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Europe begins to shift on gender medication for kids

England, National Health Service

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J-P Mauro - published on 04/14/24

Several nations in Europe have begun placing stronger restrictions on the prescription of hormones for adolescents with gender dysphoria.

Medications for treatments regarding gender dysphoria and gender transitioning are beginning to fall out of favor in some European countries, as several nations have restricted their use. While the rollback falls short of outright bans, new restrictions have made it much more difficult to procure such medications in at least five countries in Europe.

The New York Times reports on changes made to policies in England, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, The Netherlands, and Finland that would restrict access to gender affirming treatment in children. In England, the impetus for the shift was the release of a report from Dr. Hilary Cass, who has been gathering data for the last four years for her review. 

Published in an international medical journal, Dr. Cass’ report found that, in most cases, young people are not best served by seeking a “medical pathway” for the relief of gender-related distress. Furthermore, she suggested that the evidence to the contrary was “built on shaky foundations.” The report recommended “extreme caution” in prescribing hormones that produce permanent physical changes to minors. 

As a result, England’s NHS will no longer be offering puberty blocking hormones to child patients, with the exception of those involved in clinical trials. England cited lack of evidence of their benefits, as well as concerns about possible harms associated with the drugs, as reasons for the change. 

Similar restrictions have appeared in other regions of Europe as far back as 2020, when Finland made psychotherapy the primary treatment for children with gender dysphoria. Sweden too made moves to restrict hormone treatments for minors in 2022. 

In December of 2023, Norway also limited the prescription of hormones to those involved in clinical trials as well. Meanwhile, in Denmark, the public is waiting for the release of new guidelines for the administering of hormone treatments to adolescents. These guidelines are expected to come out by the end of 2024. 

None of these European nations has outright banned youth gender medicine practices, as has been the case with 22 US states. Still, this shift moves towards evidence-based medicine that seeks to learn the long-term effects of the use of hormones on adolescents.

Read more at The New York Times.

EuropeMedicinePolitics and LawTransgender
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