The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) changed its online guidance about giving puberty blockers to children struggling with confusion about their sexual identity.

Writing at The Spectator, James Kirkup pointed out the shift, which was made “quietly” and “without any announcement or fanfare.” The previous advice said that giving gender dysphoric children puberty blocking drugs was “fully reversible.” Here’s that guidance (emphasis from Kirkup’s article):

“If your child has gender dysphoria and they’ve reached puberty, they could be treated with gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogues. These are synthetic (man-made) hormones that suppress the hormones naturally produced by the body.”

The effects of treatment with GnRH analogues are considered to be fully reversible, so treatment can usually be stopped at any time after a discussion between you, your child and your MDT.”

The new guidance tells a very different story:

Little is known about the long-term side effects of hormone or puberty blockers in children with gender dysphoria.

Although the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) advises this is a physically reversible treatment if stopped, it is not known what the psychological effects may be.

It’s also not known whether hormone blockers affect the development of the teenage brain or children’s bones. Side effects may also include hot flushes, fatigue and mood alterations.”

Dr. Michele Cretella is Executive Director of the American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds). Her organization advocates against giving children off-label experimental drugs – like GnRH analogues – which were not developed for gender confused children. In a previous interview, Dr. Cretella told us: “Puberty is not a disease. Puberty is a critical and natural developmental phase that can be life-saving for gender incongruent youth.”

She noted that most gender-confused children who are allowed to go through puberty will naturally come to accept their bodily sex. But the growing use of puberty blockers and opposite sex hormones transforms children and adolescents “into lifelong patients forever dependent upon toxic medications that lead to permanent changes including sterility and a host of other serious health risks.”

Cretella explained that once children begin taking puberty blockers, even if they come to embrace their biological sex and stop taking the drugs, “they can never get back the time of normal biopsychosocial development that was stolen from them.”

As we’ve reported previously, the NHS is embroiled in a lawsuit about using puberty blockers, opposite-sex hormones and surgeries to “transition” growing numbers of children and adolescents to live as the opposite sex.

In addition to the lawsuit, the U.K.’s only gender identity clinic, the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, has seen internal dissent from staff members. The Times of London reported that at least 18 of the Tavistock’s clinical staff have resigned in the past few years. Medical staff felt pressured to refer young people for treatment and said that transgender activist groups were “promoting transition as a cure-all solution for confused adolescents.”

The Tavistock is being investigated, and the U.K. government recently indicated that it will move to protect child from body- and life-altering procedures. In April 2020, Liz Truss, the Minister for Women and Equalities, gave a conference call speech where she indicated that the government would move to protect gender dysphoric children from body- and life-altering procedures.

Kirkup asks a number of important questions about the guideline changes. He explains that puberty blocking drugs were not developed and formulated for children, and that we don’t have any evidence about their long-term effects. So his first question is: “why has it taken the NHS so long to say these things?”

Then he asks, “Why has the NHS so significantly changed its main publication on hormone treatment for children without any announcement or fanfare? There was no press release or explanation.

Kirkup goes on to say: “But some of the questions arising from that change are rather bigger. Given that the NHS now says that hormone therapy for gender-variant children has unknown long-term effects on the physical and mental health of those children, why is the NHS still using such treatments on children?”

Finally, and most poignantly, he asks about the children already treated with these experimental, off-label drugs: “And what are the children and parents who were reassured by those earlier NHS words supposed to think now that the same service that issued those treatments is now admitting it doesn’t know what their long-term effects will be?”

They’re good questions. It’s doubtful if the NHS will ever offer satisfactory answers to the children and families already harmed.

Related articles and resources:

British Lawsuit Says Children Are Too Young To Consent To ‘Transgender’ Medical Procedures

Hospitals and Doctors “Transition” Hundreds of Children with Drugs, Hormones and Surgery

New Resource for Parents: “Responding to the Transgender Issue”

Questioning Drugs, Hormones and Surgery for Youth Confused about Their Sexual Identity

U.K Moves to Protect Gender-Confused Children from Hormones, Drugs and Surgeries

When Transgender Issues Enter Your World

For more Focus on the Family videos, books and articles about transgender issues, go to Transgender Resources.