The plague of self-diagnosis

Doctor, I have cancer.  I have this new pain, and I talked to my friends, and I looked on the internet, and it can't be anything other than cancer.  You have to start me on radiation and chemotherapy right now, or I'll die.

The doctor says take a breath and slow down — let's do some tests, find out what the pain is, and see what the issue really is.  You should know to never diagnose yourself through the internet; people always assume the worst or the most extreme when they do that.  As for your friends, I think they are trying to be supportive and kind, but they may not be the best source of information on this right now.

Doctor, I am transgender.  I have these new thoughts, and I talked to my friends, and I looked on the internet, and it can't be anything other than being transgender.  You have to start me on hormones and schedule me for surgery right now or I'll die.

The doctor says...sure, when do you want to start?

In other words, if you think you have cancer, your doctor will check.  If you think you are transgender, too many doctors will simply take your word for it, "affirm" your almost assuredly transitory state of mind, and then go right ahead with procedures that cause permanent damage.

And while the scenarios above my be fictional, they are not at all hypothetical.  In fact, they are all too real, as many "detransitioners" will attest to.

Recently, lawsuits have begun to be filed by detransitioners against the doctors and clinicians and establishments that, they say, simply moved them down the conveyor belt toward transition without taking into account other factors, such as looking at the general mental health of the person, his overall well-being, and the reasons for seeking to transition in the first place.

In the first Canadian lawsuit brought, the claim is made that doctors, etc. allowed Michelle Zacchigna "to self-diagnose as transgender and prescribe her own treatment without providing a differential diagnosis or proposing alternative treatments[.]"

Further, she discovered the concept of "gender identity" online, became certain that was the issue, and sought treatment for gender identity issues.  A few doctor appointments later, Zacchigna was prescribed testosterone.

In the United States, one of the nation's health care behemoths, Kaiser Permanente, is also being sued for having "performed, supervised, and/or advised transgender hormone therapy and surgical intervention for Chloe Cole when she was between 13[ and ]17 years old."

According to Kaiser's gender-related web pages, they practice "gender affirming" care as outlined by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health guidelines.  To say WPATH has become a lightning rod in the gender discussions is an understatement, and criticisms of its "affirming" approach abound.  

Despite the red flags, Kaiser continues to take this approach, noting on its site that "it's important to us to know how you identify yourself and how we can best meet your needs."

"Meeting your needs" involves certain physical and chemical procedures.  It should be noted that there is scant mention of mental health evaluations, therapy options, or even any other possible approach for the patient to take other than medicalization.

But it is specifically noted, rather encouragingly, it seems, that "young people can talk with their doctor about gender-related questions.  Part of every appointment is confidential for youth age 12 and older."

Twelve and older.

Most doctors want to do the best they can by their patients and the community.  Some, sadly, do not, whether it be about this issue or other past medical tragedies

As with the social contagion spreading transgenderism through teens, it appears that a parallel process is happening in the medical field.  Doctors are people, and people like to be popular and seen as caring and at the vanguard of change, and people do not like being stigmatized, censured, mocked, fired from their jobs, and made pariahs in their peer group — in this case, other doctors, who claim to be "experts" on the subject.

That is a tragedy...and it is causing even worse tragedies.

Thomas Buckley is the former mayor of Lake Elsinore, Calif. and a former newspaper reporter.  He is currently the operator of a small communications and planning consultancy and can be reached directly at You can read more of his work at

Image: ParaDox.

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