Universities partner with children’s hospitals to study 'family-initiated social gender transition'

Four universities are participating in a grant-funded study of 'how family-initiated social gender transition' for prepubescent children might 'alleviate mental health symptoms.'

Flyers recruit children as paid participants in the study who are six years of age or older, identify as '[g]ender diverse or transgender,' and have yet to reach puberty.

Four universities are studying the social transition of prepubescent children after receiving a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

The University of Southern California (USC), Northwestern University (NU), Harvard Medical School (HMS), and the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) are conducting the study in partnership with children’s hospitals. Their study of “how family-initiated social gender transition may … alleviate mental health symptoms” will end in 2024, according to the NIH’s website. 

Flyers shared by grantees in 2021 recruit participants for the study, which they refer to as “the Gender Journey Project.” Children who are six years of age or older, identify as “[g]ender diverse or transgender,” and have yet to reach puberty will get paid to participate, according to the flyers. 

[RELATED: New transgender academic journal advocates for child transition]

The study’s leaders and participating hospitals have histories of advancing research supporting gender transitions. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, NU’s partner in conducting the study, lists as current research projects the effects of puberty blockers on adolescent mental health and “The Impact of Early Medical Treatment in Transgender Youth.”

Amy Tishelman, an assistant professor at HMS and one of the principal investigators (PI) for the study, is the Director of Clinical Research at Boston Children’s Hospital’s Gender Multispecialty Service (GeMS), according to her HMS biography. 

Boston Children’s, the hospital partnering with HMS to conduct the study, has been featured on Libs of TikTok for describing a “gender-affirming hysterectomy.” 

Another PI for the study, Diane Chen, is an associate professor at NU and author of a Jan. 2023 journal article on “transgender and nonbinary youth receiving gender-affirming hormones.”

[RELATED: Transgender activist urges children to ‘learn’ about transitioning ‘at a very young age’]

Chen co-authored the article with Tishelman, Diane Ehrensaft, and other PIs for the study. 

Ehrensaft is the Mental Health Director of the Child and Adolescent Gender Center at UCSF’s hospital. 

presentation that she gave in Feb. 2021 discussed “gender microaggressions” and suggested what role adults should play in affirming children’s gender identities. Slides comparing gender to a web say that people change “their gender web as they weave together nature, nurture, and culture.”

“The gender web is each child’s personal creation,” one slide says. “If adults facilitate the child weaving their own personal gender web, the child feels supported.” 

Campus Reform contacted all relevant parties listed for comment and will update this article accordingly.