Spanish translation

I’m getting my infographic on trans inclusive education translated. Please let me know if any changes are needed to the Spanish here before I finalise (I’ll credit the awesome volunteers who translated once it is finalised) 

                                                APOYO A NIÑES TRANS EN LAS ESCUELAS

Recomendaciones de un artículo de Frontiers of Sociology (2020) sobre educación inclusiva a la comunidad LGBTTTIQA+

¿Prosperando o existiendo? Elevando el estándar para la experiencia primaria y secundaria plena de la infancia trans

  1. Les estudiantes trans frecuentemente se enfrentan al estigma, discriminación y acoso en el ambiente escolar.
  • Lenguaje afirmativo, respeto y una actitud trans-positiva son fundamentales.
  • Les estudiantes trans experimentan estrés persistente debido a que el sistema los deslegitimiza y excluye. Un acercamiento anti-bullying disminuye el impacto emocional y psicológico que la cisnormatividad tiene en elles.
  • Las escuelas deben buscar mejorar las prácticas y actividades cisnormativas que resultan una amenaza para les estudiantes transgénero.
  • Las escuelas son reacias a aceptar cambiar sus prácticas por casos aislados o individuales, lo que hace más pesada la carga para les alumnes que deben negociar su propia inclusión.
  • Las escuelas deben de cambiar su acercamiento individualizado a la adaptación proactiva y sostenida.
  • Hay una cultura de silencio que rodea las vidas trans en la escuela. La representación trans, aunque sea mínima, puede ser percibida como excesiva. Así que las escuelas no lo hacen y les alumnes se ven obligados a educar a sus compañeres.
  • La representación y visibilidad trans debe de volverse común para darles a les alumnes un sentido de pertenencia que les permita desarrollarse sanamente.

Cisnormatividad: cuando los sistemas, las políticas y las personas asumen que todo el mundo es (o debería ser) cis (no trans). Las escuelas cisnormativas colocan a les alumnes trans en desventaja, exigiéndoles que naveguen por sistemas diseñados para excluirlos.

  • Les alumnes trans pueden experimentar ignorancia y hostilidad del personal docente, lo que les causa un daño importante, incluso une profesore que les apoye y en el que confíen puede tener un profundo impacto positivo y aumentar su autoestima considerablemente.
  1. La escuela debe reconocer y abordar el impacto que tienen las acciones del personal docente y administrativo. Es esencial un liderazgo claro que puede ser impulsado por la dirección de la escuela.
  1. Las escuelas carecen de planes para les alumnes trans, no cuentan con protección contra el acoso y el abuso. Les alumnes trans necesitan igualdad de oportunidades en la escuela donde pueden sobresalir y prosperar.
  1. Les alumnes trans deben ser bienvenidos, reafirmados, representados, validados, apreciados y respetados como todos los demás.
  1. La educación y la formación del profesorado y personal administrativo deben ir más allá de solo hablar de bullying. Debe haber una sensibilización constante para ayudar al personal a entender las formas en que la cisnormatividad privilegia a los individuos cisgénero y hace la vida más difícil para las personas trans.
  1. Les alumnes trans necesitan al menos un adulto de confianza que les defienda, les ayude a entender sus derechos y a desenvolverse en las culturas cisnormativas. Les profesores aliados deben entender y desafiar los sistemas y enfoques que deslegitiman y marginan a los alumnos trans.
  1. Les alumnes tienen derecho a una experiencia académica segura, inclusiva y reafirmante.
  1. Las escuelas deben escuchar a les alumnes trans y centrarse en los derechos de les niñes, también deben considerar sus responsabilidades institucionales, asegurándose de que cumplen con su deber de atención a les alumnes trans.

Trans: El término trans se utiliza para incluir a las personas transgénero, no binarias y/o con diversidad de género.

German translation

I’m translating my infographic on trans inclusive education into German (and will credit the volunteer translator when it’s finalised). Please let me know if you have any suggested changes to the translation below.

Erkenntnisse und Empfehlungen sind entnommen aus dem folgenden Artikel in “Frontiers of Sociology” 2020 (open acess) zum Thema LGBT+ – inklusive Bildung: “Thriving or surviving? Raising our ambition for trans children in primary and secondary schools” Cal Horton, Goldsmiths, University of London

trans Schüler_innen erfahren Stigmatisierung und Entwertung in der Schule, oftmals begleitet von Diskriminierung und Belästigung

Affirmativer Sprachgebrauch, Respekt und transpositives Verhalten sind entscheidend

Trans Schüler_innen sind anhaltendem Stress ausgesetzt, während sie sich in Systemen bewegen, die sie delegitimisieren und ausschließen. Ein reiner Anti-Mobbing-Ansatz unterschätzt möglicherweise, welche emontionalen und psychologischen Auswirkungen Cisnormativität(1) auf trans Schüler_innen hat.

Schulen müssen sich mit den cisnormativen Gewohnheiten, die sich negativ auf des Wohlergehen und die Psyche von trans Schüler_innen auswirken, auseinandersetzen.

Schulen reagieren meist auf fallbezogene Anfragen. Hierdurch wird trans Schüler_innen die Bürde auferlegt, ihre eigene Inklusion verhandeln zu müssen.

Schulen müssen von einer fallbezogenen Lösungsfindung hin zu einer proaktiven und nachhaltigen Einbindung der Schüler_innen.

Es herrscht eine Kultur des Schweigens im Hinblick auf trans in Schulen – minimale Repräsentation von trans Personen kann bereits als exessiv wahrgenommen werden. Trans Schüler_innen, denen angemessene Repräsentation an der Schule verwehrt wird, erfahren Gefühle von Scham und niedrigem Selbstwertgefühl. Sie sind beispielsweise häufig dazu gezwungen, ihre Mitschüler_innen selbt über transbezogene Themen zu informieren.

Die Repräsentation und Sichtbarkeit von trans Personen muss normal und unspektakulär werden, so dass trans Schüler_innen mit einem Gefühl von Zugehörigkeit und Selbstwert aufwachsen können.

Trans Schüler_innen erfahren durch pädagogische Fachkräfte oft Ingnoranz und Feindseligkeit, was zu großem Schaden führt. Schon eine einzige unterstützende und vertraute pädagogische Fachkraft kann wesentlichen Einfluss auf die schulischen Erfahrungen von trans Schüler_innen haben. Eine transpositve Einstellung des Kollegiums korreliert signifikant mit dem Wohlergehen der betroffenen Schüler_innen.

Schulen müssen den Druck und die vorhandenen Barrieren anerkennen und sich damit auseinandersetzen. Eine klare Positionierung ist hier ausschlaggebend. Diese kann von Ministerien, Schulämtern, Schulleitungen sowie einzelnen Lehrkräften oder anderen pädagogischen Fachkräften ausgehen.

Schulen mangelt es an Ambitionen, trans Schüler_innen zu helfen. Es wird lediglich das Mindestmaß geleistet, um Schikanierung und Misbrauch zu verhindern. Trans Schüler_innen benötigen Chancengleichheit, so dass sie schulischen Anforderungen erfolgreich gerecht werden und ausgezeichete Leistungen erbringen können.

Trans Schüler_innen sollten sich in Schulen willkommen und bestätigt fühlen. Sie sollten sich selbst in dem sie umgebenden System wiederfinden und als gleichwertig respektiert werden.

Die Qualifizierung der pädagogischen Fachkräfte muss über Basisinformationen zu transfeindlichem Mobbing hinausgehen. Pädagogische Fachkräfte müssen ein Verständnis dafür entwickeln, wie ein cisnormatives Umfeld cis Personen privilegiert den Alltag von trans Schüler_innen erschwert.

Trans Schüler_innen brauchen mindestens einen Erwachsenen, der sich für sie einsetzt, ihnen hilft, ihre Rechte zu verstehen und sie bei der Navigation in einer cisnormativen Kultur unterstützt. Verbündete pädagogische Fachkräfte müssen die Systeme und Ansätze, die trans Schüler_innen delegitimisieren und marginalisieren, verstehen und hinterfragen.

Trans Kinder haben das Recht auf eine sichere, bejahende und sie einbeziehende Bildungserfahrung.

Schulen sollten trans Schüler_innen zuhören und Kinderrechte in den Mittelpunkt stellen. Ebenso müssen die Einrichtungen ihren institutionellen Verpflichtungen nachkommen und sicherstellen, dass sie ihre Fürsorgepflicht gegenüber trans Schüler_innen erfüllen.


(1) Cisnormativität: wenn Systeme, Richtlinien und Menschen annehmen, dass jede_r cis (nicht trans) ist (oder sein sollte) Cisnormative Schulen benachteiligen trans Schüler_innen, indem sie sie zwingen, sich in einem System zu bewegen, das sie ausschließt
trans: der Begriff trans bezeichnet hier Menschen die transgender, nicht binär und/oder genderdivers sind.

French translation

I’m getting my infographic on trans inclusive education translated. Please let me know if any changes are needed to the French here before I finalise (I’ll credit the awesome volunteers who translated once it is finalised)

French here and original English text below.

Soutenir les Enfants Trans dans les Écoles

Observations et recommandations sur l’éducation inclusive et les problématiques LGBT, tirées d’un article paru en 2020 sur Frontiers of Sociology (en libre accès).

S’épanouir ou survivre ? Élever notre ambition pour les enfants trans de la primaire au lycée

Cal Horton, Goldsmiths, Université de Londres

Les élèves trans sont confronté·e·s à la stigmatisation et la négation de leur identité à l’école, ainsi qu’à de la discrimination et du harcèlement.

La validation, le respect et un soutien actif sont particulièrement nécessaires.

Les élèves trans subissent un stress permanent, causé par une ostracisation et une délégitimisation systémique. Les méthodes anti-harcèlement peuvent sous-estimer l’impact émotionnel et psychologique de la cisnormativité* sur les élèves trans.

