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UK will no longer prescribe puberty blockers to children

The controversial drugs have been known to cause irreversible side effects in ‘transgender’ kids

Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) will cease providing puberty-blocking drugs to children at so-called ‘gender identity’ clinics, it announced on Tuesday. The UK’s conservative government welcomed the “landmark decision.”

The decision was reported by multiple British media outlets and came after a four-year public consultation and investigation into the activities of the NHS’ Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), run out of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust in London. 

The Tavistock clinic was ordered to close in 2022 after investigators concluded that its doctors were “rushing” children – some as young as seven – into experimental and life-altering sex-change procedures.

Puberty blocking drugs prevent the body from undergoing the typical physical changes that occur during puberty. In boys, they limit the growth of the penis and testicles and prevent the development of facial hair; in girls they slow down the development of breasts and prevent menstruation. Patients who take puberty blockers often follow this treatment with cross-sex hormone therapy in an attempt to change their gender.

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While advocates for these drugs maintain that the changes are reversible, puberty blockers have been linked to brittle bones and malformed genitals in patients, sometimes long after treatment stops. A court ruling in 2020 banned the prescription of these drugs to children under 16 years old, but the judgment was overturned in another ruling the following year.

Health Minister Maria Caulfield said that the governments welcomed Tuesday’s “landmark decision,” adding that “ending the routine prescription of puberty blockers will help ensure that care is based on evidence, expert clinical opinion and is in the best interests of the child.”

Following the NHS’ announcement, puberty blockers will only be administered to children as part of clinical trials. 

Although the Tavistock clinic is set to close down, the NHS is opening two new GIDS clinics in April, one in London and one in Liverpool. Around 250 patients from the Tavistock clinic will be transferred to the new facilities once they open.

The number of children being referred to GIDS has skyrocketed in recent years. Just 100 children were treated at GIDS centers in 2009-2010, a number that soared to 5,000 in 2021-2022. 


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