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Sen. Budd, Rep. Brecheen Lead Letter to NIH Demanding Answers Over Dangerous Transgender Youth Study

May 9, 2023

Washington, D.C. — Today, Senator Ted Budd (R-NC) and Rep. Josh Brecheen (R-OK) led a letter to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) demanding answers about a dangerous NIH-funded study on transgender youth.

Co-signers of the letter include:

  • Sen. Ted Budd (R-NC)
  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)
  • Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)
  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
  • Sen. James Lankford (R-OK)
  • 10 House members

Senator Budd said in a statement:

“Taxpayer dollars should not be used to fund studies that encourage gender transition interventions on young people. The NIH must be held accountable for using taxpayer dollars to study these highly questionable experiments.”

Rep. Brecheen said:

“It is sickening that the federal government is preying on young people and using our taxpayer dollars to advance its radical gender ideology. We are rightfully demanding answers from NIH and we are committed to holding those responsible accountable for this tragic loss of life.”

Full text of the letter:

We write today with grave concerns regarding a study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in which two young people tragically died by suicide.

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.” In this study, researchers examined young people between the ages of 12 and 20 who identify as transgender and were given cross-sex hormones. Of the 315 subjects, 240 were minors.

Notably, the four clinics and some of the researchers who conducted this experiment are outspoken advocates for conducting gender transition interventions on children. In a video it later removed from its YouTube channel, Boston Children’s Hospital, one of the clinics involved, went as far as to claim that children can know their gender identity “from the womb.” Johanna Olson, a co-author of this paper, told CNN in 2014, “We’re definitely in the middle of a gender revolution and it’s exciting.” This same researcher later received a federal grant for a study in which she altered protocol to allow children as young as 8 years old to receive cross-sex hormones.

During this study, two young people died by suicide and eleven reported suicidal ideation. 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.

Despite glaring shortfalls, this government-funded research is already being used to further the fallacy that chemically transitioning children is safe and effective. It is alarming that vulnerable young people died by suicide while participating in a taxpayer-funded study that will almost certainly inflict devastating physical harm on those who participated. Twenty-four participants in this study received cross-sex hormones after puberty suppression or “in early puberty” and are likely sterile as a result. Further, participants are now at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, blood clotting, and a host of other complications.

Research shows that gender dysphoria in minors often resolves as they progress through puberty—completely undermining the idea that children should have their bodies permanently altered to match their changing identities. Despite overwhelming evidence that chemically transitioning children is not safe, the NIH plans to give more than $10.6 million to experiment on children and adolescents through 2026. We are deeply concerned about your agency’s use of taxpayer dollars to advance experiments on children who will be irreversibly harmed by radical gender ideology.

We request your full and complete response to each question below no later than June 9, 2023. Please provide a separate response to each question, rather than a narrative response.

  1. Were the individuals who tragically died by suicide while participating in this study minors?
  2. At which study sites did the two participants who died by suicide receive treatment? On what date did the researchers from these sites inform researchers at other participating sites that a study participant had died by suicide?
  3. Please list the steps that were taken to halt and review the study after the first and second deaths and the dates on which these actions occurred.
    1. If a review took place, please provide the outcome of that review.
  4. Were the other participants, as well as their parents, notified that two participants died by suicide? If so, who provided this notification?
  5. Were participants and their parents given the opportunity to reconsider their consent and withdraw from this research in light of the suicides?
  6. What steps were taken to provide ongoing monitoring of other children participating in the study to ensure they were not at risk for suicidal ideation?
  7. Have study participants been evaluated to assess sterility or impaired fertility as a result of receiving cross-sex hormones? If so, how many participants are now sterile or suffering from impaired fertility?
  8. Will a follow-up occur to evaluate the long-term physiological state of the subjects? If so, please provide an expected date for this follow-up.
  9. The study notes that “6 participants withdrew from the study.” Please provide the ages and Tanner stages at which these participants withdrew and their reasons for withdrawing.
  10. Please provide all closed-meeting minutes from the NIH regarding the approval of funding for this study.
  11. Please provide all closed-meeting minutes from the NIH, researcher Johanna L. Olson, the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, and any relevant review boards regarding the approval of children as young as 8 years old to receive cross-sex hormones in the study titled “The Impact of Early Medical Treatment in Transgender Youth,” redacting any information that personally identifies study participants if applicable.
  12. Please provide all information that participants and their parents received specifically regarding sterility or risks of impaired fertility resulting from the use of cross-sex hormones, redacting any information that personally identifies study participants if applicable.
  13. Does the NIH still commit to funding Project Number R01 HD082554 through 2026? If so, please provide justification for continuing this funding and detail what additional steps will be taken to prevent such serious adverse events going forward.
  14. Please detail any ongoing or proposed NIH funding for studies involving transgender or nonbinary identified minors.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.


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