The National Post recently covered the CBC’s cancellation of a BBC documentary about transgender children (Why CBC cancelled a BBC documentary that activists claimed was ‘transphobic’). In that coverage, the Post shared claims made by some activists criticizing some scientific studies, but did not apparently fact-check those claims, so I thought I would outline the studies here. For reference, in a previous post, I listed the results of every study that ever followed up transgender kids to see how they felt in adulthood (Do trans- kids stay trans- when they grow up?). There are 12 such studies in all, and they all came to the very same conclusion: The majority of kids cease to feel transgender when they get older.
The Post conveyed criticisms alleged about two of those: “One study of Dutch children, in particular, assumed that subjects had ‘desisted’ purely because they stopped showing up to a gender identity clinic.” Although unnamed, the claim appears to be referring to Steensma et al. (2013), which followed up on 127 transgender kids. Of them: 47 said they were still transgender; 56 said they were no longer transgender (46 said so directly, 6 said so via their parents, and 4 more said so despite not participating in other aspects of the study); and 24 did not respond to the invitation to participate in the study or could not be located. Because all the medical services for transition are free in the Netherlands and because there is only one clinic providing those services, the researchers were able to check that none of the 24 had actually transitioned despite having the opportunity to do so. Steensma therefore reported that (80/127 =) 63% of the cases desisted.