Governments Pausing Puberty Blockers Based on Scientific Evidence

Apr 30, 2024

ORLANDO, FL – At least eight foreign governments and 23 U.S. states have recently halted or limited the prescription of puberty blockers and hormones for children as scientific evidence exposes these drugs as unnecessary, ineffective, and dangerous. While the 23 states have enacted legislation outright banning administering these drugs on minors, many leading European countries have expressed “caution” and “doubt” about their safety and efficacy and are changing the way they treat children with gender confusion.

For instance, the medical authorities in the United Kingdom, Finland, France, Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden have either halted, issued strict guidelines, or are investigating puberty blockers while placing more emphasis on counseling and therapy for younger age groups. Specifically, Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare stated the risks of the drugs “outweigh” their benefits, and France’s National Academy of Health recommended “great medical caution” due to potential negative and irreversible side effects. In 2023, Russia outlawed all “medical interventions aimed at changing the sex of a person.” 

Parallel to these decisions is the substantial increase in both short and long-term studies revealing “remarkably weak evidence” that these drugs yield any positive results. Simultaneously, evidence is mounting suggesting these drugs are especially harmful and unsafe for children. While longitudinal studies exploring the outcomes of puberty blockers and hormone treatments administered on minors have usually been hard to come by, they are now becoming more available – and they are coming from respected scientists, research institutions, and academic journals.

For instance, earlier this year the National Health Service (NHS) in both England and Scotland halted puberty blockers and hormone treatments for children after the groundbreaking Cass Review was published. England’s NHS commissioned the independent review, which was conducted by Dr. Hilary Cass, the former president of the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health. Dr. Cass delivered a comprehensive, four-year, and 388-page report examining much of the existing and published research on the medical model that affirms gender confusion with puberty blockers and hormones. Essentially, she revealed the model to be without validation stating there is “remarkably weak evidence” supporting the use of puberty blockers and hormones with children, and that many studies lacked “any positive measurable outcomes.” 

Dr. Cass emphasized that a child’s physical and mental health should be treated “holistically” making 32 recommendations to reform “gender-related services” that place the mental health of the child ahead of any “potentially irreversible medical treatments.” The results of the review prompted the NHS in England, and Scotland to formally halt puberty blockers citing “not enough evidence of safety and clinical effectiveness.” The NHS stated children struggling with gender confusion would instead be treated with counseling and psychotherapy. Previously in 2022, England had shut down its Gender Identity Development Services (GIDS) clinic at Tavistock after Dr. Cass led an investigation into the clinic finding that doctors pressured minors as young as 10 years old into taking puberty blockers and hormone drugs while an analysis showed many of these children “deteriorated” in mental health while taking the drugs. 

In the weeks since the Cass Review was published, pediatricians and psychiatrists in Belgium have also called for reform in treating gender confusion. 

Perhaps fueling these decisions is that the true nature of experimental puberty blockers and hormone treatments are being unraveled by the Cass Review, as well as several other notable studies. Essentially, these reports are finding children often grow out of gender confusion as they progress into adulthood, and that puberty blockers can often deteriorate mental health, increase suicide risk, all while potentially causing irreversible harm. 

Children Grow Out of Gender Confusion 

The Cass Review stated plainly that gender confusion in children is not “reliably predictive” of a long-term problem and that gender-confused children “are most likely to desist before puberty.” One of the many studies Dr. Cass reviewed was a February 2024 landmark report by psychiatrists and mental health researchers from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. The study found that indeed most children with gender confusion grow out of it by adulthood. Published in the peer-reviewed Archives of Sexual Behavior, the in-depth study followed 2,772 adolescents for 15 years beginning around the age of 11 and ending around the age of 26 reassessing their mental health in three-year intervals. While 78 percent of the adolescents in the study never experienced gender confusion, 19 percent did but reported that the confusion dissipated with age to the point where they embraced their biological sex. Only the remaining two percent expressed persistent discontent with their gender well into adulthood.

The researchers wrote that gender confusion in early adolescence generally “decreases with age” and appears to correlate with a “poorer self-concept and mental health.” They also noted the research is consistent with similar longitudinal studies from 2016 and 2021 by Canadian, Italian and Dutch scientists that found “low persistence rates” of adolescent gender confusion. 

