Swedish Board of Health warns that “care has been characterised by a lack of knowledge about the results of treatment” and recommends “to be given in the context of research”.
The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare (NBHW) recently released an update of its guide to gender dysphoria care for young people.
The guide “aims to promote good and equitable care for young people with gender dysphoria”, and warns “for several years now, care has been characterised by both a lack of accessibility and a lack of knowledge about the results of treatment”.
“It is important that children and young people suffering from gender dysphoria are taken seriously, treated well and offered adequate care”, pointed out Thomas Lindén, Head of Department at the NBHW.
Lindén stressed that “young people suffering from gender dysphoria need to be able to be assessed quickly and offered adequate care measures, based on health care assessments of their needs. Good psychosocial care is essential".
Last February the Board reported that between 2008 and 2018, the number of 13-17 year old girls diagnosed with gender dysphoria increased by 1500%.
The NBHW explained that “systematic documentation and follow-up of care is insufficient and the scientific evidence is also insufficient to assess the effects of anti-pubertal and sex-contingent hormone treatment of children and young people”.
That is why they urged “health regions to work to ensure that systematic documentation and monitoring of treatment at national level is carried out and that clinical studies start”.
Furthermore, the NBHW recommends that surgical removal of breast tissue, “as with the hormonal treatments, should continue to be given in the context of research, pending a research study, in exceptional cases, according to the criteria set out in the guide”.
“As with the previously presented recommendations on hormone therapy, the uncertain state of knowledge, among other things, calls for caution at this time”, added Lindén.
In May 2021, the renowned Karolinska hospital in Stockholm, announced that it would no longer use puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones with minors.
Since then, the hospital only offers such treatments in a context of scientific research.
Sweden is not the only European country where there is a debate about medical treatments related to gender transitions in children and teenagers.
Last July, the UK National Health System announced the closure of the Tavistock clinic, because of an external review which accused the clinic of overlooking other mental health problems in children distressed by their gender, and failed to collect data on the use or side effects of puberty blockers.
In Spain, the recently approved ‘trans law’ allows unrestricted gender self-determination of minors from the age of 16. Those aged 14 and 15 will be able to change sex against the will of their parents if they win a legal case with a legal defender provided by the authorities.
In Scotland, teenagers aged 16 or more will now also be able to self-declare their gender and change their sex in official documents without a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.
The Dutch Lower House will soon decide about a law that will allow young people over 16 to change their gender in birth certificates, passports or identity cards without parental consent, letting the court decide on the cases of children under 16.
Nine more European countries have already adopted self-declaration systems for so-called legal gender recognition, including Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland.
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