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Professor Mikael Landén wins Article of the Year award

News: Jan 29, 2020

Mikael Landén, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Gothenburg, is among the winners for his “Article of the Year”: the best article of 2019 in the Swedish Medical Journal Läkartidningen. He gained the victory for one of the categories — “Commentary” — by writing about the surge in young patients with gender dysphoria.

Under the heading “Rise in young people’s gender dysphoria calls for reflection” (in Swedish), Landén described the situation in the health care sector and research. Readers posted immediate comments expressing positive reactions (“brilliant,” “superb,” “greatly needed”) and thanks.

”We know extremely little about the treatment offered and how these people are faring. They’re young individuals who sometimes get irreversible treatments — that is, gender correction,” he says.

“My point was that we don’t know what’s causing the dramatic rise in young people seeking help for gender dysphoria. Attributing it to amendments in Swedish law doesn’t hold up, since we’re seeing an international increase. Nor is there any support for the ‘declining stigma’ argument in the years when the numbers have risen. I think it’s something else — I don’t know what, but it has to be taken seriously and investigated.”

Sparse research

Mikael Landén belonged to the group that, in autumn 2019, compiled a systematic literature review of relevant research for SBU (the national agency that evaluates methods used by health and social services). This task had been entrusted to SBU by the Government, and the report was presented in December.

“It was an urgent measure, and we didn’t have time for any evidence grading, but the report still showed clearly that there isn’t enough research in this field. On the other hand, the phenomenon of the surge in young patients is new, so there’s hardly been time for any research to be done.”

According to Landén, young patients with gender dysphoria have gone from a handful to hundreds annually in ten years, and the steeply rising trend is continuing.

Heated debate

“At this point, the health services need to step back and ask whether the way to help this broader category of people seeking help is the same treatment previously reserved for a tiny, strictly defined group. Perhaps it is, I don’t know, but we’ve got to investigate it.”

It’s a minefield, isn’t it?

“Well, the tone is heated, at least. Some people have an idea that crazy medics and psychologists are doing weird experiments on our children, but it’s not true. The care services are continuing, in the main, to provide the same treatment as before. But since new groups have started coming, evidence for identifying measures that are helpful, and those that may do more harm than good, is lacking.

“We must see this as a medical issue. Getting gender-correcting treatment isn’t a human right, any more than getting knee surgery is a human right. We have a group of suffering patients seeking care, which means that we’ve got to know that they’re actually getting better from the treatment,” Landén concludes.

Läkartidningen (in Swedish): Vinnarna i ”Årets artikel” utsedda (“Article of the Year winners chosen”)

Contact: Mikael Landén (photo: Johan Wingborg)


Page Manager: Josefin Bergenholtz|Last update: 2/12/2018

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