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Treatment of Gender Dysphoria for Children and Adolescents
April 20, 2022
The Florida Department of Health wants to clarify evidence recently cited on a fact sheet released by the US Department of Health and Human Services and provide guidance on treating gender dysphoria for children and adolescents.
Systematic reviews on hormonal treatment for young people show a trend of low-quality evidence, small sample sizes, and medium to high risk of bias. A paper published in the International Review of Psychiatry states that 80% of those seeking clinical care will lose their desire to identify with the non-birth sex. One review concludes that "hormonal treatments for transgender adolescents can achieve their intended physical effects, but evidence regarding their psychosocial and cognitive impact is generally lacking."
According to the Merck Manual, “gender dysphoria is characterized by a strong, persistent cross-gender identification associated with anxiety, depression, irritability, and often a wish to live as a gender different from the one associated with the sex assigned at birth.”
Due to the lack of conclusive evidence, and the potential for long-term, irreversible effects, the Department's guidelines are as follows:
- Social gender transitionshould not be a treatment option for children or adolescents.
- Anyone under 18 should not be prescribed pubertyblockers or hormone therapy.
- Gender reassignment surgeryshould not be a treatment option for children or adolescents.
- Based on the currently available evidence, "encouraging mastectomy, ovariectomy, uterine extirpation, penile disablement, tracheal shave, the prescription of hormones which are out of line with the genetic make-up of the child, or puberty blockers, are all clinical practices which run an unacceptably high risk of doing harm."
- Children and adolescents should be provided social support by peers and family and seek counseling from a licensed provider.
These guidelines do not apply to procedures or treatments for children or adolescents born with a genetically or biochemically verifiable disorder of sex development (DSD). These disorders include, but are not limited to, 46, XX DSD; 46, XY DSD; sex chromosome DSDs; XX or XY sex reversal; and ovotesticular disorder.
The Department’s guidelines are consistent with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services age requirement for surgical and non-surgical treatment. These guidelines are also in line with the guidance, reviews, and recommendations from Sweden, Finland, the United Kingdom, and France.
Parents are encouraged to reach out to their child’s health care provider for more information.
About the Florida Department of Health
The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.