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Republicans demand answers from NIH director after two participants in a study of transgender youth ‘died by suicide’

More than a dozen Republican members of the House and Senate wrote a letter to the director of the National Institutes of Health demanding answers about a study she funded, “Psychological and Social Functioning in Transgender Youth After Two Years of Hormones,” during which “two young men tragically died by suicide.”

The message to d. Lawrence Tabac, and Sens. Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Representatives signed it. Josh Breechen, Lauren Boebert and Andy Biggs, among others, highlight “serious concerns” from lawmakers about the study in which researchers examined 315 people “between the ages of 12 and 20 who identify as transgender and were given heterosexual hormones.” 240 of them are minors.

“During this study, two young men died by suicide and 11 people reported suicidal thoughts,” the letter reads. Rather than close the study after such serious adverse events, the researchers published their paper, concluding that the study was successful because sex hormones altered the subjects’ physical appearance and improved psychosocial functioning.

An abstract published by the New England Journal of Medicine said, “Participants were enrolled in an observational study from four sites of physical and psychosocial outcomes.”

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Acting Director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Lawrence Tabak testifies before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, Human Services, and Education about NIH FY2024 Budgey on Capitol Hill on May 4, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Participants completed the Transgender Adjustment Scale, the Beck Depression Inventory-II, the Revised Children’s Appearance Anxiety Scale (2nd Edition), and measures of positive affect and life satisfaction from the NIH’s (NIH) Emotion Toolkit at baseline and at 6, 12, and 18 and 24 months after the initiation of sex-affirming hormones.

The abstract concluded, “During the study period, appearance conformity, positive affect, and life satisfaction increased, and symptoms of depression and anxiety decreased.” Increases in appearance conformity were associated with concurrent increases in positive affect, life satisfaction, and decreased symptoms of depression and anxiety. The most common adverse event was suicidal ideation (in 11 participants). [3.5%]); Death by suicide occurred in 2 participants.

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Mark Rubio

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is among those who signed the Republican letter. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

But Republicans argue that “the four clinics and some of the researchers who conducted this trial are vocal advocates of gender transition interventions on children.”

“In a video that was later removed from her YouTube channel, Boston Children’s Hospital, one of the clinics in question, went so far as to claim that children can learn their gender identity ‘from the womb,'” the letter read.

Boston Children's Hospital

Republicans chose Boston Children’s Hospital as one of the clinics that participated in the study. (Lynn Turner/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

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Republicans also argued: “Despite its glaring shortcomings, this government-funded research is already being used to reinforce the fallacy that chemically transporting children is safe and effective,” adding: “The taxpayer-funded study almost certainly would do devastating physical harm to those who participated.” .

The letter asks Tabak, by June 9, to provide responses to questions such as, “Were the individuals who tragically died by suicide while participating in this study minors?” and “Did the participants and their parents have the opportunity to reconsider their consent and withdraw from this research in light of the suicides?”



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