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Health Ministry Should Ban Puberty Blockers, Women’s Rights Party Says

The Women’s Rights Party is calling on the Ministry of Health to ban the use of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for children and young people experiencing gender-related distress.

In March the National Health Service England banned the routine use of puberty blockers after a four-year independent review commissioned by the NHS and chaired by eminent paediatrician Dr Hilary Cass, concluded in its Interim Report that there was not enough evidence that puberty blockers are safe to take or clinically effective to treat “gender dysphoria”.[1]

The Ministry of Health yesterday [18 April] announced a further delay in its review of the evidence of the safety, effectiveness, and reversibility of puberty blockers.

The Women’s Rights Party urges the Ministry to immediately take on board the findings of the damning final Cass Report, which found young people had been given life-changing treatment despite "remarkably weak" evidence of safety or effectiveness.[2]

Women’s Rights Party Leader Jill Ovens, says: “New Zealand health authorities are out of step with European countries such as Sweden, Finland, and France, as well as the NHS England, where the drugs are being limited to clinical trials. Today Scotland has also paused the use of puberty blockers for under 18-year-olds in response to the Cass Report.[3]

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“Our own health authorities so far have remained hostage to a vocal minority who have put our children’s health at risk of lifelong irreversible damage,” Ms Ovens says.

The Cass Report has recommended a pause on prescribing blockers in light of the short and long-term side effects, including menopausal symptoms, weaker bone density and the potential impact on fertility, sexual function and brain development.

The Cass Report found that that existing studies were of poor quality and lacked evidence on the long-term impact of taking hormones from an early age.

Cass concluded that the research has let all those involved down, and most importantly children and young people. Far from giving children “time to think”, the Cass Report found that puberty blockers effectively locked them into a medical pathway leading to cross-sex hormones and surgeries that are irreversible.

Last year, New Zealand's Ministry of Health quietly removed a claim from its website which stated that puberty blockers were "safe and reversible".

Now Health New Zealand Te Whatu Ora has contracted PATHA (the Professional Association for Transgender Health Aotearoa), to update its guidelines for “gender-affirming care” for healthcare professionals in New Zealand.

The Cass Report assessment of guideline quality put the New Zealand PATHA guidelines second to last – a very low score of 149/600.

“The low-quality assessment of the PATHA guidelines in the Cass Report must surely make Health New Zealand Te Whatu Ora reconsider its decision to commission PATHA to update their guidelines,” Ms Ovens says.

The Cass Report rejected “gender-affirming care” in favour of a holistic approach that looks at other conditions often found in young people presenting with gender distress, including ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), eating disorders, and sexual abuse.

The Cass Report acknowledged the role of social influences on young people, including on-line pornography, social media, and peer pressure. The Report points out that “social contagion” may explain, at least in part, the exponential rise in the number of teenage girls being referred to gender services. This phenomenon has also been reported in New Zealand.[4]

The Women’s Rights Party agrees with Resist Gender Education (an organisation of teachers, parents and others concerned about gender ideology in schools) that New Zealand’s education system reinforces “social transition” (changing appearance, names, and using pronouns to align with stereotypes of the opposite sex, or no sex), often without parents’ knowledge. [5]

The Cass Review found no evidence that treating children and young people as if they were the opposite sex alleviated gender distress. Despite this, New Zealand’s Relationship and Sexuality Education Guidelines advise teaching every child from entry classes onwards that they have preferred pronouns and a “gender identity” that may differ from their biological sex.

“This must stop. It is wrong to teach children that they can change their sex. Sex is reality; gender is an imprecise concept that has no place in the school curriculum,” Ms Ovens says.

Further, the Women’s Rights Party says teachers should not be supporting social transitioning in schools. Changes in students’ behaviour should be escalated to mental health professionals in line with the recommendations of the Cass Review, and all such discussions must involve parents.

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