On the safety of medical treatment for children:
This Sunday Times articles gives a good balanced view of where things are at regarding the sudden upsurge in giving children (that feel unhappy with their body) a range of medical drugs that include what is known as puberty blockers. The article says there is to be a judicial review – about time in my view – but does not give details on when or where. The drugs being used are all passed for certain uses, just not for the combination being used or for pre-pubescent children, that is, there is no research data to say what the actual lifelong effect may be, but it is postulated sterility is the outcome, which makes it a very drastic choice for someone so young. They are told it is a ‘pause’ in physical development, but if there is no choice afterwards, it’s a very long life-changing pause. It would be better to read the whole article, if you are interested of course, because it’s hard to extract just key quotes: (link and snippets below to borrow a phrase):
Giving puberty blocker to ‘trans’ children is a leap into the unknown
Giving puberty blocker to ‘trans’ children is a leap into the unknownBy Janice TurnerAn 11-year-old child is probably years from his or her first kiss. Yet the drug they are about to take will almost certainly lead to a medical pathway which will leave them sterile. Since their
The balance of argument:“These are the ethical issues which make puberty blockers the most controversial of medications. On one side are “affirmative” clinicians and trans activists who believe that halting the onset of natal puberty is the only way to alleviate the distress of gender dysphoria, a sense of being “born in the wrong body”. On the other is a growing number of psychotherapists, doctors and endocrinologists concerned that blockers are administered too readily and, since they are prescribed “off-label” with no research into the long-term outcome for patients, amount to conducting a medical experiment on children.”
The judicial review:“The plaintiffs argue that prescribing hormone blockers to under-18s is illegal because, unable to understand their far-reaching consequences, children cannot consent to take them. They say the Tavistock is “materially misleading” child patients and their parents, omitting to say that “nearly 100 per cent of children who commence hormone blockers go on to take the irreversible cross-sex hormones”.” [that is, once started on the puberty blockers, the drug companies have life-long customers thereafter]
And UK government review:“Meanwhile, in the light of a 3,000 per cent increase in referrals to GIDS in the past decade, the government has announced a long-awaited independent review, chaired by Dr Hilary Cass, a former president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, to assess children’s gender services and make “evidence-based recommendations about the future use of these drugs”.”
I’m not actually that sure I trust any government (uk) independent review on anything, being overly skeptical, but we can see what that throws up. And the article is positive about it:
“That such controversial drugs will come under the scrutiny of a judicial review and a public inquiry should be welcomed. Dr Hilary Cass proved herself a fearless whistleblower in 2013 when working at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, exposing how poor management was endangering patients. She will need to be robust to deal with the inevitable vicious accusations of transphobia which greet anyone probing gender ideology and medicine.”
The drugs:“So what are puberty blockers and how did they come to be used on children worldwide? The group of drugs, GnRH agonists, release a form of the human hormone gonadotropin to stop the testicles and ovaries from producing sex hormones. Triptorelin, the most widely used, is licensed to treat advanced prostate cancer in men and endometriosis in women, to “chemically castrate” male sex offenders and in children to halt rare cases of early puberty, but not to treat child gender dysphoria.”
A statistic on the effects of treatment:”But would they have transitioned anyway? Most likely not. A statistic, undisputed by GIDS and North American gender clinics, is that without medical intervention around 85 per cent of gender dysphoric children come to terms with their biological sex after puberty. As GIDS notes: “‘Persistence [in identifying as trans] was strongly correlated with the commencement of physical interventions such as the hypothalamic blocker.” Moreover the vast majority of these non-conforming kids seen by clinics — girls who prefer short hair and skateboarding, boys who love Barbies — will grow up into lesbians or gay men. In the maelstrom of adolescence, are they confusing same-sex attraction with being trans?”
“Clinicians believe the natural cascade of sex hormones at puberty can resolve bodily self-hatred. Yet if puberty is thwarted this cannot happen. Moreover, the claim that blockers are fully reversible, that natal puberty will just spark up even years later if you stop taking them, is largely untested — because almost no one does that”
Not enough research:“Remembering that triptorelin is used off-label, shouldn’t every gender clinic conduct exhaustive long-term research, monitoring every patient to ensure that their radical drug regime works? In 2011 GIDS embarked on a study of 44 young people and Dr Michael Biggs, associate professor at Oxford’s Department of Sociology, has analysed the results that GIDS has only published in dribs and drabs. This includes findings that children — although happier and more confident after six months — noted “internalised problems and body dissatisfaction, especially in natal girls” after a year. Most alarming was a significant increase in patients agreeing with the statement: “I deliberately try to hurt or kill myself.” Given that parents are repeatedly told (wholly erroneously) their children will kill themselves if they don’t take blockers, this surely requires more scrutiny.”
” Dr Cass might ponder why Ferring Pharmaceuticals, which produces triptorelin, not only financially supported a trial into the Dutch protocol but since 2013 has donated £1.4 million to the Lib Dems, the most vocal supporters of gender self-ID.”
“Doubts about puberty blockers have come from senior clinicians, from LGBT campaigners worried that gender clinics are performing “gay conversion therapy” on future homosexual kids, and from feminists appalled that girls who do not conform to sexist gender stereotypes feel they cannot be girls. Already a growing number of “de-transitioners”, mainly young women, are coming forward, angry that doctors rushed them into irreversible treatment.”
There are many questions that this article brings up – one being, are we still so homophobic as a society we would prefer to encourage harming children? I would like to think not.
From a Scottish perspective: I hope that the judicial review and independent review will put a pause on the current fast-paced promotion of untested and controversial policies, affecting the children of Scotland, by the Scottish government – this is separate, but not wholly so, from the GRA reform bill. As adults we can fight our own battles, but children are vulnerable and need to be protected from any kind of exploitation.
On the subject of SNP as the party in government – they believe themselves to be socially progressive I am sure, and have jumped on this rather strange and illogical bandwagon, just like most other parties. Having considered it, I would like to see sense prevail in the party as a whole (and all the political parties for that matter) – and perhaps articles like this and the reviews will encourage critical thinking – but a small cohort of true believers within their ranks will not prevent me voting for the SNP in future elections (with the usual caveats of a life-long tactical voter), unless they all go over to the dark side, of course. I believe the SNP as government will see sense, their usual rather conservative softly-softly approach could win out.