American Journal of Psychiatry Retracts Study:

No Evidence Hormones or Surgery Help Gender Incongruent Patients

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Quentin Van Meter, MD, FCP, President

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Members of the American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) recently criticized a study published by the American Journal of Psychiatry (AJP) that claimed transgender surgeries in gender incongruent individuals led to improved mental health. The study has now been retracted due to a lack of scientific evidence.  

Dr. Andre Van Mol, ACPeds Adolescent Sexuality Committee co-chair, was the lead author of one of 6 letters to the editor of American Journal of Psychiatry critical of the methods and findings of the 2019 Branstrom & Pachankis study in AJP claiming decreased mental health treatment use from gender-affirming surgeries.  His team included endocrinologist Michael Laidlaw and renowned psychiatrists Miriam Grossman and Prof. Paul McHugh (also an ACPeds member). AJP decided “to seek statistical consultations” on the study, along with reanalysis by the study authors, leading to AJP issuing a correction that there was “no advantage to surgery,” and the study authors conceding “our conclusion . . . was too strong.” The Branstrom study itself stated that “gender-affirming hormone treatment” provided no improvement either. Consequently, the study, and transgender affirming interventions, now seem invalidated.

For more information: 

Branstrom and Pachankis’ reply conceded on page 772: “Our conclusion based on the findings at hand in the article, which used neither a prospective cohort design nor a randomized controlled trial design, was too strong.” [AJP 177:8, Aug 2020, doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2020.20050599]

Andre Van Mol, Michael K. Laidlaw, Miriam Grossman, Paul R. McHugh. Gender-Affirmation Surgery Conclusion Lacks Evidence. Am J Psychiatry 2020; 177:765–766; doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2020.19111130

Kalin NH: Reassessing mental health treatment utilization reduction in transgender individuals after gender-affirming surgeries: a comment by the editor on the process (letter). Am J Psychiatry 2020; 177:765 https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2020.20060803

Bränström R, Pachankis JE: Reduction in mental health treatment utilization among transgender individuals after gender-affirming surgeries: a total population study. Am J Psychiatry 2020; 177:727–734. 

Branstrom and Pachankis’ reply conceded on page 772: “Our conclusion based on the findings at hand in the article, which used neither a prospective cohort design nor a randomized controlled trial design, was too strong.” [AJP 177:8, Aug 2020, doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2020.20050599]


About the American College of Pediatricians

The American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) is a national medical association of licensed physicians and healthcare professionals who specialize in the care of infants, children, and adolescents. It was founded by a group of concerned physicians who saw the need for a pediatric organization that would not be influenced by the politically driven pronouncements of the day. The mission of the ACPeds is to enable all children to reach their optimal physical and emotional health and well-being. The ACPeds is committed to fulfilling its mission by producing sound policy, based upon the best available research, to assist parents and to influence society in the endeavor of childrearing.