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Scientific Study Sounds Alarm over Puberty Blockers for Boys

April 8, 2024

A major medical center is warning that puberty blockers may actually be harmful and irreversible, with possible links to cancer, especially in boys.

The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory published a preprint study late last month based on samples from the Mayo Clinic’s Pediatric Testicular Biobank for Fertility Preservation, examining the effects of puberty blockers on testicular specimens from boys under the age of 18. According to the study’s findings, boys who have been prescribed puberty blockers evince “mild-to-severe sex gland atrophy…” The study also found that cell type proportions and gene expression patterns of boys who have been prescribed puberty blockers were invariably pre-pubertal, demonstrating that puberty blockers significantly impact the development of sex organs and even genes.

The study’s authors warn that the observable gland atrophy and “abnormalities from the histology data raise a potential concern regarding the complete ‘reversibility’ and reproductive fitness” of puberty blockers.

Eighty-seven biological males under the age of 18 who were undergoing fertility preservation surgery were examined for the study. Sixteen of those boys, aged between 10 and 16, identified as transgender. All 16 of those boys had been prescribed puberty blockers for anywhere from three months to four years, and nine of those 16 were still on puberty blockers at the time the study was conducted. The study noted that all 16 boys who identified as transgender were either reluctant or physically unable to ejaculate. Two of the boys exhibited noticeable testicular “abnormalities.”

The study also compared over 400 digital scans of testicular development in boys and found that those who had been prescribed puberty blockers “showed abnormal testicular development…” Boys prescribed puberty blockers or testosterone-suppressants “showed abnormal testicular cell development” compared to their non-drugged peers. A study of one 12-year-old boy who had been prescribed puberty blockers for a period of 14 months found that 59% of his sex glands had “fully atrophied,” and microlithiasis had been discovered, calcium clusters linked to testicular cancer.

The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s study comes as numerous health care professionals have begun urging caution around gender transition procedures for minors. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) recently hid its official recommendation to subject children to gender transition procedures after leaked files and communications showed that the activist organization already knew of the dangerous and irreversible effects of such procedures. The University of Virginia (UVA) Children’s Hospital’s “Transgender Youth Health” Center also admitted that hormone drug regimens may result in “irreversible infertility,” as well as other undesirable side effects.

Several European countries have either banned or heavily restricted the use of puberty blockers and hormone drugs for minors, including the U.K., France, Sweden, Finland, and Norway. In England, puberty blockers for minors have been banned altogether, as per a directive from the National Health Service (NHS) issued just last month. “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 wrote. The agency also warned that puberty blockers and hormone drugs “cause some irreversible changes,” including “temporary or even permanent infertility.”

The U.K.’s new guidance on gender transition procedures for minors was developed after the Gender Identity Development Services (GIDS) clinic at Tavistock was shut down in 2022, when a government investigation found that clinicians were rushing children onto puberty blockers and into surgery with little or no psychological oversight, sometimes after only two or three “therapy” sessions. Dr. Hillary Cass, the pediatrician who led the government investigation, found so much evidence of child endangerment that she recommended the government shut the clinic down months before her final report was due.

One of Cass’s chief concerns was the use of unstudied and likely-irreversible puberty blockers, which were being prescribed to children as young as 10 years old. “There is lack of consensus and open discussion about the nature of gender dysphoria and therefore about the appropriate clinical response,” Cass wrote in one of her reports. She also noted that children were often diagnosed with “gender dysphoria” despite showing symptoms of other conditions, such as autism or depression.

In the U.S., the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) admitted that its promotion of gender transition procedures for minors, including the use of puberty blockers, is based on a two-page PDF document, citing a single study conducted by LGBT activist organization The Trevor Project.

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