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Laura Edwards-Leeper and transgender people

Laura Edwards-Leeper is a conservative American psychologist best known for working with gender diverse youth. Edwards-Leeper has become a favored source for journalists promoting the ex-transgender movement and a leading voice in a faction of therapists who have “concerns” that affirmative models of care for trans youth do not have enough gatekeeping. Edwards-Leeper believes trans people and their families should pay someone like her before getting access to medical transition options.


Laura Ann Edwards-Leeper was born on January 18, 1975. Edwards-Leeper earned a bachelor’s degree from Lewis & Clark College in 1997, then attended Bowling Green State University, earning a graduate certificate in 2003 and a doctorate in 2004. Edwards-Leeper did internships through Montana State University, Bozeman at Crow/Northern Cheyenne Hospital and through Cambridge Health Alliance/Harvard Medical School.

Edwards-Leeper is married to Todd Steven Edwards-Leeper (born 1973).

Transgender youth

Edwards-Leeper worked closely with endocrinologist Norman Spack at Boston Children’s Hospital. Spack is an innovator in offering medical options to gender diverse youth, founding the Gender Management Service (GeMS) there in 2007. Edwards-Leeper and Spack co-authored several articles through 2012, when Edwards-Leeper left GeMs for a similar role at Seattle Children’s Hospital. After a year, Edwards-Leeper went into private practice.

After 2012, Edwards-Leeper began publishing on the correlation between neurodiversity and gender diversity.

2018 Atlantic article

Edwards-Leeper was quoted throughout a 2018 Atlantic article by Jesse Singal on the ex-transgender movement. Similar to the ex-gay movement, the people who promote the medicalized concepts of “desistance” and “detransition” believe that being trans is a disease that can resolve on it own or through medical intervention. Proponents of these loaded terms make several assumptions that are not value-neutral and therefore not scientific.

Singal presents Edwards-Leeper and fellow clinicians Erica Anderson and Dianne Berg as therapists who have “concerns” that more affirming care for minors may lead to negative transition outcomes. Edwards-Leeper’s assessment methods had led to a controversial reputation, Critics reportedly “nearly threw things” at Edwards-Leeper at conferences:

Those conference troubles signaled to Edwards-Leeper that her field had shifted in ways she found discomfiting. At one conference a few years ago, she recalled, a co-panelist who was a well-respected clinician in her field said that Edwards-Leeper’s comprehensive assessments required kids to “jump through more fiery hoops” and were “retraumatizing.” This prompted a standing ovation from the audience, mostly families of TGNC young people. During another panel discussion, at the same conference with the same clinician, but this time geared toward fellow clinicians, the same thing happened: more claims that assessments were traumatizing, more raucous applause.

Edwards-Leeper isn’t alone in worrying that the field is straying from its own established best practices. “Under the motivation to be supportive and to be affirming and to be nonstigmatizing, I think the pendulum has swung so far that now we’re maybe not looking as critically at the issues as we should be,” the National Center for Gender Spectrum Health’s Dianne Berg told me. Erica Anderson, the UCSF clinician, expressed similar concerns: “Some of the stories we’ve heard about detransitioning, I fear, are related to people who hastily embarked on medical interventions and decided that they weren’t for them, and didn’t thoroughly vet their decision either by themselves or with professional people who could help them.”

Singal (2018)

Via Jenny Cyphers, an activist in the ex-trans movement:

Two of the most important aspects of my family’s experience that are not adequately addressed in the Atlantic article, are: 1) my daughter was given a clinical diagnosis of gender dysphoria, so she was just as “truly trans” as the next kid, and 2) it was my insistence that my child wait to medically transition, not her therapist’s. My teen’s therapist, Laura Edwards-Leeper, listened to me and agreed. We were lucky. While there are some cautious, thoughtful providers, the current situation in the US is that there is also no oversight. The most vocal professionals are firmly in the affirmation camp which believes, without any long-term data to validate, that withholding hormonal interventions is tantamount to abuse.