Les écoles doivent changer leurs pratiques cisnormées qui ont un impact négatif sur le bien-être et la santé mentale des élèves trans.

Les établissements n’agissent qu’en réaction à des réclamations individuelles, ce qui impose aux élèves trans le fardeau de négocier leur inclusion.

Les écoles doivent passer d’aménagements individuels à une adaptation préventive et suivie.

La culture du silence entoure la transidentité à l’école : la visibilité même minime peut être perçue comme excessive. Les élèves trans, invisibilisé·e·s, développent un sentiment de honte et une faible estime d’elleux-même et se retrouvent forcé·e·s à éduquer leurs pairs.

La représentation et la visibilité trans doivent devenir communes et banales, pour que les élèves trans puissent grandir en se sentant intégré·e·s et en confiance.

Les élèves trans subissent l’ignorance et l’hostilité du personnel éducatif, provoquant des dommages irréparables. Ne serait-ce qu’un.e seul.e enseignant.e de confiance peut avoir un impact profondément positif sur la scolarité d’un.e élève trans. Le soutien actif des enseignant·e·s a un impact direct sur le bien-être des élèves.

Les établissements doivent permettre aux enseignant·e·s d’agir sans encombre. La coordination de ces actions par le personnel de direction et l’ensemble de l’équipe pédagogique est essentielle.

Les établissements manquent d’ambition pour la protection de leurs élèves trans et se contentent d’essayer de leur éviter le harcèlement et les abus. Ces élèves ont besoin d’un traitement équitable à l’école, où iels peuvent briller et s’épanouir.

Les élèves trans devraient se sentir validé·e·s et encouragé·e·s à l’école et être représenté·e·s, considéré·e·s et respecté·e·s comme des égaux.

La formation des enseignant·e·s doit aller au-delà d’une simple sensibilisation à la transphobie, pour comprendre les mécanismes cisnormatifs qui privilégient les individus cisgenres au dépend des élèves trans.

Les élèves trans ont besoin qu’au moins un adulte prenne leur parti, les aident à comprendre leurs droits et à affronter la cisnormativité. Les enseignant·e·s allié·e·s doivent comprendre et remettre en question les systèmes et les méthodes qui ostracisent et discriminent les élèves trans.

Les élèves trans ont le droit à une scolarité inclusive et respectueuse de leur identité.

Les établissements devraient écouter les élèves trans et les organismes de protection de l’enfance. Les établissements doivent assumer leurs responsabilités institutionnelles et remplir leur devoir à l’égard du bien-être des élèves trans. 

Cisnormativité* : quand les systèmes, les institutions et les individus partent du principe que tout le monde est (ou devrait être) cisgenre (l’inverse de trans). A l’école cela désavantage les élèves trans qui doivent affronter un système prévu pour les exclure.
Trans : terme utilisé ici pour inclure les individus transgenre, non-binaires et/ou qui ne sont pas (ou pas totalement) du genre assigné à leur naissance.

English original

Supporting Trans Children in Schools

Findings and recommendations from a 2020 Frontiers of Sociology article on LGBT inclusive education (open access).

Thriving or surviving? Raising our ambition for trans children in primary and secondary schoolsCal Horton, Goldsmiths, University of London

Trans pupils face stigma and invalidation at school, often alongside discrimination and harassment.

Affirmative language, respect and trans-positivity are critical.

Trans pupils experience persistent stress, navigating systems that delegitimise and exclude them. An anti-bullying approach may underestimate the emotional and psychological impact on trans pupils of cisnormativity*.

Schools need to address the cisnormative practices that negatively impact on the wellbeing and mental health of trans pupils.

Schools respond to individual requests reactively, with trans pupils shouldering the burden of negotiating their own inclusion.

Schools need to move from individualized accommodation to proactive and sustained adaptation.

A culture of silence surrounds trans lives at school – minimal trans representation can be perceived as excessive. Trans pupils denied representation in school experience shame and low self-esteem, and are forced to educate their own peers.

Trans representation and visibility needs to become common and unremarkable, enabling trans pupils to grow up with a sense of belonging and self-worth.

Trans pupils may experience ignorance and hostility from school staff, causing significant harm. Even one supportive and trusted teacher can make a profound positive impact on a trans pupil’s experience of school. Teacher trans-positivity is significantly correlated with pupil wellbeing.

Schools need to recognize and address the pressures and barriers to teacher action. Clear leadership is essential, and can be driven by governors, head teachers and individual members of staff.

Schools lack ambition for trans pupils, aiming for the low bar of protection from harassment and abuse. Trans pupils need equality of opportunity, in schools where they can excel and thrive.

Trans pupils should be affirmed and welcomed, in schools where they are represented, validated and respected as equals.

Teacher education and training needs to move beyond basic education on transphobic bullying, to helping staff understand the ways in which cisnormativity privileges cisgender individuals and makes life harder for trans pupils.

Trans pupils need at least one adult who can advocate for them, help them understand their rights, and help them navigate cisnormative cultures. Teacher allies need to understand and challenge the systems and approaches that delegitimise and marginalise trans pupils.

Trans children have a right to an educational experience that is safe, inclusive and affirming.

Schools should listen to trans pupils and centre child rights. Schools also need to consider their institutional responsibilities, ensuring schools are fulfilling their duty of care to trans pupils. 

Cisnormativity*: When systems, policies and people assume that everyone is (or should be) cis (not trans). Cisnormative schools place trans pupils at a disadvantage, requiring them to navigate systems designed to exclude them.
Trans: The term trans is used here to include people who are transgender, non-binary and/or gender diverse.

Supporting Trans Children in Schools: Findings and Recommendations

This blog summarises Key Findings & Recommendations for supporting trans children in schools. This summary is based upon newly published research which reviews the literature & policies for supporting trans pupils & provides recommendations for schools & allies:

Findings and recommendations from a 2020 Frontiers of Sociology article on LGBT inclusive education (open access). Thriving or surviving? Raising our ambition for trans children in primary and secondary schools Cal Horton, Goldsmiths, University of London

Finding: Trans pupils face stigma and invalidation at school, often alongside discrimination and harassment.

Recommendation: Affirmative language, respect and trans-positivity are critical.

Finding: Trans pupils experience persistent stress, navigating systems that delegitimise and exclude them. An anti-bullying approach may underestimate the emotional and psychological impact on trans pupils of cisnormativity*.

Recommendation: Schools need to address the cisnormative practices that negatively impact on the wellbeing and mental health of trans pupils.

Finding: Schools respond to individual requests reactively, with trans pupils shouldering the burden of negotiating their own inclusion.

Recommendation: Schools need to move from individualized accommodation to proactive and sustained adaptation.

Finding: A culture of silence surrounds trans lives at school – minimal trans representation can be perceived as excessive. Trans pupils denied representation in school experience shame and low self-esteem, and are forced to educate their own peers.

Recommendation: Trans representation and visibility needs to become common and unremarkable, enabling trans pupils to grow up with a sense of belonging and self-worth.

Finding: Trans pupils may experience ignorance and hostility from school staff, causing significant harm. Even one supportive and trusted teacher can make a profound positive impact on a trans pupil’s experience of school. Teacher trans-positivity is significantly correlated with pupil well-being.

Recommendation: Schools need to recognize and address the pressures and barriers to teacher action. Clear leadership is essential, and can be driven by governors, head teachers and individual members of staff.

Finding: Schools lack ambition for trans pupils, aiming for the low bar of protection from harassment and abuse. Trans pupils need equality of opportunity, in schools where they can excel and thrive.

Recommendation: Trans pupils should be affirmed and welcomed, in schools where they are represented, validated and respected as equals.

Finding: Teacher education and training needs to move beyond basic education on transphobic bullying, to helping staff understand the ways in which cisnormativity privileges cisgender individuals and makes life harder for trans pupils.

Recommendation: Trans pupils need at least one adult who can advocate for them, help them understand their rights, and help them navigate cisnormative cultures. Teacher allies need to understand and challenge the systems and approaches that delegitimise and marginalise trans pupils.

Finding: Trans children have a right to an educational experience that is safe, inclusive and affirming.

Recommendation: Schools should listen to trans pupils and centre child rights. Schools also need to consider their institutional responsibilities, ensuring schools are fulfilling their duty of care to trans pupils. 

Cisnormativity*: When systems, policies and people assume that everyone is (or should be) cis (not trans). Cisnormative schools place trans pupils at a disadvantage, requiring them to navigate systems designed to exclude them.
Trans: The term trans is used here to include people who are transgender, non-binary and/or gender diverse.
This text is from the Infographic, ‘Supporting Trans Children in Schools’ available to download here for FREE in various web ready and Print formats
Supporting Trans Children in Schools, Infographic summarising research paper: ‘Thriving or Surviving? Raising Our Ambition for Trans Children in Primary and Secondary Schools’ https://doi.org/10.3389/fsoc.2020.00067

 

Supporting Trans Children in Schools – Peer Reviewed Education Resource

 

image blog

I’m pleased to share the publication of my new peer reviewed journal article. The article synthesises the literature on how to best support trans children in primary and secondary schools, together with analysis and recommendations on school guidance.

Thriving or Surviving? Raising Our Ambition for Trans Children in Primary and Secondary Schools

article

Thriving or Surviving? Raising Our Ambition for Trans Children in Primary and Secondary Schools

The article is free to read and or download here

1 Page Infographic Resource and Poster

For teachers and schools there is a short infographic with some key recommendations (available to download or share in A3 or A4 versions linked below):

Infographic summarising article findings and recommendations. Yellow background with images of children and text in boxes.

A Free to Use Infographic providing findings and recommendations on how trans children can be enabled to thrive in schools.

