". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


England Bans Puberty Blockers for Minors

March 13, 2024

England’s National Health Service (NHS) is officially banning the prescription of puberty blockers to children. The NHS’s guidelines on treatment of gender dysphoria currently state, “Puberty blockers … are not available to children and young people for gender incongruence or gender dysphoria because there is not enough evidence of safety and clinical effectiveness.” The NHS adds, “Children, young people and their families are strongly discouraged from getting puberty blockers or gender affirming hormones from unregulated sources or online providers that are not regulated by U.K. regulatory bodies.”

Instead of puberty blockers, the NHS says that children suffering with gender dysphoria will have access to family therapy, individual child psychotherapy, parental support or counselling, and “regular reviews to monitor gender identity development,” as well as other forms of therapy and counseling. The NHS explains, “Most treatments offered at this stage are psychological rather than medical. This is because in many cases gender variant behaviour or feelings disappear as children reach puberty.”

After the age of 16, children “with lasting signs of gender dysphoria who meet strict criteria” will be permitted to begin taking hormone drugs, which the NHS warns “cause some irreversible changes” and “may cause temporary or even permanent infertility.” The NHS further notes, “There is some uncertainty about the risks of long-term cross-sex hormone treatment.”

This follows the U.K. government shutting down the infamous Gender Identity Development Services (GIDS) clinic at Tavistock. In 2022, the NHS permanently closed the Tavistock GIDS clinic after a government investigation determined that staff rushed and pressured children onto puberty blockers and hormone drugs with little or no psychological oversight. Ninety-six percent of child patients at Tavistock were placed on puberty blockers and numerous whistleblowers reported that staff frequently diagnosed children with gender dysphoria while ignoring or neglecting other psychological conditions. Dr. Hillary Cass, the pediatrician who led the government’s Tavistock investigation, found so much evidence of child endangerment that she recommended the government shut the clinic down months before her report was due.

Of particular concern to Cass was the prescription of puberty blockers and hormone drugs to children by Tavistock staff. She found that puberty blockers had been prescribed to children as young as 10 years old. Many of these children were on the autism spectrum or suffering from various other psychological conditions such as chronic depression or eating disorders. “There is lack of consensus and open discussion about the nature of gender dysphoria and therefore about the appropriate clinical response,” Cass noted in her initial report. She also took issue with Tavistock’s data collection and analysis, writing, “There has not been routine and consistent data collection, which means it is not possible to accurately track the outcomes and pathways that children and young people take through the service.”

Last year, Susan McPherson, a professor of psychology and sociology at the University of Essex, and retired social scientist David Freedman re-analyzed a 2011 Tavistock study on the effectiveness of puberty blockers. Originally, Tavistock reported that puberty blockers had no adverse impact on children. McPherson’s and Freedman’s new analysis found that the majority of children put on puberty blockers and hormone drugs experienced erratic and fluctuating mental health, including over a third whose mental health “reliably deteriorated.”

The Tavistock study examined nearly 50 children between the ages of 12 and 15 and reportedly based its results on group averages. McPherson and Freedman, however, studied individual results, a method which they said “allows us to look at how a treatment is performing in terms of the percentage of patients improving, deteriorating, and showing clinically significant change.” They added, “It is possible, using this approach, to look at patterns, such as who is benefitting and who is not.”

Puberty blockers and other gender transition procedures are still available to minors in 27 states across the U.S.

S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.