Banning the Blockers (Bernard Lane, 25 Mar 2024, Quillette)

Gender clinics from Stockholm to San Francisco, from Florence to Melbourne, have been running an uncontrolled experiment on children, while cloaked in the mantle of human rights and denouncing any critics as hateful bigots. It will take time to understand the implications of this experiment. Even those gender clinicians who sold blockers as safe have generally acknowledged one dangerous side-effect: low bone density. Hormone-suppressed teenagers are unlikely to get full benefit of the surge in bone mass that comes with puberty; as a result, they may be prematurely exposed to the brittle bones and fractures normally seen in the elderly. And there is another lesser known but potentially more profound risk: the effects of blockers on the brain.

The NHS decision to ban blockers rested heavily on a 2022 interim report by paediatrician Hilary Cass, who has led an independent review of gender dysphoria care. In her report, she writes,

It is known that adolescence is a period of significant changes in brain structure, function and connectivity. Animal research suggests that this development is partially driven by the [natural] pubertal sex hormones, but it is unclear whether the same is true in humans. If pubertal sex hormones are essential to these brain maturation processes, this raises a secondary question of whether there is a critical time window for the processes to take place, or whether catch up is possible when [cross-sex] oestrogen or testosterone is introduced later.

This question is not new. In 2006, Dutch clinicians, who had pioneered the off-label use of puberty blockers for gender dysphoria—these drugs had previously been used for other, distinct conditions—stated that, “It is not clear yet how pubertal suppression will influence brain development.”

There was talk of a study to elucidate this, but it was never carried out. Despite this, by 2016, a key Dutch clinician was claiming that puberty blockers were “completely reversible.”

And this was the slogan picked up by gender clinics around the world as they adopted the puberty blocker-driven “Dutch protocol” for paediatric gender transition. A crucial unknown had been memory-holed.

Eugenics is science too.