Puberty Blockers, Trans Hormones Connected To Rising Teen Suicide, Report Finds

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Sarah Wilder Social Issues Reporter
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Easier access to puberty blockers and transgender hormones is connected to rising teen suicide rates, a report from the Heritage Foundation released Monday said.

“At a minimum, the results presented in this Backgrounder demonstrate that efforts to lower legal barriers for minors to receive cross-sex medical interventions do not reduce suicide rates and likely lead to higher rates among young people in states that adopt those changes,” senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation Jay Greene wrote in the report.

Heritage’s study found that after 2010, when puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones became widely available in America, suicide rates rose in states that had provided minors with easier access to them. By 2020, states with easier access to puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones saw 3.5 more suicides per 100,000 amongst people age 12 to 23 than those with more difficult access.

The study compared suicide rates among people age 12 to 23 in states that allowed access to health care by minors without parental consent to those who did not. The study examined data from 1999 to 2020 using suicide numbers from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The age range studied represented those who entered puberty after 2010, when puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones became widely available in the United States. (RELATED: America Has More Transgender Youth Than Ever, Study Says)

Past studies have yielded different results than those reached in Heritage’s report. For instance, a January 2022 study from the Stanford Medical School found that access to “gender affirming hormones” during teen years resulted in better mental health, compared with those teens who wanted these hormones but could not access them. For instance, the study found that the odds of previous-year suicidal ideation for late adolescents was reduced by 62% for those who accessed cross-sex hormones. For those who began hormone treatment in early adolescence, the odds were reduced by 135%.

A 2020 study published in Pediatrics found that, “those who received treatment with pubertal suppression, when compared with those who wanted pubertal suppression but did not receive it, had lower odds of lifetime suicidal ideation.” The study surveyed 20,619 transgender adults ranging from 18 to 36 years old.

But Heritage’s research claimed that studies such as these are misleading. For instance, while puberty blockers and hormones have been in use for some time, they have only recently been widely used to facilitate gender transition in young children. The effects of these new uses for the drugs have yet to be adequately tested, the report alleged.

The main defect of the studies that have been administered on the effects of these drugs, the study alleged, is that it remains unclear whether access to the drugs themselves made subjects less prone to suicide, or if other environmental factors, such as the sort of parental relationship enjoyed by those who could receive the drugs, were the cause.

“I think that one of the arguments that is short-circuiting open discussion about these issues is the emotional threat that if we don’t make puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones readily available that young people will kill themselves at higher rates,” Greene, the author of the report told the Daily Caller. “And this claim that is repeatedly made is based on only a handful of studies that are poorly done.”

The report concluded that, “states should tighten the criteria for receiving these interventions, including raising the minimum eligibility age.”