Scotland Pauses Gender Medications for Minors

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Scotland’s National Health Service has stopped all new prescriptions of puberty-blocking drugs and other hormone treatments for minors, citing a sweeping review of youth gender services released in England last week. It is the sixth country in Europe to limit such treatments, and its changes are among the most restrictive.

The review, commissioned by N.H.S. England and carried out by Dr. Hilary Cass, an independent pediatrician, over the course of four years, concluded that the evidence for benefits of youth gender treatments was “remarkably weak” and that pressing questions remained about potential long-term risks.

This month, following recommendations by Dr. Cass, N.H.S. England halted puberty blockers for children outside of clinical trials. Hormone therapies, including estrogen and testosterone, are still available to teenagers in England aged 16 and up.

Scotland’s new changes go further, pausing prescriptions of puberty blockers while also restricting hormone therapies until teenagers turn 18. The changes will not affect patients already getting these medications from the country’s Young People Gender Service.

“We will continue to give anyone who is referred into the Young People Gender Service the psychological support that they require while we review the pathways in line with the findings,” said Dr. Emilia Crighton, director of public health for N.H.S. Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which houses Scotland’s sole youth gender clinic, Sandyford Sexual Health Services.

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