England’s health service says it won’t give puberty blockers to children at gender clinics

The rainbow flag flies over a building next to Nelson's Column monument in in 2014 in Trafalgar Square, central London. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File)

LONDON — The publicly funded health service in England has decided it will not routinely offer puberty-blocking drugs to children at gender identity clinics, saying more evidence is needed about the potential benefits and harms.

The National Health Service said Friday that “outside of a research setting, puberty-suppressing hormones should not be routinely commissioned for children and adolescents.”


People under 18 can still be given puberty blockers in exceptional circumstances, the NHS said, and a clinical study on their impact on kids is due to start by next year.

Four new regional clinics are due to open later this year. They replace London’s Gender Identity Development Service, previously the only facility of its kind in England. It is scheduled to shut down after a review said it was overburdened by increasing demand and there was not enough evidence about the outcomes of its treatment.

Hormone blockers can pause the development of puberty, and are sometimes prescribed to children with gender dysphoria. Transgender medical care for minors has been available in the United States for more than a decade and is endorsed by major medical associations

The issue of gender-affirming care for children is not as heated in Britain as in the U.S., where several Republican-led states have banned puberty blockers and other treatment for transgender minors. But it has been the subject of both political and legal battles.

The NHS said the new rules were “an interim policy” that would undergo further review, including the outcome of a research study on the impact puberty-suppressing hormones have on gender dysphoria in children and young people.

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