Nations think twice over ‘affirmation-only’ transgender model

Countries around the world are beginning to take steps to protect children from radical medical interventions that can cause irreversible harm to children who suffer gender dysphoria.

The 202-year-old National Academy of Medicine in France on Feb. 28 called for medical practitioners to exercise “the greatest caution” in administering puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones to French youth struggling with gender dysphoria.

In a statement addressing transgender treatments for children, the academy acknowledged an “epidemic-like phenomenon” among adolescents seeking transgender medical interventions — puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and invasive surgeries — which it said could be tied to social media usage and social contagion. It advised more psychological support and said medical workers who administer hormone treatments should consider the side effects, including growth impact, bone weakening, sterility, emotional and intellectual consequences, and for girls, menopause-like symptoms. Medical workers should emphasize that surgeries such as mastectomies or genitalia-altering procedures are irreversible, the academy wrote.

Sweden has also urged caution.

On Feb. 22, following a review of scientific evidence, Sweden’s Board of Health and Welfare released long-awaited guidelines for the care of gender dysphoric children. The government agency said “uncertain science and new knowledge” had prompted it to recommend restraint in using hormone treatments except in “exceptional cases.” It advised psychological and psychiatric support as the first line of treatment. The board said it could not explain a 1,500 percent increase in gender dysphoria diagnoses among 13- to 17-year-old girls between 2008 and 2018.

In England the National Health Scheme has begun to question the rush to medical interventions with a review finding that health practitioners “feel under pressure to adopt an unquestioning affirmative approach … at odds with the standard process of clinical assessment and diagnosis”.

While the major clinics in the USA and Australia continue to use the “affirmation-only” model, the Melbourne-based Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists recently released a statement prioritising mental health evaluations over the “affirmation only” approach.

In Texas, the governor has even labelled the “affirmation-only” model as abuse and has demanded child agencies investigate.

Binary spokeswoman, Kirralie Smith, said it is encouraging news.

“The ‘affirmation-only’ model is aggressively promoted despite it including a political ideological agenda that does not have the best interests of the children at heart,” she said.

“Some aspects of this model contain irreversible consequences for children.

“There are other avenues and treatments that practitioners must be permitted to pursue according to their professional training and expertise to ensure children receive the best possible care available.”