NHS to give sex change drugs to nine-year-olds
Children as young as nine will be given controversial drugs on the NHS to prepare them for sex-swap surgery, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
The treatment, which halts the onset of adulthood, is aimed at youngsters who believe they are trapped in the wrong body. But critics accused the clinic offering the puberty- postponing injections of ‘playing God’.
‘I think many people will be horrified at the thought of a nine-year-old being provided with a drug that effectively stops them developing and maturing naturally,’ said Conservative MP Andrew Percy.
Others insisted that undisputed research shows that the vast majority of under-16s who
are troubled about their gender do not go on to take the drastic step of surgery. Many turn out to be gay, but no longer feel confused about whether they are male or female.
Although the gender treatment is reversible, there are concerns about the long-term effects on brain development, bone growth and fertility.
The drugs, known as hypothalamic blockers, stunt the development of sexual organs so less surgery is required if a child chooses to change sex after reaching adolescence.
Monthly injections into the stomach suppress the production of testosterone and oestrogen. In girls that halts the menstrual cycle and the development of breasts. In boys, they stop facial hair growing and voice changes.
Doctors at The Tavistock And Portman NHS Foundation Trust in North London have just completed a three-year trial involving 12- to 14-year-olds, assessing the ‘psychological, social and physical benefits and risks involved’.
Because the trial was deemed such a success, medics have decided to make the drugs more widely available – and to much younger children. Yet only five years ago national guidelines stated that treatment for ‘gender dysphoria’ should not start until puberty had finished.
Dr Polly Carmichael, who led the Tavistock trial, said decisions will now be based on the ‘stage’ of sexual development rather than age.
‘We’re talking about stopping puberty in the normal range of puberty, so I guess the younger age might be ten or nine,’ she said.
Asked if she expected children younger that the survey group to now come forward, she replied: ‘Yes, definitely… because some will be starting [puberty] earlier.’ TRUNews