2021 60 Minutes segment

Edwards-Leeper appeared on a 60 Minutes segment about the ex-transgender movement and was presented as a practitioner of “comprehensive assessment” in a way that suggested some colleagues were not doing this. When CBS’s Lesley Stahl asked about “this whole area of accepting what young people are saying too readily,” Edwards-Leeper said:

Yes, everyone is very scared to speak up because we’re afraid of not being seen as affirming or supportive of these young people or doing something to hurt the trans community. But even some of the providers are trans themselves and share these concerns.

This is a reference to conservative trans therapist Erica Anderson, who also appeared in the segment.

2021 Washington Post op-ed

Edwards-Leeper again joined fellow conservative clinician Erica Anderson to denounce what they consider insufficient gatekeeping in healthcare for trans and gender diverse youth.

In response, DC-area parents Rachel Cornwell and Liz Matthews wrote:

As parents of transgender youths, we are deeply concerned by Laura Edwards-Leeper and Erica Anderson’s Nov. 28 Outlook essay, “The mental health establishment is failing trans kids.” Though we agree with their conclusion that improvements in care for gender-diverse youths are needed, their alarmist concerns about insufficient psychological evaluations for gender-affirming care are unfounded and sensationalized.

The writers based their opinion on anecdotal experiences and even admitted that “providers and their behavior haven’t been closely studied.” They pointed to a single study of an extremely small number of people who have detransitioned to support their argument in favor of delaying or even denying gender-affirming medical care to gender-diverse youths. They recklessly conflate safe, reversible medical interventions such as hormone blockers with more permanent gender-confirmation treatments such as surgeries, which are typically not performed on minors in the United States. And they dangerously play down the risk of suicide that can result from denying gender-affirming care.

Thousands of trans youths are now thriving because of gender-affirming care. Thankfully, our children are among that number because of the intervention of mental health providers and physicians, as well as the support of our communities. Trans kids need all the support they can get because they live in a world that too often denies and degrades them. That is why it’s such a shame that the authors would increase barriers to accessing gender-affirming care, rather than expand access for all who need it.

Clinician AJ Eckert, who was identified in the piece, wrote:

The essay misrepresented gender-affirming care, which is nuanced, complex and comprehensive. The writers mischaracterized transgender youths and pushed a damaging pseudoscientific narrative that serves to further limit health care for an already underserved, marginalized and vulnerable population. The writers leaned on the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s standards of care but failed to note that the standards acknowledge the damaging and irreversible consequences of an incongruent puberty, reject the stereotype of trans psychopathology and include harm-reduction strategies.

Contrary to the anti-trans arguments spread throughout mass media and repeated by the writers, research shows that detransition and regret are rare, trans youth suicide rates are alarmingly high, and trans children supported in their identities have better mental health outcomes. One of their most egregious lies was that those opposed to gender-affirming care are being silenced. This article was proof that isn’t true.

Trans children deserve love, support and thoughtful medical care as much as cisgender children do. Pieces such as this are responsible for the closure of gender clinics, anti-trans sentiment and the spate of laws and regulations targeting trans youths.


Paul, Pamela (February 2, 2024). As Kids, They Thought They Were Trans. They No Longer Do. New York Times

Sibarium, Aaron (October 4, 2023). Planned Parenthood is Helping Teenagers Transition After a 30 Minute Consult. Parents and Doctors are Sounding the Alarm. Washington Beacon

Bazelon, Emily (June 15, 2022). The Battle Over Gender TherapyNew York Times

Beard, McKenzie (May 16, 2022). Some clinicians stress mental health care for kids questioning their genderWashington Post

Ghorayshi, Azeen (January 13, 2022). Doctors Debate Whether Trans Teens Need Therapy Before HormonesNew York Times

Respaut, Robin; Terhune, Chad; Conline, Michelle (December 22, 2022). Why detransitioners are crucial to the science of gender careReuters

