Statement to The Mail On Sunday about Puberty Blockers

On Sunday 16th January 2021, Sanchez Manning reported in The Mail on Sunday about GenderCare, a private clinic treating young people wishing to take cross sex hormones. We were asked for comment, and here is our written statement in full.

Statement to the Mail on Sunday

14 January 2021

We are very concerned about the inappropriate prescribing of cross-sex hormones for young adults, many of whom are vulnerable, processing trauma, or living with mental health or neurodevelopmental problems. No safe assessment of a patient’s needs could be completed within an hour of meeting them. Unfortunately, parents in our group have seen at first hand the devastating effects of hasty prescribing of cross-sex hormones on vulnerable young adults.

A young person’s right to a careful exploration of their gender distress should not end at age 18. The Royal College of Physicians advises that “young adults and adolescents aged between 16 and 25 years need to be considered as a defined population” and the NHS itself recognises that “young people’s development does not have a fixed time frame attached. Much of this development will take place after reaching the legal age of adulthood at 18”. Clinicians treating gender dysphoria in young adults – whether in the NHS or private sector – must ensure that their treatment recommendations are developmentally appropriate.

Cross-sex hormones have far-reaching life-long effects and risks, but prescribers cannot be sure that they will be of life-long benefit to patients still in their teens or early twenties. The growing visibility of detransitioners reminds us that gender identity in this group is far from fixed, and there is still little evidence for the treatment’s efficacy, especially over the long-term. Until we know more, the NHS should make cross-sex hormones available to young people in their teens and early twenties only within a research study that measures long-term outcomes (over at least a decade), tests other treatment strategies (such as have been described by consultant psychiatrist Dr Az Hakeem), and which provides for independent ethical oversight. Currently, NHS treatment protocols for the relief of gender dysphoria in often vulnerable young people in their late teens and early twenties are unsafe and a risk to their long-term health.