Ironically, as the Cass Review explains, it was a doctor from the Netherlands in the 1990s who first used puberty blockers to treat gender confusion, which then developed into international medical guidelines known as the “Dutch Protocol.” However, in the same month the University of Groningen researchers published their study, the Dutch Parliament ordered an investigation into the health outcomes of puberty blockers. 

Puberty Blockers Do Not Treat Underlying Mental Health Issues or Reduce Suicide Rates 

A common trope pushed by proponents of gender-related medical interventions is that puberty blockers and hormones improve mental health and reduce suicides among gender-confused minors. However, Dr. Cass pointed out that the many reports stating puberty blockers improved mental health were of “poor” quality. However, Dr. Cass did find that high rates of minors who were referred to gender-related inventions had some form of childhood trauma, including as high as 67 percent having suffered some form of abuse, while others had experienced domestic violence, abandonment, or had a parent who struggled with mental illness.

Similarly, a pair of 2021 studies published in the Frontiers in Psychology and the National Library of Medicine found that gender confusion in children “arises in association with…high rates of unresolved loss and trauma,” which are likely to include childhood sexual abuse, physical abuse, and psychological abuse. The reports also indicated a vast majority of children in these studies who had gender confusion also had anxiety, behavioral disorders, or autism.

In July 2023, a group of 21 doctors and medical researchers from nine countries – Finland, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, France, Switzerland, South Africa, and the United States – issued a letter stating that these medical interventions do not treat any underlying mental health problems like counseling and psychotherapy do, so there is “no reliable evidence” that these treatments are effective in improving mental health.

Dr. Cass stated many children with gender confusion have a combination of mental health issues presenting a “complex interplay” between them. Yet, as she explains, all too often the medical profession has a “single focus on gender” where doctors ignore mental health, and as a matter of course, she notes, the results do not support improved suicide rates of gender-confused children.

“Tragically deaths by suicide in [gender-confused] people of all ages continue to be above the national average, but there is no evidence that [these interventions] reduce this,” wrote Dr. Cass. 

Irreversible Harm 

Another study published in 2024, which was conducted by 11 scientists at the Mayo Clinic, found potentially irreversible sterilization linked to puberty blockers. Beginning in 2015, the preprint study involved molecular analysis to examine testicular tissue samples from nine adolescent patients taking puberty blockers. The scientists found “abnormalities” in two of the nine patients and suggested that young males who take puberty-blocking drugs are at risk of developing “atrophied sex glands” that are potentially irreversible.  

“We provide unprecedented histological evidence revealing detrimental pediatric testicular sex gland responses to [puberty blockers],” wrote the scientists. Based on their observations, the scientists noted the abnormalities could cut off sperm production, which for them, raised “a potential concern regarding the complete reversibility” of the abnormalities.

As numerous other studies show, the potential for irreversible harm is not just limited to infertility. A 2024 study published in the international peer-reviewed Acta Paediatrica journal suggested pubertal suppression lowered IQ in children. Two additional studies from the Netherlands and Amsterdam University Medical Center showed hormone treatments displayed a higher risk for cancer and cardiovascular disease. And according to a report from Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, published in the prestigious journal Elsevier, hormone treatments also come with increased risk of ischemic stroke and blood clotting. 

Despite the accumulating evidence that these drugs do not help, but rather harm children, much of the American health care industry still defends these treatments on children, while American medical associations have remained largely silent in the wake of the Cass Review. Even though a growing number of countries are backing off prescribing these drugs to children, the Biden administration has embraced these medical interventions claiming they are “medically necessary, safe, and effective.” The Biden administration is going as far as challenging state laws in Tennessee and Kentucky that protect children from irreversible medical mutilation by asking the U.S. Supreme Court to roll back those restrictions. Yet, there are thousands of young men and women who have attempted to “change genders” by using puberty blockers and hormone treatments who are “de-transitioning” – many of them sharing their horror stories of irreversible physical and psychological harm. 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “In reality, there are only two genders, and it is impossible to change one’s gender. The evidence clearly shows that gender confusion is often linked to underlying mental health issues and can be treated through counseling. There is absolutely no need to give a child puberty blockers and hormone treatments. They harm children and can irreversibly damage them for life. The medical community needs to retether itself to its ethos of ‘do no harm’ and stop the insanity of mutilating children.”

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