There is a complex set of factors for determining if a person is transgender. While science hasn’t nailed down the exact physiological and neurological markers to determine what makes a person have gender distress, there is no doubt that it exists. If individuals identify with a different gender than they were born, it is no one’s right to prevent them from remedying it. That being said, should young children who feel they may be in gender distress be given sex change drugs — by the government?
Regardless of how you feel in regard to the question above, the fact is that it is happening. More than 800 children in the United Kingdom — some as young as 10 — are now being given these controversial sex change drugs.
Britain’s National Health Service is prescribing children powerful hormone injections which halt the development of sex organs, breasts, and body hair. These drugs are meant to keep children in a prepubescent state so they can be easier to operate on when they become adults.
It is safe to assume that children can know that they identify with a different sex than they were born. However, it is also safe to assume that some children may be mistaking these feelings for something else and could change their minds several times before becoming a physical adult.
The Daily Mail reported on a transgender girl who says that had she not been given these hormone injections, she would have killed herself.
Teenager Llyr Jones has been taking puberty-blocking drugs for the past six months.
The 17-year-old told how she was desperate to be prescribed the injections to end the agony she was going through as her body began to change into that of an adult man.
Llyr, from Aberystwyth in Mid-Wales, said if the physical transformations that came with puberty had been allowed to continue, she would have been pushed to take her own life.
‘In all honesty, if I hadn’t been allowed to be on the blockers and start my transition, I’m sure I wouldn’t be here now,’ she said.
Jones was in gender distress and these drugs could’ve very well saved her life. However, she is almost twice as old as some of the other children being given these same drugs.
As the Mail reports, more than 600 young people are undergoing treatment at the Gender Identity Development Service clinic at University College Hospital in London, and a further 200 at a clinic in Leeds. The MoS has been told that 230 of those 800 are under the age of 14.
For some reason, in 2014, the government removed the age limit for hormone therapy, which was 16. Now, doctors can give these drugs to third and fourth graders and have even considered its use in children as young as 9.
In Britain, the government thinks people aren’t smart enough to make their own decisions on many fronts. For example, they think people should have to wait until they are 18 before they can drink or smoke. However, that same government will give children life changing medication if they claim to identify with a different gender. As professor of psychiatry Paul McHugh writes:
We frequently hear from neuroscientists that the adolescent brain is too immature to make reliably rational decisions.
But we are supposed to expect emotionally troubled adolescents to make decisions about their gender identities and about serious medical treatments at the age of 12 or younger.
As the Mail notes, Mary Douglas, a spokeswoman for Grassroots Conservatives campaign group, said: “Adolescence is the age when you’re in a turmoil because you’re trying to work out who you are and gender is a big part of that.
“So to introduce such powerful medication into that is unwise.
“This drastic notion that we should change our gender should be a last resort. Caution needs to be the watchword for everyone engaged in this, including doctors.”
“These kids are not old enough to make life-changing decisions that will affect them for the rest of their lives. It’s unethical to pursue this line of treatment with children who cannot possibly understand what they’re doing,” Stephanie Davies-Arai, of Transgender Trend, a parent group concerned about the rise of children identifying as the opposite sex said.
However, Professor Gary Butler, the lead clinician for the gender identity service in London and Leeds, disagrees. He says that these drugs can help transgender children who may have distress from puberty.
But puberty itself, even for non-transgenders, is distressing. Some of these children may be misguided and not be transgender at all, but they are given these powerful drugs anyway.
Also, as McHugh points out, “most children who identify as the opposite sex will eventually come to identify as their biological sex.”
Until much more is known about gender dysphoria, and until controlled clinical trials of puberty-suppression are carried out, this intervention should be considered experimental.
Regardless of the good intentions of the physicians and parents, to expose young people to such treatments is to endanger them.