A new study by the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has found that young trans people face a greater of suicide but puberty blockers can be “life-saving”.
Published in medical journal Pediatrics, the research found that having access to puberty blockers reduces the likelihood of trans teens experiencing mental health problems and thoughts of suicide.
These drugs delay the onset of puberty until a trans teenager is old enough to decide on medical treatment.
The research coincides with a handful of US states considering restrictions on transgender health care. Such restrictions would go against medical guidelines from several associations, including the Endocrine Society, which suggests doctors offer “pubertal suppression therapy”, which became an option in the US in 1998.
Dr Michelle Forcier, an associate professor of paediatrics at Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, who was not part of the study, said:
“Historically we have known the puberty blockers are safe and effective and this is totally reversible, so the benefits far outweigh any risk. It is sort of a no-brainer to make these available in these circumstances.”
Forcier added that parents who have reservations about puberty blockers should be reminded that it could be a “life-saving option”.“By not allowing their child to use these drugs, that is not a neutral option,” said Forcier. “This is why this paper is so important. This access is associative into adulthood and is important for safety. We know that access can offer protective effects. This is something that will help a parent keep their child safe.”
Pennsylvania paediatrician Dr Rachel Levine said the study was the first to show the link between access to puberty blockers and a decrease in suicidality. “It is very important for medical professionals to understand scientific studies like this,” Levine said.
“It is also critically important as far as policy,” she said, “that policy makers do not get in the way of medical standards of care.”
If you know of or are concerned about anyone who may be at risk of suicide there are places that can help.
The Rainbow Hub
A local point of contact for LGBT+ people in Brighton seeking up to date help, information or guidance in a safe, non-judgemental environment. Their website includes helpline numbers for people in crisis and a “knowledge base” of LGBT+ organisations.