Should Children Experiencing Gender Dysphoria Get Hormone Blockers?


3 years ago



Abigail Shrier

2 appearances

Abigail Shrier is an independent journalist and author. Her latest book is "Bad Therapy: Why the Kids Aren't Growing Up." Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


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As you're examining this, have you gone back and forth on this? Have you had opinions that you abandoned? Yeah. Yeah. So I'll tell you one. The one that I think I really struggled with, or that surprised me big time, was people always try to get me to say it's child abuse, to put your kid down, puberty blockers and whatnot. It's child abuse, the parents are committing child abuse. And I don't say that. And I don't say that for a reason. Because I've interviewed the parents. And once you interview parents of kids, parents who have transitioned their kids, you start talking to them and you realize that they thought they were doing what was right for their kid. They were really scared. They didn't know. They're very concerned. I mean, they're worried. And they've been encouraged by mental health professionals who should have been looking out for the child that if you don't do this, your child could kill herself or himself. And that's terrifying. And sometimes I'll bring up the risks with them and they won't have heard about them. I'll say, but just checking with you, what about the long term? Maybe you're foreclosing orgasm. If your kid goes through all this and goes on that to testosterone and then gets the surgeries because they never went through normal puberty, they may never experience orgasm. What about that? And they'll never have heard of that. Or we're putting so many capacities at risk. Well, there's a real problem with the way people are willing to discuss things that they're not willing to in any way address the negative aspects of transitioning. And one of the things about hormone blockers that drove me mad was they were trying to say that you could put a child on hormone blockers and if the child changed their mind, there would be no problem whatsoever. Well, they've reversed that. They've reversed that in England. In England, they've reversed that. Reversed in America too. Very recently, there was something that got released where they were saying, well, this is absolutely not true. Well, this is something that people have said over and over again, progressive people in particular. Right. Totally neutral intervention. That's what they've said. Yeah. Hey, let me relieve you of any of the stress about this because we know that there'll be no problem at all. You can transition right back. But you can't. That's not true. It'll affect your development. That's right. And hormones shower the brain. And there's right. I've talked to a lot of experts, but I've also talked to parents who were never told about this. And so I don't blame them. I just... But then if you're a parent, how do you know whether your kid is in this contagion, as you put it, or your kid is actually trans? How do you know? How would anyone know? How would the person that's transitioning themselves, how would they know? Right. So there's symptoms in the DSM that have evolved persistent, consistent, insistent, severe discomfort. And a two-year-old and four-year-old doesn't keep his feelings to himself. If he hates being a boy, insists that he's really a girl, is punching his penis and whatever. It's not something parents aren't going to know. Okay. But isn't that a generalization? Because people vary widely in the way they deal with things that bother them. Right. So I think that the DSM is a list of generalizations about different mental health disorders and different afflictions. Right. But that, when you're talking about a boy hating their penis and the way they react, they'll let you know. Can everybody let you know when they're in agony or in pain or? Kids, preschool age kids are pretty in a typical family where there's not been abused or mistrust or whatever. Kids pretty much announce, in my experience, announce almost everything. I mean, they're really, oh, I hate this. Whatever. It's not the kind of thing a parent won't know. But do you think that kids should be on hormone blockers? I have never, look, I'm a journalist. So I explored, I talked to everybody and I explore every side of every issue. And I think that hormone blockers are really significant interventions. They can be dangerous. We don't fully have a handle on the long term effects. But am I someone who believes they should be totally banned? I have never said that. I've never taken that position because a lot of psychologists that I really respect haven't said that. A lot of doctors that I respect haven't said that there's no one they could help. Could you imagine that those doctors and psychologists would be in fear of expressing that they don't think it's a good idea the same way you were discussing? Therapists will secretly talk to you about the problems of them expressing themselves honestly. Right. I mean, this is how I see it. Like, say there's one kid who could be helped by puberty blockers. Until, I mean, I explored a lot of these issues with a lot of people. Psychologists, I respect people who've been very open on a lot of this stuff. Until they tell me there's no children who could ever be helped by puberty blockers. I'm not someone who will come out in favor of a band, a banding. I understand. But that begs the question, how would one know whether your kid is the kid that could benefit from puberty blockers versus one who you really should just let become an adult and go through all the various changes that children go through? Remember that most kids outgrow this. So not right. So not doing anything, not doing a major intervention is probably in many cases a totally safe bet. In other words, you don't have to go in there and immediately, I mean, part of what's crazy about our age is we think the moment you're in our kids are in distress, we need to medicate them. They can never be upset. Right? We are pushing this accommodation of every discomfort and every right, everything our kids say.