On May 8, I reported here on a Norwegian doctor named Esben Benestad who often, appearing in drag on TV, has gone by the name of Esther Pirelli. Despite his lack of credentials in sexology, Benestad, now 74, was awarded a professorship in that field many years ago, and ever since then he has used that position to aggressively promote transgender ideology. Meaning that many young people who’ve claimed to be trans, but who’ve been turned down for “gender-affirming” treatment by the institutions tasked with such butchery, have turned to Benestad, from whom they’ve received encouragement and support – and, most important, a signature on a piece of paper that could allow them to indulge in such self-destructive mischief as puberty blockers, hormone injections, and “gender-affirming” surgery.
Then, earlier this year, the Norwegian Health Authority revoked Benestad’s medical license on the basis that he was guilty of gross professional irresponsibility. Cue VG, Norway’s largest newspaper, which in an admirably long and probing article “pulled the curtain back,” as I put it on May 8, “on his whole reprehensible racket.” His career as a promoter of transgender “treatments” is a tale of egomania on a scale nearly beyond belief: calling himself “the world’s best” specialist in the field, he’s claimed to possess the highest possible level of competence “when it comes to gender-affirmative treatment.” In fact, VG’s article confirmed that Benestad’s sheer irresponsibility is through the roof: reportedly, he recommended the removal of a teenage girl’s breasts without ever meeting her, gave “gender-affirmative” hormones to a patient he’d met twice, and prescribed puberty blockers to pre-teens after brief exchanges on Skype.
In my May 8 article, I celebrated what I described as Benestad’s “day of reckoning.” And in the ensuing weeks, after viewing a powerful new YouTube video by a brave 30-year-old man named Alexander Linkowski – and then listening to a thoroughgoing VG audio report on Alexander’s experience – I celebrated Benestad’s decertification even more.
Because Alexander, as it turned out – and the following paragraphs are based both on his videos and VG’s report – had been one of Benestad’s many victims. As a kid, Alexander moved from Poland to Norway with his parents. In middle school he was ambitious, interested in astrophysics, outer space, metal music, and old black-and-white movies on TV. Other boys, involved in soccer and hiphop, found him eccentric, and mocked his supposed effeminacy. In response, he stopped going to school and instead wandered off into the woods. “Much of the light inside me disappeared,” he recalled.
Online, he found a forum about transgenderism. He wrote a post on the website confessing to a hatred for his own body. Increasingly, the idea of sex change took hold of him. At the time he was living in Skien, a couple of hours west of Oslo. He spoke to a psychologist there who tried to get him an appointment at the National Hospital. That didn’t happen; later, he would feel that if he’d spoken to someone competent there, he’d have been disabused of his transgender illusion.
In the event, he was referred to the local psychiatric clinic, where he was refused any kind of gender-reassignment “treatment.” But in 2012, increasingly desperate, he visited a sexologist in Warsaw who prescribed puberty blockers (he was 19) and estrogen. He started going by the name Dominika Jennifer. (He chose Jennifer because of Jennifer Connelly, the actress in A Beautiful Mind.) But he wanted more. He wanted surgery. Ten years ago this month, he presented himself at the offices of Esben Benestad, who, at their first meeting, in Skien, was dressed as a woman. According to Alexander, Benestad promised: “I can save you.” Benestad denies this, claiming he’s never said such a thing to a patient.
But no matter. Bottom line: after three appointments, during which, according to Alexander, Benestad made no serious effort to grasp his psychological situation, Benestad referred Alexander to a surgeon in Bangkok for “gender-reassignment surgery.” Alexander flew alone to Thailand. His last thought before he went under sedation was: “Help me, I don’t want to do this.” He woke up without a penis and with a fake vagina. He didn’t fool himself into thinking it was real. He knew it was a “wound” – something “grotesque,” something that felt “false.” He’d bought, he realized, into “a lie.”
