AP: Sex-changing treatment for kids on the rise

According to the Associated Press, a growing number of teenagers and even younger children “who think they were born the wrong sex” are finding doctors willing to give them sex-changing treatments. They cite reports in the medical journal Pediatrics. In a sever understatement, the article says the issue “raises ethical questions.”
The article also cites an 8-year-old second-grader in L.A. that at 18 months announced “I a boy” and the parents now refer to the child as a boy and “is watching for the first signs of puberty.” This, the article says, is a “typical patient.” The child’s mother says that when “he” was told he could get shots to block breast development, “he was so excited.”
Leading the charge is Dr. Norman Spack of Boston’s Children’s Hospital, a doctor who is no stranger to media attention for his work. “If you open the doors, these are the kids who come,” Dr. Spack says. “They’re out there.” He even goes as far as to say that the psychiatric diagnosis of “gender identity disorder” is a “misnomer” and that one in every 10,000 children have the condition.
Dr. Margaret Moon, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ bioethics committee, cites ethical concerns with offering sex-changing treatment to kids under the age of eighteen. She says that some kids may get a psychiatric diagnosis when they are just uncomfortable with “narrowly defined gender roles” and that it is harmful “to have an irreversible treatment too early.”
Dr. Spack’s “Gender Management Service” clinic opened in 2007, and he reports a fourfold increase in patients, up to 19 each year, versus four in the late 1990s. Once younger children begin to show signs of puberty, they are given puberty-blocking drugs, in monthly injections or implants imbedded in the arm. Sex hormones can have serious side effects, including blood clots and cancer.
The article concludes with comments from Dr. Jo Olson, medical director of a transgender clinic at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Olson said the journal reports should help persuade more doctors to offer these kids sex-changing treatment or refer them to specialists who will. “It would be so nice to move this out of the world of mental health, and into the medical world,” Olson said.

Source: Associated Press (Boston.com)

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