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Ray Carter | July 12, 2023

Brecheen demands federal transparency on transgender study

Ray Carter

U.S. Rep. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate, is continuing his fight for greater transparency from the federal National Institutes of Health (NIH) after the agency drug its feet in response to requests for information about an NIH-funded study on transgender youth in which two participants committed suicide.

“The American people are rightly demanding transparency and answers from NIH about why it is spending our taxpayer dollars on dangerous, far-left studies that threaten the health and safety of young people,” Brecheen said. “We have given NIH more than two months to respond; what is it trying to hide?”

In May, Brecheen and U.S. Sen. Ted Budd, R-N.C., sent a letter to the National Institutes of Health asking why the agency planned to spend millions on transgender youth studies despite the poor outcome of the prior study.

“During this study, two young people died by suicide and eleven reported suicidal ideation,” Brecheen and Budd wrote in their May 9 letter to NIH officials. “Rather than shutting the study down after such serious adverse events, the researchers published their paper, concluding that the study was a success because cross-sex hormones had altered subjects’ physical appearance and improved psychosocial functioning. However, the researchers admitted that they were not able to properly establish causality between the administration of cross-sex hormones and improved psychosocial functioning because their study lacked a control group.”

The study, titled “Psychosocial Functioning in Transgender Youth after 2 Years of Hormones,” evaluated the psychosocial effects of cross-sex hormones on “transgender and nonbinary youth” and involved individuals between the ages of 12 and 20. Of the 315 subjects, 240 were minors.

Brecheen and Budd asked NIH to provide more information on the study, including whether the two participants who committed suicide were minors, what steps were taken to review the study after the suicides, if other participants were notified that other subjects had killed themselves, and if NIH was taking steps to “evaluate the long-term physiological state of the subjects.” NIH officials were also asked to explain why six other subjects chose to withdraw from the study.

The two lawmakers noted that NIH is scheduled to provide more than $10.6 million “to experiment on children and adolescents through 2026.”

In addition to Brecheen and Budd, the May 9 letter was co-signed by 13 other lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City.

Brecheen and Budd have now sent a July 12 follow-up letter to the National Institutes of Health after the agency failed to respond to the May 9 letter.

“Despite the gravity of the situation, we have yet to receive a response from NIH and request once again that NIH provide transparent answers to the American people,” Brecheen and Budd wrote.

Brecheen’s demand for transparency on the federally funded transgender youth study comes as the state of Oklahoma is defending a law that makes it illegal to give children puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones or provide sex-change surgeries to children.

Senate Bill 613 passed both chambers of the Oklahoma Legislature by overwhelming margins, but the ACLU and similar organizations have since filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to have SB 613 overturned.

An amici curiae brief filed by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs and Do No Harm in defense of SB 613 in that case, Peter Poe v. Gentner Drummond, noted, “No reliable scientific evidence justifies the use of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgeries to treat gender dysphoria in minors. To the contrary, such treatments carry harmful lifelong consequences, including infertility, total loss of adult sexual function, and increased risk of several other serious medical conditions.”

Ray Carter Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter

Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter is the director of OCPA’s Center for Independent Journalism. He has two decades of experience in journalism and communications. He previously served as senior Capitol reporter for The Journal Record, media director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and chief editorial writer at The Oklahoman. As a reporter for The Journal Record, Carter received 12 Carl Rogan Awards in four years—including awards for investigative reporting, general news reporting, feature writing, spot news reporting, business reporting, and sports reporting. While at The Oklahoman, he was the recipient of several awards, including first place in the editorial writing category of the Associated Press/Oklahoma News Executives Carl Rogan Memorial News Excellence Competition for an editorial on the history of racism in the Oklahoma legislature.

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