Puberty Suppression Therapy
Also known as GnRH analogues, puberty blockers are a medical treatment available to support the healthy development of transgender adolescents. By halting puberty, puberty blocking medications have been shown to reduce gender dysphoria (e.g.,discomfort with sex characteristics) and promote mental health.
Gender Affirming Medical Care
Gender affirming medical care is considered medically necessary treatment for transgender individuals who experience physical dysphoria (i.e., distress associated with physical sex characteristics). While not all individuals who experience a discrepancy between their gender identity and sex assigned at birth experience physical dysphoria, many do.
Forms of gender affirming medical care include use of hormones and gender affirmation surgeries (e.g., “top” surgeries, “bottom” surgeries, facial feminization, and laser hair removal). Historically, transgender individuals were required to wait until age 18 to receive gender affirming medical care of any kind. Increasingly, transgender individuals are requesting care at earlier ages due to larger social shifts in visibility and acceptance that have resulted in earlier ages of “coming out.”
As a result, gender clinics specializing in the medical treatment of transgender individuals are offering cross-sex hormone therapy at younger ages (16-18 years old). In addition, a number of doctors are now prescribing puberty blockers to adolescents with strong physical dysphoria that persists or emerges with the onset of puberty. Puberty blockers are prescribed after an assessment process with a multidisciplinary team and adolescents are tracked over time and provided with support during the transition period.
The attached report provides an overview of puberty blockers including how they work, how they are prescribed, and what research exists to support their use.