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Florida medical board votes to ban puberty blockers, transgender surgeries for under-18s

The Florida Medical Board has voted to ban puberty blockers, hormone therapy or surgeries for all children or youth under-18 living in the State. 

The move is part of a growing shift away from a so-called  ‘gender-affirming approach’ in treating young people who are confused about their gender and who claim at a young age that they want to change their sex.

It comes as concern is being expressed internationally about the safety of the unquestioning approach, which frowned on requirements for psychiatric assessment before setting children and teens on what might end up being an irreversible course of treatment, including hormone treatments and radical surgery, including the removal of sex organs.

“Gender-affirming care” insisted that a child who presented to a medical professional seeking to change sex was entitled to have that belief affirmed without question  – and, all too often, those children later said they felt rushed into treatments and that other factors in their personal or medical history were ignored.”

There has been a huge spike in children presenting as transgender, with many commentators attributing this to a social contagion effect. In Ireland, Dr Paul Moran told the Irish Independent that 90% of the cases of children presenting with gender issues involve people with autism.

The Daily Wire reports that the Florida Medical Board meeting on October 28th lasted more than five hours and “heard from medical experts Dr. Michael Biggs, Dr. James Cantor, Dr. Riittakerttu Kaltiala, and Dr. Michael Laidlaw on the permanent effects of medical interventions for children and adolescents with gender dysphoria, and the lack of quality evidence to support their use.”

“Dr. Kristin Dayton, Dr. Aron Janssen and Dr. Meredithe McNamara testified in favor of the irreversible treatments,” they said.

Key to the hearing was a June report by Florida’s Agency of Health Care Administration which found that gender-affirming care was  “experimental and investigational”, a claim which has been validated by the experience of other jurisdictions which are now rowing back on the use of the approach.

Examining the evidence, the report found that “available medical literature provides insufficient evidence that sex reassignment through medical intervention is a safe and effective treatment for gender dysphoria.”

It was critical of claims made by what it called ‘low or very low quality’ studies which had been used by transgender activists to claim that gender-affirming approaches prevented suicide.

“Studies presenting the benefits to mental health, including those claiming that the services prevent suicide, are either low or very low quality and rely on unreliable methods such as surveys and retrospective analyses, both of which are cross-sectional and highly biased. Rather, the available evidence demonstrates that these treatments cause irreversible physical changes and side effects that can affect long-term health,” the report found.

“Five clinical and technical expert assessments attached to this report recommend against the use of such interventions to treat what is categorized as a mental health disorder,” it continued.

At the public hearing, Florida Board of Medicine Member Nicholas Romanello said that the risks of the treatments outweigh the benefits, saying these concerns were shared by the national health departments of Sweden, Finland, and England, who have all abandoned “gender-affirming” care after performing systematic reviews of the available evidence.

“I believe that based upon the testimony that we’ve heard this morning and the materials in the portal, that the risk of puberty suppressing therapies, cross-hormonal therapy and surgery, those risks outweigh the possible benefits and that there is a lack of consistent, reliable, scientific peer reviewed evidence concerning the efficacy and safety of such treatment,” Romanello said.

Dr. Michael Laidlaw, an endocrinologist in Rockland, California, cited research that found 50% to 90% of children whose gender identity isn’t consistent with their assigned sex at birth grow out of the condition by adulthood. “The basic problem with this treatment as I see it is: ‘What happens when you force a square peg into a round hole?’” he said. “You end up injuring or destroying the peg in the process,” he said.

Protesters yelled “Shame!” at the board members, while some staged a “die-in” in the lobby of the Orlando International Airport, where the public meeting was bring held.

Also giving evidence at the meeting were eight people who have ‘detransitioned’ – or gone back to their biological sex. One was Chloe Cole, who described herself as an 18-year-old detransitioned female from California, said she began transitioning at 12 and received a double mastectomy at 15. At 16, she said, she realized she regretted her transition.

“All the talk about mental health, self perception, pronouns and ideology leads me to the question, why is a mental health epidemic not being addressed with mental health treatment to get at the root causes for why female adolescents like me want to reject their bodies?” Cole said.

In Britain, after much controversy, and allegations that children who felt they were transgender were rushed into treatment, the National Health Service will warn doctors that these feelings often disappear for children as they get older, and that children should not be encouraged to change their names and pronouns.

The new draft guidance from NHS England has shifted sharply from  what some described as an unquestioning “gender affirmative” stance to now advising doctors that most children may simply be going through a “transient phase” when they say they want to change sex.

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