Post submitted by Gabe Murchison, former Senior Research Manager
Last week, an organization with an official-sounding name—the American College of Pediatricians—released a statement condemning gender-affirming care for transgender and gender-expansive youth. The group, known as ACPeds for short, wants you to confuse them for the American Academy of Pediatrics, the 86-year-old group that represents 60,000 pediatricians across the United States. But ACPeds was founded in 2002 by a fringe group of doctors angry that the American Academy of Pediatrics recognized same-sex couples as loving, capable adoptive parents. They won’t say how many members they have, but reports peg the number at less than 200. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated ACPEds as a hate group.
Besides insinuating that they represent more than a tiny group of pediatricians with extreme views about LGBT people, ACPeds tries to make its statements seem scientific by sprinkling in plenty of footnotes. On closer inspection, however, many of these references are inapplicable, non-scientific, or used for completely different conclusions than the sources actually make. This is simply how ACPeds operates. When they sent an anti-LGBT letter to 14,000 school superintendents in 2006, a number of the authors they cited publicly complained that the letter mischaracterized their findings. When a Twin Cities journalist interviewed some of the scientists ACPeds cited, genetics researcher Francis Collins called the reference “misleading and incorrect.” Pediatrician Gary Remafedi said it was “obvious that they didn’t even read my research.”
It’s no surprise that ACPeds can’t get a handle on the facts about transgender children: they aren’t experts. None of the statement's three authors have ever published peer-reviewed research about transgender people, let alone trans kids.
What about the American Academy of Pediatrics, the group that actually represents U.S. pediatricians? AAP has provided guidelines for gender-affirmative care, including gender transition for transgender youth. And it officially opposes therapies purported to change a transgender child’s identity, saying they can be psychologically damaging.
As fringe groups like ACPeds use fake authority to mislead the public, HRC is working to connect adults caring for gender-expansive youth with accurate information and support. We’ve worked with leading experts, like Children’s Hospital Los Angeles pediatrician Dr. Johanna Olson, to explain the difference between transgender and gender non-conforming kids and how to talk to healthcare providers about a gender-expansive child. We’ve also created a map of over 40 clinical care programs that work with gender-expansive youth.
Click here to learn more about HRC’s resources on gender-expansive children and youth.