About half of European Union member countries ban cross-sex surgeries for minors, and Finland, Sweden and the U.K. have taken decisive steps back from childhood gender transitions amid growing concern about the procedures’ safety and effectiveness.
Child gender transitions, including medications and surgeries, are legal throughout most of the U.S. and have strong support from President Joe Biden and other political leaders; efforts to restrict the treatments for minors have been met with fierce backlash from politicians and the medical establishment.
While the childhood gender medicine industry continues apace in the U.S., several countries in Europe are taking steps to limit children’s access to these irreversible procedures.
Sweden’s National Board of Health updated its guidance on children with gender dysphoria on Dec. 16 and called for strong caution regarding medical interventions, particularly mastectomies, pointing to a lack of research on the procedures.
France’s Academy of Medicine urged “great medical caution” in administering cross-sex treatments to minors in February, pointing to the rapid increase in transgender identification among adolescents, the psychological vulnerability of these patients and the harmful consequences of the medical interventions.
Finland broke with the affirmation model even earlier: in 2020 the country announced that psychotherapy, rather than biomedical interventions such as puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones, should be the first line of response to children with gender dysphoria.
In the European Union, 13 countries allow minors to request sex reassignment surgeries, two allow it at 16 and older and 13 do not allow it for minors.
I explain WPATH’s recent about-face and evidence that American gender docs who claim that the U.S. is following the Dutch protocol are dishonest or incompetent. I also summarize some key differences between the Dutch and affirmative approaches. https://t.co/axQllOjvCl
— Leor Sapir (@LeorSapir) December 6, 2022
Recently updated guidance from the U.K.’s National Health Service called for psychological support to be the primary intervention for children with gender dysphoria, shifting away from the model that’s popular in America in which providers automatically affirm a child’s transgender status and offer biomedical interventions.
The move came after an independent review of the Gender Identity Development Service at the London Tavistock Clinic found that the service was rushing young patients onto puberty blockers and not adequately safeguarding children, prompting the government to shut down the clinic and replace it with smaller, mental health-focused centers.
The U.K.’s decision drew a furious response from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, which claimed restrictions on child gender gender transitions constituted “gatekeeping” which would “likely to cause enormous harm and exacerbate the higher rates of suicidality.”
“These children have suffered life-changing and, in some cases, irreversible effects of the treatment they received which has resulted in long-term physical and psychological consequences for them,” Tom Goodhead, CEO of a law firm bringing a suit against Tavistock, told the Daily Caller News Foundation in August.
“We must not shut down debate on account of a fear of discussing gender identity, and those responsible must be held accountable.”
The NHS and the health departments of Sweden and Finland did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.