According to a new study, transgender youth undergoing treatment to delay puberty show improved psychological well-being over time, reports HealthDay.
The Dutch study, which was published online in the journal Pediatrics, involved 22 trans girls and 33 trans boys who had been diagnosed with “gender dysphoria.” Starting, on average, at age 14, each participant underwent hormone treatment to temporarily halt the onset of puberty.
Participants were assessed until up to one year after their first gender confirming surgery — which, on average, occurred at age 21.
Given the “opportunity to develop into well-functioning young adults” without developing unwanted sex characteristics, including those related to voice, hair growth, and body shape, the study found that, overall, participants seemed satisfied with their gender-related decisions. None expressed regret about delaying puberty or deciding to transition.
Once the participants reached adulthood, anxiety, emotional distress, and body image concerns, as well as happiness, were present at the same level as their non-transgender peers, notes GLAAD.
Because the effects of puberty suppressors — also known, informally, as “hormone blockers” — are fully reversible, the study’s lead author, Dr. Annelou de Vries, points out that they “provid[e] adolescents and their families with time to explore their gender dysphoric feelings, and [to] make a more definite decision regarding the first steps of actual gender reassignment at a later age.”
While de Vries adds that the study’s findings should be corroborated with further research, Dr. Jack Drescher, a clinical professor of psychiatry at New York Medical College, told HealthDay that the findings of this “thoughtful and careful” study appear to “confirm the idea that puberty suppression is a generally good idea” for youth with gender dysphoria.
The treatment, which has ben used for about 15 years, seems “relatively safe and benign,” Drescher continued. He noted that not all teens who suppress puberty will eventually pursue gender reassignment, but that “those who do will face an easier time of it.”