image001 300x85 First Do Harm: Weird Science From Fringe Pediatric Organization

PRESS RELEASE
TransActive Education & Advocacy ("TransActive")
April 19, 2010Contact: Jenn Burleton, Executive Director
Phone: 503-252-3000
Email: jenn@transactiveonline.org
Website:
www.transactiveonline.org

The "American College of Pediatricians", a medical 'front' organization for religious, socially conservative physicians, has sent a letter to school superintendents nationwide entitled "Facts About Youth". While claiming to contain  "important factual information and healthful approaches" to working with transgender and gender non-conforming children and youth, this collection of bad science, misrepresented research, neo-conservative  fundamentalism and outright lies actually promotes the continued marginalization, rejection, psychological and physical abuse of transgender and gender non-conforming children and youth.

School districts and others that follow or implement the reckless and inaccurate recommendations of the American College of Pediatricians must assume the responsibility for perpetuating the physical and psychological abuse of gender non-conforming and transgender students of all sexual orientations and ages.

April 15, 2010 – Portland, OR:

The American College of Pediatricians (ACP) is a fringe medical society described by a charter member as "a Judeo-Christian, traditional values organization". Formed in 2002 and currently reporting approximately 60 members (out of an estimated 60,000 members of the far more reputable American Academy of Pediatrics), the ACP was created in direct response to the American Academy of Pediatrics 2002 policy statement supporting adoption by lesbians and gays.

[NOTE: For a comprehensive list of American College of Pediatricians and NARTH members and advisors, along with additional details about how their professional opinions are tainted by their conservative religious and social ideologies, please click here.]

By almost any measure, the American College of Pediatricians is a collection of socially conservative physicians who, like their counterparts in the equally fringe National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), attempt to disseminate and promote lies, misinformation, discredited statistics, bad science and discriminatory attitudes from behind a (thin) veneer of "medical" or "scientific" credibility. They espouse and endorse ideologically-based rather than science-based cissexist notions of what constitutes a healthy home, school and community environment for children and youth and, as such, present a danger to the psychological and physical safety of all gender non-conforming and transgender children and youth.

Recently, the ACP distributed a letter to more than 14,000 school superintendents nationwide in which they promoted their "Facts About Youth" website, which claims to be "non-political" and "non religious". In the letter they express "[concern]… that in many cases efforts to help students who exhibit same-sex attractions and/or gender confusion are based on incomplete or inaccurate information."

[NOTE: For a balanced, up-to-date and accurate representation of information, resources and research on supportive approaches to meeting the needs of gender non-conforming and transgender children and youth, visit the TransActive website.]

They repeatedly cite the work of Dr. Gary Remafedi (pictured below) from the University of Minnesota and Dr. Robert W. Blum of Johns Hopkins University and imply that a 1992 article they co-authored provides support for the ACP's position. TransActive contacted Dr. Remafedi about the American College of Pediatricians use of his research and received this response [Emphasis is ours]:

"This note is in response to your question about my reaction to the [ACP] statements: 'Rigorous studies demonstrate that most adolescents who initially experience same-sex attraction, or are sexually confused, no longer experience such attractions by age 25. In one study, as many as 26% of 12-year-olds reported being uncertain of their sexual orientation1 [1]Remafedi G, Resnick M, Blum R, Harris L. Demography of sexual orientation in adolescents. Pediatrics. 1992.89:714-721.'”

"Although the second sentence correctly states the finding of our research, the first sentence misinterprets it. The actual conclusions, as reported in the discussion section of the paper were as follows: "Taken together, these data suggest that uncertainty about sexual orientation and perceptions of bisexuality gradually give way to heterosexual or homosexual identification with passage of time and/or with increasing sexual experience.


We believe Dr. Remafedi was being overly generous in saying that they "misinterpreted" his research. We believe the American College of Pediatricians knowingly misrepresented Dr. Remafedi's research findings to fit their own ideologically driven purposes. We say this, because the very same misrepresentations have occurred previously by individuals and groups that the ACP is associated with:

For example…

Truth Wins Out, July 22, 2008
Dr. Gary Remafedi Says “Ex-Gay’ Group (PFOX) Manipulated His Study And Should Immediately Take The Distortions Off Its Website. "PFOX, as well as Focus on the Family, distorted his findings to make the case that young people should not learn about homosexuality because they were sexually confused, and could thus be influenced by educational material."

NOTE: Focus on The Family is prominently featured as a recommended resource on the American College of Pediatricians website.

Truth Wins Out, April 30, 2008
Gary Remafedi, M.D., M.P.H., a professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota, asked Focus on the Family’ leader James Dobson to stop misrepresenting his findings from a key 1992 study. “I want to draw your attention to a gross misrepresentation of our research at the website of Focus on the Family,” Remafedi wrote in his letter to Dobson. “More important, had the authors of “Myths and Facts” actually read the article, they would have found no support for their contention that many children experience a period of sexual-identity confusion when they can be influenced in either direction.'”

It's not the only misrepresentation of Dr. Remafedi's work that appears in the ACP letter and on the "Facts About Youth" website:

"Among adolescents who claim a 'gay' identity, the health risks include higher rates of sexually transmitted infections, alcoholism, substance abuse, anxiety, depression and suicide… the longer students delay self-labeling as 'gay,' the less likely they are to experience these health risks. In fact, for
each year an adolescent delays, the risk of suicide alone decreases by 20%.
7" (7. Remafedi G, Farrow JA, Deisher RW, (1991) Risk factors for attempted suicide in gay and bisexual youth. Pediatrics 87:869-875.)

