There has been a huge increase in the number of children presenting with Gender Dysphoria in recent years – but what are the implications of treating this medically?

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

You may have heard about the huge increase in the number of children with Gender Dysphoria (Transgender) who are now being referred to the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) in London. Or you may have seen one of the numerous TV programmes about transgender children – but what are the implications of treating this medically?


We usually assume that if the NHS is treating children, then the treatments are safe and have been proven to be the right treatment for the problem. Well, let’s look at some facts and what the experts in the field are saying.

…only around 16% of children who experience theses difficulties will continue to feel like this into adulthood.

Gender dysphoria (formerly gender identity disorder) is said to be present when strong, persistent feelings of identification with the opposite gender and discomfort with one’s own biological sex result in significant distress or impairment. But studies show that only around 16% of children who experience these difficulties will continue to feel like this into adulthood [1].

Social transition

Increasingly children and young people are asking to present socially as the opposite sex or as non-binary by changing the way they dress, their hair style and using a different name and pronouns. This is a public statement that seeks to affect the way others see and interact with the young person and makes gender dysphoria more likely to continue and involve one or more steps below.

Puberty Blockers

The majority of professionals seek to try and understand why a child or teen feels this way and to identify possible psychological and social reasons that may have contributed to these feelings. But more children and young people are now being given puberty blockers – medicines that block hormones and stop the physical and emotional changes of puberty. Puberty blockers are supposed to allow time for the child/teen to explore psychological issues, but not going through puberty interferes with the development of gender identity and almost all young people who are given these drugs go on to the next stage of treatment, which involves giving them cross sex hormones.

Cross-sex hormones & surgery

This second stage of treatment, the giving of cross-sex hormones, causes a person’s body to develop some of the outward physical characteristics of the opposite sex. How much someone looks like the opposite sex will depend on when these drugs are started. These drugs will need to be continued for life and will leave the person infertile (unable to have children). So this is a very serious decision.

The Gender Identity Service website states, “Although hormone blockers and cross-sex hormone treatment are recommended in young people with GD and widely used across the board, it should be noted that the research evidence for the effectiveness of any particular treatment offered is still limited.” [2].

The final step that some undertake once they reach the age of 18 is surgery which artificially creates outward genitalia that are intended to resemble those of the opposite sex.

A greater concern

There is a lot of concern about high rates of mental health problems and self-harm in people with gender dysphoria. When people undergo gender reassignment, there are still high rates of mental health problems and there are an increasing number of adults wanting to return to identifying with their biological sex; sadly, many of the treatments they have undergone are not reversible.

An important perspective

The vast majority of children who suffer from gender confusion will grow out of it as they develop and mature.  There is much discussion and disagreement amongst professionals as to the best way to help these young people and huge concern as to the potential long term detrimental effects of current treatment practices.

We must remember that God created us male and female and He does not make mistakes! Every cell of our bodies carries two X chromosomes if we are female, and one X and one Y chromosome if we are male.

The Bible says that God…

…formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

Psalm 139:13-14

  1. Steensma et al, 2013 quoted on the GIDS website