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New study: psychotherapy improves mental health of autistic teens with gender dysphoria

My podcast co-host Rose and I both want Christians to argue for the Christian worldview using studies and evidence. We want the other side to reply on feelings and intuitions, while we present hard data. With that said, I have a report on a new study for you that will help you discuss the issue of medical transitioning of autistic adolescents with gender dysphoria.

Consider this report on the new study from Daily Wire:

The study, published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, found that guided, peer support group therapy showed positive mental health outcomes for autistic adolescents struggling with gender dysphoria. The study, conducted in the Netherlands, emphasized the importance of mental health treatments, while deprioritizing medical interventions like puberty blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and surgery.

“These findings add to a quickly growing stack of evidence suggesting that it’s the psychotherapy and support that is improving these kids’ well-being, not medicalized transition,” said Dr. James Cantor, Director of the Toronto Sexuality Centre, and associate professor of the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine.

By the way, you may have heard that most gender dysphoria resolves itself without any need for medical intervention. The article says:

Dr. Cantor’s website, Sexology Today, is often cited as a resource that documents eleven studies finding that roughly 60–90% of children who identify as transgender, but do not socially or medically transition, will no longer identify as transgender in adulthood. These studies were referenced by the group of researchers, who acknowledged that gender dysphoria may resolve on its own.

“In a large proportion of children who express their desire for medical gender-affirming care, this seems to disappear during puberty,” the study read.

In a previous post, I blogged about the “social contagion” cause of transgenderism. The technical term is Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD). Same-age peers and social media play a huge role in children having gender confusion.

But the Daily Wire article had even more interesting information – a link between autism and susceptibility to gender confusion:

Children and adolescents on the autism spectrum are disproportionately represented among the large, newly emerging cohort of children claiming to be transgender. Over the past 10 years, there have been at least nine studies connecting Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and transgender identities. Rates of autistic traits in these studies range from five percent to 54% among those with gender dysphoria, significantly higher than among the general population.

Data from the now-shuttered Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) at the U.K.’s Tavistock Centre found that autistic adolescents were significantly overrepresented in the population of referrals to the clinic. Pediatrician Dr. Hilary Cass was commissioned to conduct a review of the services provided by the National Health Service and investigate why there has been such a huge rise in the number of adolescent biological girls seeking referrals to gender clinics.

Dr. Cass found that approximately one third of youth referred to GIDS had autism or autistic traits. By comparison, the prevalence rates of autism spectrum disorder during childhood in the UK have been estimated at 1%.

Previously, I blogged about how many countries that are more advanced in treating gender dysphoria are leaning towards psychotherapy instead of medical treatment. Something to think about if people in your life and jumping straight to medical treatment instead of psychotherapy,

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