101 — Michael Biggs on Puberty Blockers: From Curiosity to Exposé
On this episode of Gender: A Wider Lens, Stella & Sasha sit down with Dr. Michael Biggs, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of St Cross College. Dr. Biggs has been key in uncovering vital information that led to the independent Cass Review on GIDS at Tavistock. Biggs has since turned his laser-like focus on the Dutch Protocol and in this episode, he discusses many of the issues with this flawed model. His distinguished body of work includes articles on social movements and collective protest published in all the leading disciplinary journals, including the American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, and Social Forces. In this conversation, Dr. Biggs tells the story of his experience as a professor in a graduate sociology program when he encountered pushback from students about discussing gender identity from a sociological perspective as part of a classroom exercise. Dr. Biggs has a longstanding history of advocating on behalf of LGBT issues and found himself puzzled when students questioned his intentions. He decided to dig into the literature to try to understand where and how the topic of gender generated such surprising responses from a few of his students. After diving deep into pediatric gender medicine, he continued pursuing investigations into the unreported outcomes for patients at the largest pediatric gender clinic in the world, the Tavistock’s Gender Identity Development Services (GIDS). After a lack of response when he requested information from the GIDS directly, Dr. Biggs filed a Freedom of Information request to access data about research and treatment protocols being conducted at the clinic. Ultimately, the buried outcomes of using puberty blockers in children and adolescents were far less than positive. Biggs began to wonder: how was the puberty blocker pathway worthy of its reputation as the “gold standard” for pediatric transgender care? Where was the research to back up that claim? What motivated Michael to dedicate so much effort to learning and reporting on medical experimentation in gender-affirming care? Dr. Biggs describes feeling compelled to a sense of duty and responsibility to use his privilege to fight for academic truth. His pursuit of the truth, along with that of several other key “whistleblowers” from within Tavistock itself, ultimately yielded momentum for the systematic “Cass Review.” The review process took over two years, but the interim findings reported in late 2022 ultimately resulted in the closure of the GIDS clinic.
Puberty Blockers and Suicidality in Adolescents Suffering from Gender Dysphoria
The Dutch Protocol for Juvenile Transsexuals: Origins and Evidence
Gender Trender — 4th wave now
The Wrong Body (video series - viewing requests available from the British Film Institute)
Part 1 - https://www2.bfi.org.uk/films-tv-people/4ce2b80c5d9ba
Part 2 - https://www2.bfi.org.uk/films-tv-people/4ce2b7f121f1b
If you liked this episode, more episodes you might find interesting:
Episode 91 — Uncovering the GIDS Disaster: Dr. Dave Bell
Episode 27 — Behind the Curtain: Psychotherapy for Gender Dysphoria with Sue and Marcus Evans
Episode 78 — Affirming Reality for Kids with Stephanie Davies-Arai
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- The Dutch were the first to repurpose puberty blockers to facilitate gender transitions.
- In 2014, during a study of the drug Lupron 17, Dutch kids were given the drug and one child died.
- The Lupron study results were not published which was cause for concern.
- It was difficult to publish positive news about the correlation between trans kids and suicide.
- Autism is associated with a transgender identity.
- Visual aesthetics were a main driver of early puberty suppression.
- Studies show male kids with gender dysphoria turn out to be gay men.
- Puberty is important for not only sexual development but emotional and intellectual development as well.
- A recent study shows that mice are more anxious when given puberty blockers.
- When Tavistock first began they had an average of nine kids a year.
- When puberty is blocked, teenage transition surgeries are riskier than adult transition surgeries.
- Michael shares his analysis of the credibility of the Dutch study.
- A documentary, The Wrong Body, highlights some inconsistencies in the Dutch protocol.
- Michael believes it is important for people to understand all the implications of Vaginoplasty on the body.
- “The suicide rate is higher for trans kids.” — Michael [22:23]
- “A key thing that keeps people from speaking out is they’ll lose popularity, they’ll lose esteem, and they’ll lose a lot of respect among their peers.” — Stella [26:52]
- “Transgender medicine has always been a scandal waiting to happen.” — Michael [31:34]
- “One of the things about gender medicine I don't like is the obscure language.” — Michael [1:06:35]