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Christian Medical & Dental Associations responds to Executive Order that puts children at risk and does more harm than good

Bristol, Tenn.—June 16, 2022— The 16,000-member Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), which is the nation’s largest faith-based professional healthcare association, today protested President Biden’s newly announced Executive Order Advancing LGBTQI+ Equality because of its support for gender-affirming care and therapy bans, which completely disregards the full body of medical research and puts already at-risk youth at even greater risk.

“President Biden’s new Executive Order claims to be safeguarding health care and preventing youth suicide, but medical research shows it will do the exact opposite,” said CMDA Senior Vice President of Bioethics and Public Policy Jeff Barrows, DO, MA (Ethics). “It’s not protecting children, and it’s certainly not safeguarding their health care; instead, it is a prescription for bad medicine.”

This fact sheet from the White House outlines the new steps the government plans to take—steps which are problematic and will do more harm than good, as outlined below.

  • Addressing “Conversion Therapy” — “Conversion therapy” is a misrepresentative, maligning and ill-defined term employed as a jamming tactic to stigmatize and intimidate any therapist who would engage in change-allowing therapy. It implies coercion and suffering, neither of which are true of modern change-allowing therapy. Modern therapists uniformly view old aversive techniques (such as electric shock) as unethical and ineffective.

    Therapy bans deprive adults and children of the freedom to set their own counseling goals and objectives, plus forbidding therapy for underlying issues will likely drive some children and adults to suicide. There is no evidence of harm from modern sexual orientation change-allowing therapy provided by licensed professionals. With this Executive Order, the United States is moving in the opposite direction of European countries that have vastly more experience with this issue. For example, Sweden and Finland have moved away from an aggressive approach to treating gender dysphoria in youth and are now emphasizing the mental health aspect of treatment. They are refocusing on that course of treatment because of the medical science, not because of discrimination against transgender patients.

    Bans against counseling choice are one-sided ideology that places our patients and our children squarely against the tide of science and evidence-based healthcare. The federal government should be supporting change-allowing therapy instead of suppressing it.

  • Addressing Discriminatory Legislative Attacks — Individual states are well within their rights to ban gender-affirming care in an effort to protect at-risk youth. These bans are not hateful attacks or discrimination against children suffering from gender dysphoria, as the Executive Order claims. Instead, these state laws are specifically designed to protect children from radical reconstructive treatments that are medically, ethically and psychologically inappropriate. The government should not be intervening and usurping the rights that belong to each state.

CMDA has an ethics statement on transgender identification, which is available at www.cmda.org/ethics. This statement, developed by CMDA’s Ethics Committee and officially adopted by the organization, outlines research that shows the overwhelming majority of gender dysphoric/transgender-identified youth have pre-existing mental health issues and/or neuro-developmental disabilities, notably autism spectrum disorder. These conditions predate their gender dysphoria rather than being caused by it.

“We want to reassure the trans community that they can expect love and compassion from healthcare professionals of faith,” explained Dr. Barrows. “We have an obligation to stand up for our patients and provide ethical and evidence-based care for all patients, especially those struggling with gender identity, and to do so with sensitivity and compassion, consistent with the humility and love that Jesus modeled and commanded us to show all people.”

“There is no question that gender identity issues are complex. However, with this Executive Order, the Biden Administration is attempting to dictate sweeping changes in regulations and medical treatment for the children in our country, and it’s doing so without sound medical evidence or justification,” Dr. Barrows continued. “Our patients and our country’s at-risk youth need our help, not a new ideology that undermines healthcare by the sheer force of government power.”

For more information about CMDA, visit www.cmda.org.

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