What Cass review says about surge in children seeking gender services (Andrew Gregory, Tobi Thomas and Amelia Gentleman, 10 Apr 2024, The Guardian)

A systematic review highlighted by the Cass report found that use of social media was associated with body image concerns. Numerous other studies cited by the report implicate smartphone and social media use in mental distress and suicidality among young people, particularly girls.

All showed a clear dose-response relationship: the more hours spent online, the greater the effect.

The report suggests that although the impact of societal influences on a child’s gender expression remains unclear, it’s clear that the influences of a child’s peers are “very powerful during adolescence”.

Although the report does not specifically state that girls are affected by social and cultural influences, such as peer pressure, more than boys, and so too their gender expression, other evidence has suggested this is the case.

Several studies have implied that girls are more affected by peer pressure than boys, and are more likely to develop a negative body image during adolescence.

Another societal influence that the report references as possibly having an impact on a young person’s gender expression includes information on gender dysmorphia and gender expression found online.

More specifically, a focus group of gender-questioning young people and their parents who spoke to the review said that they often found online information “that describes normal adolescent discomfort as a possible sign of being trans and that particular influencers have had a substantial impact on their child’s beliefs and understanding of their gender”.

One gender-questioning young person is quoted in the report affirming this view, saying a “lot of trans people make YouTube videos, which I think is a major informational source for a lot of people, and that’s mainly where I get my information from, not so much professional services”.

We don’t pretend that their anorexia is merely a lifestyle choice.

NHS pauses transgender clinic appointments for minors after review: ‘Extreme caution’ (Ryan Foley 11 April 2024, Christianity Today)

Chaired by Dr. Hilary Cass, the retired former president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, the report lays out the recommendations from the NHS England Policy Working Group as to practices medical professionals should follow when ministering to youth with gender dysphoria in the future.

Participants in the NHS England Policy Working Group include endocrinologists, psychologists, individuals who have experienced gender dysphoria, a child psychiatrist, an academic ethicist as well as several NHS employees.

The review was commissioned following the exponential increase in the number of youth seeking treatment for gender dysphoria over the past decade-plus, as well as concerns about the long-term impacts of prescribing puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones on trans-identified children.

“The reality is that we have no good evidence on the long-term outcomes of interventions to manage gender-related distress,” Cass wrote in an introduction to the report.

Better late than never.