This has come up regularly on social media, the idea that puberty blockers given to dysphoric children and teenagers are a nice way to pause puberty and give that child some breathing space to “discover who they are”. Setting aside the unseemly haste some people are moving towards surgery for minors let’s just look at the blocker issue. Please note, I am not a scientist or doctor so this leaves you plenty of room to simply disregard anything I say as transphobic nonsense as I’m sure some might well do.
Puberty blockers were developed for a particular condition, precocious puberty a condition where a child goes into puberty too early. The idea being these drugs would put a halt to the puberty and then be stopped at an age where puberty is more likely to happen in most people. Let’s say 8 until 11 or 12 perhaps. In these cases the effects of the drugs have been well documented, if you click on THIS link you will be able to read the research most often presented of proof of the safety and efficacy in using puberty blockers on dysphoric children or teens.
Taken on face value, it’s all good. Yes, the NHS has indeed distanced from the idea as are other scientists. But this research exists and that’s the hammer that will be used to crush your opinion you foul transphobic monster you! You may also be told about their use regarding bone growth, this is valid. The dosing seems to be rather different though. Another thing ignored in the name of ideological argument.
The thing is, nobody seems to consider the usage of these drugs compared to their original intent. Remember earlier when we mentioned a pause in puberty? This relies on the patient going through puberty once the drugs are no longer being given. Puberty has many effects on the human body, many crucial effects. I’m not going to list them all here but it’s information that’s freely available and it isn’t just a case of “you’ll be shorter and your genitals will be different”.
So what happens when we give these drugs to young teens (or younger children) because we believe they were born in the wrong body and then continue these drugs until they’re in their late teens? Are they reversible then? No, of course not. Once you’re in your late teens you aren’t going to simply go through puberty once the medication is stopped, that isn’t how the human body works.
Without puberty, we lose many important developmental changes to our body. Not only that but changes to your voice, among other things, are permanent. For many transgender people this is ideal, for others not so much.
I’m not in any place to say what should or shouldn’t be used. But I am in a place where I can say this insistence that puberty blockers are harmless and reversible is dangerous and misleading. In the next one to two years we are going to see more investigations into the Tavistock clinic along with the use of these drugs and their effects. But one thing’s for sure, we won’t be finding out you can reverse their effects in your late teens because almost every de-transitioning younger person right now seems to disagree.
It’s not transphobia to point out uncomfortable truths, to allow criticism and debate is not transphobic. To disallow them, ignore them, and demonise these points is dangerous. As ever I am happy to be told my research was inaccurate or where I’m wrong, please comment below however “you’re ignorant” or “you’re just wrong” may not qualify for much of a response.