In a reversal that could have significant implications for the future of the transgender movement, Britain's National Health Service has updated its policy on puberty blockers.
The policy previously said that puberty blockers — the hormone drugs used in an effort to prevent the onset of puberty processes in the bodies of adolescents who would prefer to be the opposite sex — are "fully reversible." It now reads differently, acknowledging that short-term and long-term effects that the experimental drugs will have on a person's bones, body, and mental health are unknown.
The original text of the NHS policy read this way:
"If your child has gender dysphoria and they've reached puberty, they could be treated with gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogues. These are synthetic (man-made) hormones that suppress the hormones naturally produced by the body.
Some of the changes that take place during puberty are driven by hormones. For example, the hormone testosterone, which is produced by the testes in boys, helps stimulate penis growth.
GnRH analogues suppress the hormones produced by your child's body. They also suppress puberty and can help delay potentially distressing physical changes caused by their body becoming even more like that of their biological sex, until they're old enough for the treatment options discussed below.
The effects of treatment with GnRH analogues are considered to be fully reversible, so treatment can usually be stopped at any time after a discussion between you, your child and your MDT."
In addition to noting the health risks are unknown, the new policy lists several risk factors:
"These hormone blockers (gonadotrophin-releasing hormone analogues) pause the physical changes of puberty, such as breast development or facial hair.
Little is known about the long-term side effects of hormone or puberty blockers in children with gender dysphoria.
Although the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) advises this is a physically reversible treatment if stopped, it is not known what the psychological effects may be.
It's also not known whether hormone blockers affect the development of the teenage brain or children's bones. Side effects may also include hot flushes, fatigue and mood alterations."
The policy change was enacted after a lawsuit was filed against Britain's lone gender clinic by an individual who claims they suffered irreparable harm to their body by undergoing the clinic's treatments.