A recent article in the American Journal of Public Health co-authored by four healthcare providers, including clinical psychologist Natasha A. Schvey and pediatric endocrinologist Noelle S. Larson, claims that children as young as seven years old have the right to consent to hormone therapy and puberty blockers.
The authors argue that the best pathway for children who present with gender dysphoria is to move towards “gender-affirming health care, such as puberty suppression and affirming hormones” immediately. The Pentagon healthcare providers demand that the military trains its providers in line with their ideas on gender-affirming medical interventions for minors, despite acknowledging that over half of military-affiliated physicians in the Department of Defense health system have stated that they would refuse to prescribe hormones, even if trained.
The healthcare providers demand that the Department of Defense’s health system provide gender-affirming care training, with Uniformed Services University taking the lead on this initiative.The article also states that the decision-making capacity of children starts as early as seven years of age, and that adolescents prefer shared decision-making with their guardians.
The authors criticize clinicians who adopt a “watchful waiting” approach before deciding to change the gender of a minor, calling it “unethical.” They claim that patients who adopt this approach may face “gatekeeping” and significant delays in care.
However, some medical professionals have disputed these claims. Dr. Stanley Goldfarb of Do No Harm, an organization of physicians seeking to restore the medical profession to the Hippocratic Oath, called the claims “laughable.”
The existence of a large cohort of “detransitioners” suggests the folly of assuming the soundness of childhood decisions, he said. A detransitioned teenager who was subjected to gender medical interventions, Chloe Cole, has recently spoken about how she “lost all [her] trust in [her] healthcare provider and possibly even healthcare.” She was put on puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, which she regrets.
The Department of Defense has stated that it does not support rushing anyone into taking drugs and that medical decisions are made in consultation between a minor and their guardians. However, the doctors’ recommendations have alarmed many people, who worry about the long-term effects of these drugs on children.