Former CNN host Chris Cuomo hosted the first national news coverage on “transgender youth” that predominately featured detransitioners.
Cuomo, host of “CUOMO” on NewsNation, held “a special hour on treating transgender youth” on Thursday night that highlighted the stories of three detransitioned young women and three doctors who believe the medicalization of trans-identified minors needs to slow down. While leftwing media outlets have, for the most part, been silent about the growing presence of people who regret medical transition, Cuomo was determined to balance the conversation.
“Their voices need to be heard,” said Cuomo. “One reason you likely don’t know more is that we rarely discuss it. There’s a fear, for some at least, that anything but unqualified acceptance of transgenderism would be considered ‘hateful’ by transgender community and its allies.”
Cuomo began the program by introducing statistics from a recent UCLA study that estimates 300,000 youth ages 13-17 identify as transgender in the US, a number that has doubled in 5 years (while rates of adults have stayed the same).
Cuomo said that pediatric medical transition was “risky” and “impactful,” a marked departure from the usual rhetoric by mainstream media journalists who portray it as “completely safe,” “fully reversible,” and “lifesaving.”
“There are many who say treatment saved their lives, but not all,” said Cuomo. “There are also doctors who are worried about what they’re seeing, situations they’ve had to stop or slow and young people who’ve decided too late that transitioning was not right for them.”
The former CNN host took a big step in acknowledging the mastectomies and genital surgeries being performed on minors, citing data from an October investigation by Reuters in collaboration with health technology company Komodo Health Inc. In an analysis of U.S. insurance claims and other medical records, Komodo found 776 mastectomies and 56 genital surgeries occurred among patients with a prior gender dysphoria diagnosis ages 13 to 17 from 2019 to 2021. Importantly, Reuters said their data were a “significant undercount” because it only included insurance claims.
The interviews, conducted by NewsNation correspondent Rich McHugh, took place over a six month investigation. McHugh said his interest was piqued when he came across Helena Kerschner’s story on Substack and was concerned by the amount of “vitriol” she received online from the transgender community – just for sharing her experience.
“They have a right to speak, they need to be part of this conversation,” said McHugh.
Dr. Laura Edwards-Leeper, the founding psychologist at the first pediatric gender clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital and a “world leader in transgender health,” said that “gender-affirming” care has been co-opted.
“I do think that it has been hijacked,” said Edwards-Leeper. “People have changed the meaning behind it. Some providers consider ‘gender-affirming’ care to be a very fast moving process to get the child to medical intervention. The field has gone completely off the rails in many respects.”
Dr. Erica Anderson, a clinical psychologist and the first transgender president of USPath and former board member of WPATH, believes that too many minors are not being properly evaluated before starting medical treatment. Anderson said that parents have been coming to her for several years with their concerns, describing scenarios of taking their children to a gender clinic and emerging with a transgender diagnosis 15-20 minutes later and placed on the pathway to hormones.
“Too often parents are told they can have a live child of a gender different than what you thought they were or a dead child of the gender you knew them to be,” Anderson said. “And to have that be used as a lever for someone to concede to treatment that may or may not be appropriate I think is unwise and borders on malfeasance.”
A chief medical director of a children’s health organization in the US spoke to NewsNation anonymously, out of fear of losing his job.
“This is really the most serious abandonment of scientific principles that I have seen in the medical profession,” said the medical director, who appeared cast in shadow with his voice distorted.
“Very reasonable physicians have spoken their mind about this and lost their jobs, even tenure,” the medical director continued. “What is concerning here is that all reasonable dialogue has stopped.”
“I’ve talked to over a dozen doctors and clinicians in reporting this story and they are terrified to speak out,” said McHugh. Like the medical director who spoke to NewsNation anonymously, they’re afraid they’ll lose their jobs.
Representing the position of “gender-affirming” care was Dr. Meredithe McNamara, an adolescent medicine specialist who treats “gender-diverse youth” age 11-25 at Yale School of Medicine.
“One thing I like to say is ‘what does it cost you to affirm who they say they are?’” said McNamara.
For 18-year-old Chloe Cole – the cost was astronomical. “This was the biggest mistake of my life,” said Cole. “My breasts are gone, permanently. I have no idea whether or not I will be able to have kids.”
Cole’s story documents how she was introduced to gender ideology online at 11 years old, which led to her self-identification as a transgender boy at 12 years old. Cole was prescribed puberty blockers and testosterone at 13, and received a double mastectomy to remove her breasts at 15, all at the behest of “gender affirming” medical professionals who she says emotionally blackmailed her parents into giving their consent. She said the experience has been “horrifying” and she is now suing the hospital and affiliated medical group that facilitated her medical transition as a minor.
“There is no defending this,” said Cole. “You cannot possibly defend sterilizing and mutilating children.”
Helena Kerschener, 24, suffered from side effects that she says led to hospitalization from taking testosterone. She was prescribed the cross-sex hormone just after her 18th birthday during her first visit to Planned Parenthood.
20-year-old Luka Hein started medically transitioning at 16, and received a double mastectomy before she even started cross-sex hormones. Cuomo asked her if it was the process of affirming her transgender identity or a change of heart that caused her to want to detransition.
“I think it came from the fact that since I transitioned so young, I just kind of grew up and matured a bit more, and I really thought about my future in ways that I was not capable of at the time of the medical interventions,” said Luka.
“I like to think that there is a genuine sense of care in wanting to protect kids from being suicidal, and protect them from themselves if they are suicidal,” Luka continued. “But this can’t be the right way to funnel kids that are confused with their body or their gender down a course, where at least in my case, it very quickly turned to medical intervention.”