 

Please view and download the Supporting Trans Children in Schools infographic here in your preferred version:

Web Version

Infographic PDF A3 Web Version

Infographic PDF A4 Web Version

Print Version

Infographic PDF A3 Print Version

Infographic PDF A4 Print Version

This infographic is free to use and share.

15 Bad Faith Arguments Against Puberty Blockers.

  1. “They are new and untested”

They’ve been used since 1988 for trans adolescents, with follow up studies over twenty years. There are over 30 academic papers summarised here:

  1. “Kids are too young to have blockers”

They are used on trans adolescents. Somehow there’s no big controversy in their use for precocious puberty, which is at a much younger age. They are used to block puberty, which, funnily enough, means they are used at the start of puberty.

  1. “They are powerful cancer drugs”

They are used to stop testosterone and oestrogen. This can be useful to stop puberty, or also can be useful when certain cancers are exacerbated by testosterone or oestrogen. Calling them a cancer drug is bad faith misleading scaremongering.

  1. “They are not reversible”

They are medically and physically reversible. If you stop taking them, puberty continues. Sometimes people then go on to say “we do not know their psychological impact” or “if adolescents have blockers, they can’t turn back time to have never had blockers”. Well unless you invent a sliding doors time machine, every single action we take is irreversible. This is such a bad faith argument.

  1. “They are experimental / not licensed for use in trans adolescents”

Lots of medication is not specifically licensed for that purpose – this argument is bad faith as debunked in detail in this article:

  1. “The existing evidence is not high quality”

Sample sizes in the studies are small, because very few trans adolescents have been treated to date. Want larger sample sizes? Then you have to prescribe to more trans adolescents.

  1. “There has not been a Randomised Control Trial”

A score of experts have time and again stated that a Randomised Control Trial is unethical, and would not be feasible. Some bad faith commentators even ask for a Blinded RCT – as if trans adolescents wouldn’t notice progressing through puberty! Bad Faith.

  1. “Z Value Bone Density decreases when adolescents are on blockers”

It took me a long while to understand why this is so bad faith. Z value bone density compares bone density to expected age-based norms of the assigned gender for cis children. Bone density rises during puberty, those on blockers do not have this bone density rise at the same time as their peers, so their bone density compared to same age cis peers decreases (even where actual bone density continues to rise, albeit more slowly than their pubertal peers. Puberty is the thing that causes bone density to increase. If you delay puberty, of course trans youth don’t get this rise in bone density at the expected age.

  1. “We don’t know the impact on brain”

Again, really bad faith. There are many many things we do not know about brains. Puberty blockers have been studied for their impact on many different variables, their impact on kidney function (fine) their impact on well-being (improves it), their impact on mental health (improves it), their impact on dysphoria (stays same, HRT is the thing that makes the difference to dysphoria). They even have been studied for effect on executive function (no negative impact). There is much evidence of benefits and no evidence of harm. And we make decisions based on the current evidence.

  1. “Just do nothing until there is much more evidence”

Doing nothing is not a neutral decision. Puberty for trans adolescents causes significant harm. Puberty blockers are proven to be beneficial. Withholding beneficial medical care is not a value neutral ethical decision.

  1. Other signs of bad faith include quoting fringe medical sources including the American College of Pediatricians. Quoting transphobic former GIDS psychoanalysts (with no medical qualifications). Having more interest in the brain scans of pubertal sheep than in the well-being of trans teens
  2. Further signs of bad faith include: Citing your own non-peer reviewed opinion piece in the journal you used to work at as evidence to justify a BBC prime time show. Using BBC funding to hire someone with no expertise in caring for trans adolescents to write a critical summary of the literature raising the bad faith concerns listed above.
  3. Further signs of bad faith include: Failing to report the clear well-being benefits of timely blockers including teens not in acute distress and pain, teens not dropping out of school, teens not failing at school, teens learning and growing and enjoying their adolescence.
  4. Yet more signs of bad faith include failing to state the global medical consensus backing puberty blockers including from the Endocrine Society, the American Academy of Paediatrics, the World Professional Association of Transgender Health, and many, many more.
  5. The final bad faith sign I’ll list here, is failing to clarify if your preferred medical outcome for trans youth is denial of medical support and instead psychotherapy to help them ‘accept themselves as they are’. This is conversion therapy. It causes immense harm and there is no place for it in modern medical practice.

Just admit you don’t like trans people already.

Puberty Blockers – Overview of the research

Nicola Sturgeon Opens Glasgow Pride

The UK media is full of scaremongering about puberty blockers (GnRHa) and the evidence or supposed lack thereof in support of their use for trans adolescents. Opinions abound, but few, however, have the opportunity or access to read the academic literature. In this article, a comprehensive overview of the studies and academic literature on puberty blockers are presented, providing improved access to this evidence. Links to the papers are provided throughout, supported by a full bibliography.

Puberty blockers are a recommended intervention for trans youth at the start of puberty (when such interventions are requested), endorsed by the global Endocrine Society and WPATH (the World Professional Association for Transgender Health). Within medical and clinical service provider communities, strong consensus in support of puberty blockers has grown, with endorsement from the world’s largest paediatric health body the American Academy of Pediatrics, providing access to blockers throughout the USA, and national health services around the world including centres in Spain, Australia & New Zealand. Authors from the conservative UK NHS children’s gender service (GIDS), wrote a position paper in 2016 (Costa) stating that “Despite a limited number of studies, the existing literature supports puberty suppression as an early, sufficiently safe, and preventive treatment for gender dysphoria in childhood and adolescence”, with a more recent 2019 UK paediatric endocrinologist authored piece (Joseph) affirming that puberty suppression “is now a recommended treatment option”.

Puberty blockers have been used since the 1970s for children with precocious puberty, with extensive studies for this cohort (Eun Young Kim provides an overview of the literature), on their long-term use “considering evidence of impact on height, reproductive function, obesity and metabolic syndrome, bone mineral density and bone markers, polycystic ovary syndrome, psychosocial problems”. “Long–term studies on the recovery of reproductive function in precocious puberty patients of more than 6–20 years are being reported”. “Puberty was recovered within 1 year after GnRHa treatment discontinuation, and there were no abnormalities in reproductive function”. “Bone mineral density decreases during GnRHa treatment but recovers to normal afterwards, and peak bone mass formation through bone mineral accretion during puberty is not affected”. “Some studies have reported decreases in psychosocial problems after GnRHa treatment. Overall, GnRHa seems effective and safe for CPP patients, based on long-term follow-up studies.”

In trans youth, blockers have been studied since the late 1980s. An early paper published in 1998 (Cohen Kettenis) reported on the protocols followed for a 13 year old trans boy who was treated with puberty blockers, with HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) and surgery after turning 18. This was the first longitudinal case study, which documented a successful outcome from using early puberty blockers. As an adult, the subject was happy and satisfied with the outcomes, (though noted the delays between blockers and HRT were overly long).

The longest follow-up study is of a Dutch trans man who started on puberty blockers at age 13 in 1988. His health and well being was monitored\ regularly for over 22 years, when he was last followed up, aged 35 (in 2010) he was well-functioning with no clinical signs of a negative impact of earlier puberty suppression on brain development, metabolic and endocrine parameters, or bone mineral density (Cohen Kettenis, 2011).

Their use in trans adolescents has been well studied in the Netherlands. In 2011 (Kreukels) the then world leaders in what became known as “the Dutch Approach” wrote that they “believe that offering this medical intervention minimizes the harm to the youth while maximizing the opportunity for a good quality of life including social and sexual relationships, and that it respects the wishes of the person involved”. “Because the effects are reversible, this treatment phase could be considered an extended diagnostic phase. Knowing that the treatment will put a halt to the physical puberty development often results in a vast reduction of the distress that the physical feminization or masculinization was producing.”

Another 2011 study (De Vries) collected data from 2000-2008 of 70 trans youth (33 trans feminine, 37 trans masculine) capturing the time period when they were only receiving puberty blockers. Puberty blockers were started at an average age of 14.75 (youngest was 11.3). Youth received puberty blockers alone before starting HRT alongside for an average of 1.88 years (the shortest period on just puberty blockers was 0.42 years, the longest was 5.06 years). Whilst on puberty blockers there were improvements in behavioural and emotional problems, and reduced symptoms of depression, enabling healthy psychological development. There were not improvements in body image and gender dysphoria. “As expected, puberty suppression did not result in an amelioration of gender dysphoria. Previous studies have shown that only gender reassignment consisting of CSH (cross sex hormone) treatment and surgery may end the actual gender dysphoria”. All youths later went onto HRT (which did lead to improvements in body image and gender dysphoria as well as wider improvements to wellbeing (see 2014 study for follow up). In a clinic with a clear route to HRT (all youth in the study were later prescribed HRT) the authors speculate that improvements in wellbeing whilst on puberty blockers may be due to the youths on puberty blockers having confidence that a route to HRT is available.

A summary position statement from Amsterdam in 2011 (Kreukals) outlined their view: “In our opinion, to deny these youngsters GnRHa treatment is unreasonable. Although the physical effects of puberty suppression are reversible, it has been argued that the effects on psychosexual develop ment are not reversible: the adolescents will miss puberty that is a result of their own natal sex hormones. However, in this sense, denying GnRHa treatment is equally irreversible: the adolescents will never know how puberty in accordance with their gender identity will be, because that is made impossible by the effects of their own sex hormones. Transsexual adolescents often consider not experiencing the puberty of their desired sex more harmful than missing their natal puberty. As puberty suppression therapy generally results in a physical appearance that makes it possible to live unobtrusively in the desired gender role, withholding GnRHa treatment is also harmful because of the potential life-long social consequence s (such as stigmatization).”

Hembree (2011) reviewed other studies noting increased suicidal ideation where blockers were not given.

