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Banning the Blockers

Gender clinics from Stockholm to San Francisco have been running an uncontrolled experiment on children, while cloaked in the mantle of human rights.

· 9 min read
Banning the Blockers
Katie Gerrard on Unsplash.

The dramatic growth of gender medicine clinics around the world would have been unthinkable without the promise of puberty blockers. Children born in the wrong body could simply pause the wrong puberty. And if their self-declared transgender identity proved wrong, it was a simple matter of unpausing natural development. Or so we were told. But now, England’s National Health Service (NHS) has announced an end to puberty blockers as a routine treatment for young people who are distressed about their gender, arguing that the balance between the benefits and harms of this medical intervention cannot be known because the evidence base for blockers is too weak and uncertain.

The impact of England’s decision has been reflected in recent editorials in The New York Post and The Times of London. The Post calls puberty blockers “deadly junk science,” while The Times has declared them “a medical scandal of the first order, a reckless exercise in 21st-century quackery,” explaining:

The case for puberty blockers was that they allowed troubled children to pause while coming to terms with their gender identity. These hormone inhibitors were characterised as an on-off switch that could be flicked with impunity. This was a startling example of medical arrogance.

Gender clinics from Stockholm to San Francisco, from Florence to Melbourne, have been running an uncontrolled experiment on children, while cloaked in the mantle of human rights and denouncing any critics as hateful bigots. It will take time to understand the implications of this experiment. Even those gender clinicians who sold blockers as safe have generally acknowledged one dangerous side-effect: low bone density. Hormone-suppressed teenagers are unlikely to get full benefit of the surge in bone mass that comes with puberty; as a result, they may be prematurely exposed to the brittle bones and fractures normally seen in the elderly. And there is another lesser known but potentially more profound risk: the effects of blockers on the brain.

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