In the ensuing years he stopped taking hormones, switched to anti-depressives, and, emotionally, hit bottom. Then he heard Jordan Peterson on TV delivering his straightforward message of responsibility: “Clean up your room.” Alexander listened. He started putting his life back together. And finally he made his YouTube video, which is entitled “My Detransition Story: The dark truth behind gender dysphoria and transition regret,” and which I urge you to watch and share.
And what about Benestad? In response to VG’s questions about Alexander, he claimed to feel “really sorry” for his former patient, but quickly insisted that there was no way of foreseeing the young man’s post-operation regret. (Benestad compared it to a woman who later regrets having had an abortion.) Alexander, for his part, pointed out to VG “that Benestad had previously told VG that [he] had never received a patient complaint” – an obvious lie on Benestad’s part. As for Alexander’s charge that Benestad hadn’t “tried once” to determine whether Alexander might end up regretting “gender-reassignment” surgery, Benestad wrote an angry-sounding e-mail to VG bragging that he’d spent three (!) whole consultations trying to ensure that the boy was a legitimate candidate for a penectomy.
In other words, as far as Benestad is concerned, it was apparently more than generous to have three conversations with a confused 20-year-old before authorizing the removal of his penis. (Note well that Benestad, who exults in his self-declared trans identity and loves parading around as a woman, has never had his own male genitalia and gonads removed.)
One wonders: how many other patients, one wonders, have experienced the consequences of consultations with Benestad of the sort that Alexander has? And one further wonders: exactly what kind of punishment would not be excessive for a man who, purportedly in the name of proper and compassionate medical care, has done what Benestad has done?
Watching Alexander’s heartbreaking videos, and listening to VG’s audio report, I consoled myself with the thought that, well, at least Benestad has been deprived of his medical license. Further action against him might well follow. And, with any luck, other irresponsible promoters of transgender sorcery might also eventually pay for their offenses against bodily autonomy, professional responsibility, and the Hippocratic oath. Surely Alexander’s story alone is powerful enough to demonstrate to Norwegian medical authorities just how great a menace Benestad is to the people of Norway.
But I might just as well have believed that the people behind the Russia hoax that did so much damage to Donald Trump’s presidency would pay for their lies, or that the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop would actually send him and his father to prison. Alas, in Norway today, as in the U.S., certain individuals belong to a highly protected class. In Norway, Benestad is among them. So on June 19 came the news that Benestad’s right to practice medicine has been restored. Upon being informed of this decision, Benestad called it “a gift to the queer [skeive] movement in Norway.”
So it is that anyone who might have expected the slightest sign of humility or regret from Benestad, after the withdrawal of his medical license and the publicity surrounding Alexander’s tragic story, would have been deeply disappointed. Speaking to VG after his medical license was returned to him, Benestad bragged that he was more competent in gender-related matters than anybody at the National Hospital.
To be sure, as a further report on June 20 clarified, Benestad, while permitted to work in a subordinate position in a public institution, will no longer be allowed to maintain his private practice. He responded to this new condition with typical egotism, suggesting that few if any doctors in Norway are competent to oversee his work. He also complained that the Norwegian Health Authority is obviously determined “to get rid of me.” On the contrary; if the authorities had had any guts, he’d be behind bars, not in the market for a hospital job.
Cynical as I am about these matters, I wasn’t prepared for the very latest news on the Benestad front. On June 26, Blikk, a gay monthly, reported that Sex and Politics, a non-profit organization that is purportedly devoted to sexual and reproductive health and rights, had just awarded its first annual honorary prize to Benestad, whom it describes as having been “generous in giving of himself, both professionally and personally, and thereby serving as a role model for many, both in Norway and internationally….Many believe he has a non-traditional approach to the subject, but few question his knowledge and competence.”
No, this is not a joke.
Apparently it will take a good deal more time, and more courage, and many more stories like that of Alexander Linkowski, to rid the medical profession of the demonic likes of Espen Benestad.