Former Fox News host and conservative pundit Megyn Kelly equated gender-affirming care for transgender youth to conversion therapy that attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation.
Appearing on the Eric Bolling: The Balance show on Newsman this past Tuesday, Kelly commented on a Fox News profile of Ryland Whittington, a trans 14-year-old boy living in California. Fox News’ Bryan Llenas, a correspondent for the America’s Newsroom program, interviewed Whittington and his family on the experience of coming out and transitioning.
The story was viewed as a largely positive one, as the Whittington family was accepting of Ryland’s transition, and his mother, Hillary, reportedly said: “I would rather have a living son than a dead daughter.”
But the positive coverage of transgender topics — which conservatives have seized on as a cause to rail against — angered many of Fox News’ viewers. Kelly, too, was critical of the coverage.
“It is irresponsible to put it on the air like this as a celebration,” Kelly told Bolling in the interview, accusing her former employer of “hiding facts from parents.”
“The problem is the Fox News Channel mission is not to do reports that sound like MSNBC, right?” she said. “The Fox News Channel mission is to make sure that they include the context that gets ignored by all the other stations and in 2022, in particular, we know that there’s a lot more to this story.
“It is irresponsible to put it on the air like this as a celebration without flagging for the parents out there, who are going through this, the significant downsides of jumping onto this without making sure you’re in that very, very small percentage of cases where gender dysphoria might actually be a thing.”
She then cited a study claiming 70 percent of kids experiencing gender dysphoria, or the feeling that one’s body does not match one’s identity, will grow out of it if they are just left alone, without receiving any treatment.
“[I]n many cases, they just turned out to be gay,” Kelly said of the study subjects. “And it’s like, this is a weird form of conversion therapy by default. And so to not flag the significant downsides of what happens to these kids when they’re put on puberty blockers when they’re put on cross-gender hormones — by the way, when that’s done to girls, they’re sterile, they can’t have children anymore, and you can go down the list.”
The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, recently published a report claiming that studies finding that gender-affirming health care interventions help to prevent suicide “fail to show a causal relationship and have been poorly executed,” and claimed that suicide rates actually increase among trans youth who access gender-affirming treatments. The Heritage Foundation claims many studies showing benefits for youth who receive gender-affirming treatments are scientifically flawed and more motivated by a political agenda, rather than by science.
That said, a study released last year, which was conducted by Columbia University’s Department of Psychiatry and republished in March, touts findings that counter Kelly’s claims and those made by the Heritage Foundation.
According to the study, puberty blockers — which are considered “fully reversible” allow for a so-called “pause” in pubertal development that allows youth more time to discover or examine their own gender identity. The study claims that delaying puberty to promote physical development consistent with a child’s gender identity is “associated with better mental health outcomes, improved functioning, and life satisfaction.”
The study’s authors claim that gender-affirming hormone therapy and surgery can also significantly decrease gender dysphoria.
“Although less frequent than other forms of gender-affirming care, medical procedures, such as chest surgery, may be performed on older adolescents who have shown a consistent and persistent gender identity, are stable with respect to their mental health, and have parental support,” the authors write. “These decisions are made by a multidisciplinary team of medical experts in conjunction with the adolescent and their parents. In particular, according to a recent study in JAMA Pediatrics, transmasculine adolescents who have undergone chest surgery report significant relief in dysphoria and very rare regret. Genital surgery is typically not performed until an individual is 18 years or older.”