A 2012 paper (Edwards Leeper) from a major paediatric treatment centre in the USA, emphasised a key reason for puberty blockers – “44% of transgender youth presenting for medical intervention had been previously diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, the most common being depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Thirty-six percent of these patients had been prescribed psychotropic medications and 9% had been hospitalized psychiatrically in the past. These psychological problems often intensify when transgender children reach puberty”. They also note that “it is not uncommon for these symptoms to decrease and even disappear once the adolescent begins a social and physical transition. The previous diagnoses of major psychiatric disorders, especially mood disorders (e.g., major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder) in these patients are often secondary to their gender identity issue and many patients are “cured” of these disorders through medical intervention for the gender issue.” The authors emphasise multiple psychological benefits of pubertal suppression, especially through avoiding needless emotional and psychological suffering, which can be severe for some adolescents (e.g., self-harming behaviors and suicidality). Delamarre , in an earlier 2006 paper, highlights that once trans adolescents are on puberty blockers, their anxiety at physical changes is taken away, enabling them to concentrate on other issues, enabling them to better develop and socially connect with peers.

A 2014 study (De Vries) of 55 trans youth (22 trans feminine and 33 trans masculine) followed them over an 8 year period from before starting blockers (mean aged 13.6 years), through to start of blockers (average age 14.8, youngest 11.5) through to HRT (mean age 16.7, youngest 13.9) and at least one year after gender reassignment surgery for those who wanted surgery (mean age 20.7). This monitored not only psychological functioning (gender dysphoria, body image, global functioning, depression, anxiety, emotional and behavioural problems) but also tracked wellbeing (social and educational/professional functioning; quality of life, satisfaction with life and happiness). Psychological functioning steadily improved. Well-being improved to similar or better than same age young adults from the general population. “GD (gender dysphoria) and body image difficulties persisted through puberty suppression and remitted after the administration of CSH and GRS (at T2) (significant linear effects in 3 of 4 indicators, and significant quadratic effects in all indicators)“ “None of the participants reported regret during puberty suppression, CSH, treatment, or after GRS. Satisfaction with appearance in the new gender was high, and at T2 no one reported being treated by others as someone of their assigned gender”. “All young adults in this study were generally satisfied with their physical appearance and none regretted treatment. Puberty suppression had caused their bodies to not (further) develop contrary to their experienced gender”. “Psychological functioning improved steadily over time, resulting in rates of clinical problems that are indistinguishable from general population samples (eg, percent in the clinical range dropped from 30% to 7% on the YSR/ASR30) and quality of life, satisfaction with life, and subjective happiness comparable to same-age peers. They note that this support gave “these formerly gender dysphoric youth the opportunity to develop into well-functioning young adults. These individuals, of whom an even higher percentage than the general population were pursuing higher education, seem different from the transgender youth in community samples with high rates of mental health disorders, suicidality and self-harming behaviour”.

Paediatric endocrinologist Rosenthal outlined key endocrine considerations in 2014, highlighting the potential negative impact on bone health of extended pubertal suppression and arguing for earlier introduction of HRT, stating that delaying HRT until age 16 can be “detrimental to bone health”. In addition he stated the negative impacts on emotional well-being of denying trans youth the opportunity to progress through puberty at the same time as their peers, and thereby isolating them. For this reason, gender centres are “studying the impact of cross-sex hormone treatment initiation at 14 years of age (which approximates the upper end of the age range for normal pubertal onset in natal males and 1 year beyond the upper end of the age range in natal females”).

A 2014 paper (Khatchadourian) summarising treatment in a Canadian clinic emphasises the high rates of suicidal ideation before treatment, in a cohort not treated until an average age 16. “Importantly, 10 of the 84 patients (12%) had attempted suicide with a resultant visit to an emergency department before being seen in our clinic”. “The older age of our cohort of patients compared with the Dutch cohort (mean age 16.6 vs 14.6 years, respectively) may also explain differences in frequency of psychiatric comorbidity, as our patients had more time to develop these comorbidities.” They note a decrease in suicide attempts or visits to emergency departments for suicidal ideation once engaged with the clinic (from 10 incidents before treatments, to 4 after). “Although our numbers are quite small, this finding suggests a lessening of emotional problems and suicidality when puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones are started. This is further corroborated by findings in the Dutch cohort, where an improvement in psychological functioning in areas such as depressive symptoms was demonstrated in adolescents with gender dysphoria treated with GnRHa for nearly 2 years.” This study also emphasises youth who do not need to undergo interventions like painful electrolysis or chest surgery, as early treatment prevented unwanted pubertal development. The authors conclude that “most experts in transgender care would agree that initiation of GnRHa therapy at an earlier stage ofpuberty is preferred, because preventing the development of unwanted secondary sexual characteristics can alleviate distress.”.

A 2014 paper (Fisher) outlines the negative consequences in Italy where puberty blockers were not offered – 23 youth, (14 trans feminine, 9 trans masculine, average age 16.3 years old), who had been diagnosed with gender dysphoria but who had not been granted any medical intervention, had low levels of wellbeing, and high levels of emotional and behavioural problems. They also noted that a high proportion, 42%, had dropped out of school early. The authors from Italian clinical services consider ethical implications of prescribing or denying blockers. They discuss fertility, referring to wider studies and concluding “several studies report that fertility potential is not impaired by long-term treatment with GnRHa even when used in younger subjects, before age 7, to treat precocious puberty. In addition, GnRHa treatment seems to have a protective effect on the reproductive outcomes, as fertility problems were more prevalent in subjects with precocious puberty that were not treated when compared with those treated. Professionals should inform patients that sperm production can be satisfactory after cessation of GnRHa or with gonadotropin treatment (both associated with body virilisation. FtM individuals have to be informed that no adverse effects are expected in relation to their fertility when treated with GnRHa” They argue that the current (2014) clinical evidence as well as international clinical guidelines suggests that prompt prescription of puberty blockers provides the best outcome for trans adolescents. They note experience from Italy that later pubertal changes can be unbearable, changes that “are usually profoundly humiliating for transgender youth”. They add that unwanted pubertal changes “often perceived as devastating, may seriously interfere with healthy psychological functioning and well-being”, being associated with worsening gender dysphoria, distress, depression, self-harming behaviour, anxiety, low self-esteem, social isolation and suicidal ideation. They emphasise that “although there are cases of comorbid psychiatric disorders, these psychological symptoms are often a result of the discomfort that Gender dysphoric individuals feel in their own bodies and of the social rejection they experience”. They go on to outline eight reasons to endorse blockers including 1) immediately reducing suffering 2) enable better decision making on further medical intervention 3) the physical effects are fully reversible 4) outcomes for physical transition are enhanced if unwanted secondary sex characteristics are not developed 5) Future surgeries are less likely to be needed 6) Can prevent emotional and psychological suffering that can have short term and longer term risks for well-being 7) provide better psychosocial functioning 8) avoids unsupported youth turning to illicit un-prescribed medication. They conclude that the “current inadequacy of Italian services offering specialized support for GD youth may lead to negative consequences. Omitting or delaying treatment is not a neutral option. In fact, some GD adolescents may develop psychiatric problems, suicidality, and social marginalization. With access to specialized GD services, emotional problems, as well as self-harming behaviour, may decrease and general functioning may significantly improve. In particular, puberty suppression seems to be beneficial for GD adolescents by relieving their acute suffering and distress and thus improving their quality of life.”

A 2015 UK study (Costa) compared adolescents supported with puberty blockers to those denied access to blockers. 201 Adolescents with gender dysphoria aged 12-17 (average age 15) were assessed for psychosocial functioning, using an assessment called CGAS. All the youth in the study registered low levels of psychosocial functioning at baseline (CGAS = 57). One group of 61 youth were not granted puberty blockers, instead having 18 months of just psychological support. Their psychosocial functioning improved after 6 months of psychological support (to CGAS = 60) but then plateaued and stayed significantly below the levels of children without psychological symptoms (staying at CGAS = 62). Another group of 60 youth were allocated blockers after 6 months of just psychological support. Like the untreated group, their psychosocial functioning improved when just receiving psychological support (to CGAS = 60). Their psychosocial functioning then improved more significantly at each six monthly check up whilst on puberty blockers. The psychosocial functioning of youth after 12 months of puberty blockers had improved to match that of children without psychological symptoms (CGAS = 67). Trans youth with puberty blockers were able to reach levels of psychosocial functioning the same as their peers.

Another 2015 study (Staphorsius) looked at the impact of puberty suppression on executive functioning in trans adolescents, using a well-established task called ‘Tower of London’ and comparing trans adolescents on blockers to trans adolescents not on blockers. They found no significant effect of blockers on performance scores (reaction times and accuracy) when comparing trans girls on blockers (8) to those not on blockers (10), or when comparing trans boys on blockers (12) with those not on blockers (10). “In conclusion, our results suggest that there are no detrimental effects of GnRHa on Executive Function.

A 2015 study (Klink) followed 34 trans youth through adolescence and into adulthood. 15 trans girls/women and 19 trans boys/men were followed from starting blockers at an average age of 15.0, through to starting HRT at an average age of 16.5, through to final follow up at an average age of 22.0. The paper analyses data on bone mineral density.
A 2017 study (Vlot) looked at the impact of puberty blockers and HRT on bone health. 34 trans boys and 22 trans girls were studied, providing data on impacts on different bone health related measures. These studies are followed up by a 2019 study (Joseph) below.

Very few studies focus on asking what trans youth themselves think about puberty blockers. One exception is a 2016 study (Vrouenraets) of 13 adolescents (5 trans girls and 8 trans boys), 12 of whom received puberty blockers, at an age range between 13 and 18, with median age 17. Asked about a lack of data on the long-term effects of puberty suppression the majority said that being happy in life was more important for them than any possible negative long-term consequence of puberty suppression “The possible long-term consequences are incomparable with the unhappy feeling that you have and will keep having if you don’t receive treatment with puberty suppression” (trans youth age 18)”. “It isn’t a choice, even though a lot of people think that. Well, actually it is a choice: living a happy life or living an unhappy life. (trans girl, age 14). Interviewed youth also understood that treatment has to be given in order to obtain long-term data, and were more than willing to be the person to test it.

