April 4, 2024

Health authorities in England block puberty blockers

British children with gender dysphoria will no longer be given puberty blockers, says the UK government health authority, the national health service (NHS). This is a major change of policy and sets the UK and several European countries at loggerheads with practice in the United States. 

A statement from NHS England read: “puberty suppressing hormones (sometimes referred to as ‘puberty blockers’ or ‘hormone blockers’) are not recommended to be available as a routine commissioning option for the treatment of children and adolescents who have gender incongruence or dysphoria.” 

Although expected after an inquiry into gender medicine for minors led to the closing of the UK’s main gender clinic, The Tavistock Centre, the statement is bound to send ripples throughout the gender medicine community. 

NHS England declared that the current state of knowledge makes it unsafe to recommend puberty blockers: “there is not enough evidence to support the safety or clinical and cost effectiveness of PSH to make the treatment routinely available at this time. NHS England recommends that access to PSH for children and young people with gender incongruence/dysphoria should only be available as part of research.”

At the moment, fewer than 100 children and adolescents in England are taking puberty blockers.

“This a momentous development in the course correction of NHS England’s approach to treating childhood gender distress,” said Maya Forstater, of Sex Matters, told The Guardian. “The significance of NHS England’s statement that there is not enough evidence to support the safety or clinical effectiveness of puberty blockers cannot be overstated, given the success that activist lobby groups have had in portraying them as a harmless and reversible treatment.”