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What do you need to know about puberty blockers, which are the subject of debate in Alberta?

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Feb11,2024

What you need to know about inhibitors puberty, which are being debated in Alberta?

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The misinformation circulating about puberty blockers, at the center of heated political debates, worries experts. (Archive photo)

The Canadian Press

Puberty blockers have been in the spotlight since Alberta Premier, Danielle Smith, announced last week her intention to ban them for children aged 15 and under, unless they have already started treatment.

Smith's positions on gender-affirming care have earned her harsh criticism from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but have drawn criticism from her support from federal Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre, who believes that puberty blockers should not be administered to children.

The Canadian Press consulted several experts to learn more about these drugs.

Puberty blockers are administered by injection to young people suffering from gender dysphoria, meaning their gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth.

These medications slow the physical changes that occur during adolescence, such as breast development due to estrogen or a deeper voice due to testosterone.

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According to Dr. Daniel Metzger, who is a pediatric endocrinologist at BC Children's Hospital, inhibitors were first used in the 1990s to delay puberty in some children who were beginning to develop certain sexual characteristics from the age of three.

In the Netherlands, doctors began administering these drugs to young people who had questions about their gender identity in the 1990s. Vancouver Hospital was the first to use them in Canada, about 26 years ago, says Dr. Metzger.

The effects of puberty blockers are reversible if the person stops taking them, giving young people time to decide whether they want to continue with gender affirmation surgeries, some of which are irreversible.

The average age at which youth identified as girls at birth begin puberty is 10, while those assigned as boys typically begin at 11, says Dr. Metzger.

That's when we would consider using inhibitors in children if their bodies started to change and become “They had gone through the assessment process that we use to decide who needs the inhibitors, he explains.

Girls at birth can become very anxious about having curves and menstruating, while boys at birth are often afraid of seeing hair appear on their bodies.

The care that is administered concerns the family, the medical system and the health system. Mental Health. Politicians have no business in this.

A quote from Dr. Daniel Metzger, pediatric endocrinologist at British Columbia Children's Hospital

Allowing puberty blockers only from the age of 18, as Pierre Poilievre suggested, would be cruel and would cause people to miss the boat, #x27;opinion of Dr. Metzger, to the point where there would no longer be any point in using it.

If you prevent a young person from using inhibitors before the age of 18, you are making an irreversible decision that will force them to go through puberty and the physical and emotional changes that come with it. -it is worth.

Before a young person can begin using puberty blockers, a mental health provider must ;ensure he understands what it means to consent to treatment, including regular injections in the leg.

The person has made a social transition, but all of a sudden they start to have breasts or a penis that starts to grow. This is where the frustration arises and we evaluate the possibility of using inhibitors, explains Dr. Metzger.

Medications are injected either once a month or every three months.

Elizabeth Saewyc, who is a professor at the University of British Columbia's School of Nursing, conducted a national survey of trans youth in 2019.

This study found that 71% of more than 1,500 respondents aged 14 to 25 admitted to needing mental health services in the past year, but not having received them.

This survey also highlighted the fact that 30% of young people attempted suicide in the previous year, underlines Ms. Saewyc.

For young people who have limited access to a family doctor or wait a long time to see a mental health provider, gender-affirming care, including puberty blockers, should not be delayed too long, because the emotional toll would be too great

A quote from Elizabeth Saewyc, professor at the School of Nursing at the University of British Columbia

None of this is fast. From a medical standpoint, there's no reason to wait until age 18, she says.

Politicizing access to this medical care could push some trans adolescents not to talk to experts about what they are experiencing, in a context where they already receive no support at home or at school, warns Ms. Saewyc.

For her, the misinformation circulating about puberty blockers is truly astonishing. Our politicians repeat certain ideas without really checking the accuracy of what they say, she worries.

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my natasha@thetimeshub.in 1-800-268-7116

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