‘We were wrong’: Canadian doctor says puberty blockers not ‘safe’ or ‘reversible’

by WorldTribune Staff, March 16, 2023

A doctor who helped pioneer “gender affirming care” in Canada is now questioning the safety of and ability to reverse puberty blockers.

Dr. Susan Bradley, who founded the Child and Adolescent Gender Identity clinic in Toronto, Canada in 1975 and began to issue puberty blockers to children around the early 2000s, said she regrets that the clinic had participated in the administration of puberty blockers for gender dysphoria, which she now believes can cement a child’s sense of confusion out of which they would likely otherwise grow. She also expressed concern about the drugs’ side effects.

Evidence supporting the use of puberty blockers in children struggling with gender identity is of ‘very low’ quality, critics say.

“We were wrong,” Dr. Susan Bradley told The Daily Caller. “They’re not as reversible as we always thought, and they have longer term effects on kids’ growth and development, including making them sterile and quite a number of things affecting their bone growth.”

Prior to the medication, Bradley said she used more traditional forms of therapy such as talking with her patients.

“We thought that it was relatively safe, and endocrinologists said they’re reversible, and that we didn’t have to worry about it. I had this skepticism in the back of my mind all the time that maybe we were actually colluding and not helping them. And I think that’s proven correct in that, once these kids get started at any age on puberty blockers, nearly all of them continue to want to go to cross sex hormones,” Bradley said.

According to the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital: “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved puberty blockers in 1993. They were originally approved to temporarily stop puberty in children who were going through it too early. Researchers have not finished studying how safe puberty blockers are in the long term. So, there might be some risks that doctors do not yet know about.

Bradley produced research, along with other clinic doctors, showing that 87.8% of boys referred to their clinic for gender identity issues eventually “desisted,” meaning they stopped believing they were actually girls and came to terms with their sex.

“You have to put yourself in the place of a 12 year old or a 13 year old, who is thinking, ‘This is my way to get normal,’ ” Bradley said. “These kids are not faring well with the current affirmative approach. I don’t know that any kids actually could, given the capacity of a 10 or 12, or even 14 or 15 year old to understand the complexity of the decision that they’re making on their long term sexual and life function. It just doesn’t make sense.”

The use of puberty blockers has been highly criticized amid recent high-profile scandals involving pediatric gender clinics prescribing blockers to halt the healthy puberty of children as young as 10 with allegedly inadequate psychological screening.

Stella O’Malley, psychotherapist and founder of Genspect, an organization that is critical of childhood gender transitions, voiced concerns about the intervention in a previous interview with The Daily Caller.

“Blocking the sexual development of children is a highly authoritarian intervention. Children are asexual, and so they can’t understand the impact of impaired sexual functioning,” O’Malley said. “We are roughly 10 years into this large-scale experiment and already we have reports on issues with cognitive development, bone mineral density, and fertility. All the up-to-date evidence shows that puberty blockers are neither safe nor reversible.”

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