Major Review Finds There is ‘Weak Evidence’ Supporting Puberty Blockers for Kids

By Published on April 11, 2024

There is “weak evidence” to support puberty blockers for children who identify as transgender, according to a four-year systematic review of transgender medical studies published on Tuesday.

Dr. Hilary Cass, a consultant in paediatric disability at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London, England, and formerly the president of the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health, conducted the review in response to a request from the National Health Service (NHS). Cass’ report determined that the current studies on the subject of “puberty suppression” showed little improvement in gender dysphoria in minors and also may push kids toward getting more extreme treatments.

“The systematic review undertaken by the University of York found multiple studies demonstrating that puberty blockers exert their intended effect in suppressing puberty, and also that bone density is compromised during puberty suppression,” the report reads. “However, no changes in gender dysphoria or body satisfaction were demonstrated. There was insufficient/inconsistent evidence about the effects of puberty suppression on psychological or psychosocial well-being, cognitive development, cardio-metabolic risk or fertility.”

“Moreover, given that the vast majority of young people started on puberty blockers proceed from puberty blockers to masculinising/feminising hormones, there is no evidence that puberty blockers buy time to think, and some concern that they may change the trajectory of psychosexual and gender identity development,” the report continues.

The NHS announced on March 12 that puberty blockers would no longer be prescribed to minor patients for the treatment of gender dysphoria and would only be available for clinical research. NHS is now moving to a more “holistic” approach to gender medicine, particularly for children, which Cass also suggests in her report.

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“Clinicians should apply the assessment framework developed by the Review’s Clinical Expert Group, to ensure children/ young people referred to NHS gender services receive a holistic assessment of their needs to inform an individualised care plan,” the report reads. “This should include screening for neurodevelopmental conditions, including autism spectrum disorder, and a mental health assessment.”

Detransitioners, who have reverted from a transgender identity to living according to their biological sex, were also referenced multiple times in the report. It states that NHS needs to provide care for those who wish to detransition and acknowledge the concerns these patients may have about being treated by the same services that “supported them through their initial transition.”

Detransitioners in the U.S. have expressed frustration with the lack of help from medical providers after no longer identifying as transgender, and many have said they are suffering from a variety of serious health conditions due to transgender medical procedures.

 

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