Riittakerttu Kaltiala, an internationally known professor of adolescent psychiatry with a research record on gender dysphoria, gave a public lecture this week in Helsinki. Thank you to the Finnish association of skeptics @SkepsisFinland for organising the event!
The lecture itself delivered by Kaltiala was packed with information, but as it was given in a popular forum, it presented basic knowledge on gender dysphoria and some recent research and controversies surrounding medical treatment for GD, also concerning minors.
For example, the Tordoff et al. 2022 study in JAMA was mentioned in a critical light. She had scrutinised the data available online, and the numbers didn’t add up to prove that hormones and surgeries improve mental health in youth with GD.
The Q&A was more dramatic than the lecture. There were a few regular questions e.g. on the scant evidence base of medical treatments for GD in youth as opposed to recent media coverage in Finland, and whether or not gender dysphoria can be located in the brain (not replicated).
Most revealing was that two trans activists, both accomplished academics in their own fields in humanities, chose to deliver long and rambling comments with very few actual questions addressed to Kaltiala.
The first one concerned terminology surrounding gender identity - if I remember correctly - having a problem with the word identity being used to describe gender incongruence/distress/dysphoria.
Another humanities academic called for ”less fervour” and more dialogue, but came to the lecture halfway through, and for instance, criticised an article referred to in the lecture not for its contents, but for the (Finnish) ranking of the journal where it appeared in ("Jufo 1")
I think it was this one that was referred to, Levine et al. 2022 in Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, but I’m not absolutely sure:
Any academic who has published articles in peer-reviewed journals knows full well that the main point is that an article is peer-reviewed and edited. National rankings for journals vary from one country to another, even between the Nordic countries.
As Finns tend to be conflict-averse and shy to debate, this event thankfully went without greater disturbance, apart from a couple of quick shouts by members of the audience. We were saved by the bell as the booking for the room was ending.
Conclusion? Even very highly-educated trans activists usually lack the skills to dissect and criticise studies that concern invasive bodily treatments. Terminology and journal rankings don't help if the issue is the advisability of invasive bodily treatments for children.
After all, as Kaltiala stressed during her lecture, the Finnish evidence review on medical treatments for gender dysphoria in youth, commissioned by Council for Choices in Health Care in Finland (COHERE Finland), was the first of its kind, globally. (End)
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