Gender Medicine Pioneer Says 'We Were Wrong’ About Puberty Blockers

"Gender-affirming” treatments are largely experimental and unsupported by solid data. Now, the doctor who pushed them forward is acknowledging it.

By Hudson Crozier

In a nutshell: Dr. Susan Bradley, an influential Canadian psychiatrist and researcher, expressed regret for advancing puberty blockers and the “affirmative” model of treatment for children with gender dysphoria in a recent interview. After starting a pediatric gender clinic in 1975 and helping to create the American Psychiatric Association’s guidelines on gender identity, she said the prevailing medical consensus is “wrong” and the issue is “complicated” for patients.

On puberty blockers: “They’re not as reversible as we always thought,” Bradley said, mentioning that the drugs disrupt bone growth and cause sterility. Research, including some studies Bradley conducted, also shows that most children can grow out of gender dysphoria entirely, but puberty blockers overwhelmingly influence them toward more transition treatments. This has confirmed her long-held suspicion that “we were actually colluding and not helping” children.

On patient regret: Bradley described patients that she treated who struggled with their own transition, either pursuing more and more treatments without satisfaction or detransitioning altogether. “There are an awful lot of people who end up feeling that this hasn’t solved their problems with who they are,” she said. She now thinks that many individuals, especially children, are pursuing “acceptance” through transitioning.

Why it matters: Despite the air of moral certainty from transgender advocates, "gender-affirming” treatments are largely experimental, and medical insiders like Bradley have acknowledged this. Evidence of the harmful effects of sex-change treatments on children continues to mount; a whistleblower from a Missouri gender clinic even referred to them as criminal, sparking a state investigation.

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