Puberty Blocker Blockage

A UK Court Decision Thwarts Trans Abuse

In some good news this week, a U.K. high court issued a ruling banning the use of puberty blocking drugs to children under aged 16 without court approval.

The claimant in the case, Keira Bell, struggled for years with depression and anxiety, which manifested as a deep discomfort in her own body and the “intricacies of being female” in her teens. When she was 16, Ms. Bell was referred to the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, a “gender-identity development” facility. After only three one-hour appointments, Ms. Bell was put on puberty-blockers. She went on to start testosterone, and at 20 underwent a double mastectomy.

Now, at 23, she is detransitioning, but the drugs have done their work. Ms. Bell looks like a man and sounds like a man, and in a statement to the press wonders why such powerful drugs were given to her—and thousands of others—without a thorough investigation. She thought that transitioning would help her; it didn’t. So, she chose to fight the clinic that so blithely put her on a body-deforming path. The other claimant in the case, known only as “Mrs. A.,” is the mother of a 15-year-old autistic girl who is awaiting treatment at the clinic. The Trust treats a high number of autistic young women seeking treatment for gender dysphoria.

Cases like Ms. Bell’s abound, unfortunately. The Economist tells the story of “Andrea Davidson” and her daughter, “Meghan” (not their real names). Meghan told her mother at 12 that was “definitely a boy.” Ms. Davidson was shocked when her daughter’s doctor congratulated Meghan on her new identity, asked which pronouns she preferred, and then referred her to a specialist. Within ten minutes, a nurse at the clinic was recommending—to Meghan, in front of her mother, with no prior conversation—that the girl start the puberty-blocker Lupron. In her book, Irreversible Damage, Abigail Shrier recounts the tales of dozens of other such girls—histories of mental instability, very little investigation into why they desired transition, almost immediately put on Lupron or some other puberty-blocking drug.

That this court decision is even a decision is a sign of how far our culture has fallen when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable. Little is known about the long-lasting effects of puberty-blocking drugs. By “pressing pause” on their body’s maturation, children who believe they suffer from gender dysphoria can gain extra time to wrestle with their identities while avoiding the distress of their bodies changing rapidly before their eyes. But in addition to stopping processes like breast development, facial hair growth, or voice changes, puberty blockers also affect the brain. Preliminary data from one study showed a dramatic uptick in suicidal tendencies, although the study is under criticism for potential design flaws. Fertility can be permanently destroyed. Children, as the U.K. judges decided in the case of Keira Bell, do not have the mental capacity to consent to such body-deforming treatments. Bell herself repeatedly has said that she wished someone had pushed back against her, instead of accepting the self-diagnosis of a troubled girl.

There are cases, like Andrea Davidson’s, where frightened and confused parents are bullied into allowing their children down dangerous paths. To these parents, already terrified their troubled children may self-harm, a physician warning of suicide is more than they can take. But there are other parents—like the ones on the new HBO Max documentary Transhood, or Texas mother Anne Georgulas who insists her son is actually a girl, against the wishes of her separated husband—who seem to play an overly active role in their children’s “transition.” As if confused parents weren’t enough, countless school programs, gender clinics, and university health departments actively help young girls get the puberty blockers and testosterone they need without parental consent or even knowledge.

Teenagers, particularly in this time and place in our culture, are children, and we must do better at protecting them both from their own inner turmoil, and from outside predators wanting to call good evil and evil good. The teenage years are a fraught period, in which boys and girls quickly and dramatically become young men and women. Conscientious parents must lovingly shepherd their children through this time, counseling them and helping them find confidence in their new bodies. And clinics like the Tavistock and Portman Trust, which encourage such young, suffering, and impressionable children to hate and permanently mutilate their bodies, should be shut down.

is the managing editor of The Natural Family, the quarterly publication of the International Organization for the Family.

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