A CBS "60 Minutes" segment highlighting the suffering of individuals harmed by transgender medicalization has raised the ire of LGBT activists and has others believing a shift in the debate over transgenderism is near.
In its coverage about the various bills that have arisen across the country aiming to prohibit the use of experimental drugs and the performing of cosmetic gender surgeries on minors in several states, the Sunday broadcast featured an approximately 7-minute portion featuring detransitioners.
Detransitioners are those who once identified as transgender but now regret their decisions to transition and have begun reintegrating with their biological sex.
The segment featured veteran television journalist Lesley Stahl interviewing several young people who had undergone medicalized gender transition procedures. All of them said they were rushed into a decision and affirmed their transgender identities too hastily.
"I didn't get enough pushback on transitioning. I went for two appointments and after the second one, I had my letter to go get on cross-sex hormones," said one young man named Garrett from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Stahl responded, with seeming disbelief: “Two visits?”
While repeated assertions abound from transgender activists who argue that gender-dysphoric youth are at higher odds than the general public to commit suicide if not allowed to transition, Garrett said his depression worsened after he had his testicles removed and had surgery on his chest to appear more female.
"I had never really been suicidal before until I had my breast augmentation," he said. "And about a week afterward, I wanted to actually kill myself. I had a plan and I was going to do it but I just kept thinking about my family to stop myself."
Another detransitioner, Grace Lidinsky-Smith, chose to go on testosterone and have her breasts amputated during her 20s. She told Stahl how surprised she was at the ease and speed she could alter her body in pursuit of being a male and then revert to her natal sex.
“I can’t believe I transitioned then detransitioned, including hormones and surgery, in the course of like, less than one year,” she said.
Not long after undergoing a double mastectomy, she said that she "started to have a really disturbing sense that, like, a part of my body was missing, almost a ghost limb feeling about being like, there's something that should be there."
Following the segment, "60 Minutes" interviewed the president of the prominent pro-LGBT activist group Human Rights Campaign, Alphonso David. The activist argued that by highlighting the accounts of detransitioners, “already marginalized” trans-identified people are further harmed.
Despite the broadly sympathetic coverage, transgender activists in the legal, psychiatric and medical fields were upset that detransitioners stories were given airtime in the broadcast. They took to social media to voice their complaints.
"Lesley Stahl, [CBS journalists] Alexandra Poolos, and Collette Richards knew exactly the harm they were causing with last night’s segment. They knew it was the wrong moment and a dangerous, unaccountable and limited angle. But they did it anyway. That’s on all of you," tweeted Chase Strangio, a transgender activist and attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.
Jack Turban, child psychiatry fellow at Stanford University, stated on Twitter Monday that he spoke with CBS about the story and asked where the network found the detransitioners to profile. The network reportedly refused to tell him.
"We still don’t know if they searched for people on TERF forums, and transparency would be appreciated," he said.
The term "TERF" is a derogatory slur that stands for "trans-exclusionary radical feminist" and is used to demean women who resist gender ideology.
Screenshots captured by the trans-critical website 4thWaveNow.com revealed Dr. Johanna Olson-Kennedy, one of the most infamous pediatric gender doctors globally, voicing her dismay in the comments section Wednesday on a post in the International Transgender Health Facebook page. She allegedly wrote that "so many of us worked hard to dissuade" CBS from airing the segment on detransitioners and referred to the network's decision to run it anyway as a "shameful" ploy for ratings.
Olson-Kennedy, who heads a youth transgender clinic at Children's Hospital-Los Angeles, is a gender doctor among the recipients of a $5.7 million National Institutes of Health research grant. In one of her publications, it shows that mastectomies have been done on girls as young as 13. In a video clip that continues to be circulated online, Olson-Kennedy is seen on tape insisting adolescents have the capacity to make life-altering decisions, including having their breasts removed.
"And here's the other thing about chest surgery: If you want breasts at a later point in your life, you can go and get them," she says in the video.
A 2017 progress report on the NIH grant that was unearthed through a Freedom of Information Act request by concerned doctors revealed that for Olson-Kennedy's experimental study at CHLA, the minimum age for cross-sex hormones in youth was lowered from 13 to 8.
For critics of the transgender movement, the breakthrough of detransitioners stories into the U.S. legacy media is a particularly crucial moment in documenting what some, including Harry Potter series author J.K. Rowling, call a burgeoning "medical scandal" of medicalizing gender in young people.
"It is outstanding that 60 Minutes chose to air the voices of these young women (and one young man) whose bodies have been irreparably damaged by this vicious industry," said radical feminist activist Kara Dansky in an email to The Christian Post Wednesday. She serves on the steering committee of the U.S. chapter of the Women's Human Rights Campaign.
"Most mainstream media outlets refuse to cover this issue fairly, but once the general public is able to hear from more feminists, gay rights activists, and those harmed by the industry, the gender identity industry will wither on the vine."
Dansky has previously emphasized that the major media's framing of these issues in civil rights terms and the near-total blackout of left-leaning and lesbian and gay voices who oppose transgender ideology is calculated and intentional. She argued in a May 13 blog post that since the arguments of gender identity activists cannot withstand slight scrutiny, the press will not publish feminist or gay rights viewpoints that challenge them.
Thus far, Stahl, whose reporting was subsequently highlighted by Fox News host Tucker Carlson, is defending her coverage of the issue. She said in a follow-up segment to the broadcast that it was a story worth telling.
"Their point is that they were not getting proper healthcare," Stahl said. "That was their point and that's the point we wanted to emphasize: that these were young people that were not getting proper healthcare advice."