Psychology Professor Laura Edwards-Leeper cited by The Economist regarding transgender treatments
The Economist magazine, in its Jan. 30 issue, takes up the subject of transgender treatments for children, addressing the move by states like South Dakota that are moving to ban them. The magazine laments that reducing transgender rights to a political or cultural issue interferes with understanding the underlying medical issues.
"Data on all aspects of transgender medical interventions are poor," the article says. "No one knows how many children have been prescribed these drugs. Little is known about how they have fared since. But in the past decade there has been a surge in the number of children treated as trans."
For an educated opinion, the reporter spoke to Pacific psychology professor Laura Edwards-Leeper.
"Laura Edwards-Leeper, a professor of psychology at Pacific University in Oregon who helped found America’s first transgender clinic for children in Boston, reckons the 'vast majority' of children on blockers or sex hormones have not undergone proper assessments. This, she says, is because of a shortage of mental-health professionals with the necessary training and the desire of doctors to provide care for a group that has long been denied it."
As the magazine notes, "This carries the obvious risk that patients will regret transitioning. No one knows how many people fall into this category."
Edwards-Leeper is a sought-after expert on gender dysphoria and related issues. She is known for providing balanced, developmentally informed care and advice to transgender and gender diverse youth, and for advocating support for those who transition.
The New York Times quoted her last fall for the story "Sashaying their way through youth," about young drag performers.
"Laura Edwards-Leeper, a clinical psychologist in Oregon who works with queer and trans kids, said that experimenting with gender expression isn’t necessarily linked to being queer or trans. 'It’s normal at basically any age for boys to dress up as princesses and girls in male superhero outfits,' she said.
"What’s changed is parenting. 'When there’s no judgment, kids are more likely to feel free to explore,' Dr. Edwards-Leeper said."
Edwards-Leeper has published articles for the Journal of Homosexuality, Pediatrics and other scientific journals.
At Pacific's School of Graduate Psychology, she said, students have the opportunity to gain competence in this work, particularly the assessment process. She said she thinks Pacific's clinical psychology graduate program is the only one in the country offering this training.