve per cent, ten per cent of females, ended up being persistent,” Dr Van Meter said.
“So instead we’re pushing for affirmation of one hundred per cent of the kids, not two per cent or twelve per cent, and what we’re going to see in twenty or thirty years from now is a wave of suicides that we have never experienced.”
Dr Van Meter said children, especially those taking cross-sex hormones, were prone to thromboembolic disease, strokes, some heart disease and cancers that were related to wrong hormones being introduced into the body.
He said this was not the duty of care paediatricians pledged when they undertook their medical studies.
“You make the child into an adult who is diseased for the rest of their life,” Dr Van Meter said.
“You’ve taken out the essence of biologic female and damaged it irreparably, thrown the patient at risk for diseases they would not have had otherwise and call that a solution and a cure?
“I’m thinking, people of science, open your eyes and just look – this is a set of standards that does not apply to the rest of medical science.
“We’re going to have so many kids who are physically altered.
“My heart aches so badly to see this happening.
“I can’t keep quiet, so I’m talking.”
Dr Van Meter has spent the past two weeks doing just that, speaking to audiences around Australia for the Australian Family Association about his views on the transgender movement.
Protesters showed up to his Melbourne event, and his talk at the University of Western Australia was cancelled following complaints from pro-affirming activists.
Despite the backlash, Dr Van Meter is quick to point out that both sides of the debate approached transgender patients with compassion.
“I think everybody who is involved, if you’re pro-affirmation or you anchor the patient back to their sexual identity from birth biologically, the concept is compassion,” he said.
“There are people suffering.”
And as a devout Catholic, Dr Van Meter can only point the blame toward one thing.
“If I put my faith hat on, I’m thinking, ‘Okay, the devil is at work in society, deconstructing society on purpose’,” he said.
“That’s what the devil does, the dark side, call it what you will.”