The NHS has quietly changed its guidance on puberty-blocking drugs to better reflect the growing evidence of the dangers posed to children by hormone suppressors.
Puberty blockers were originally developed to pause ‘precocious puberty’ – a condition which causes children to begin puberty much earlier than normal – with the intention of taking them off the drugs at the time when ordinary puberty is expected to start.
In recent years they have been touted as a reversible treatment for gender-confused children that ‘pauses puberty’ in order to give children and teens more time to consider if they wish to continue onto irreversible cross-sex hormones.
Until recently, NHS guidance stated that puberty blockers “are considered to be fully reversible, so treatment can usually be stopped at any time”.
However, the guidance has now been altered to state: “Little is known about the long-term side effects of hormone or puberty blockers in children with gender dysphoria.”
Little is known about the long-term side effects of hormone or puberty blockers in children with gender dysphoria Amended NHS Guidance
While the NHS’s Gender Identity Development Service for children (GIDS) still maintains the physical effects of the drugs are reversible, the NHS guidance now says “it is not known what the psychological effects may be”.
The guidance continues: “It’s also not known whether hormone blockers affect the development of the teenage brain or children’s bones. Side effects may also include hot flushes, fatigue and mood alterations.”
James Kirkup, a columnist for The Spectator, said the change raised a number of important questions.
He wrote: “Given that the NHS now says that hormone therapy for gender-variant children has unknown long-term effects on the physical and mental health of those children, why is the NHS still using such treatments on children?
“And what are the children and parents who were reassured by those earlier NHS words supposed to think now that the same service that issued those treatments is now admitting it doesn’t know what their long-term effects will be?”
Caroline Ffiske, writing for The Conservative Woman, pointed out that a number of transgender organisations still promote the old guidance, and said the Government “has a responsibility to pursue this”.