IN-DEPTH: North Carolina Medical Schools See Children as Young as Toddlers for Gender Dysphoria

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Gender clinics affiliated with three North Carolina medical schools are seeing patients as young as 2 for gender dysphoria, according to documents reviewed by The Epoch Times.

Duke University, the University of North Carolina (UNC), and East Carolina University (ECU) medical schools referenced providing “treatment” for toddlers and grade-school-age children with gender dysphoria on organization websites, in documents, and in news articles.

After information about the programs sparked backlash on social media, all three universities said they don’t prescribe cross-sex hormones or provide transgender-modification surgery on toddlers.

The medical organizations did not deny that their doctors see preschoolers for gender dysphoria.

Transgender ‘Treatment’ for Toddlers

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo Sloan Rachmuth, president of Education First Alliance. (Courtesy of Sloan Rachmuth)

Sloan Rachmuth, president of Education First Alliance (EFA), first exposed the universities’ policies in an article on the website of Education First Alliance, a watchdog group in North Carolina.

Rachmuth is a proponent of North Carolina bills SB 639 and HB 808. If adopted into law, the bills would ban transgender procedures, puberty blockers, and other hormones for youth under the age of 18 in the state.

She hopes her article and the attention it received will help push the bills forward, she said.

“That toddlers who couldn’t have any semblance of what it means to be ‘gendered’ are receiving a clinical diagnosis and subsequent treatment at North Carolina’s teaching hospitals is reason enough to pass a complete ban on all psychological, medical, and surgical treatments for gender reassignment on minors,” she wrote to The Epoch Times.

When ‘Gender Assigned at Birth’ Doesn’t ‘Align’

According to the Duke Child and Adolescent Gender Care Clinic website, “transgender youth” can get a broad array of treatment and education at the facility.

“We provide treatment, support, education, and counseling to transgender youth who are exploring their gender identity and gender expression, as well as their families,” according to the Duke University website. “We also treat people with gender dysphoria, which occurs when sex and gender assigned at birth do not align with a person’s gender identity.”

The founder of the Duke Clinic, Dr. Deanna Adkins, was quoted in a North Carolina newspaper discussing a toddler patient, according to EFA.

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Epoch Times Photo Pro-transgender protesters in Chicago on Feb. 25, 2017. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A May 10, 2016, post on Duke Children’s Facebook page also quoted the newspaper article.

“Dr. Deanna Adkins, director of the Duke Center for Child and Adolescent Gender Care, said she has transgender patients as young as 2. ‘They are not old enough to consciously just choose to do that.…It is not a choice in any of my patients,’” the post reads.

Adkins also indicated “treatment” of young children in her expert declaration filed in a federal district court in North Carolina concerning a proposed bill restricting the use of public bathrooms to biological sex.

In that court document, signed in 2020 by Adkins, she reiterates her belief that toddlers can experience gender dysphoria. Her declaration said the gender clinic “treated” patients as young as 7.

“Most people have a gender identity that aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth,” she stated in her declaration.

“However, for some people, their deeply felt core identification and self-image as a particular gender does not align with the sex they were assigned at birth. This lack of alignment can create significant distress for individuals with this experience and can be felt in children as young as 2 years old.”

Adkins did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Epoch Times.

‘Care Decisions’ Clarified

On social media, Duke Health denied the idea that toddlers were starting gender transitioning.

“Care decisions are made by patients, families, and their providers and are both age-appropriate and adherent to national and international guidelines,” according to a May 4 Twitter post by Duke Health.

“Hormone therapies are explicitly not provided to children prior to puberty and gender-affirming surgeries are, except in exceedingly rare circumstances, only performed after age 18.”

The University of North Carolina’s Gender Initiative Clinic also evaluates toddlers, according to a document obtained by The Epoch Times.

The referral form, now removed from the University’s Psychology Department at Chapel Hill website, shows age brackets for patients as young as 3.

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Epoch Times Photo Students walk through the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in Chapel Hill, N.C., on Aug. 18, 2020. (Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images)

Another deleted UNC website page for the Psychiatry Gender Equity and Wellness Initiative, recovered from archives on the Wayback Machine, said the program’s goal was to provide “diverse individuals ages 4-30 years and their families exploring or undergoing gender-affirming treatment.”

