NORWAY: Prominent Trans Clinician with Ties To WPATH Has Medical License Revoked By Authorities

Norway’s most prominent transgender activist and gender clinician has had his medical license revoked following an investigation by the Norwegian Health Authority (NHA).

Esben Esther Pirelli Benestad, 73, a trans-identified male who has advocated for the concept of a “eunuch gender,” 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. Benestad has also been active in the leading transgender medical organization, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH).

Reduxx has reviewed the 42-page decision handed down by the NHA detailing the reasons for 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.”

Dr. Esben Esther Pirelli Benestad at his clinic, 2017. Photo: Gro Austenå Berg

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.”

A report by the Norwegian Health Authorities declared Dr. Benestad unfit to practice medicine and revoked his license.

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.

“We believe that by your actions you have breached the basic requirements set for you as a doctor,” the inspectors said in the report’s conclusion. “You come across as incorrigible and unwilling to conform to current guidelines for good practice. Consideration of public trust, quality and safety in the health and care service must weigh more heavily than consideration of you as a healthcare professional. In our opinion, the circumstances in question are of such a serious nature that we consider it necessary to revoke your authorization.”

Responding to news of the loss of his medical license, Benestad spoke to Norwegian media and asserted that he had not deviated from national protocols. 

“The Norwegian Health Authority does not understand that you can be a champion and a professional at the same time,” he told VG. “I have followed national and international guidelines in everything I have done.”

Dr. Esben Esther Pirelli Benestad. Photo: Bjørn Sigurdsøn / NTB

These statements contradict previous comments Benestad has made.

During a November 2009 interview recorded at Benestad’s office in Oslo, the clinician admitted to using his celebrity status to medically transition children and boasted of neglecting national guidelines.

“Parents of kids who don’t perform gender the way ‘they should’ often call me because they have seen me on television. The first kid I ever met was nine years old. She was a somatic boy, she had a penis but felt like a girl,” Benestad said.

Benestad went on to explain that he was aware of research being conducted in the Netherlands that involved the halting of pubertal development. This research, beginning in 2006, would go on to be called The Dutch Protocol and established the practice of medicating children with drugs that are currently euphemistically called “puberty blockers”, but which have also been called “chemical castration” by medical experts, as the drugs have historically been given to the most dangerous convicted sex offenders.

Referring to the nine-year-old patient using feminine pronouns, Benestad stated that it was possible to “postpone puberty in cases like hers,” and that he proceeded to do so. Following this move, Benestad said he was “turned in by the GID Clinic psychiatrist who said that this was the wrong medical treatment,” and that he had “another malpractice case pending with the Norwegian Health Authority.”

During the 2009 interview, Benestad gloated about winning the case, and added that he had a warning “hanging over” his head.

“If I do this again, they’ll take my license away,” Benestad acknowledged, adding that he could still prescribe hormones, despite attempts to prevent him from doing so.

“There is an old Latin saying that the drops will carve out the stone, not by its force, but by its constant dripping. So I have made my life a constant dripping,” he added.

In the video, Benestad can be heard joking about his prior malpractice investigations with the interviewer. Laughing, he said: “I have to face the health authorities, not the legal authorities. They would not send me to jail. They would have problems finding what jail to put me in anyway,” he says, adding that any prison cell he would potentially be placed in should have “a nice wardrobe and lots of big mirrors.”

Benestad was first investigated in 2004 by the NHA for providing puberty-blocking drugs to young boys under the age of 14 in violation of Norwegian law. In September 2003, Chief Medical Officer at Rikshospitalet, Arnt Jakobsen, wrote a letter to the medical authorities describing Benestad’s practices as questionable, and referred to a boy between the ages of 14 – 15 who had been given “female sex hormones.”

In 2008, Benestad was again reported to Norway’s health authorities for misconduct related to three female patients he had referred for radical mastectomies. Benestad had fabricated diagnoses of health conditions in order to bypass medical guidelines and secure the female patients the procedures. Their ages are not known.

Years later, it was revealed that another young patient under the age of 16 being given cross-sex hormones by Benestad had taken their own life. 

