NORWAY: Transgender Doctor Whose License was Suspended After Privately Transitioning Minors Given Feminist Achievement Award

A gender clinician and sexologist who recently had his medical license suspended following an investigation by the Norwegian Health Authority (NHA) has been granted an award named after a prominent Norwegian feminist. Dr. Esben ‘Esther Pirelli’ Benestad, a male who identifies as transgender, was given the Ottesen award by non-profit membership organization Sex og Politikk despite having had his medical license revoked at the start of this year due to “substantial breaches of duty.”

The Ottesen award is the namesake of Norwegian-Swedish women’s rights activist and social worker Elise Ottesen-Jensen, who was involved in the foundation of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) in 1953. Benestad, 74, was presented with the award for his career as a “standard-bearer for trans people and transsexuals in Norway and an ambassador for gender and sexuality diversity in Norwegian society,” reported Norwegian outlet Psykologisk.

When issuing the award, which was presented at a ceremony on July 12 in Oslo, Sex og Politikk representatives praised Benestad as “an important practitioner of patients with gender incongruence.”

“We have been through a year with a relatively high noise level in the trans and gender debate, and Esben Esther Pirelli Benestad has stood tall, if somewhat controversial, in this storm. In the fight for sexual rights, Esben Esther has held the banner high, she is a genuine heir to Elise,” read the official statement.

Sex og Politikk also celebrated Benestad for acting in the role of Jesus Christ last year in a play titled “Evangeliet etern Jesus, Himmelens drøning,” or, “The Gospel according to Jesus, Heaven’s Queen.” They noted that “Christian conservatives became so provoked that police protection was necessary at several of the performances.”

Dr. Esben ‘Esther Pirelli’ Benestad, in his role as a female version of Jesus.

However, the official justification for honoring Benestad with the award failed to mention that the former WPATH gender clinician has recently had his medical license revoked after being investigated by the Norwegian Health Authority (NHA) on multiple occasions throughout his career.

In January, the NHA handed down a 42-page report detailing the rationale behind their decision to revoke Benestad’s license to practice as a clinician. The health authorities stated that Benestad was declared “unfit to practice responsibly due to a substantial lack of professional insight, irresponsible activity, and substantial breaches of duty.”

Though the report acknowledges that Benestad has had support and praise from some of his clients, the inspectors pointed to several specific cases which were made known to them through complaints lodged by either family members or unnamed individuals. 

Of particular concern to the health authorities was Benestad’s tendency to neglect both the opinions of colleagues and nationally recommended protocols. “We consider that you do not cooperate with other health personnel to a sufficient extent,” stated the authorities in their report.

“The National Health Inspectorate has also assessed that you do not follow the Norwegian Health Authority’s national guidance in your treatment of patients with gender incongruence. We consider it worrying that you justify this by saying that no one else has enough expertise or resources to provide this treatment, or that they advocate a method of treatment that you do not agree with.”

Benestad had been giving puberty-halting drugs to adolescents under questionable circumstances. 

The treatment of “gender incongruence” is overseen by Oslo University Hospital, or Rikshospitalet, which requires that a psychiatric assessment be undertaken prior to the implementation of medical intervention. Despite this regulation, Benestad had been repeatedly providing hormones and puberty-halting drugs to patients who were refused the medications following an assessment by professionals at Rikshospitalet.

The ages of the patients were redacted to protect their identities, and therefore it is unclear how young the children were at the time that medical intervention was initiated. However, in the past, Benestad has indicated that he has prescribed puberty-halting drugs to a boy that he began treating at the age of nine, an incident that spurred the first investigation into his practice by health authorities.

Benestad was previously investigated twice by the NHA for disregarding recommended safe practice policies in his medical treatment of minors.

In 2021 it was revealed that he had privately administered puberty-blocking drugs and hormones to a teenager who went on to die by suicide.