Dr. Gary Remafedi provided the following additional statement to TransActive regarding the above distortion of his research:

"Dear Ms. Burleton… With regards to the reference in question, the authors misquoted the findings as well as the interpretation. As clearly indicated in the discussion section of the paper: 'For each year's delay in bisexual or homosexual self-labeling, the odds of a suicide attempt diminished by 80%. These findings support a previously observed, inverse relationship between psychosocial problems and the age of acquiring a homosexual identity. Compared with older persons, early and middle adolescents may be generally less able to cope with the isolation and stigma of a homosexual identity.'"

These repeated misrepresentations by the members and leadership of the American College of Pediatricians constitute far more than a simple violation of professional integrity or moral responsibility. It perpetuates and facilitates the very risk factors that are associated with the higher suicide rates seen in gender non-conforming children and youth. In point of fact, the irresponsible professional opinions given on their "Facts About Youth" website goes so far as to validate the continued marginalization and abuse inflicted upon these kids in schools nationwide.

Intelligent, objective and caring physicians and clinicians do not adopt the oppressive language of known hate groups. Yet, the American College of Pediatricians mirrors the tactics of organizations and individuals that insist on using quotation marks around the words "gay", "transgender", "anti-bullying" and others in an attempt to dehumanize our children and youth.

To be clear… we believe the misrepresented and misinterpreted "research" disseminated by the American College of Pediatricians provides, and is intended to provide, "scientific" support and cover to organizations like those listed here who desire to perpetuate and even institutionalize (perhaps through letters to school superintendents?) the emotional and physical abuse of transgender and gender non-conforming children and youth of every sexual orientation.

The "red herring" scenarios and social conservative dogma dispensed by this fringe group of physicians calling themselves the American College of Pediatricians is, indeed, the wrong prescription for ALL students, faculty and school superintendents. Their 'weird science', viewed through a microscope that seems to amplify only intolerance, selective ignorance and disingenuous Hippocratic ideals fails to serve the needs of our families, communities and especially our schools.

It's time to reject the voices that encourage emotional, psychological and physical disregard for the well-being of already marginalized students, be they transgender, gender non-conforming, straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual or non-sexual. It's time to stand up to those who wish to scapegoat and inflict harm on our children, even if their names are followed by a 'PhD., or an "M.D."

Jenn Burleton
Executive Director
TransActive Education & Advocacy

This statement by TransActive Education & Advocacy has the support of the following individuals & organizations:

Vivian Benge President
Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy Alliance
Indianapolis, IN
Carol Blenning MD Portland, OR
Ron Bloodworth Oregon Safe Schools & Communities Coalition Portland, OR
Robert W. Blum, MD, MPH, Ph.D. William H. Gates, Sr. Professor & Chair
Department of Population, Family & Reproductive Health
Director, John Hopkins Urban Health Institute
Baltimore, MD
Zena Britadesco Oregon Safe Schools & Communities Coalition Portland, OR
Teri Bunker, FNP CEO & President
Bridge City Family Medical Clinic
Portland, OR
Gabi Clayton Co-Founder/President of the Board
Families United Against Hate
Olympia, WA
Milton Diamond, Ph.D. Pacific Center for Sex and Society Honolulu, HI
Virginia Erhardt, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist Eastsound, WA
Allison Elise Cleveland, B. Sc, P. MAP Director
The Gender Center, Inc.
Eugene, OR
Paula Funatake Founder/Director
TransParentcy.org
Portland, OR
David Glick Executive Director
National GLBTQ Online High School
Maplewood, MN
Tana Hall, M.Ed, LPC YouthPride Atlanta, GA
Nicholette Hoyer Private Citizen Vancouver, WA
Ray Johnson Oregon Safe Schools & Communities Coalition Portland, OR
Ross Jura, LPN Private Citizen Salem, OR
Debby Larsen Private Citizen Portland, OR
Joyce Liljeholm Oregon Safe Schools & Communities Coalition Portland, OR
Stephanie Lourenco Private Citizen Beaverton, OR
Susan Maasch Executive Director
Trans Youth Equality Foundation/New England
Portland, ME
Tebogo Nkoana Gender DynamiX Cape Town, South Africa
Teri Noble State Coordinator and
The PFLAG Oregon State Council of Chapters
State of Oregon
Mariette Pathy Allen Author, Photographer, Lecturer New York, NY
Casey Paysano Development Coordinator
Portland State University Queer Resource Center
Portland, OR
Gary Remafedi, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.P. Professor of Pediatrics Minneapolis, MN
Pega Ren, Ed.D. Clinical Sexologist Vancouver, BC, Canada
Michael D. Resnick, Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics and Public Health
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN
Marcia Shaw, Ph.D. Private Citizen Corvallis, OR
Sally Stevens, LCSW/LICSW Oregon Safe Schools & Communities Coalition Portland, OR
Erin Ann Walsh Private Citizen Baltimore, MD
Joy Wallace President
Oregon Safe Schools and Communities Coalition
Portland, OR
Sam Wilkes Director of Development
Youth First Texas
Dallas, TX
Catherine Wilson Clinical Psychologist Sydney, NSW, Australia
Dawnne Woodie National Executive Director
OPTIC
Kennewick, WA

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TransActive educates the public on subjects useful to the individual and beneficial to the community. We provide necessary support to improve the quality of life of transgender and gender non-conforming children, youth and their families through education, services, advocacy and research.