Gender dysphoria and its effects on the adolescent brain

gender dysphoria and its effects of the adolescent brain

Experts claim the transgender move has contributed to a 236 per cent surge in the number of kids wanting to change sex in the past three years.

Given the recent reports in the Daily Telegraph that teachers are on the look out for potential transgender children, it is a timely reminder to go back to basics and look at the issue of gender dysphoria and the effects on the adolescent brain.

Children are assessed­ - and, as early as six, can undergo stage one gender affirmation sessions including swapping names and clothes. Stage two of treatment, from age 11, can involve the use of puberty blocking drugs. Stage three is irreversible cross-sex hormone treatment and surgery — of which the youngest patients­ have been 15.

Since 2017, children seeking irreversible treatment, which includes hormone treatment, for gender dysphoria are required to consult with their doctor before deciding when they should start hormone treatment. The type of hormone treatment will depend on whether or not you have been through puberty yet. It will be supervised by a specialist in hormonal treatment. Depending on your age, you may need permission from your parents and legal authorities to go ahead.

A psychiatrist reported to the Australian that he was yet to be convinced that young people have the capacity to fully understand the serious, irreversible, lifelong health risks of hormonal treatment to change their sex.

Western Sydney University Professor of Paediatrics John Whitehall said, "gender identity support experts in schools were creating more problems and more confused children."

Professor Whitehall said children should not even be allowed to undergo stage one treatment before age 18:

Blockers and cross-sex hormones cause structural alterations in the brain. No one knows the long-term effects. Their use in treating childhood gender dysphoria is utterly experimental. There is no reliable evidence of long-term benefit to recipient children. Most will grow out of gender dysphoria by puberty. So why medicalise the confusion?

Professor Whitehall believes there is strong evidence that blockers and cross sex hormones cause structural alterations in the brain. He said many of the nerve cells that produce GnRH were connected to neurons in widespread parts of the brain that are fundamental to executive, behavioural and emotional control.

Adolescence is the developmental epoch during which children become adults – intellectually, physically, hormonally, and socially. Adolescence is a tumultuous time, full of changes and transformations

The maturation of the adolescent brain is also influenced by heredity, environment, and sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone), which play a crucial role in myelination.

Furthermore, physical, mental, economical, and psychological stress; drug abuse (caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol); and sex hormones including estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone can influence the development and maturation of the adolescent brain

Brett Murray, Author and CEO of Make Bullying History Foundation states:

As a teen your Brain is only half developed! Your frontal Lobe called the cerebral cortex and your temporal Lobes called the Hippocampus and Amygdala are only half way through developing. Guys ours won’t complete development until 25, girls you’re a little quicker at 22. These areas of the brain deal with things such as complex human emotion, complex thought processing, impulse control, fear recognition and response, and memory function.

The fact remains that brain development continues throughout adolescence and any puberty blockers blockage may incur irreversible potential damage.

At the Budget Estimates Portfolio Committee No.2 hearing today, I asked the Minister for Health, The Hon. Brad Hazzard MP:

Do you support the use of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormone therapy in children where their brain is still undergoing massive development? How many children under 10 years of age have been referred to gender clinics in NSW? Of those, how many children under 10 have been prescribed puberty blockers or cross-sex hormone therapy?

The Minister replied, "It is it a very challenging situation for families and a whole continuum of essentially clinical decisions, however as the Minister I do not get involved in those clinical decisions."

I reminded the Minister he is the Minister for Health and it is within his responsibilities to monitor clinical decisions. The Minister has taken my questions on notice and will reply to the Committee within 21 days.