Are 9-year-olds ready for sex reassignment?

Boys and girls as young as 9 are being helped to change their gender at the prestigious Boston Children’s Hospital. A clinic for children who feel that they are trapped in a body with the wrong sex is being run by Dr Norman Spack, who is also an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. In an interview in the Boston Globe earlier this year, Dr Spack explained that he gives drugs to pre-pubescent children to delay the onset of sexual maturity for a few years. This allows them to make up their minds.

“Stopping puberty is, in itself, a diagnostic test,” he says. “If a girl starts to experience breast budding and feels like cutting herself, then she's probably transgendered. If she feels immediate relief on the [puberty-blocking] drugs, that confirms the diagnosis.”

Allowing children to change their sex makes them happier, says Dr Spack. And after they have hormonal treatment, they are less likely to commit suicide.

Unfortunately, a likely outcome of treatment with drugs and hormones is infertility. “You have to explain to the patients that if they go ahead, they may not be able to have children. When you're talking to a 12-year-old, that's a heavy-duty conversation. Does a kid that age really think about fertility? But if you don't start treatment, they will always have trouble fitting in. And my patients always remind me that what's most important to them is their identity.”

Dr Spack’s approach has been criticised by other doctors. “Treating these children with hormones does considerable harm and it compounds their confusion,” says Dr Paul McHugh, of Johns Hopkins University. “Trying to delay puberty or change someone’s gender is a rejection of the lawfulness of nature.” ~ Boston Globe, March 30; Fox News, May 19


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