Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) could give drugs to children as young as nine to prepare them for sex-change surgery, the Mail on Sunday reports. The treatment, which halts puberty, will be aimed at children who believe they are the wrong gender.
Doctors at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust have completed a three-year trial involving 12- and 14-year-olds in which they assessed the “psychological, social and physical benefits and risks involved” in using the drugs.
The trial was deemed such a success that the drugs will now be rolled out across the country, and given to different age groups.
Dr Polly Carmichael, chief doctor of the trial, said decisions about when to administer the drug will depend on the ‘stage’ of sexual development of the child. She said: “We’re talking about stopping puberty in the normal range of puberty, so I guess the younger age might be ten or nine.”
Scientists have found that puberty is starting earlier in Western children. The average age for American girls is now nine years and ten months, a year earlier than 15 years ago.
Critics have blasted the decision as “playing God”, however. Conservative MP Andrew Percy told the Mail on Sunday: “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.”
Fellow Conservative Mark Pritchard added: “With competing NHS resources, especially for life-saving cancer drugs, there needs to be an immediate investigation into why these drugs are being prescribed to those so young.”
There are also concerns that pre-pubescent children are far to young to know whether they are really transgender. Professor Anne Dreger, a leading bioethicist, said: “Putting children on puberty-blocking hormones, may, for some, cement the idea that they are transgender when perhaps they are not.”
Another public figure, who declined to be named, told the Mail on Sunday that liberals may be too eager to label children who don’t fit in as transgender: “This is about policing the behaviour of little girls and boys.
“So tomboys and boys who like to play with dolls are immediately seen as transgender. All the liberals think they are supporting transgender rights with this, but what they are really doing is mutilating healthy bodies to help people “fit in”.”
The drugs involved are called hypothalamic blockers. One of the most popular varieties is Gonapeptyl, which is £82 per dose. Possible side effects include rashes, asthma, ovarian cysts and depression.