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As more research is done in the field of transgender health, it becomes increasingly hard to deny that gender-affirming care is the safest and best solution for young people struggling with gender dysphoria. However, there are still some people who – whether because of personal beliefs or misinformation – do not believe the evidence.

This is the case with a recent piece of correspondence in The Lancet from Stella O’Malley and Richard Armitage, which repeats the myth that transgender young people are more likely to regret gender-affirming care than adults. The medical community have provided two separate responses highlighting the evidence for gender-affirming care, and emphasising the need for autonomy and informed consent in the care of young people.

The first, Regret, informed decision making, and respect for autonomy of trans young people, points out that that all the longitudinal studies of trans youth show regret rates equal to or less than trans adults (around 1% or less). Furthermore, they acknowledge that all medical procedures come with a chance of regret, and that this does not impact the decision-making ability of patients – young people or adults – or the ethics of the treatment. As the facts show, regret rates for gender-affirming care are almost negligible. But what matters isn’t the regret rates, it’s that patients are given sufficient information and autonomy to provide informed consent. You can learn more about transition-related regret and ‘detransition’ in our fact-checking article here.

The second, Refusing puberty blockers to trans young people is not justified by the evidence, and addresses O’Malley and Armitage’s claims that puberty blockers are unsafe or ‘experimental’ because they are used as an unlicensed medication. The article points out that unlicensed medication use is extremely common in paediatric medicine, and that its use in transgender healthcare should not be cause for alarm. It also points out that O’Malley and Armitage’s article is poorly cited – for instance, they claim that ‘progressive’ EU countries are reneging on trans healthcare, but by way of evidence cite just a single healthcare facility in Sweden. And finally, the article makes the point that there is substantive evidence for the life-saving properties of puberty blockers and timely gender-affirming interventions, including documented reductions in self-harm and suicidality. If you want to learn more about unlicensed medication and whether it’s safe, check out our article here.

If you’ve read the research and you think that you or someone you know might benefit from puberty blockers, or from any other kind of gender-affirming care, then we’re here to help. You can find out more about our services on our website, or get in touch via our Care Centre.

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