The youth had been placed on drugs to halt puberty by National Treatment Service for Gender Incongruence (NBTK) at Rikshospitalet. While on puberty blockers, the teen was also privately being administered hormones by Benestad, thereby undermining the NBTK’s policy banning cross-sex hormones for minors under the age of 16. Shortly after, the child’s treatment was again overtaken by NBTK. Approximately four months later, the unnamed minor committed suicide.

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 is largely credited with introducing the concept of “gender euphoria” as an alternative to “gender dysphoria.”

In 2017, Benestad and 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, and “interpreted not as an underlying paraphilia that is the primary motivation for becoming a woman/man (because the person is turned on by the image of oneself as a woman/man), but as a learned erotic variation that is natural in persons who are attracted to women/men, and to persons who experience the erotic qualities of womens’/mens’ garments.”

Dr. Benestad’s membership with the leading transgender medical organization WPATH is no longer listed publicly listed on the site.

Benestad was also listed as a member of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) until as recently as November, but at the time of this writing his membership is no longer publicly visible on the organization’s website.

The gender clinician has 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 official WPATH Standards of Care guidance, and appears to have influenced Benestad’s own interest in the subject.

Benestad has advocated a theory of seven gender identities, one of which he calls the “eunuch gender,” a concept which he briefly mentioned in a 2009 interview, and again wrote about in a 2010 paper titled, From gender dysphoria to gender euphoria: An assisted journey.

In 2016, Dr. Benestad presented his belief that there are seven sexes, including a ‘eunuch gender’, on Norway’s national broadcasting station, NRK.

In the paper, Benestad claims to have met members of the “eunuch gender” and cites a website called the Eunuch Archive as being a source for his research.

Reduxx has previously reported on the identities of several academics involved in the Eunuch Archive, and revealed that the forum is dedicated to producing and hosting graphic written depictions of child sexual abuse involving themes of castration, torture, and snuff. 

Many of the Eunuch Archive fantasy materials center around children having their puberty halted, either chemically or surgically. In some narratives, children with stunted puberty are raped by doctors. In others, children are castrated by force as part of a sadistic sexual torture ritual.

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. The clinician’s statements mirror those made by pro-pedophilia lobbying groups, as well as those made by a German sexologist credited with coining the term ‘cisgender.’

Benestad has announced that he intends to appeal the decision to revoke his medical license through a process which will take approximately three weeks to review.

Reduxx contacted the University of Agder for comment on the investigation into Benestad’s medical practices, and the removal of his license to practice.

Dean Anders Johan W. Andersen responded by saying that when considering Benestad for employment, the university evaluated his credentials “in the same manner as every other applicant seeking a promotion to Professor, according to the laws and regulations at that time, and was by a scientific committee found worthy of this title.”

When asked whether university officials supported Benestad’s position on the medical ‘transitioning’ of children, Dean Andersen replied that the university does not “‘support’ individual researcher’s views,” but rather “their academic freedom to research and publish their scientific findings.”

In 2021, a student in the University of Adgder’s sexology department told the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation that she had decided to forego a study trip in Oslo after receiving a letter providing a required dress code that included fetish gear on the theme of “lacquer and rubber.” The study trip, she said, was planned for a BDSM club called Cat People.

In response to news of the NHA’s decision to revoke Benestad’s medical license, Norway’s leading trans activist lobbying group, Foreningen FRI (FRI), and the Norwegian Patient Organization for Gender Incongruence (PKI), both expressed support for the former gender clinician.

“The news that the country’s leading therapist in the field is losing [his] authorization hit us with shock and disbelief,” said Inge Alexander Gjestvang, head of FRI, using feminine pronouns to refer to Benestad. “This means that she cannot continue to provide the wonderful help to those of us who have needed the best professional practitioner in the field of gender diversity in Norway.”

FRI, previously known as The National Association for Lesbian and Gay Liberation, has worked towards the repeal of sexual paraphilias and fetishes as mental health diagnoses in both Norway and abroad since 1997. FRI’s campaigns successfully resulted in sadomasochism, transvestic fetishism, and general fetishism being re-classified as variants in sexual arousal in the 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).

Reduxx is your source of pro-woman, pro-child safeguarding news and commentary. We’re 100% independentSupport our mission by joining our Patreon, or consider making a one-time donation.

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.