In the wake of such comprehensive exploration and analysis around the foundational medical research cited time and time again regarding child and adolescent gender transition, the Dutch Protocol, we extended an invitation to Dr. Stephen Levine and Dr. Julia Mason to join us in a discussion about their most recent paper, co-authored together with Zhenya Abbruzzese in a thorough critique of the Dutch Protocol.
Dr. Stephen B. Levine is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. He is the solo author of five books, all of which are concerned with love and sexuality. He has been teaching, providing clinical care, and writing since 1973 and has generated over 180 publications, 35 of which have been related to gender dysphoria. He and two colleagues received a lifetime achievement Masters and Johnson’s Award from the Society for Sex Therapy and Research in March 2005. His recent publications on gender dysphoria have been read by thousands of people.
Dr. Julia Mason is a pediatrician who started medical school in the Medical Scientist Training Program but emerged with a Master's degree in Nutritional Science rather than the planned PhD. This extended her medical education and kept her grounded in the scientific basis of medical care, which may have made her more likely to be skeptical of pediatric “affirmative gender care” when she saw it taking root in her hometown of Portland, Oregon. Julia is a founder and board member of SEGM, the Society for Evidence-based Gender Medicine. She is a full-time practicing pediatrician in Gresham Oregon, her gender work is extracurricular and entirely voluntary.
Our conversation with Drs. Levine and Mason evolved into a pretty intense exploration of sexuality and the consequences that blocking an adolescent’s puberty has on their developing sexuality. We explore why so many adolescents are consciously or subconsciously seeking to block their sexuality and seek, sometimes desperately, to avoid opportunities for experiencing natural sexual development. And what about the impact and consequences of easy access to extreme varieties of pornography? But most importantly, why are we robbing young people of the opportunity to develop their sexuality? This is the key question. The discovery and exploration of sexual desire are critically important for the adolescent experience. Puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones not only disrupt but eradicate the normative and positive experience of coming to grips with one’s desires and sexual self.
Please note that this conversation includes many topics explicit in nature, listener discretion is advised.
Co-Authored article with E. Abbruzzese
The Myth of "Reliable Research" in Pediatric Gender Medicine: A critical evaluation of the Dutch Studies-and research that has followed
Stephen Levin, MD’s most recent published article with E. Abbruzzese:
Current Concerns about Gender-Affirming Therapy in Adolescents https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11930-023-00358-x
Selections of Julia Mason, MD’s Published Work
Op-Eds co-authored by Julia Mason, MD
Stephen Levin, MD’s books:
- Sex Is Not Simple https://www.amazon.com/Sex-Not-Simple-Stephen-Levine/dp/091070712X in 1989 (translated to German in 1992 and reissued in English in 1997 as Solving Common Sexual Problems https://www.amazon.com/Solving-Common-Sexual-Problems-Problem-Free/dp/0765701219)
- Sexual Life: A Clinician’s Guide https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-1-4899-0852-0 in 1992
- Sexuality in Midlife https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthy-aging/sexuality-in-midlife-and-beyond in 1998
- Demystifying Love: Plain Talk for the Mental Health Professional https://www.amazon.com/Demystifying-Love-Mental-Health-Professional/dp/0415861306 in 2006
- Barriers to Loving: A Clinician’s Perspective https://www.amazon.com/Barriers-Loving-Perspective-Stephen-Levine/dp/0415708869 in 2013
- Psychotherapeutic Approaches to Sexual Problems: An Essential Guide for Mental Health Professionals https://www.appi.org/Products/Sexuality/Psychotherapeutic-Approaches-to-Sexual-Problems in 2020
He was also the Senior Editor of the first (2003), second (2010), and third (2016) editions of the Handbook of Clinical Sexuality for Mental Health Professionals https://www.amazon.com/Handbook-Clinical-Sexuality-Mental-Professionals/dp/0415800765.
Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine (SEGM) Spotlight Page: https://segm.org/news
If you liked this episode, more episodes you might find interesting:
- “The Dutch Studies” | GWL Episode Playlist
- “Episode 60 — Pioneers Series: We Contain Multitudes with Stephen Levine” https://gender-a-wider-lens.captivate.fm/episode/60-pioneers-series-we-contain-multitudes-with-stephen-levine
- “Episode 82 — ASD & Gender: Who am I? with Dr. Tony Attwood” https://gender-a-wider-lens.captivate.fm/episode/82-asd-gender-who-am-i-with-dr-tony-attwood
- “Episode 42 — ROGD and the Struggle to Grow Up” https://gender-a-wider-lens.captivate.fm/episode/42-rogd-and-the-struggle-to-grow-up
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- Julia says every patient she sent to the gender clinic received the same treatment. Everybody was affirmed.
- Julie was involved in the creation of SEGM, The Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine.
- There are almost 300 diseases classified in the DSM-5.
- Self-proclaimed experts are often not experts.
- Stephen remarks that a common characteristic of adolescents is that they are arrogantly certain.
- The group questions what makes an expert in the field of gender identity.
- Julia explains Innovative Practice research.
- Stephen questions a teenager’s ability to make decisions about their sexuality before they’ve had a sexual experience and a surgeon’s decision to remove sexual organs before a patient has had a sexual experience.
- Stephen and Julia dissect the Dutch research to convey its flawed data.
- Will children who are prescribed puberty blockers ever experience a natural sexual awakening?
- Stella points out society’s misgivings about speaking to children about their sexuality.
- Julia shares her thoughts on the influence and exposure of porn on children.
“The thing about this topic [gender-affirming care] is the more you read into it the more confusing it gets.” — Julia Mason [9:04]
“In dermatology, there are 274 known diseases and that’s about as many diseases that we have classified in the DSM-5. Almost 300 different entities, if you look at sub-types. None of us can understand the basis for the therapeutic recommendations for over 200 diseases. It’s just impossible. And so, what happens is somebody at a high level does research and creates a policy based upon that research or on a set of beliefs in the case of transgender medicine.” — Stephen Levine [10:38]
“I don't know when it first came in. ... It was kind of the elevation of the lived experience to being equal to the expert and that has created a very muddy scenario of what is an expert. If I’ve been alcoholic for 20 years does that make me an expert in alcoholism? That has really been driven in with gender I think in particular.” — Stella [19:52]