The development of the Dutch protocol, and the research conducted from its practice, has become the basis for gender-related medical intervention in children all over the world; specifically, using drugs to block children's puberty and subsequently using cross-sex hormones and surgery to medicalize their 'transition.' The Dutch model has the reputation of being the “gold standard of care” for youth transgender medicine and is often cited when defending the use of puberty blockers and surgeries in minors and young adults. In many ways, it created the possibility of gender 'transition' in children.
On today’s episode, Sasha and Stella welcome Dutch journalist, Jan Kuitenbrouwer and Dutch sociologist, Peter Vasterman. The two collaborated and most recently published an article; (translated title) “Trans Care Too Must Meet Health Science Standards”, weighing caution to the quality of the standard of care for transgender health and medicine, virtually all based on and adapted from the Dutch model of care.
Jan Kuitenbrouwer is Dutch writer, journalist, award-winning columnist and bestselling author, who has published extensively on gender and the trans movement since early last year. His 40+ year career yields an extensive body of work centered around themes exploring social and cultural trends, information technology, politics, and language.
Dr. Peter Vasterman is a media sociologist and former assistant professor of media sociology at the University of Amsterdam, department of Media Studies, as well as coordinator of the Master in Journalism. He obtained his PhD in 2004 at the University of Amsterdam with a dissertation, titled “Mediahype” on the effect of media hypes on news topics such as senseless violence, His main research areas include: media hypes and the role of the (social) media in the construction of social problems, scandals, crises and disasters.
In this conversation, you will hear them both speak about the prideful nature of Dutch culture: the Dutch often hold themselves in high esteem for being a ‘gidsland’, a beacon of progression for the rest of the world. In a culture where conformity is a highly valued way of life, the Dutch may leave little room for debate and contrast. As such, it is to no surprise that the Dutch mainstream media played a substantial role in promoting early medical interventions for youth with gender dysphoria. Peter and Jan discuss the challenges they faced when attempting to publish pieces which objectively review the full context of the medical protocol. Stories which attempt to frame the Dutch Protocol as anything other than a leading medical innovation with impressive aesthetic outcomes seemed to have been hushed and rejected in the news. Media messaging extravagantly lacked attention to the complicated elements of the medical pathway, and silenced the voices who tried to draw attention to the dangerous risks associated with the transgender treatments for youth.
Links to Articles:
The Article they Co-Wrote (English version): https://docs.google.com/document/d/1S_coeD1ChooRCZnmGgHL3PkOPHJbUXeL0cXycuOgmlY/mobilebasic
If you liked this episode, more episodes you might find interesting:
- Episode “71-Gender: The American State of Affairs with Jesse Singal”
- Episode “55-Who Gets to Decide What's Normal: A Conversation w/ Lisa Selin Davis”
- “The Dutch Studies” Playlist
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- Medical and ethical issues are at the forefront of Dutch social-political innovation.
- In 1999, there was a debate and criticism about puberty blockers but it didn't last long.
- A program named He is a She was shown in Holland on the public broadcasting channel.
- A paradox within Dutch culture is that they are extremely progressive but also conformist.
- Being thought of as old-fashioned is almost a phobia in Holland.
- After 40 successful publishing years, Peter’s book review project was canceled shortly before it was to be released.
- A Dutch phenomenon is removing government boundaries in lieu of privatization.
- Peter studied the Twitter storms that took place after the opinion piece was published.
- When attempting to publish the piece on Dutch protocol, Peter and Jan found the level of journalistic scrutiny was unparalleled.
- It is very hard for journalists to do investigative reporting on the clinics because staff won’t allow it.
- When finally released, an important research proposal was almost completely redacted.
- A pharmaceutical company that sells puberty blockers also sponsored the original research article.
- Side effects of puberty blockers were first hidden and then later revealed.
- The Dutch protocol was built on the idea that the children who would get puberty blockers were gender non-conforming.
“In Holland, it is very hard to speak out against innovation because innovation is by definition good.” — Jan [19:58]
“I've been in journalism for 45 years and this is the hardest fought publication ever.” — Jan [45:16]
“There is not one report in the Netherlands [about] what happens in the clinics, therapies, and assessments.” — Peter [54:42]
“There is no investigative reporting, they will not allow it.” — Jan [55:23]
“The details are behind this black wall of redaction. It's crazy.” — Jan [59:54]