Stahl, Lesley (May 23, 2021). State bills would curtail health care for transgender youth. 60 Minutes / CBS News

Francis, Mike (March 11, 2021). Psychology Professor Laura Edwards-Leeper Tapped as Expert on Youth Gender Dysphoria and Related Issues. Pacific University Oregon

Edwards-Leeper, Laura; Anderson, Erica (November 28, 2021). Opinion: The mental health establishment is failing trans kids. Washington Post

Cyphers, Jenny (June 25, 2018). What I wish the Atlantic article hadn’t censored. 4thWaveNow

Singal, Jesse (July 2018). When a child says she’s transThe Atlantic

Mapes, Diane (February 20, 2012). More transgender kids seeking help, getting treatment. NBC News

Selected publications

Strang JF, McClellan LS, Raaijmakers D, Caplan R, Klomp SE, Reutter M, Lai MC, Song M, Gratton FV, Dale LK, Schutte A, de Vries ALC, Gardiner F, Edwards-Leeper L, Minnaard AL, Eleveld NL, Corbin E, Purkis Y, Lawson W, Kim DY, van Wieringen IM, Rodríguez-Roldán VM, Harris MC, Wilks MF, Abraham G, Balleur-van Rijn A, Brown LXZ, Forshaw A, Wilks GB, Griffin AD, Graham EK, Krause S, Pervez N, Bok IA, Song A, Fischbach AL, van der Miesen AIR (2023). The Gender-Diversity and Autism Questionnaire: A Community-Developed Clinical, Research, and Self-Advocacy Tool for Autistic Transgender and Gender-Diverse Young Adults. Autism Adulthood. 2023 Jun 1;5(2):175-190.

Coleman E, Radix AE, Bouman WP, Brown GR, de Vries ALC, Deutsch MB, Ettner R, Fraser L, Goodman M, Green J, Hancock AB, Johnson TW, Karasic DH, Knudson GA, Leibowitz SF, Meyer-Bahlburg HFL, Monstrey SJ, Motmans J, Nahata L, Nieder TO, Reisner SL, Richards C, Schechter LS, Tangpricha V, Tishelman AC, Van Trotsenburg MAA, Winter S, Ducheny K, Adams NJ, Adrián TM, Allen LR, Azul D, Bagga H, Başar K, Bathory DS, Belinky JJ, Berg DR, Berli JU, Bluebond-Langner RO, Bouman MB, Bowers ML, Brassard PJ, Byrne J, Capitán L, Cargill CJ, Carswell JM, Chang SC, Chelvakumar G, Corneil T, Dalke KB, De Cuypere G, de Vries E, Den Heijer M, Devor AH, Dhejne C, D’Marco A, Edmiston EK, Edwards-Leeper L, Ehrbar R, Ehrensaft D, Eisfeld J, Elaut E, Erickson-Schroth L, Feldman JL, Fisher AD, Garcia MM, Gijs L, Green SE, Hall BP, Hardy TLD, Irwig MS, Jacobs LA, Janssen AC, Johnson K, Klink DT, Kreukels BPC, Kuper LE, Kvach EJ, Malouf MA, Massey R, Mazur T, McLachlan C, Morrison SD, Mosser SW, Neira PM, Nygren U, Oates JM, Obedin-Maliver J, Pagkalos G, Patton J, Phanuphak N, Rachlin K, Reed T, Rider GN, Ristori J, Robbins-Cherry S, Roberts SA, Rodriguez-Wallberg KA, Rosenthal SM, Sabir K, Safer JD, Scheim A… (2022). Standards of Care for the Health of Transgender and Gender Diverse People, Version 8. Int J Transgend Health. 2022 Sep 6;23(Suppl 1):S1-S259.

Spivey LA, Edwards-Leeper L (2019). Future Directions in Affirmative Psychological Interventions with Transgender Children and Adolescents. J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2019 Mar-Apr;48(2):343-356.

