A 2022 study confirms that GnRH analogues can be given to trans adolescents without it increasing the chance of them taking gender-affirming hormones later in life.

JAMA Network’s Study

In November 2022, the JAMA Network released a study demonstrating that GnRH analogues (gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogues) do not impact the likelihood of trans adolescents taking gender-affirming hormones later in life. The study examined whether there was an association between gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogues and the subsequent use of gender-affirming hormones among trans and gender diverse adolescents.

In the US, almost 2% of high school students identify as trans. More more and more trans children and adolescents are now seeking gender affirming healthcare. Trans and gender diverse youth also experience mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideations at a higher risk. This is likely due to gender dysphoria, societal pressures to conform, and family rejection. A way to alleviate these thoughts and improve mental health is through hormone blockers.

GnRH Analogues

GnRH analogues are a type of medication that helps the gonads – testes and/or ovaries – stop producing sex hormones. They are used as hormone blockers. Usually, trans and gender diverse adolescents who desire delaying their puberty and halting the development of secondary sex characteristics, as its effects would cause more gender dysphoria, take GnRH analogues. The use of these hormone blockers is also more common among trans people who were assigned male at birth. However, adults and people who were assigned female at birth can also take them. Puberty blockers, such as GnRH analogue treatment, in younger patients is reversible.

Previous research has shown that almost all (96.5%-98.1%) trans adolescents who have started taking GnRH analogues will later start gender-affirming hormones. This study was conducted to understand whether taking GnRH analogues as young adults would lead to an increased chance of them also taking gender-affirming hormones. However, this study found that GnRH analogue use during puberty not only improves trans adolescents’ mental health but it also confirmed that there was no association for the subsequent use of gender-affirming hormones.

The study’s findings

JAMA’s study consisted of 434 adolescents. It collected records between the years 2009 and 2018 and completed the final analysis in August 2022. The adolescents were between the ages of 10 and 17 and the majority were assigned female at birth. The study examined young people who were diagnosed with gender dysphoria and who were prescribed puberty blockers, compared to young people who also had a diagnosis of gender dysphoria but were not prescribed blockers.

This study demonstrates that there is no connection between taking GnRH analogues and the following use of gender-affirming hormones in trans and gender diverse adolescents. Therefore, it is safe to state that healthcare professionals do not need to have any concerns relating to excessive future gender-affirming hormone use. GnRH analogues should continue to be taken at a young age to prevent more gender dysphoria and improve trans people’s overall well-being.