England’s health service says it won’t give children puberty blockers at gender clinics

LONDON (AP) — England’s state-funded health service has decided it won’t routinely offer puberty-blocking drugs to children in gender identity clinics, saying more evidence is needed on potential advantages and disadvantages.

The National Health Service said on Friday that “outside of a research setting, puberty-suppressing hormones should not be routinely ordered for children and adolescents.”

Children can still be given puberty blockers in exceptional circumstances, the NHS has said, and a clinical study into their impact on children is due to start next year.

The four new regional clinics are due to open later this year. They replace the Gender Identity Development Service in London, previously the only such facility in England. It is due to close after a review revealed it was overwhelmed by growing demand and there was insufficient evidence on the results of its treatment.

Hormone blockers are drugs that can halt the development of puberty and are sometimes prescribed to help children with gender dysphoria by giving them more time to think about their options.

The NHS said the new rules were ‘interim policy’ which would be subject to further scrutiny, including the results of a research study into the impact of puberty-suppressing hormones on dysphoria gender in children and young people.

Findings published last year from a review of children’s gender services led by pediatrician Dr Hilary Cass said there were “gaps in the evidence base” on blockers.

The NHS said doctors at the new clinics would still be allowed to prescribe the drugs outside of a research setting ‘on an exceptional, case-by-case basis’ and subject to approval by a national review team. medical experts.

The health service’s decision does not prevent children and their families from getting puberty blockers elsewhere, but it will be “strongly discouraged”, the NHS said.

The issue of gender-affirming care for children is not as hot in Britain as it is in the United States, where several Republican-led states have banned puberty blockers and other treatments for transgender minors, but she ended up in court.

In 2020, the High Court of England ruled that children under 16 were unlikely to be able to give informed consent to medical treatment involving drugs that delay puberty. The court said that due to the experimental nature of the drugs, clinics should seek permission from the court before starting such treatment.

The decision came in the context of a lawsuit brought by two plaintiffs. One, Keira Bell, who was prescribed hormone blockers at 16, argued the clinic should have challenged her more about her decision to go male.

The ruling was overturned in 2021 by the Court of Appeal, which said doctors can prescribe puberty-blocking drugs to children under 16 without parental consent.

The NHS said it recognizes that once the policy is passed, there should be an end to a related requirement for young people to take puberty blockers for a period of time before receiving the cross-sex hormones that many transgender people take to make the transition.


Follow AP’s coverage of LGBTQ+ people at https://apnews.com/hub/lgbtq-people

Leave a Comment