Gender dysphoria in adolescents: can adolescents or parents give valid consent to puberty blockers?

Journal of Medical Ethics (forthcoming)
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This article considers the claim that gender diverse minors and their families should not be able to consent to hormonal treatment for gender dysphoria. The claim refers particularly to hormonal treatment with so-called ‘blockers’, analogues that suspend temporarily pubertal development. We discuss particularly four reasons why consent may be deemed invalid in these cases: the decision is too complex; the decision-makers are too emotionally involved; the decision-makers are on a ‘conveyor belt’; the possibility of detransitioning. We examine each of these reasons and we show that none of these stand up to scrutiny, and that some are based on a misunderstanding of the nature and purposes of this stage of treatment and of the circumstances in which it is usually prescribed. Moreover, accepting these claims at face value could have serious negative implications, not just for gender diverse youth, but for many other minors and families and in a much broader range of healthcare settings.



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