Transgender kids and teens have a much greater risk of suicide compared to their cis peers, but a new study finds that access to puberty blockers can greatly reduce that risk for trans youth, CNN reported.
Published Thursday in the medical journal Pediatrics, the first of its kind research examined access to pubertal suppression and suicidality among trans youth, finding that mental-health problems decline significantly for trans youth with access to puberty blockers.
Unfortunately, the research comes as various states in America are considering enforcing restrictions against puberty-blocking treatments. As CNN reported, South Dakota is considering a law that would make it a felony for healthcare providers to offer such care, while South Carolina and Missouri have also broached similar restrictions against gender-affirming healthcare.
Pubertal suppression therapy, or puberty blocking, has been available in the United States since 1998, and is recommended as an option for transgender teens by a variety of medical associations, including the Endocrine Society.
Puberty-blocking therapy involves the injection a compound that makes the pituitary gland less sensitive to a puberty-stimulating hormone released in the brain, effectively halting puberty. The treatment is both noninvasive and reversible, with puberty resuming as soon as the patient stops taking the drugs.
While studies show the procedure is becoming more common in the United States, the most recent research revealed that of the 16.9 percent of trans participants who wanted access to puberty blockers, only 2.5 percent actually received the treatment. Part of the problem could come down to the cost. According to pediatrician Dr. Michelle Forcier, the drugs are expensive, and not all trans youth have access to appropriate care.
“Historically we have known the puberty blockers are safe and effective and this is totally reversible, so the benefits far outweigh any risk,” she told CNN. “It is sort of a no-brainer to make these available.”
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