UW Misleads on Trans Study

University of Washington

A study performed by the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Gender Clinic that claimed that “gender-affirming care for transgender and nonbinary adolescents likely mitigated rates of depression and suicidality” was found to have significant flaws. UW, however, while amending some of the language of their press release, has decided not to respond to critiques because the study received such glowing reports in the mainstream media. No, I’m not kidding.

Jason Rantz, a conservative radio host in Washington, reports that, “A University of Washington study, in partnership with Seattle Children’s Hospital, claimed gender-affirming care via puberty blockers leads to positive mental health outcomes for transgender teen patients. That characterization, however, was false, forcing substantial edits to the materials used to promote the study and prompting UW to cease promoting the research. Despite all that, the UW communications staff chose not to proactively respond to ‘some pretty concerning claims’ about the study because it had already received glowing media coverage, according to emails exclusively obtained by the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.”

The study included 104 participants between the ages of 13 and 20. Gender-affirming care involved receiving hormone therapy, including Leuprolide, Testosterone, or Estradiol. A March 11 press release on the study, which was published in JAMA Open Network, read: “Gender-affirming care dramatically reduces depression for transgender teens, study finds,” UW Medicine claimed that “researchers recently found that gender-affirming care for transgender and nonbinary adolescents caused rates of depression to plummet.”

Gender-affirming care dramatically reduces depression, the press release claimed. Depression rates plummeted, the press release claimed. Rantz reports, however, that the study actually showed virtually no improvement in rates of depression for teens receiving gender-affirming care and those who did not.

Jesse Singal, an independent journalist, contacted with one of study’s authors, but communication between the two broke down when Singal asked for the raw data backing up the conclusions claimed in the press releases. When he contacted UW Medicine, they also refused to share the data. Singal then wrote his own article on the matter entitled: “Researchers Found Puberty Blockers and Hormones Didn’t Improve Trans Kids’ Mental Health At Their Clinic. Then They Published A Study Claiming the Opposite.”

After Singal published his article critical of the study, emails between staff at UW and Seattle Children’s acknowledged concerns about the study, but everybody basically agreed not to respond to the criticism because the study had received an overwhelmingly positive response by the media. Some of those emails:

From Laura East, Department of Epidemiology spokesperson: “The article resulting from the inquiry was recently posted on the author’s Substack, and includes some pretty concerning claims. UW Epidemiology/UW SPH/UW News will not be including this article in our media tracking/or otherwise driving traffic to this piece.” … “As there is an overwhelming amount of positive coverage of the study’s findings, I don’t believe there’s a need for a proactive response beyond continuing to monitor, but welcome your ideas for any other actions or messaging with the study team. Happy to jump on a call too, if that’s easier.”

From Barbara Clements, UW Medicine Communications Manager: “FYI, I read through his [Singal’s] exceedingly long (very, very long) article, which claimed the research was flawed or, at worst, made up, but given the extremely positive pick up by mainstream media, I would agree and just let this be.”

From Madison Joseph, a communications specialist at Seattle Children’s Hospital: “If the Seattle Children’s team gets any inquiries on social and/or through our press inbox, we will continue to not engage.”

From Dr. Kym Ahrens, an Assistant Professor in the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital and UW Medicine: “Also, if it gives too much attention to clarify at all, I am also very open to not responding,”

UW did quietly edit the press release, taking out the language of “dramatically” and “plummet” in reference to depression rates. However, an email from the study team to Laura East indicated that the language of reduced depression rates was still not accurate:

“I think it is important to note that this language is still not quite accurate. We did not observe a decrease in the rates of depression. We saw that youth who initiated PB/GAH has a lower odds of depression compared to youth who didn’t because depressive symptoms significantly worsened among youth who did NOT initiate PB/GAH. These are different (and has been particularly hard nuance to maintain re: science comm for this study). I think ‘mitigate’ is an appropriate word to use instead of decrease.”

Even still, UW did not reach out to any media outlets to let them know of the corrections. Their claim was that updating the press release was sufficient. However, the original press release came out on March 11. The corrections were made on April 8, almost a month later. What media outlet is going to go back on their own to check to see if there were changes or corrections to a press release from a month prior? None. None at all. In his write up on the story, Rantz theorizes that UW and Seattle Children’s put out the original, misleading press release because they wanted media coverage on a study that showed positive outcomes for teens who received gender-affirming care, even if they knew their study did not show that. In other words: the truth be damned, we have an agenda to push! The fact that UW still refuses to alert the media to the false claims of the original press release substantiates Rantz’ suspicions.

Trust in American institutions it at an all-time low. There is little confidence in government, in public schools, in police, in the Church, etc… Now, some who wear the mantle of scientific research have decided that the advancement of a political/social agenda is so important that science needs to be manipulated and falsified in order to support that agenda. Decisions may be made on the basis of the falsified claims of this study. Other universities may imitate their practice. Policies may be adopted. Laws may be written. Lives may be changed. UW and Seattle Children’s will be responsible for any negative outcomes resulting from those decisions, but they will not be held accountable. They will hide behind their flimsy corrections to dismiss any attempt to hold them accountable. It is only by virtue of the work of journalists like Rantz and Singal that we know the truth. UW and Seattle Children’s ought to be ashamed of themselves, but shame for shameful behavior is a rare commodity these days. Even still, God is not mocked. The truth will out.

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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