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60 Minutes Story Focuses on Transition Regret, Gets Slammed

Lesley Stahl

60 Minutes is being excoriated for a story on transgender health care because of its emphasis on people who regret transitioning.

The story, which aired Sunday, saw Lesley Stahl interview four people who regretted going through gender transition and two health care professionals who said they support trans people’s right to gender-affirming care but think these procedures are sometimes undertaken without sufficient consideration.

“It greatly concerns me where the field has been going,” psychologist Laura Edwards-Leeper told Stahl. “I feel like what is happening is unethical and irresponsible in some places.”

One of the detransitioners who appeared, Grace Lidinsky-Smith, is a cofounder of several organizations, including the Gender Care Consumer Advocacy Network, which has been repudiated by another cofounder.

The piece also featured Dr. Lee Savio Beers, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which opposes bills proposed in several states that would ban gender-affirming treatment for minors; one of them has become law in Arkansas and a more limited one has been signed in Tennessee. “These are not experimental treatments,” she said. “They’re really based in scientific literature, they’re based in decades and decades of expert experience, and they’re backed by a number of major medical organizations.”

And Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David appeared briefly, saying trans people “are being further marginalized and victimized by elected officials, by anti-equality forces.” But 60 Minutes gave much less screen time to Beers and David than to those who regretted or questioned transition.

GLAAD responded with a seven-point tweet.

Chase Strangio, deputy director for trans justice at the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT and HIV Project, tweeted about the story as well.

HRC did not respond directly to the story but sent out a press release detailing facts about gender-affirming and transition-related care, noting such care is lifesaving, that what it entails is different for every person, and that regret and detransitioning are extremely rare.

60 Minutes Overtime, an online program featuring material not included in the broadcast, did have these comments from David: 

“I have a number of concerns about a story that talks about detransitioning without really focusing on the larger context of the trans experience. … We also have to talk about the people who successfully transition -- the vast majority of people who do. And I’m concerned about that young person who is facing stigmatization and discrimination at home and at school, and they may attempt suicide because society has told them that they’re worthless. 

“I’m concerned about a population that has already been victimized and marginalized, and how a story that is taken out of context could further victimize and marginalize this community. … Bringing a story to light about detransitioning without talking about the vast majority of people who positively transition, would cause concern because it sends a message. We need to also elevate the positive stories of people who successfully transition.” 

Some other critiques of the story:

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