Last week the Norwegian Health Inspectorate announced it would revise its current guidelines on so-called “gender-positive care” for minors, saying it was no longer considered evidence-based. The commission also acknowledged that the growing number of teenage girls who identify as male after puberty has not been adequately researched.
The proposed updated guidelines would limit the use of puberty blockers, sex hormones, and transitional surgery to the scope of research and would no longer be offered in clinical practice.
Norway joins Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom enacting stronger protections for children. The move comes as a consensus emerges among European and American medical professionals that “gender-affirming” care actually dangerous to children and adults and not “affirming” as has become a cultural description.
Eight US states have so far banned surgery and dangerous hormone treatments for children under the age of 18, with Tennessee becoming the last state to pass such a bill. More and more professional bodies are recognizing the experimental nature of this approach to children. A body of existing research shows that most children with gender dysphoria feel comfortable in their bodies upon puberty, and those who suddenly want to change their gender after puberty experience social contagion, indicating that peer pressure plays a significant role. Critics of transitioning children say these studies were discarded because they did not fit the activists’ preferred narrative.
A recent article published in the Journal of Sexual Behavior Archives argues that the placebo effect is not properly taken into account when interpreting recent evidence supporting transitions in children. The term ‘placebo effect’ generally refers to a patient’s response to an ineffective intervention, as opposed to the treatment itself, but can also represent positive psychological and physical effects associated with treatment.
For example, participation in research often gives patients extra attention and hope that their condition (such as gender dysphoria) will improve. While this may be a good thing in clinical practice, critics say researchers shouldn’t act based on bias because the goal of research is to objectively determine whether a treatment works. This is particularly important when evaluating interventions that may affect adolescent fertility, future sexual function and long-term health.
Norway’s actions will no doubt be used in testimony by state legislators considering banning transition surgery and hormones in children.