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Government places ’emergency ban’ on private puberty blockers for trans and gender-diverse youth

The ban will last from 3 June to 3 September 2024, with the Department of Health and Social Care announcing other 'indefinite restrictions' to access

By Jamie Tabberer

A young trans boy with a trans flag
(Image: Wikimedia Commons/Daydreamerboy)

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced more restrictions on the prescribing and supply of puberty-suppressing hormones, or ‘puberty blockers’, to children and young people under 18.

The ’emergency ban’, covering England, Wales and Scotland, will last from 3 June to 3 September 2024.

In an alert issued Wednesday (29 May 2024), the DHSC said the ban will apply to prescriptions written by UK private prescribers and prescribers registered in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.

The ban was one of the final acts made by the ruling Conservative Party before the dissolution of UK Parliament on 30 May, ahead of the General Election on 4 July 2024.

‘During this period no new patients under 18 will be prescribed these medicines for the purposes of puberty suppression in those experiencing gender dysphoria or incongruence under the care of these prescribers’, a DHCS rep.

The NHS stopped the routine prescription of puberty blocker treatments to under-18s following the Cass Review into gender identity services.

The DHSC rep added: ‘In addition, the government has also introduced indefinite restrictions to the prescribing of these medicines within NHS primary care in England, in line with NHS guidelines. The new arrangements apply to gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogues – medicines that consist of, or contain, buserelin, gonadorelin, goserelin, leuprorelin acetate, nafarelin or triptorelin. This action has been taken to address risks to patient safety.’

“Serious harm”

In a statement responding to the news, a rep for GenderGP said: “We are shocked at the attitude and behaviour of the UK government in targeting trans youth. Gender reassignment is a protected characteristic under The Equality Act 2010 and it stands that every trans adult was once a trans child and we know that gender-affirming care has proven benefits.

“We know that the interference in medicine and healthcare by the government will lead to serious harm for millions of patients and even death including those within the trans community. We remain committed to working with the government and the community to find solutions to prevent harm wherever it exists.”

Puberty blockers suppress the release of sex hormones like testosterone and oestrogen, delaying the physical changes of puberty, and allowing young people time to explore their gender. These effects are reversible.

A Stonewall spokesperson has previously said of NHS puberty blocker restrictions: “All trans young people deserve access to high quality, timely healthcare. For some, an important part of this care comes in the form of puberty blockers, a reversible treatment that delays the onset of puberty, prescribed by expert endocrinologists, giving the young person extra time to evaluate their next steps.”

Image: Wikimedia Commons/Daydreamerboy