A new documentary called Pausing Puberty on BBC Radio 4 has investigated puberty blockers, the controversial drugs given to children who are confused about their gender.
The drugs were originally designed to pause development in children suffering from ‘precocious puberty’, where they begin to go through puberty at a very early age.
They are, however, largely untested on healthy children who are given them to aid ‘gender transition’.
Presenter Britt Wray spoke to Dr Stephen Rosenthal, from the Child and Adolescent Gender Center in San Francisco, who is researching the long-term impact of hormone blockers on young people.
He said using drugs to pause puberty in healthy children is a very recent phenomenon, and one which comes with risks including osteoporosis and fertility damage.
He explained that during puberty, the deposition of calcium in the bones increases, but by preventing puberty, the person is at greater risk of osteoporosis and fractures later in life.
He also said that research into side-effects was inconclusive at this stage, effectively making the use of puberty blockers in gender-confused children a large-scale experiment.