The parents of the minor gave permission to the media to publish on their experience. Speaking with Blikk Magazine, they explained that the youth was placed on drugs to halt puberty by National Treatment Service for Gender Incongruence (NBTK) at Rikshospitalet. The NBTK, which was then called the National Treatment Service for Transsexualism, is under the authority of Oslo University Hospital.

While on puberty blockers, the teen was also privately being administered hormones by prominent sexologist and trans-identified Dr. Benestad, thereby undermining the NBTK’s policy banning cross-sex hormones for minors under the age of 16. Shortly after, the youth’s treatment was again overtaken by NBTK. Approximately four months later, the unnamed minor took their own life.

Benestad has recently estimated the number of patients he has seen in his 37-year-long career to be between approximately 1,800–2,000 in total. Prior to administering puberty-blocking drugs to under-18’s, Benestad was treating child sexual abusers, which he has referred to as “pedosexuals,” and insisted pedophilia was a common human trait.

“We’ve all been pedosexuals once,” Benestad told VG in 1998, and cited “prevailing taboo notions” around pedophilia as a cause for child sexual abuse.

In addition to his clinical work, Benestad has an academic career which spans two decades, with his primary focus being on paraphilias. He is a professor emeritus at the University of Adger. 

Benestad has advocated for normalizing sexual fetishes and, along with his spouse and co-professor, Elsa Almås, founder of the Norwegian Association for Clinical Sexology (NFKS) co-authored an article in the Journal of Sexual Medicine titled, Autogynephilia and Autoandrophilia Revisited, which argues that the sexual arousal men experience through transvestic crossdressing should be normalized.

Benestad was also listed as a member of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) until as recently as November. The gender clinician has also spoken at and attended conferences hosted by WPATH and has exerted influence on their policies. 

Benestad was present at a WPATH conference held in June of 2009 where academics involved in a pedophilic and sadomasochistic fetish forum presented a concept of a “eunuch” gender identity. The concept would later be incorporated into the most recent WPATH Standards of Care guidance, and the WPATH conference and presentation by academics involved with the fetish forum appears to have influenced Benestad’s own interest in the subject.

Women’s rights campaigner and the Norwegian representative for Women’s Declaration International told Reduxx that she was disappointed with the silence from the feminist community regarding not only Benestad’s career, but also his recent award. She pointed to one active feminist campaign group in Norway which is named after Elise Ottesen-Jensen, whose work inspired the prize.

Ottesen-Jensen’s personal motto was “I dream of the day when every new born child is welcome, when men and women are equal, and when sexuality is an expression of intimacy, joy and tenderness.” She wrote for the Swedish anarcho-syndicalist paper Arbetaren (The Worker) under the pseudonym Ottar. Reduxx reached out to feminist group Kvinnegruppa Ottar for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

“We note that the radical feminist group Ottar, who has deliberately refused to take a stand against the erasure of women’s sex-based rights, continue to stay silent even as trans activists appropriate and pervert historical figures such as Elise Ottesen ‘Ottar’ Jensen,” Ellingsen said.

“We find this lack of reaction very telling, as it exemplifies the reach of conformity to trans ideology. Many women have found priceless insights in radical feminist thinkers and activism for the liberation of women from patriarchy, objectification and exploitation. Unfortunately, too many radical feminist organizations ignore the patriarchy, objectification and exploitation conducted by men doing woman-face, such as Benestad. It is a shame.”

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Genevieve Gluck

Genevieve is the Co-Founder of Reduxx, and the outlet's Chief Investigative Journalist with a focused interest in pornography, sexual predators, and fetish subcultures. She is the creator of the podcast Women's Voices, which features news commentary and interviews regarding women's rights.

Genevieve Gluck
Genevieve Gluck
Genevieve is the Co-Founder of Reduxx, and the outlet's Chief Investigative Journalist with a focused interest in pornography, sexual predators, and fetish subcultures. She is the creator of the podcast Women's Voices, which features news commentary and interviews regarding women's rights.