Suppose a troubled teen girl “identifies” as a boy and wants to change her body to match it. Most people balk at the thought of pumping her with testosterone or cutting off her healthy breasts. But many of these same people think using puberty blockers isn’t so bad for even younger kids. In fact, activist groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics suggest drugs like Lupron can “pause” puberty without harm.
Even some conservative lawmakers, such as Georgia state Sen. Carden Summers, have bought this claim. As a result, the bill he sponsored, just signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp, partially restricts “gender-affirming” hormones and surgeries for minors but says nothing about puberty blockers.
Is it really safe to give these drugs to kids? Mounting evidence says “no.” And even some on the left are starting to sound the alarm.
Last month, a stunning report in the British Medical Journal, written by a former editor of Ms. Magazine, argued that only a contrived medical consensus, not scientific evidence, props up wrongly named “gender-affirming care” for minors. That’s the protocol that starts with social transition, moves on to puberty blockers, then wrong-sex hormones, and finally surgery. The article pointed to disagreement within the medical community about how to best treat kids with gender dysphoria. Indeed, the publication of such an article, in a major medical journal, is itself evidence of such disagreement.
Two weeks earlier, Jamie Reed, a self-identified “queer socialist” married to a “transman,” blew the whistle on the work of the Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. She confirmed what critics have long been saying: These treatments are uncontrolled experiments with children as subjects.
Lupron Consider Lupron. First approved by the FDA to treat prostate cancer, doctors later used the drug to chemically castrate sex offenders and stop early-onset puberty.
Today, it’s the primary “off-label” drug used to “block” puberty. Lupron stops the body’s normal hormonal process, including the development of ovaries and testes, by “blocking” the brain’s ability to communicate with the pituitary gland. The pituitary controls the release of hormones. Without it, the sex hormones can’t direct puberty as they otherwise would.
Lupron’s side effects are so severe that doctors tend not to prescribe it for even mild (non-metastatic) cases of prostate cancer. Would you be shocked to learn it might not be great for young girls, either? In fact, after taking the drug, girls may develop osteoporosis and osteopenia, problems that mostly afflict older women. Many doctors found that Lupron decreased minors’ bone density so much that they could no longer recommend it.
Not Reversible Some gender-activist doctors will admit their guidance is not based on long-term studies. Rather, they claim it’s based on expert consensus.
But that consensus is highly stage-managed. Because of the known dangers and lack of long-term data, the Finnish, French, and Swedish governments have either banned or limited Lupron’s use for minors. Similarly, the British National Health Service now urges caution, and argues most gender-confused minors are going through a “transient phase.”
The report in the British Medical Journal shows this regimen for minors is not based on sound science. The Endocrine Society found that little evidence supports its own guidance regarding Lupron. The Swedish government confirms Lupron does not help these minors. In fact, it “may lead to a deteriorating of health and quality of life,” and can cause irreversible harm.
When used for minors with gender distress, over 95 percent will move on to cross-sex hormones and never go through natural puberty. Even when puberty blockers are discontinued, their dangers to a child’s development don’t disappear. After all, no one can reverse time. It’s no surprise New Zealand’s ministry of health recently scrubbed the words “reversible” from its online discussion of puberty blockers.
Jamie Reed’s firsthand testimony is damning. Patients in Reed’s clinic could access hormone blockers after only one meeting with a therapist. Some of these minors had severe mental illnesses that went untreated. Instead, they were fast-tracked with transgender drugs toward transition surgeries.
States Start to Respond Fortunately, the word is getting out. Some states are now restricting these weapons in the “gender-affirming” arsenal. Since 2022, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Iowa have passed legislation to restrict Lupron as a puberty blocker. (Alabama and Arkansas’ bans are on hold in federal district court.) Several more states will likely do so in the coming weeks.
Florida followed another path to ban this use of Lupron. The state’s medical boards reviewed the literature and found these transition procedures lacked a solid scientific basis. The legislature is now working to secure their boards’ judgment in law.
Other states should follow Florida’s lead and pass health policies and laws that follow scientific evidence, not the activists’ spin. Until this happens, troubled children will continue to be sacrificed on the altar of toxic ideology.
Samuel Silvestro is a member of The Heritage Foundation’s Young Leadership Program. Jay W. Richards is the director of Heritage’s DeVos Center for Life, Religion, and Family. American Academy of PediatricsBrian KempBritish Medical JournalCarden Summerscross-gender hormonescross-sex hormonesFDAFDA approvalgender-activistgender-affirming careGov. Brian KemphormonesJamie ReedLupronMs. magazineNew Zealandprostate cancerSen. Carden SummersWashington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital
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