Last month, Dallas’ Children’s Health quietly shut down its GENder Education and Care Interdisciplinary Support (GENECIS) program after six years of operation. The program, which boasted of being the first in the region to cater specifically to “transgender and gender diverse youth,” had recently come under the scrutiny of elected leaders as well as local parents concerned about its practices. As it turns out, parents had good reason to be concerned.
The activities taking place at GENECIS, euphemistically labeled “gender affirming care,” have exploded in across the country over the last decade. The number of “gender clinics” for children in the U.S. has grown dramatically from just one facility in 2007 to over 65 today. Many thousands of children are now ushered through these centers annually in what has become a booming business, especially for the pharmaceutical manufacturers of the drugs typically prescribed. In some states, minors don’t even need parental permission in order to consent to a course of treatment.
So what does that “treatment” process look like? For decades, the approach to children diagnosed with “gender dysphoria” – having a self-perception of one’s sex different from one’s body – was to help these children work through those feelings via talk therapy and counseling. Given that studies showed over 80 to 95 percent of gender dysphoric children would eventually come to identify with their biological sex, this was a prudent and effective approach.
But in this area, as in so many others, ideology has lately overtaken science and medicine. The process at gender clinics like GENECIS now often involves first placing children on so-called “puberty blocking” drugs, with the aim of halting their normal biological development. While this is widely defended as a safe and fully reversible means to give children more time to “explore” their identity, the truth is very different. In fact, these drugs have not been approved by the FDA for this purpose, and the long-term effects of their use are still largely unknown. Furthermore, despite the claims of their being reversible, studies have shown that almost all children who are given these drugs will go on to take additional steps to “change” their sex.
The next step is to place children on “cross-sex hormones,” flooding their bodies with the hormones of the opposite sex. Although this is once again touted as a standard and safe practice, the reality is that this comes with many dangerous consequences: decreased bone density, increased risk of cancer, heart issues, and worst of all, sterilization. Moreover, once a child starts down this road, there is no turning back – all physical changes are irreversible.
In some places, children are also encouraged to undergo surgeries to “match” their bodies to their perceived gender. In practice, this means, for example, performing double mastectomies on healthy teenage girls, permanently mutilating their young bodies. And while GENECIS insisted they didn’t offer such procedures, at least one archived version of their website from 2019 shows that they advertised referrals for these practices.
To recap: Children’s Health’s GENECIS program was for years engaged in taking minor children in mental distress and giving them experimental drugs to change their bodies in dangerous and irreversible ways, sterilizing them and even perhaps referring them to surgeons willing to further mutilate them. Of the many words and phrases that could be used to describe this, one seems particularly apt: child abuse. And Texas state law would seem to agree.
After all, we don’t allow children to buy alcohol or cigarettes. Nor does our law allow underage minors to, say, get tattoos. We rightly recognize that kids are far too young to make such decisions which could negatively impact their health and have long-lasting repercussions on their lives. And we would widely condemn, not to mention potentially prosecute, any adult who intentionally enables children to bypass these important safeguards.
So while it is very good news that the GENECIS program no longer exists, this cannot be the end of the story. The officials at Children’s Health who signed off on and oversaw this horrific program must be held accountable for their actions. And Texas lawmakers must act to ensure these activities are prohibited everywhere in this state. For too long, we have allowed leftist ideologues in the healthcare industry to experiment on our children. It’s time we finally put a stop to it.
Terry Schilling is the president of American Principles Project. Matt Rinaldi is the chairman of the Republican Party of Texas.