This is slightly older news, yet relevant to the New Zealand situation. Especially in the light of the Rivers & Abigail report “Another Unfortunate Experiment”.
For many years the UK’s NHS official website published information on the safety and reversibility of puberty blockers. As of June 8th this advice has changed.
The old statement read:
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.
Some of the changes that take place during puberty are driven by hormones. For example, the hormone testosterone, which is produced by the testes in boys, helps stimulate penis growth.
GnRH analogues suppress the hormones produced by your child’s body. They also suppress puberty and can help delay potentially distressing physical changes caused by their body becoming even more like that of their biological sex, until they’re old enough for the treatment options discussed below.
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.
As of June 8 2020 a new statement is different both in content and tone, highlighting rather than underplaying risks:
These hormone blockers (gonadotrophin-releasing hormone analogues) pause the physical changes of puberty, such as breast development or facial hair.
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.
The NHS has offered no information to the public on exactly why their advice has changed. However it’s reasonable to say that the authors of the NHS position would have been unable to ignore Keira Bell’s legal action the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, Oxford professor Micheal Biggs research on the experimental nature of blocker treatment, and the recent BBC documentary on the subject, itself spurred by Bigg’s research.
The authors may even have been disturbed by the lawsuit against it’s gender clinic by the clinic’s own safeguarding officer.
The authors may even be aware of the growing number of detransitioners and the existence of detransitioner online communities.
The lawsuit of Keira Bell opened up the possibility of serious censure against the NHS, including legal rulings confirming the NHS to be running poorly-evidenced treatment on children. Or even confirming the experimental nature of the use of blockers.
The New Zealand Ministry Of Health continues to advise that puberty blockers are “safe and fully reversible” as of September 29 2020. From their website page titled Transgender New Zealanders: Children and young people :
It’s impossible to say whether or not there is any introspection happening within NZ’s Ministry of Health. In the absence of any internal reflection within the ministry, a range of negative outcomes are likely. Some outcomes are negative for the ministry itself, some for those in it’s care.
In a worst-case scenario for the ministry, young people who have been subject to chemically-induced endocrine disruption within the public health system and later experience regret may take legal action against the ministry itself.
In worst-case scenario for an individual, a young person subject to such a treatment may be unable to take action against the ministry at all. This could be result of lack of resources, or simply being unwilling to be subject to the possible trauma incurred in a public action. In this case awareness of the damage would be limited to the young person and their immediate community.
The NHS newly stated position is affirming yet cautious and has effectively stopped leaning on platitude. The more reassuring tone of the older message simply had a poor basis in evidence. It would be a positive action for the New Zealand Ministry to follow the lead of the NHS.