A 2016 study (Schagen) aimed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of GnRHa treatment in trans adolescents, evaluating the extent to which (early) pubertal physical changes can be reversed, the need for monitoring of gonadotropins and sex steroid levels, and the need for screening of liver and renal function. Forty-nine trans feminine adolescents (average age 13.6, range 11.6-17.9) and 67 trans masculine adolescents (average age 14.2, range 11.1 – 18.6, 77% had started menarche) treated between 1998 and 2009 were included in the analysis. “None of the adolescents discontinued GnRHa treatment because of side effects. This is in agreement with the finding that GnRHa treatment is well tolerated by children and adolescents”. “Gonadotropins and sex steroid levels were suppressed within 3 months. Treatment did not have to be adjusted because of insufficient suppression in any subject”. “We did not identify any renal or hepatic complications of the treatment, and previous studies on GnRHa treatment in children with precocious puberty did not find such adverse effects. Therefore, it does not seem necessary to routinely monitor these parameters”.

A 2017 paper (Schneider) provided a case study of the brain of a single trans youth during pubertal suppression. “Brain white matter fractional anisotropy remained unchanged in a GD girl during pubertal suppression with GnRHa treatment for 28 months, which may be related to reduced serum testosterone levels. The global performance in the Weschler scale was slightly lower during pubertal suppression compared with baseline, predominantly due to the reduction in operational memory. Either a baseline of a low average cognition or the hormonal status could play a role in cognitive performance during pubertal suppression”. A major limitation is a sample size of one, and comparing white matter in a trans girl to post pubertal cis boys. Also, the adolescent in the case study suffered conversion therapy and associated depression at a young age, and studies show the link between memory and childhood trauma. A 2020 paper (Chen) conducted a brain study on a larger sample of 18 girls with precocious puberty – the study did not provide any clear recommendations, but simple concluded that this is adding to the body of research on the effects of GnRHa on brain function.

A 2018 paper (Wiepjes) summarised overall data on all people treated in Amsterdam up to 2015. Out of those referred to the clinic in before the age of 18 and treated with puberty blockers, they found that 4 out of 207 trans girls (2%) stopped puberty suppression without proceeding to HRT and 2 out of 370 trans boys (less than 1%) stopped puberty suppression without proceeding to HRT. Reasons for discontinuation of GnRHa were not reported. In addition to these youth, a further 112 trans girls and 148 trans boys referred in adolescence went straight to CSH without taking blockers.

A 2019 study (Joseph) of the impact of puberty suppression on bone mass  followed 70 adolescents, referred to the UK GIDS between 2011-2016. The sample included 31 trans girls and 39 trans boys aged 12-14 years, and all but two of the trans boys (95%) were postmenarchal. Two analyses were performed, a complete longitudinal analysis (n = 31) where patients had scans over a 2-year treatment period, and a larger cohort over the first treatment year (n = 70). All youth were required to stay without addition of HRT until age 16. At baseline trans boys had lower bone mineral density (BMD) measures than trans girls. There was no significant change in the absolute values of hip or spine BMD or lumbar spine BMAD after 1 year on GnRHa. BMD-Z scores were low, but the authors highlight the debatable utility of measuring and contrasting Z scores (which compares BMD to same age youth who are not on puberty blockers). Bone mineral density rises due to sex hormones at puberty, so those with delayed puberty will automatically not gain this rise at the same age as un-suppressed cis adolescents of the gender they were assigned at birth, and will automatically score low when compared to such Z scores. The authors highlight that their observations mirror the observations in studies by Klink 2015 and Vlot 2016 which also demonstrate no significant change in absolute BMD under pubertal suppression. They “propose that it may be clinically inappropriate to compare these subjects’ BMD with that of contemporaries who have not had pubertal blockade as the bone development in the GD subjects has been halted in comparison to those of their age group”. They suggest developing expected-BMD charts for pubertally suppressed adolescents, as a more useful way of tracking BMD. The authors note that there are no international guidelines for the surveillance of bone health in young people with gender dysphoria, that reference ranges may need to be redefined for this patient cohort, and that there needs to be clarity on treatment options where an adolescent is found to have low bone mineral density (BMD). More important than tracking bone health whilst on blockers, is understanding the long term impact on BMD once sex hormones are added. They conclude that absolute BMD and BMAD scores do not change substantially over a 3 year period in trans adolescents on GnRHa treatment and recommend that yearly bone scans while on puberty blockers may be unnecessary.

In a 2019 letter to the BMJ (Ferguson) Australian clinicians reviewed existing datasets of impact of puberty suppression on bone health. They outlined heterogeneity in the outcomes, and recommended identifying and tracking individuals who are more significantly affected in terms of bone mineral density, rather than reporting on the average. They note that regardless of the positive impacts of puberty blockers, clinicians have a duty to maximise bone health of trans youth on puberty blockers.

A 2020 study (Achille) tracked 50 youth (mean age 16.2) over one year of endocrine intervention (data captured between 2013 and 2018). 4 trans masculine youth were just on blockers, 8 trans feminine youth were just on blockers, 24 trans masculine youth were just on testosterone, 7 trans feminine youth were on oestrogen and blockers, and 4 trans masculine youth were on testosterone and blockers. Four different measures of wellbeing (depression, quality of life, suicidal ideation) were tracked, controlling for engagement in counselling, and all measures of wellbeing showed improvements with treatment. A key measure of depression showed a reduction from levels indicating clinical depression to below the threshold for clinical depression. (Mean baseline CESD-R score was 21.4 and decreased to 13.9 – A score less than 16 implies no clinical depression)”. The study concludes that endocrine intervention may improve mental health in transgender youth.

A 2020 cross-sectional survey (Turban) of 20,619 trans adults (aged 18-36) used multivariable logistic regression to examine associations between access to pubertal suppression and adult mental health outcomes, including multiple measures of suicidality. 3,494 adults (16.9%) reported that they had wanted pubertal suppression, but only 89 (2.5%) had received it. After controlling for other variables, pubertal suppression was associated with decreased odds of lifetime suicidal ideation – 90% of those who had not received blockers had experienced suicidal ideation, compared to 75% in those who had had blockers at an average age of 15. The study adds to evidence on the relationship between pubertal suppression and positive mental health outcomes. It avoids the physical changes known to cause significant distress, and when provided in affirmative care may also protect against minority stress.

A 2020 study (Miesen) compared three groups for emotional and behavioural problems (internalizing, externalizing, peer relations, and suicidality), assessed by youth self-report. They compared 272 adolescents (mean age 14.5 years) who had been referred to a specialised gender identity clinic and were undergoing assessment but had not yet received puberty blockers, with 178 transgender adolescents (mean age 16.8 years) who were on puberty blockers and about to receive HRT – the two trans groups did not differ in scores at baseline (when first assessed in the gender clinic). These two groups were compared with a comparison sample of 651 Dutch high school cisgender adolescents from the general population (mean age 15.4 years). Results: Before medical treatment, clinic-referred adolescents showed more internalising problems and reported increased self-harm/suicidality and poorer peer relations compared with their age-equivalent peers. Transgender adolescents receiving puberty suppression had fewer emotional and behavioural problems than the group that had just been referred to transgender care and had similar or fewer problems than their same-age cisgender peers. Before treatment 31.3% of trans youth had clinical levels of internalising problems, whereas amongst trans youth receiving puberty blocker treatment and about to start HRT only 16.3 % had clinical levels of internalising problems, lower than in the cisgender sample (22.9%). Before treatment 17.3% of trans youth had clinical levels of externalising problems, whereas amongst trans youth receiving puberty blockers and about to start HRT 14% had clinical levels of externalising problems, similar to the cisgender sample (13.8%). In suicidality, this was reported by 27.2% of trans youth before treatment, whereas in the sample of trans youth receiving puberty blockers and about to start HRT it was 12.4% – similar to the cisgender sample (11.9%). Conclusions: Transgender adolescents show poorer psychological well-being before treatment but show similar or better psychological functioning compared with cisgender peers from the general population after the start of specialized transgender care involving puberty suppression. The study provides further evidence that trans youth could benefit from gender affirmative care. “A clinical implication of these findings is the need for worldwide availability of gender-affirmative care, including puberty suppression for transgender adolescents to alleviate mental health problems of transgender adolescents”. “This first study comparing a group of transgender adolescents just referred for gender-affirmative care, a group of transgender adolescents receiving treatment with puberty suppression, and a group of cisgender adolescents, from the general population showed that when affirmative care involving puberty suppression is provided, transgender adolescents may have comparable mental health levels to their cisgender peers. This type of gender-affirmative care seems thus extremely important for this group”.

A 2020 study from the Netherland (Brik) examined the trajectories of trans and gender questioning adolescents after initiation of blockers. Prior to 2016 the clinic protocol required adolescents to be 16, and on blockers for at least 6 months, before they could start HRT. From 2016 youth could progress to HRT at age 15 if they had been on blockers for 3 years, and from 2017 the protocol shifted again to allow progression to HRT at age 15 if they had been on blockers for 2 years. The study looked at 143 adolescents who were deemed eligible for puberty blockers, all of whom started blocker treatment between November 2010 and January 2018. This included 38 trans girls, median age for starting blockers was age 15 (range 11.1-18.6) and 105 trans boys, median age for starting blockers 16.1 years (range, 10.1–17.9). Treatment status as of July 2019 was reviewed.