The clinic would provide “letters of support for initiation of gender-affirming hormone care or referrals for surgery,” according to the now-deleted page of the clinic website.

Part of the clinic’s mission is to train the next generation of providers on “gender-affirming care,” according to the website.

UNC Health posted a clarification on Twitter on May 4 about how the organization treats children identifying as transgender.

“UNC Health provides age-appropriate, gender-affirming care to our patients and families based on national guidelines and standards of care. That includes behavioral health support,” the organization stated.

“It does not include any surgical procedures for any patients under 18. It does not include any research or clinical trials involving children.”

Samantha Weiss, media contact for the UNC Department of Psychiatry, did not respond to a request for comment.

‘Affirming’ Providers

In 2022, ECU’s Brody School of Medicine developed the ECU LGBTQ+ Health Clinic, as reported by The East Carolinian.

In the article, Dr. Colby Dendy, clinical assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at ECU’s medical school, was listed as one of the clinic’s directors.

Dendy and her colleague, Dr. Angie Matthai, a clinical associate professor at ECU, wanted to create the new clinic because there were no other LGBT Primary Care facilities in Eastern North Carolina for people “across age groups” who do not attend ECU, according to the article.

The idea to create the clinic was pitched to the Sexual and Gender Diversity Committee at ECU, Dendy was quoted as saying in the article.

Children could recognize gender identity around age 4, so pediatrics should not be excluded from “treatment,” Dendy said, according to the article.

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Epoch Times Photo Detransitioners and their supporters hold a rally on the steps of the California State Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., on March 10, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

ECU referenced Health Pride Clinic services for the LGBT community, listing Dendy and others as providers.

Dendy’s specialty under LGBT “affirming providers” included “gender-affirming hormone therapy for both adults and adolescents.”

In a May 4 Twitter post, ECU Health denied offering “gender-affirming” surgery to minors or “gender-affirming care” to toddlers.

“It is important to note that the comments and opinions of employees, including those published, in any organization, do not necessarily reflect policies or services provided by that organization,” the ECU Health post reads. 

Dendy did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Epoch Times.

‘Radical Experimentation’ Rooted in Marxism

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Epoch Times Photo Andrew Brown, associate vice president of policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), a conservative think-tank. (Courtesy of TPPF)

For Andrew Brown, associate vice president of policy at the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), gender “treatment” for toddlers is no less than “radical experimentation.”

“I am completely unsurprised,” he said.

The medical community in the United States is following the model of affirming gender dysphoria in minors, even as Europe pulls away from it, he said.

Yet, there’s no evidence children benefit from gender-altering procedures, he said. And emerging evidence shows those modifications are more harmful than beneficial, he said.

Transitioning children is based on Marxist ideology, Brown said. It’s aimed at destroying fundamental systems essential to the prosperity of America, such as the family, he added.

But people are starting to push back.

The number of Texas voters who support a ban on gender modification for children has increased 14 percentage points over the past year, TPPF polls show.

Gender Dysphoria Often Disappears

Gender dysphoria eventually resolves itself in 87 percent of those who experience it, Stanley Goldfarb, M.D., board chairman of the Do No Harm medical watchdog group.

The problem is the U.S. medical community has adopted the idea of “affirming” gender dysphoria, instead of helping the patient figure it out, or letting it go away on its own, Goldfarb said.

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Epoch Times Photo Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, board chairman of Do No Harm. (Courtesy of Do No Harm)

Parents intuitively understand that toddlers and young children don’t know what they are saying when they express the desire to be the opposite sex, he said.

Yet, many in the medical community are ignoring that, based on their belief in gender ideology, he added.

Doctors-turned-activists have taken the position that if people don’t support a child’s idea of gender, they are “transphobic,” Goldfarb said.

Many youths with feelings of gender dysphoria also may suffer from psychological problems, he said.

Once children have been affirmed in their expressed desire to live as another gender, they often are on a one-way street to transition, he said.

And what starts as “social transitioning” often leads to cross-sex hormones and surgery, he said. Then to maintain the “transition,” children have to remain on hormones or undergo further medical procedures.

“It’s really quite tragic,” Goldfarb said. “They’re starting them down this path where they’ll never be normal.”

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