May 28, 2024

Denmark changes course on gender medicine for teens

Denmark is joining a cluster of northern European countries which have retreated from liberal guidelines on gender-affirmative medicine.

Minister of Health Sophie Løhde told the Danish Parliament on May 31 that: “It is essential that any decision about medical treatment is based on a well-founded professional basis.” She went on to say that Danish gender clinics have “become more reluctant to offer hormone treatment compared to before.”

The journal of the Danish Medical Association, “Ugeskrift for Læger”, confirmed the shift in a recent article. In 2018, Denmark’s centralised gender clinic was medically transitioning 65% of children referred to them. In 2022 only 6% were prescribed puberty blockers and/or cross-sex hormones.

The article in Ugeskrift for Læger (only in Danish) lists a number of reasons for the change in approach.

The most important was increasing scepticism about the Dutch approach of prescribing hormone therapy early. Key to the Dutch research was stability of the new cross-sex identity. But there are a growing number of detransitioners. For whatever reason, the influential Dutch studies do not correspond to the reality of gender dysphoria in 2023.

According to a summary of the Danish article published in SEGM, “The Danish clinicians are now concerned that the basis for gender-transition of large numbers of minors with diverse presentations of gender dysphoria is a single short-term Dutch study based in a different population and which has failed replication outside the Netherlands.”

The evolution of policy on treatment for gender dysphoria for children and adolescents is significant because Denmark has been thoroughly accommodating and progressive. As SEGM notes:

This change is notable. In 2014, Denmark became the first European country to pass a “self-id” law for adults whereby adults did not need a diagnosis of gender dysphoria to register a legal sex change. Denmark continued to be a leader in destigmatizing transgender identities and in 2017, becoming the first country in the world to remove “Gender Identity Disorder” (DF64) from the public health authority’s list of mental illnesses. To provide treatment, healthcare practitioners were instructed to use a “Z” code, “contact due to gender identity” (DX78X).” The barrier-free transition of minors, launched in 2016, was the logical next step.

But in response to growing disquiet, the medical profession and the government have acted. “It is a positive thing that there is a response to research and experience… both in Denmark, but also abroad, which we must follow closely,” said the Health Minister. “And this knowledge and experience lead to adjustments in the current treatment options.”

John Maynard Keynes is reputed to have said, “Well, when events change, I change my mind. What do you do?” The Danes, it seems, are on Keynes’ side.