From the sample of 143 adolescents, 11 were too young to be eligible for HRT at the point of the study (having been on blockers for a maximum of 2.8 years). One of these 11 had stopped blockers as his parents were unable to regularly take him to collect medication and get it injected and had instead switched to other medication to stop periods, being too young to be eligible for HRT).

132 adolescents were old enough to be eligible for HRT. 123/132 (93%) had gone from just blockers onto HRT. Median age at the start of gender-affirming hormones was 16.2 years (range, 14.5–18.6 years) in trans girls and 17.1 years (range, 14.9–18.8 years) in trans boys. The majority of these (103/132) had proceeded to HRT as soon as they were eligible. 19/132 had what the clinic called an extended amount of time on just blockers before going on to HRT. This extended time on blockers ranged from 0.8 years to a maximum of 2.4 years, with a median duration of 1 year. Reasons for spending an extended time on just blockers included i) lack of family support (n=6) ii) lack of safe home/school absenteeism n=5) iii) what the authors call a ‘comorbidity’ like autism or depression (n = 8) or iv) logistical issues (n=8). One adolescent was kept on blockers for an extended period for additional assessment due to being non-binary. Only one adolescent had additional time on blockers to allow the adolescent more time for decision-making about gender-affirming hormone treatment. Those delayed because of mental health or psycho-social issues had monthly mental health appointments during the extended period on just blockers. 1 youth had moved clinic and at age 17 had decided to stay on just blockers for a while longer, delaying initiation of testosterone until after exams, having been on blockers for 2.5 years.

From the 132 adolescents old enough to be eligible for HRT, 3 (2%) stopped taking blockers but later went on to HRT. 1 of these, a trans boy, experienced hot flushes, an increase in migraine and fear of injections in addition to problems and school and unrelated medical issues and wished to temporarily discontinue blockers. He restarted blockers after 5 months and later proceeded on to HRT.  One of these, a trans boy, interviewed at age 19, reported an increase in mood problems and suicidal thoughts and confusion attributed to GnRHa treatment and stated: “I was already fully matured when I started GnRHa, menstruations were already suppressed by contraceptives. For me, it had no added value”. The third case, a transboy, experienced mood swings starting 4 months after he had begun GnRHa treatment. A year later, he started to frequently feel unwell and miss school. After 2.2 years, he developed severe nausea and rapid weight loss for which no cause was identified. Because of this deterioration of his general condition, he wished to discontinue GnRHa treatment after 2.4 years. He gradually recovered over the next 2 years and subsequently started HRT.

From the 132 adolescents old enough to be eligible for HRT, 5 (4%) stopped blockers and reported no wish for gender affirming treatment at this time. Their identities and stories were individual. Two described non-binary identities. One had psycho-social problems. One found the period on blockers helpful in understanding a cisgender identity. One described falling in love and questioning his gender identity before identifying with his assigned gender.

In conclusion: Out of the 132 adolescents old enough for HRT, 126 (95%) were on HRT at the time of the study, 1 had chosen to extend their time on blockers before HRT, and 5 (4%) had decided not to have gender affirming treatment. The adolescents and parents were asked their views on GnRHa. All felt free to stop GnRHa.  Some stated it gave them time to think and feel who they were and what they wanted in the future and felt that without GnRHa treatment they would not have been able to make these decisions. Others stated that GnRHa should not be routinely offered before the start of gender-affirming hormones when adolescents are already fully matured, because of the lack of physical benefits. Instead, a consideration time of 6 months with psychological follow-up was suggested.

Continued questions

Despite the decades of studies, critics of blockers continue to claim they are new and experimental, a claim refuted by  Giordano and Holm in a 2020 paper. Critics also point to low quality evidence, especially lack of randomised control trials. However, a wide number of studies comment on the impossibility of conducting randomised control trials on this cohort. A 2011 paper (De Vries) by the leading practitioners at the time from the Netherlands states “Finally, this study was a longitudinal observational descriptive cohort study. Ideally, a blinded randomized controlled trial design should have been performed. However, it is highly unlikely that adolescents would be motivated to participate. Also, disallowing puberty suppression, resulting in irreversible development of secondary sex characteristics, may be considered unethical.” Giordano and Holm (2020) are stronger, being clear this “particular use cannot be investigated by a RCT ”. Rosenthal (2014) agrees “Furthermore, randomized controlled trials for hormonal interventions in gender-dysphoric youth have not been considered feasible or ethical ”.

The latest 2020 paper (Brik) similarly states: “A randomized controlled trial in adolescents presenting with gender dysphoria, comparing groups with and without GnRHa treatment, could theoretically shed light on the effect of GnRHa treatment on gender identity development. However, many would consider a trial where the control group is withheld treatment unethical, as the treatment has been used since the nineties and outcome studies although limited have been positive. In addition, it is likely that adolescents will not want to participate in such a trial if this means they will not receive treatment that is available at other centers. Mul et al. (2001) experienced this problem and were unable to include a control group in their study on GnRHa treatment in adopted girls with early puberty because all that were randomized to the control group refused further participation“.

Although global consensus for puberty blockers is strong, a variety of different views remain. A 2015 study (Vrouenraets) interviewed psychiatrists, psychologists and endocrinologists from 17 treatment teams worldwide, gaining insights into the views underpinning different attitudes towards treatment. Those opposed to treatment diverged from those who supported treatment in their view on whether gender dysphoria is natural variation or mental illness; the potential role of puberty in developing identity; the role of comorbidity; and the physical or psychological effects of enabling or denying intervention.

Ethics are discussed in a number of articles. Giordano reviewed the ethics for and against puberty blockers over a decade ago, in 2007 and 2008, noting the high risk outcomes in trans children who could not access medical intervention. They concluded that “suspension of puberty is not only not unethical: if it is likely to improve the child’s quality of life and even save his or her life, then it is indeed unethical to defer treatment”. Giordano and Holm followed up in 2020 with a review of the latest studies, highlighting the evidence of benefits and reinforcing the earlier conclusion on the ethical prerogative to provide treatment.

A 2017 article (Giovanardi) on ethics from a fly-by-night unrated journal is discredited for misrepresenting key literature (as discussed here, the researcher whose research is misrepresented made a complaint but the journal had folded before the paper could be retracted or corrected).

Lopez (2018) examines data on puberty blocker implants for precocious puberty as compared to trans adolescents. In a 2016 dataset blockers were used in 512 cases for precocious puberty at average age 8.9 years olds, whereas they were only used in 62 cases for trans adolescents at an average age of 14 years old. The age-based arguments against trans adolescents accessing blockers do not seem to apply for the much younger cohort in precocious puberty, suggesting it is not the medication or the age of use that people have a problem with, but rather its use for gender dysphoric adolescents.

A 2020 article (Pang) examines the ethics of extended puberty blocker treatment for an agender teen – a teen who started blockers at 12, is now 15 and wants to continue on just blockers till 18. One commentator contrasts the two main risks; impaired fertility in the future and low bone density, with the one key benefit: continued alleviation of gender dysphoria and anxiety. They quantify the bone density related risks: with a bone density in the lowest 2.5 percentile a person “has a 0.2% to 0.3% risk of sustaining a hip fracture and a 1% to 2% risk of other fractures in the next 5 to 10 years compared with a control with normal bone density (0% risk of hip fracture and 0.7%–1% risk of other fractures in the next 5–10 years).” They highlight that the adolescent and/or their parents may still decide that these risks are outweighed by the potential psychosocial benefits from relieved gender dysphoria. Another commentator, whilst recognising the clear benefits of puberty blocker usage, highlights that with shorter term use (2 years), bone density increases significantly once sex hormones are introduced, and recommends a shorter time on blockers to promote optimal bone density.

References

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Giordano, S. (2007). Gender Atypical Organisation in Children and Adolescents: Ethico-legal Issues and a Proposal for New Guidelines. Int J Child Rights 15, 365–390. doi:10.1163/092755607X262793.

Giordano, S. (2008). Lives in a chiaroscuro. Should we suspend the puberty of children with gender identity disorder? Journal of Medical Ethics 34, 580–584. doi:10.1136/jme.2007.021097.

Giordano, S., and Holm, S. (2020). Is puberty delaying treatment ‘experimental treatment’? International Journal of Transgender Health 21, 113–121. doi:10.1080/26895269.2020.1747768.

Hembree, W. C. (2011). Guidelines for pubertal suspension and gender reassignment for transgender adolescents. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America 20, 725–732. doi:10.1016/j.chc.2011.08.004.

Hembree, W. C., Cohen-Kettenis, P. T., Gooren, L., Hannema, S. E., Meyer, W. J., Murad, M. H., et al. (2017). Endocrine Treatment of Gender-Dysphoric/Gender-Incongruent Persons: An Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 102, 3869–3903. doi:10.1210/jc.2017-01658.

Joseph, T., Ting, J., and Butler, G. (2019). The effect of GnRH analogue treatment on bone mineral density in young adolescents with gender dysphoria: findings from a large national cohort. J. Pediatr. Endocrinol. Metab. 32, 1077–1081. doi:10.1515/jpem-2019-0046.

Khatchadourian, K., Amed, S., and Metzger, D. L. (2014). Clinical management of youth with gender dysphoria in Vancouver. J. Pediatr. 164, 906–911. doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2013.10.068.

Kim, E. Y. (2015). Long-term effects of gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogs in girls with central precocious puberty. Korean J Pediatr 58, 1–7. doi:10.3345/kjp.2015.58.1.1.

Klink, D., Caris, M., Heijboer, A., van Trotsenburg, M., and Rotteveel, J. (2015). Bone mass in young adulthood following gonadotropin-releasing hormone analog treatment and cross-sex hormone treatment in adolescents with gender dysphoria. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 100, E270-275. doi:10.1210/jc.2014-2439.

