Pro-gov’t newspaper targets Turkish doctors over scientific article on gender dysphoria

A Turkish pro-government newspaper has targeted several doctors by publishing their photographs over their scientific article on gender dysphoria in children and teenagers. Istanbul Medical Chamber and the dean of Istanbul University Faculty of Medicine issued support messages for their colleagues.

Duvar English

The pro-government daily Yenişafak published a news article titled "Somebody stops these doctors: They are changing the sex of 15-16 year old children” and targeted several doctors over their scientific study on gender dysphoria in children and teenagers. 

The newspaper published the photographs and distorted biographies of the doctors and called on Istanbul University, where many of them worked, to dismiss the doctors. 

The doctors published an article titled “Endocrinological Approach to Adolescents with Gender Dysphoria: Experience of a Pediatric Endocrinology Department in a Tertiary Center in Turkey” in the Journal of Clinical Research in Pediatric Endocrinology. 

The newspaper claimed, “The number of young people experiencing 'gender dysphoria' is increasing day by day as a result of propaganda that encourages and normalizes LGBT in Turkey.” The daily also alleged that the doctors performed sex reassignment surgery and hormone therapy on the children.

Article 40 of the Turkish Civil Code regulates gender affirmation surgeries in Turkey and in order to start these procedures. One must be over 18 years of age and go through a long psychiatric, medical, and legal process in order to have gender affirmation surgery. Especially after the increasing attacks of the government on the LGBTI+ community, the authorities supervise these operations carried out in a limited number of hospitals very strictly.

"We stand by our colleagues in the face of this organized attack," the Istanbul Medical Chamber said on its social media account. "No colleague or media organ has the right to turn this scientific publication, which was made with the approval of the ethics committee, into tabloid material with a language that tries to create outrage in the society.”

The Dean of Istanbul University Faculty of Medicine also responded to the allegations made by the newspaper and stated that a board including members from many medical branches has been following these studies since 2017.

“Patients referred from many hospitals are evaluated in this board, and treatment is applied on purely legal and medical grounds after obtaining the consent of the family. These procedures are not gender reassignment but interim ones until the age of 18.” 

The dean stated that gender dysphoria is a very difficult process for many families and added that targeting medical professionals will open space for those who perform these operations under unethical conditions in illegal settings.