Gender Identity Disorder is a rare condition that often begins before adolescence.
It often starts when a young child starts to show a dislike for their gender specific anatomy. For example, they have disgust for their genitals and have a desire to live as the opposite sex.
Since it’s an uncommon condition, they have very few people to relate with. They often feel rejected by their peers and become isolated. The isolation eventually leads to depression and anxiety.
Since Gender Identity Disorder (GID) starts to become apparent before adolescence, new drugs are being issued to children diagnosed with GID. Their purpose is to stunt their growth before puberty begins, giving them time to decide if they want a sex change.
Who Are the Gender Identity Disorder Treatment Drugs For?
The puberty blockers are specifically for children who have been diagnosed with GID. The most common age range is 15 years old. The youngest children to receive the hormones have been 11 years old.
The purpose of the drugs is to alleviate the anxiety of children with GID by suppressing their puberty growth. Often the lowering of voices, growing of facial hair and developing of an Adam’s apple is very stressful for young boys with GID. For young girls with GID, it’s the development of breasts and menstruating that causes anxiety.
By giving them the drugs, they can have time to decide whether they want to have a sex change operation at a later date. When growth is suppressed, having a sex change operation is also easier because there is less to alter.
Currently drugs are being issued to children with Gender Identity Disorder in the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Germany and some clinics in the US.
Getting the Drugs is a Process
The drugs aren’t given to anyone, and are only given to children after they’ve been diagnosed with GID. They have to also be referred to a specialty clinic to get the treatment. Children under the age of 16 have to get parental consent.
The drugs come in the form of monthly injections. Once the child stops taking the puberty suppressing drugs, puberty resumes.
One of the current pressing issues with the drug is that it’s fairly expensive, costing on average $800 a month. The Endocrine Society has issued treatment guidelines for GID. They hope that having these set guidelines will cause insurance carriers and mental health providers to take these claims more seriously. This would lead to providers paying for the costs of the drugs.
The Downsides of the Drugs
Giving hormone heavy drugs to young children has also sparked a lot of controversy.
The current data shows that only 10 – 20 % of prepubescent children with GID actually get a sex change. They’re more likely to get a sex change later in life, if they decide to do it at all. Giving hormone heavy drugs to a confused child poses a lot of health problems. Bioethicist Wesley Smith says, “Doesn’t this border on unethical human experimentation?”
Dr. Russell from the Institute of Child Health also gives a warning. “If you intervene early in a young person who would otherwise change their mind, do you reinforce their gender identity disorder?”
Another issue that arises is that taking drugs will affect fertility in the future.
If a boy with GID wants to have a child later in life, they won’t be able to freeze their sperm if they take early treatment. There has been a recent case where a transsexual man decided to get pregnant later in life. If this man received treatment with puberty suppressing drugs early in life, this probably would not have been possible.
Gender Identity Disorder in Children: Treatment with Drugs and Guidelines
Gender Identity Disorder in Children: Could Cause Confusion
Gender Identity Disorder in Children: Preventing Mental Anguish