Trans healthcare workers admitted some patients too young for treatment in leaked messages

Trans healthcare workers admitted some patients too young for treatment in leaked messages

Doctors delivering transgender healthcare have admitted some patients are too young or mentally ill to fully understand the consequences of treatment.

Messages leaked from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health revealed how medics acknowledged teenagers given puberty-blocking drugs did not always realise they could never have children.


Some members of the US group, who have helped guide NHS procedures in England and Scotland, claimed patients went ahead with surgery despite fears about their ability to fully provide informed consent.

Dan Metzger, a hormone specialist at a children’s hospital in Canada, told the meeting: “Most of the kids are nowhere in any kind of a brain space to really talk about it in a serious way.”

Doctor administering injection

Doctors delivering transgender healthcare have admitted some patients are too young or mentally ill to fully understand the consequences of treatment

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Dr Dan Karasic added: “Psychiatric illness should not block a person’s ability to start hormones if they have persistent gender dysphoria, capacity to consent, and the benefits… outweigh the risks.”

Experts even discussed how patients developed tumours or died from cancer linked to hormone treatment.

A doctor wrote: “I have one transition friend/colleague who, after about eight to 10 years of [testosterone] developed hepatocarcinoma [a form of liver cancer].

“To the best of my knowledge, it was linked to his hormone treatment… it was so advanced that he opted for palliative care and died a couple of months later.”

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A teenager photographed in hospital

One patient’s cancer was linked to the hormone treatment

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Another said: “The oncologist and surgeon both have indicated that the likely offending agent(s) are the hormones.

“We are prepared to support the patient in any way we can (e.g. top surgery when medically stable, etc).”

The gender therapist claimed they had only turned one person down for treatment in 15 years.

However, critics said the private messages contradict public assurances that so-called gender-affirming care is “medically necessary”.

General view of The Tavistock Centre, Belsize Lane, London

Dr David Bell helped expose the scandal at the Tavistock gender clinic for young people in London in 2018

PA

Psychoanalyst Dr David Bell said: “Even for me the contents of these files are shocking and disturbing.”

Dr Bell, who helped expose the scandal at the Tavistock gender clinic for young people in London in 2018, added: “The files suggest that some members of WPATH are aware that gender-affirming care sometimes causes very serious harm and that some patients who received irreversible medical treatments were incapable of giving meaningful consent.”

GP Louise Irvine said the revelations showed “an organisation that has been influential in UK policy for transgender health care is unscientific, cavalier with respect to potential harm to patients, and neglectful of the principles of medical consent”.

However, the Department for Health has stressed NHS England “moved away from WPATH guidelines more than five years ago”.

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