Strang JF, Janssen A, Tishelman A, Leibowitz SF, Kenworthy L, McGuire JK, Edwards-Leeper L, Mazefsky CA, Rofey D, Bascom J, Caplan R, Gomez-Lobo V, Berg D, Zaks Z, Wallace GL, Wimms H, Pine-Twaddell E, Shumer D, Register-Brown K, Sadikova E, Anthony LG (2018). Revisiting the Link: Evidence of the Rates of Autism in Studies of Gender Diverse Individuals. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2018 Nov;57(11):885-887.

Chen D, Edwards-Leeper L, Stancin T, Tishelman A. Advancing the Practice of Pediatric Psychology with Transgender Youth: State of the Science (2018), Ongoing Controversies, and Future Directions. Clin Pract Pediatr Psychol. 2018 Mar;6(1):73-83.

Strang JF, Meagher H, Kenworthy L, de Vries ALC, Menvielle E, Leibowitz S, Janssen A, Cohen-Kettenis P, Shumer DE, Edwards-Leeper L, Pleak RR, Spack N, Karasic DH, Schreier H, Balleur A, Tishelman A, Ehrensaft D, Rodnan L, Kuschner ES, Mandel F, Caretto A, Lewis HC, Anthony LG (2018). Initial Clinical Guidelines for Co-Occurring Autism Spectrum Disorder and Gender Dysphoria or Incongruence in Adolescents. J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2018 Jan-Feb;47(1):105-115.

Shumer DE, Reisner SL, Edwards-Leeper L, Tishelman A (2016). Evaluation of Asperger Syndrome in Youth Presenting to a Gender Dysphoria Clinic. LGBT Health. 2016 Oct;3(5):387-90.

Tishelman AC, Kaufman R, Edwards-Leeper L, Mandel FH, Shumer DE, Spack NP (2015). Serving Transgender Youth: Challenges, Dilemmas and Clinical Examples. Prof Psychol Res Pr. 2015;46(1):37-45.

  • Tishelman AC, Kaufman R, Edwards-Leeper L, Mandel FH, Shumer DE, Spack NP (2015). Reply to comment on “Serving Transgender Youth: Challenges, Dilemmas, and Clinical Examples” by Tishelman et al. (2015). Prof Psychol Res Pr. 2015 Aug;46(4):307.

Children and adolescents with gender identity disorder referred to a pediatric medical center. Spack NP, Edwards-Leeper L, Feldman HA, Leibowitz S, Mandel F, Diamond DA, Vance SR. Pediatrics. 2012 Mar;129(3):418-25.

Edwards-Leeper L, Spack NP (2012). Psychological evaluation and medical treatment of transgender youth in an interdisciplinary “Gender Management Service” (GeMS) in a major pediatric center. Journal of Homosexuality, 59 (3), 321-336.

Spack NP, Edwards-Leeper L, Feldman HA, Leibowitz S, Mandel F, Diamond DA, Vance SR (2012). Children and adolescents with gender identity disorder referred to a pediatric medical center. Pediatrics, 129 (3), 418-425.

Edwards-Leeper L, Spack NP (2012). Psychological Evaluation and Medical Treatment of Transgender Youth in an Interdisciplinary “Gender Management Service” (GeMS) in a Major Pediatric Center. Journal of Homosexuality 59(3):321-36.

Spack NP, Edwards-Leeper L (2011). Medical treatment of the transgender adolescent. In Fisher M, Alderman E, Kreipe R, Rosenfeld W (Eds). Textbook of Adolescent Health Care. American Academy of Pediatrics, ISBN 9781581102697

Edwards-Leeper L, Spack NP (2011). Gender identity disorder. In Augustyn M, Zuckerman B, Caronna EB (Eds.), The Zuckerman Parker Handbook of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics for Primary Care (3rd ed., pp. 229-233). Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. ISBN 978-1608319145


Dr. Laura Edwards-Leeper, PhD (

Wikipedia (

Pacific University (