A lesbian couple in California are giving their 11-year-old son hormone blockers that delay the onset of puberty so that he can have more time to decide if he wants to change his gender, writes Perry Chiaramonte at Fox News.
The treatment will delay the onset of puberty until Tommy — who now goes by the name Tammy — is 14 or 15, giving him more time to explore the female identity he has assumed, writes 9News at MSN.
"He was in his own world just completely detached and that was a problem we always had — getting Thomas to participate in life,' Moreno, one of his parents, said.
"What we saw emerge when Tammy was allowed to be Tammy is, âWhoa!' It was an immediate transformation. She was so giggly and she was now interacting she was now making it a point to defend herself."
Advocates of Hormone Blocking Therapy says it only has minor side effects and is appropriate for a child who is unsure of his gender.
"This is definitely a changing landscape for transgender youth," said Joel Baum, director of education and training for Gender Spectrum, a California-based non-profit group. "This is about giving kids and their families the opportunity to make the right decision."
But critics of the treatment say 11-year-olds are not old enough to make life-altering decisions about changing their gender, and parents should not be encouraging them, writes Chiaramonte. They say it's too soon to tell what the side effects of the treatments may be, and it's irresponsible of parents to be seeking them and allowing them to be administered.
"This is child abuse. It's like performing liposuction on an anorexic child," said Dr. Paul McHugh, professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University.
"It is a disorder of the mind. Not a disorder of the body. Dealing with it in this way is not dealing with the problem that truly existsâ¦ We shouldn't be mucking around with nature. We can't assume what the outcome will be," McHugh said.
Dr. Manny Alvarez, senior managing health editor of FoxNews.com, said the hormone blockers also may pose a medical risk:
"I think that it's highly inappropriate to be interfering with natural hormonal growth patterns," Alvarez said. "There are significant potential problems necessary for growth and developmentâ¦. Potential long-term effects can include other abnormalities of hormones, vascular complications and even potential cancer. I think that if this child – as he finishes his puberty and teenage years – decides to undergo a transgender procedure – then there are proper channels to do so."
Walt Heyer, whose book "Paper Genders" details his own experience transitioning from a man to a woman and back again, agreed.
"The blockers should NOT be introduced to a child," Heyer said. "If they are going to make a transition, they should wait to do so when they reach 18 to 20 years old. When you start the therapy at that age you are not dealing with the fact that the mind is not fully developed."