While the debate over transgender ideology in public schools continues to rage, a leading transgender health association has altered its recommendations related to the minimum age for providing gender transition treatment for young children. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health is lowering its suggested age for medically and surgically transitioning a minor to the opposite gender. The new guidelines argue treatments like sex hormones and sex-reassignment surgeries should be started earlier in a child’s development.
The group’s update will be published in a medical journal later this year. It “promotes evidence-based standards of care and includes more than 3,000 doctors, social scientists and others involved in transgender health issues,” according to news outlet WSLS.
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) said hormones could be started at age 14, two years earlier than the group’s previous advice, and some surgeries done at age 15 or 17, a year or so earlier than previous guidance. The group acknowledged potential risks but said it is unethical and harmful to withhold early treatment.
The report further explained:
The update is based on expert opinion and a review of scientific evidence on the benefits and harms of transgender medical treatment in teens whose gender identity doesn’t match the sex they were assigned at birth, the group said. Such evidence is limited but has grown in the last decade, the group said, with studies suggesting the treatments can improve psychological well-being and reduce suicidal behavior.
Those supporting the change in the guidelines stressed that decisions related to transitioning a child should still not be made lightly and should take into account the minor’s maturity levels and decision-making abilities. Dr. Eli Coleman, director of the University of Minnesota Medical School’s human sexuality program and the chair of WPATH’s standards of care, said age is one of several factors that parents and the medical professional should consider.
“Certainly there are adolescents that do not have the emotional or cognitive maturity to make an informed decision,” he said. “That is why we recommend a careful multidisciplinary assessment.”
However, those critical of the new guidelines point out that some clinics are far too quick to foist medical and surgical procedures on their minor patience. They note that these procedures are often irreversible and should not be offered to kids who would likely outgrow their gender issues. Psychologist Erica Anderson resigned from WPATH last year, pointing to “sloppy” treatments given to minors without a sufficient level of counseling. She told WSLS that many families have told her that they did not receive the type of comprehensive assessments, guidance, and counseling that the updated recommendations suggest.
“They tell me horror stories. They tell me, ‘Our child had 20 minutes with the doctor'” before being offered hormones, she recounted. “The parents leave with their hair on fire.’’
Another important factor to consider is the percentage of children identifying as transgender vs the number of adults. From WSLS:
Estimates on the number of transgender youth and adults worldwide vary, partly because of different definitions. The association’s new guidelines say data from mostly Western countries suggest a range of between a fraction of a percent in adults to up to 8% in kids.
Anderson said she’s heard recent estimates suggesting the rate in kids is as high as 1 in 5 — which she strongly disputes. That number likely reflects gender-questioning kids who aren’t good candidates for lifelong medical treatment or permanent physical changes, she said.
The fact that the percentage of those identifying as transgender is significantly higher than that of adults is noteworthy. It raises questions as to whether many – if not most – are kids being encouraged to embrace transgenderism by counselors, educators, and peers. The possibility remains that these minors would likely outgrow their gender dysphoria over time if there are no other forces influencing them.
However, the report highlights individuals who transitioned to the opposite sex later in life but wished they had been allowed to do so earlier. “In South Carolina, where a proposed law would ban transgender treatments for kids under age 18, Eli Bundy has been waiting to get breast removal surgery since age 15. Now 18, Bundy just graduated from high school and is planning to have surgery before college,” WSLS writes.
However, there are still plenty of medical professionals who worry that the rising numbers of children receiving transgender treatment are being pushed into it too early. Dr. Julia Mason, an Oregon pediatrician, said there is a lack of strong evidence showing that transgender medical treatment is beneficial for kids. “In medicine … the treatment has to be proven safe and effective before we can start recommending it,’’ she insisted.
WPATH’s new guidelines suggest starting kids on puberty blockers in the early stages of puberty. For girls, this is between 8 and 13 years old. It is usually two years later for males. This represents no change from the organization’s previous recommendations. According to WSLS, the updated guidance also suggests:
—Sex hormones — estrogen or testosterone — starting at age 14. This is often lifelong treatment. Long-term risks may include infertility and weight gain, along with strokes in trans women and high blood pressure in trans men, the guidelines say.
—Breast removal for trans boys at age 15. Previous guidance suggested this could be done at least a year after hormones, around age 17, although a specific minimum ag wasn’t listed.
—Most genital surgeries starting at age 17, including womb and testicle removal, a year earlier than previous guidance.
If one of the most prominent international transgender health groups is lowering the recommended age for medical and surgical transgender treatments, it could have a significant impact on minors, many of whom are attending schools that encourage transgenderism without the parents’ knowledge. In many districts, teachers are instructed not to tell parents if their children might be dealing with gender dysphoria. Even further, these schools are doing their best to make sure parents are not aware of what is being taught in their kids’ classrooms.
If the left is now seeking to lower the age for transitioning minors, it will make the situation even more urgent as it will shrink the amount of time parents have to intervene, if a school decides it wants to encourage a minor to transition. This is yet another reason why more adults need to be made aware of what is happening in these schools.