Doctors admit link between transgender hormone therapy and cancer in leaked emails

Man receiving an injection
Man receiving an injection

Doctors on a leading transgender healthcare body have admitted that patients have developed cancer owing to the effects of hormone treatment.

Leaked emails show other medical professionals admitting that trans patients do not always understand the consequences of gender reassignment.

The cache of files from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), which sets guidelines that have influenced NHS treatment, show that doctors are carrying out life-changing surgery and prescribing puberty blockers even though they are aware the adults and children may not fully understand the long term ramifications.

One doctor talked about a transgender person who died of cancer as a result of his hormone treatment.

“I have one transition friend/colleague who, after about eight to 10 years of [testosterone] developed hepatocarcinoma [a form of liver cancer],” the doctor wrote.

“To the best of my knowledge, it was linked to his hormone treatment… it was so advanced that he opted for palliative care and died a couple of months later.”

It’s not clear from the documents if the person who died was made aware or knew about the side effect.

‘Living (presumably) happily ever after’

Another said they would go ahead with a double mastectomy (called “top surgery”) on a 16-year-old girl even though hormones had likely given her liver cancer.

“The oncologist and surgeon both have indicated that the likely offending agent(s) are the hormones,” the doctor wrote. “We are prepared to support the patient in any way we can (e.g. top surgery when medically stable, etc).”

A gender therapist said they had only turned one person down for treatment in 15 years.

“I have also intervened on behalf of people who have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder, complex post-traumatic stress disorder, homeless and got at least an orchiectomy [testicle removal],” they said.

“In the last 15 years I had to regrettably decline writing only one letter, mainly because the person evaluated was in active psychosis and hallucinated during the assessment session.

“Other than that – nothing – everyone got their assessment letter, insurance approval, and are living (presumably) happily ever after.”

A number of doctors admitted that their patients often did not understand the ramifications of hormone treatment or surgery – such as developing facial hair.

A child psychologist said in a leaked email featured in the report: “[It is] out of their developmental range to understand the extent to which some of these medical interventions are impacting them.

“They’ll say they understand, but then they’ll say something else that makes you think, oh, they didn’t really understand that they are going to have facial hair.”

‘Neither science nor medicine’

The contents of the forum was leaked to Michael Shellenberger, a US writer and journalist.

“The WPATH Files show that what is called ‘gender medicine’ is neither science nor medicine,” he said.

“The experiments are not randomised, double-blind, or controlled. It’s not medicine since the first rule is to do no harm. And that requires informed consent.

“Activist members of WPATH know that the so-called ‘gender-affirming care’ they provide can result in life-long complications and sterility and that their patients do not understand the implications, such as loss of sexual function and the ability to experience orgasm.

“These leaked files show overwhelming evidence that the professionals within WPATH know that they are not getting consent from children, adolescents, and vulnerable adults, or their caregivers.”

WPATH is made up of doctors, psychologists, therapists and activists and although it has some UK members it is based in the US. It is best known for its “standards of care” guidelines which the NHS in England was previously aligned with. Scotland still is.

WPATH was approached for comment.