Kreukels, B. P. C., and Cohen-Kettenis, P. T. (2011). Puberty suppression in gender identity disorder: the Amsterdam experience. Nat Rev Endocrinol 7, 466–472. doi:10.1038/nrendo.2011.78.

Lopez, C. M., Solomon, D., Boulware, S. D., and Christison-Lagay, E. R. (2018). Trends in the use of puberty blockers among transgender children in the United States. J. Pediatr. Endocrinol. Metab. 31, 665–670. doi:10.1515/jpem-2018-0048.

Miesen, A. I. R. van der, Steensma, T. D., Vries, A. L. C. de, Bos, H., and Popma, A. (2020). Psychological Functioning in Transgender Adolescents Before and After Gender-Affirmative Care Compared With Cisgender General Population Peers. Journal of Adolescent Health 66, 699–704. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2019.12.018.

Murchison, G., Adkins, D., Conard, L. A., Ph, R., Ehrensaft, D., Elliott, T., et al. (2016). Supporting & Caring for Transgender Children’. Human Rights Campaign Available at: https://www.hrc.org/resources/supporting-caring-for-transgender-children/. [Accessed October 3, 2019].

Oliphant, J., Veale, J., Macdonald, J., Carroll, R., Johnson, R., Harte, M., et al. (2018). Guidelines for gender affirming healthcare for gender diverse and transgender children, young people and adults in Aotearoa New Zealand. Available at: https://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/handle/10289/12160 [Accessed October 3, 2019].

Pang, K. C., Notini, L., McDougall, R., Gillam, L., Savulescu, J., Wilkinson, D., et al. (2020). Long-term Puberty Suppression for a Nonbinary Teenager. Pediatrics 145. doi:10.1542/peds.2019-1606.

Rosenthal, S. M. (2014). Approach to the patient: transgender youth: endocrine considerations. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 99, 4379–4389. doi:10.1210/jc.2014-1919.

Schagen, S. E. E., Cohen-Kettenis, P. T., Delemarre-van de Waal, H. A., and Hannema, S. E. (2016). Efficacy and Safety of Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone Agonist Treatment to Suppress Puberty in Gender Dysphoric Adolescents. J Sex Med 13, 1125–1132. doi:10.1016/j.jsxm.2016.05.004.

Schneider, M. A., Spritzer, P. M., Soll, B. M. B., Fontanari, A. M. V., Carneiro, M., Tovar-Moll, F., et al. (2017). Brain Maturation, Cognition and Voice Pattern in a Gender Dysphoria Case under Pubertal Suppression. Front Hum Neurosci 11, 528. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2017.00528.

Staphorsius, A. S., Kreukels, B. P. C., Cohen-Kettenis, P. T., Veltman, D. J., Burke, S. M., Schagen, S. E. E., et al. (2015). Puberty suppression and executive functioning: An fMRI-study in adolescents with gender dysphoria. Psychoneuroendocrinology 56, 190–199. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2015.03.007.

Telfer, M.M., Tollit, M.A., Pace, C.C., & Pang, K.C. (2018). Australian Standards of Care and Treatment Guidelines for Trans and Gender Diverse Chil-dren and Adolescents. Melbourne: The Royal Children’s Hospital Available at: https://www.rch.org.au/uploadedFiles/Main/Content/adolescent-medicine/australian-standards-of-care-and-treatment-guidelines-for-trans-and-gender-diverse-children-and-adolescents.pdf [Accessed October 4, 2019].

Turban, J. L., King, D., Carswell, J. M., and Keuroghlian, A. S. (2020). Pubertal Suppression for Transgender Youth and Risk of Suicidal Ideation. Pediatrics 145. doi:10.1542/peds.2019-1725.

Vlot, M. C., Klink, D. T., den Heijer, M., Blankenstein, M. A., Rotteveel, J., and Heijboer, A. C. (2017). Effect of pubertal suppression and cross-sex hormone therapy on bone turnover markers and bone mineral apparent density (BMAD) in transgender adolescents. Bone 95, 11–19. doi:10.1016/j.bone.2016.11.008.

Vries, A. L. C. de, McGuire, J. K., Steensma, T. D., Wagenaar, E. C. F., Doreleijers, T. A. H., and Cohen-Kettenis, P. T. (2014). Young Adult Psychological Outcome After Puberty Suppression and Gender Reassignment. Pediatrics 134, 696–704. doi:10.1542/peds.2013-2958.

Vrouenraets, L. J. J. J., Fredriks, A. M., Hannema, S. E., Cohen-Kettenis, P. T., and de Vries, M. C. (2015). Early Medical Treatment of Children and Adolescents With Gender Dysphoria: An Empirical Ethical Study. J Adolesc Health 57, 367–373. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2015.04.004.

Vrouenraets, L. J. J. J., Fredriks, A. M., Hannema, S. E., Cohen-Kettenis, P. T., and de Vries, M. C. (2016). Perceptions of Sex, Gender, and Puberty Suppression: A Qualitative Analysis of Transgender Youth. Arch Sex Behav 45, 1697–1703. doi:10.1007/s10508-016-0764-9.

Wiepjes, C. M., Nota, N. M., de Blok, C. J. M., Klaver, M., de Vries, A. L. C., Wensing-Kruger, S. A., et al. (2018). The Amsterdam Cohort of Gender Dysphoria Study (1972-2015): Trends in Prevalence, Treatment, and Regrets. J Sex Med 15, 582–590. doi:10.1016/j.jsxm.2018.01.016.

World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). (2011). Standards of care for the health of transsexual, transgender, and gender nonconforming people, 7th version.

TGEU Rapid Response: Europe Failing Trans Children

Europe trans flag

Every year TGEU (Transgender Europe) releases an index of key indicators on trans rights, along with a map highlighting the performance across the continent (Europe and Central Asia).

The 2020 map, indicator and key stats are available here.

Frustratingly, in spite of requests for inclusion, there is still no analysis specific to trans children’s rights across Europe..

Taking the TGEU data, I’ve selected the six indicators that relate specifically to trans children, and highlighted the performance across the continent. These relate to the areas of Legal Recognition (3 indicators), Health (2 indicators) and Non-Discrimination (1 indicator). These six indicators are the only data collected by TGEU which have relevance for transgender children & young people and provide coverage of basic or fundamental rights.

The results are absolutely shameful.

RED: Actively hostile with little or no fundamental rights for trans children.

63% (31 out of 49 countries) meet 0 or 1 indicators with 9 scoring 0 for failing to provide even the very basics of non discrimination. The country is actively hostile to the very existence of trans children.

AMBER: Rudimentary rights for trans children.

30% (15 countries) meet only a few of the basic rights of trans children (score 2 or 3), These countries are failing trans children. This includes the UK where there is no legal recognition, nor coverage of health indicators, including no anti-conversion therapy legislation, in spite of signposting for government prioritisation following the National LGBT survey of 2018.

YELLOW: Moderate fundamental rights for trans children.

The single country meeting 4 or 5 indicators is Luxembourg, which meets the basics for Legal protection and non discrimination but does not meet either of the indicators for health.

GREEN: Fundamental rights for trans children are met.

Only 4% (two countries), meet all the fundamental rights of trans children and young people with 6 indicators in all three areas. Spain and Malta.

https://datastudio.google.com/embed/reporting/7a0a692c-6d2d-4b38-a903-56d57c8cc471/page/LgMQB

Europe2

Only 6% (3/49) of European countries have even moderate fundamental rights for transgender children and young people.

We need more people to care about this.

We need rights organisations (Stonewall, Amnesty, TGEU, Save the Children, UNICEF, Plan International) to collect data, and analyse this data, to help us hold government’s to account for the gross failings towards the rights of trans children across Europe. We need TGEU members to start asking TGEU to provide analysis specific to trans children and young people.

The six indicators above are a snapshot, taken from the TGEU 2020 dataset. There are other indicators that could be tracked that would give an even clearer picture of the ways in which Europe fails trans children. We need to start including dis-aggregated data in our analysis on trans rights, dis-aggregation that shows the specific ways in which trans children are failed. We need to start collecting data specific to trans children. We need dis-aggregated analysis of the data that we do have. And we need to start raising our voices about the rights violations that trans children face across Europe and beyond.

Who can help in this endeavour?

Australia Supports Trans Children

Evie-Macdonald

Following months of Australian (Murdoch) media scaremongering about trans children, and anti-trans lobbying by right wing groups, Australian politicians asked a leading  Australian medical body (RACP). to review the Australian healthcare approach to supporting transgender youth.

Today brought two important announcements, from the RACP and from AusPATH.

The RACP is the Royal College of Australian Physicians, representing 25,000 Australian medical professionals. The RACP today provided the following announcement:

The RACP has recommended against a national inquiry into gender dysphoria and made suggestions to improve care to young trans people.

In August 2019, the Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt wrote to the College seeking advice on the treatment of gender dysphoria in children and adolescents. The RACP has now provided that advice to the Minister. The full advice is linked below.

The RACP strongly supports expert clinical care that is non-judgemental, supportive and welcoming for children, adolescents and their families experiencing gender dysphoria. Children and adolescents with gender dysphoria are a very vulnerable population, experiencing stigma and extremely high rates of depression, self-harm, attempted suicide and suicide.

Ensuring children and adolescents with gender dysphoria can access appropriate care and treatment regardless of where they live, should be a national priority. Withholding or limiting access to care and treatment would be unethical and would have serious impacts on the health and wellbeing of young people. 

The RACP notes that there are substantial dangers posed by some of the proposals that have been put forward during the recent public debate on this issue, such as holding a national inquiry into the issue. A national inquiry would not increase the scientific evidence available regarding gender dysphoria but would further harm vulnerable patients and their families through increased media and public attention.

