Reason on the subject of gender transition for minors is increasingly prevailing on the international scene. With Finland's recent move to cut back on the practice, multiple countries in Europe, including Great Britain and Sweden, now recognize that performing potentially irreversible procedures on children that transform their endocrine systems and remove healthy sexual organs should not be the go-to intervention for treating psychological dissonance over one's biological sex.
In taking this positive step toward protecting the physical integrity of children suffering from gender dysphoria, Finland last year amended their national health care policy and issued new guidelines to end the wide-spread availability of interventions on those who are under 18 (a translation of the guidelines was just finished earlier this month). After reviewing the research on pediatric transgender medicine, Finnish authorities determined that the scientific evidence did not support medical intervention, and rather, psychotherapy should be the first treatment used with minors.
These Finnish guidelines elicit caution towards using any "gender affirming" procedures to treat gender dysphoria in someone under 25. This was stated in recognition that minors, and even those in their 20's, have not completed the developmental strides necessary to understand the potentially irreversible nature of the "treatments" offered in the gender dysphoria clinics.
These recent Finnish guidelines coincide with a large-scale study from the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) in the U.S. on mapping the brain over the human lifespan. The NIMH study confirmed what we already know by intuition, that the brain is not fully developed until most people are in their 20's. Many societies have long recognized that children and adolescents are not capable of understanding the long-term ramifications of their decisions and have made social and policy provisions with this fact in mind.
When we add to this the fact that some of these practices are irreversible and can result in the sterilization of children, and it becomes clear that responsible adults need to put the brakes on them -- now.
This news from Finland also comes to us just as a federal judge has blocked Arkansas' Save Children from Experimentation Act (which would protect children from these types of procedures) from taking effect. Hopefully, U.S. medical and judicial authorities will take seriously the positions like those adopted by the Finns.
When it comes to the transgender-identifying population and questions of medicine, U.S. authorities should contextualize the research performed in their own backyard and shun any policies that disregard simple observation and scientific evidence about human development. We should take the lessons learned from our international counterparts and ban destructive, unscientific, and incomprehensible practices on our most vulnerable.