That’s the headline for an article in today’s NYT.
This is a long article, but here’s a short excerpt:
Over the past decade, growing numbers of medical providers have lowered the ages at which they prescribe the treatments. Today, the WPATH and Endocrine Society advise that blockers can be prescribed at the first signs of puberty and hormone treatment, in some cases, earlier than 16. The American Academy of Pediatrics says blockers can be provided anytime during puberty and hormones from “early adolescence onward.” Some doctors and researchers are concerned that puberty blockers may somehow disrupt a formative period of mental growth.
With adolescence comes critical thinking, more sophisticated self-reflection and other significant leaps in brain development. Sex hormones have been shown to affect social and problem-solving skills. It’s believed that brain growth is connected to gender identity, but research in these areas is still very new.
In a 2020 paper, 31 psychologists, neuroscientists and hormone experts from around the world urged more study of the effects of blockers on the brain. “If the brain is expecting to receive those hormones at a certain time and doesn’t, what happens?” said Dr. Sheri Berenbaum, head of a gender research lab at Penn State, and one of the authors of the paper. “We don’t know.”
The physicians in the Amsterdam clinic, where the treatment began, have lowered their minimum ages for starting blockers and hormones. But they are very cautious in selecting patients. “Our concern is always: When is gender identity fixed or not fluid anymore? And when do you fully understand the lifelong consequences of such treatment?” said Dr. Annelou de Vries, head therapist at the clinic.