Many transgender people choose to medically transition, undergoing procedures such as hormone therapy and face/chest/genital surgery. For those who choose to medically transition, these procedures can alleviate gender dysphoria and increase quality of life. There are some risks to medically transitioning, such as complications or wanting to detransition in the future. Transgender adults are capable of assessing these risks and comparing them to the potential social and mental health risks of not transitioning. On the other hand, letting transgender children and adolescents medically transition has been a controversial topic. Though trans minors generally only have access to puberty blockers and hormone treatments (minors are not allowed to get genital surgery, and other surgical interventions are rare), choosing to undergo these treatments is still a big decision with possible risks. Yet, the health benefits of medical transition for some trans people are undeniable.
No, transgender children and adolescents should not medically transitionShow moreShow less
There are risks and potentially irreversible consequences from medically transitioning. Children and adolescents are too young to make this decision.
The child/adolescent may not actually have gender dysphoria
Gender dysphoria and mental illnesses like depression and anxiety have overlaps in some of their symptoms. Additionally, prepubescent and pubescent minors may feel resistant to their assigned gender's gender roles for reasons other than gender dysphoria. Because these separate issues can be mislabeled as gender dysphoria by minors, minors who think that they may be transgender should not medically transition.
Many children and adolescents who think they are transgender may actually not be. Though there are certainly some minors who are correct in knowing they are transgender, there are many others that are actually dealing with things like mental illness and aversion to gender roles who may mislabel their discomfort as gender dysphoria. Mental illnesses, especially depressive and anxiety disorders, tend to emerge during adolescence. Additionally, studies have shown that children face increased pressures to conform to stereotypical gender roles as they begin adolescence.
The Atlantic reported on one instance of a child mislabeling other issues as gender dysphoria and being grateful that they did not choose to transition. A 14-year-old girl (called Claire in the article) described how she was depressed and unhappy with her body at the age of 12, which caused her to think that she may be a transgender boy. Claire had seen videos on Youtube of transgender young people transitioning and becoming much happier people due to their transitions, so she too believed that transitioning could help with her unhappiness. Her parents were completely supportive of her when she came to them explaining that she was transgender, but they did not allow her to transition because they did not want her to make any decisions that she would regret. After about a year of seeing herself as a trans man, Claire realized one day that presenting as male was not helping her depression and unhappiness and that the real reason that she thought she was a boy was because she had internalized “rigid views of gender roles.” Since Claire didn’t feel like a ‘normal,’ feminine girl, she assumed she wasn’t a girl at all. Upon realizing that she could go against female gender roles and still be a woman, Claire decided that she was in fact a cisgender girl and stated that she was so grateful that she didn’t medically transition. This is just one example of how children and adolescents can change mislabel mental illnesses and aversion to gender roles as gender dysphoria.