The American Journal of Psychiatry says it got it wrong when it came to analyzing the numbers in a large study of transgender patients undergoing sex-reassignment surgery.
Last fall, the journal published the results of the study and found the surgeries improved patients' mental health. But this week, the journal retracted its findings, saying a second look at the subject found no improvement.
When asked about how a prestigious journal incorrectly analyzes its data, Dr. Ryan Anderson, the Heritage Foundation's William E. Simon senior research fellow in American Principles and Public Policy, told CBN News there may have been a preferred outcome for the study.
"Human error is a possibility here," Anderson said. "But there's also the possibility that there was a preferred outcome for the study. So that they wanted the study to say a certain thing. Obviously, we don't know in this particular instance whether this was just an honest mistake or if this was motivated research, motivated reasoning to lead to a certain conclusion."
"But we can say that the media didn't report on one of the main findings of the original study which was that hormonal transition showed no signs of improvement," he added. "They only reported on the original study that said surgery transition showed signs of improvement. And now that claim has been retracted."
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Anderson, the author of When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Movement, said the original study had been celebrated by the media and was then used in social media against anyone with a dissenting viewpoint to accuse them of being against science.
This "does show that the cultural moment in which we're living suggests that there's only one allowed conclusion to this question," he said. "And the only allowed conclusion is that transition is the best solution. The biggest data set now shows and that's what this study uses, the biggest data set shows that there's no benefits, psychological benefits to patients of hormonal and surgical transition."
When asked if those struggling with gender dysphoria should think twice about surgery, Anderson told CBN News people who are struggling with their own gender identity deserve to know the truth.
"And what the science is showing is that hormonal-surgical transition doesn't provide the promised wholeness and happiness patients are seeking," he noted. "So what we need to do is find ways to help patients feel comfortable in their own bodies. We need to be respectful. We need to be compassionate. We also need to be truthful. And so, we need to be helping patients who feel uncomfortable in their bodies to once again feel comfortable in their bodies. But not to radically transform their bodies, because that does not bring the lasting wholeness and happiness that they seek."
Anderson also mentioned he had not seen any media coverage of the journal's correction, but he thinks the most important thing to focus on right now is children.
"Right now, parents are being told that they need to put their children on the prescribed puberty-blocking drugs, Cross X hormones, etc, etc," he said. "That is entirely an unstudied experimental treatment protocol. And so I think in particular we need more research on what we can do for young people, children who feel uncomfortable in their own bodies and how we can help them feel comfortable once again. But we shouldn't be running to prescribe puberty-blocking drugs and Cross X hormones. Parents should know the facts about this as well."