Lives in a chiaroscuro. Should we suspend the puberty of children with gender identity disorder?

J Med Ethics. 2008 Aug;34(8):580-4. doi: 10.1136/jme.2007.021097.


Transgender children who are not treated for their condition are at high risk of violence and suicide. As a matter of survival, many are willing to take whatever help is available, even if this is offered by illegal sources, and this often traps them into the juvenile criminal system and exposes them to various threats. Endocrinology offers a revolutionary instrument to help children/adolescents with gender identity disorder: suspension of puberty. Suspension of puberty raises many ethical issues, and experts dissent as to when treatment should be commenced and how children should be followed up. This paper argues that suspension of puberty is not only not unethical: if it is likely to improve the child's quality of life and even save his or her life, then it is indeed unethical to defer treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Crime Victims / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Health Policy / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Hormone Antagonists / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Puberty / drug effects*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Self Concept
  • Sexuality / drug effects*
  • Transsexualism / drug therapy*
  • Transsexualism / psychology


  • Hormone Antagonists