Today, the Australian Professional Association for Trans Health released the following response:

The Australian Professional Association for Trans Health (AusPATH), established in 2009 as the Australian and New Zealand Professional Association for Transgender Health, is Australia’s peak body for professionals involved in the health, rights and wellbeing of trans people, including those who are gender diverse and non-binary (TGDNB). The AusPATH membership comprises approximately 300 experienced professionals working across Australia.

AusPATH welcomes the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) advice to Minister Greg Hunt, Federal Minister for Health, regarding the care and treatment of TGDNB children and adolescents, and seeking medical intervention. This advice is based on the available scientific evidence and the expertise of those with relevant clinical experience across sub-speciality areas of medicine and bioethics.

 AusPATH agrees with the RACP that ensuring children and adolescents who are trans, including those who are gender diverse and non-binary “can access appropriate care and treatment regardless of where they live, should be a national priority”, and that “withholding or limiting access to care and treatment would be unethical and would have serious impacts on the health and wellbeing of young people.”

As stated by the RACP, “clinical care needs to be “non-judgemental, supportive and welcoming for children, adolescents and their families”.

AusPATH also supports the RACP recommendation that the Australian Government provide funding for research, especially in relation to the long-term health and wellbeing outcomes for trans, including gender diverse and non-binary young people. Increased investment in research and expansion of the knowledge base, for young people and adults, will be vital in improving the current and disturbing high rates of depression, anxiety, suicide attempts and suicide amongst this cohort.

Improving outcomes can only be achieved by reducing the stigma, discrimination, bullying and harassment that trans people, including those who are gender diverse and non-binary, are subjected to on a daily basis. Negative, hateful media campaigns aimed at invalidating the experiences and strength of this community, and those who provide care for them, is reprehensible, harmful and must stop.

There is much work for us to do to improve the lives of all trans people in Australia. AusPATH looks forward to assisting the clinicians, researchers, educators and advocates across Australia to continue the provision of high quality, patient-centred, human rights-focused and comprehensive gender affirming care and treatment.

Best Practice

The Australian guidelines for healthcare for trans youth represent world best practice. These guidelines are summarised in this blog here

https://growinguptransgender.com/2017/10/01/australian-gold-standard-of-care-for-trans-children/

I want to highlight a couple of things about the approach that the overall Australian health service has taken to the transphobic pressure it has come under.

  1. The Australian healthcare service overall has centred the needs, rights and wellbeing of transgender children, both in their healthcare, in their engagements with the media, and in their response to political and media pressure.
  2. They have emphasised the importance of patient centred, human rights focused and comprehensive gender affirming care.
  3. They clearly and unambiguously state “withholding or limiting access to care and treatment would be unethical and would have serious impacts on the health and wellbeing of young people.” This clarity in messaging is vitally important in a context of media misinformation and transphobic scaremongering.
  4. They acknowledge, highlight and condemn the negative impact that media and societal transphobia has on the wellbeing of trans children.
  5. The RACP “strongly supports expert clinical care that is non-judgemental, supportive and welcoming”. This strong support, combined with positive and non-pathologising language is really important in this media communication.
  6. The RACP takes a clear public position, backing up the needs and wellbeing of vulnerable trans children and their families. They state “the RACP notes that there are substantial dangers posed by some of the proposals that have been put forward during the recent public debate on this issue, such as holding a national inquiry into the issue. A national inquiry would not increase the scientific evidence available regarding gender dysphoria but would further harm vulnerable patients and their families through increased media and public attention”.

I want highlight the absurd contrast between the way the health service in Australia has tackled this and the current UK NHS approach.

The UK NHS service for transgender children (GIDS) is hugely behind global best practices for transgender youth healthcare – see here for a comparison between the GIDS approach and the Australian approach

https://growinguptransgender.com/2017/09/30/australian-standards-of-care-part-2/

The UK is out of touch with gender affirmative best practices as endorsed by Auspath, the Endocrine Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics – and is behind healthcare practices across the US, Canada, Spain, New Zealand, Australia. New global guidelines from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) are due out this year, and are expected to endorse an affirmative approach to support for transgender children. The UK GIDS service, with its pathologising approaches, three year wait for first appointments, psychoanalytic approach (without one single paediatrician) and refusal to embrace evidence based gender affirmative healthcare, is a disgrace.

When faced by the same media and right wing funded transphobic pressure that doctors in the US and Australia have faced, the UK NHS has responded very differently.

Here in the UK we have a court case to investigate whether trans teens are somehow uniquely unable to give informed consent to safe and reversible puberty blocker treatment that has been studied in trans youth for 32 years.

There is a NICE evidence review into puberty blockers and hormones (despite the Endocrine Society having released global guidance in 2016 on this, despite no evidence of harm and much evidence of benefits, and despite WPATH global standards of care producing new global guidelines on this that are due out this year (Standards of Care Version 8). The ToR for this review will be critical, as recent reviews by the BMJ and the evidence review informing the GIDS 2016 service specification were both heavily flawed, bringing ideological biases to the evidence review, and omitting key evidence. The team involved in the heavily flawed 2016 service specification review completely ignored submissions from those advocating for the rights and wellbeing of transgender children – how do we ensure this doesn’t happen this time round? There is very little community faith that this NICE review will be effective – we know there is a lack of the type of RCT evidence NICE normally prioritises, the question is, what do we do based on the level of evidence currently in existence. In Australia and the US (and elsewhere) healthcare providers are very clear that affirmative care is the only way to support trans youth. Parents such as myself are very clear on this. Trans adults are very clear on this. Trans youth are very clear on this – but is NICE interested in these perspectives? We know and experience the harm of inadequate care – we see it daily in our families.

There is also an NHS panel being formed to review the NICE evidence and provide NHS recommendations on trans youth healthcare. Will important questions like the NHS’ failure to offer timely non-pathologising affirmative care led by paediatricians rather than psychoanalysts even be on the agenda? Who is shaping the agenda for these reviews and investigations – they certainly don’t match with the issues that matter to those of us supporting transgender children – they seem to match the agenda of those wishing to ban healthcare for transgender children. Why is there no acknowledgement, that publicity about these reviews, in a context of minority stress and transphobia, adds to the harm, adds to discrimination, makes life worse for transgender children and families?

Who on this panel will be speaking up for the rights of transgender children? Families of trans children, trans healthcare experts and trans communities have little faith in this process centring the rights and wellbeing of trans children. A very significant concern is the question of who will be on that panel. There will be no voice representing trans children on that panel. No voice representing trans adults. No voice representing supportive parents of trans children.

We know there are strong transphobic voices in the UK, including in the NHS, who deny the existence of transgender children like my daughter. Voices who, like in Australia and the US, are actively campaigning to withdraw healthcare for transgender children. Some of these voices are clear in their transphobia – others are subtler in crouching their views in descriptions of ‘concern’ and ‘lack of RCTs’. Many of these opponents advocate stopping all trans youth healthcare, increasing the access barriers, and taking us back to reparative and talk therapy based approaches of rejection and stigma. Approaches that are known to cause harm.

If anyone who has publicly condemned healthcare for transgender children, including those who argue against healthcare until the age of 24 (!) is on the panel, this panel will lack all credibility with families of transgender children. There would be no place for anti-vaccine voices on a review of vaccine safety – there would be no place for anti-climate change fringe voices on a review of climate change policy – there absolutely is no place for anyone who has spoken out against the rights and wellbeing of transgender children in a NHS panel reviewing this healthcare.

The biggest concern – There will likely not be one single paediatrician with experience supporting trans children on that NHS review panel. In other countries like Australia, trans youth healthcare is led by paediatricians. Here in the UK there is not one single paediatrician with this experience and specialism. Our NHS service is led by psychoanalysts who are not medically qualified. This is a huge knowledge gap for this NHS review panel. The panel absolutely has to have on it a paediatrician with experience in leading the care of transgender children. If there is not one such experienced and qualified paediatrician in the UK (which there is not), the panel needs to fill this knowledge gap by inviting experienced paediatricians from the US or Australia to join this panel. Someone like Michelle Tefler, the paediatrician in charge of the Australian trans youth healthcare system would be ideal.

And as we wait, families and transgender children are already being harmed by the UK NHS approach – by the media messaging about reviewing the evidence base on puberty blockers. Already children are experiencing additional trauma, scrutiny and disbelief from NHS health professionals like GPs, from school teachers, from social services, from family members, as a direct result of this inquiry. Direct harm due to the NHS’s chosen approach.

Again, I will compare this to the Australian RACP approach which stated today:
“the RACP notes that there are substantial dangers posed by some of the proposals that have been put forward during the recent public debate on this issue, such as holding a national inquiry into the issue. A national inquiry would not increase the scientific evidence available regarding gender dysphoria but would further harm vulnerable patients and their families through increased media and public attention”.

Why does the NHS continue to fail transgender children so badly, in so many different ways?

Why can’t we learn from the Australian healthcare system?

Who is speaking up for trans children’s rights and wellbeing within the decision making circles of the NHS?

 

 

PhD starts here

download

Throughout the past years of trying to secure the rights of my child, I’ve been frustrated at the substantial barriers trans children face.

The many ways in which their rights are infringed.

The systemic obstacles they need to jump over, hoping for equality of opportunity.

Their very existence is challenged.

Lack of data is part of the problem – time and again trans kids are left out of surveys or research – they aren’t even considered.

With these challenges in mind, I’ve applied for, and been accepted onto a PhD at Goldsmiths Education department.

My topic: Cisnormativity and the rights, equality and well-being of socially transitioned transgender children under the age of 12. I’ll be supervised by Dr Anna Carlile.

I’ll have a focus on trans children in education, as well as considering families, healthcare and wider rights.

I’m doing it part-time, and aim to publish as I go. Watch this space.

I’m very interested in connecting with trans positive researchers, as well as with researchers specialising in child rights / child participation.

I can be reached on twitter @fiercemum

Wish me luck!