"Every consumer has the right to the information that a reasonable consumer, in that consumer's circumstances, would expect to receive."
- The Ministry of Health must remove descriptions of puberty blockers as "safe and fully reversible".
- Medical professionals must provide all relevant information on puberty blockers to parents, including the risk of negative impacts on cognitive function.
The Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights specifies the right of parents of children with gender dysphoria to be fully informed to the potential harms of puberty suppression.
Three groups of medical experts have reviewed the evidence for the efficacy and safety of puberty blockers.
- Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford (CEBM).
- The UK's National Health Service (NHS).
- Finland's Council for Choices in Health Care (COHERE Finland).
All of these expert groups highlight the lack of evidence and potential for negative impacts on cognition. The following sections highlight statements from these groups:
Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine
BBC's Panorama investigative programme asked the CEBM to review the research on puberty blockers. Professors Heneghan and Jefferson published a summary of their findings on the British Medical Journal's blog(emphasis added):
"An Archive of Diseases in Childhood letter referred to [puberty blocking] treatment as a momentous step in the dark. It set out three main concerns: 1) young people are left in a state of ‘developmental limbo’ without secondary sexual characteristics that might consolidate gender identity; 2) use is likely to threaten the maturation of the adolescent mind, and 3) puberty blockers are being used in the context of profound scientific ignorance."
"The development of these interventions should, therefore, occur in the context of research, and treatments for under 18 gender dysphoric children and adolescents remain largely experimental. There are a large number of unanswered questions that include the age at start, reversibility; adverse events, long term effects on mental health, quality of life, bone mineral density, osteoporosis in later life and cognition. We wonder whether off label use is appropriate and justified for drugs such as spironolactone which can cause substantial harms and even death. We are also ignorant of the long-term safety profiles of the different [cross-sex hormone] regimens. The current evidence base does not support informed decision making and safe practice in children."
UK's National Health Service
The NHS states the following on their website (emphasis added):
"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."
Finland's Council for Choices in Health Care
COHERE published advice on the medical treatment of gender dysphoric minors in June 2020:
"Potential risks of [puberty blocking] treatment include impaired bone mineralization and as yet unknown central nervous system effects. In transgender work, early inhibition of puberty affects penis growth so that other tissue grafts have to be used for possible subsequent vaginoplasty. The effect of pubertal inhibition and conversion hormones on fertility is unknown."
(translated by Google Translate)
Ministry of Health
The Ministry has a responsibility to provide accurate medical information. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Health website has the following inaccurate statement on puberty blockers (emphasis added):
"Blockers are a safe and fully reversible medicine that may be used from early puberty through to later adolescence to help ease distress and allow time to fully explore gender health options."
We have emailed the Ministry and asked them to remove this statement as they advise members of the public to do but have not received a response.
Conclusions and Further Information
Request the Minister of Health uphold the right to accurate medical information:
We believe that medical professionals must advise parents and patients on the following potential harms of blockers to comply with the Code of Rights:
- Negative impacts on mental health (summary available).
- Permanent losses to cognitive function (summary available)
- Bone mineral loss (work in progress).
- When combined with cross-sex hormones, the treatment can lead to a lifetime loss of fertility and sexual function (work in progress).