Independent journalist Jesse Singal just did a remarkable interview with a Swedish investigative journalist who has reported on the medicalization of gender-questioning youth in Sweden and the radical changes in how that country now helps such young people. The Swedish journalist, Carolina Jemsby, was one of the makers of the Trans Train series that aired on the public broadcaster, which has helped alert Swedes to some of the detrimental side effects of puberty blockers, including early-onset osteoporosis. (Learn more about the series and watch the most recent episode with English subtitles here. The story of the effects of puberty blockers on “Leo,” a teenager, are particularly shocking and distressing.)
During the interview, Jemsby notes the following:
“Yeah, and even, it’s quite interesting because the National Board of Health in Sweden, they’re the ones giving out the recommendations of treatments. And in their old recommendations, which are still valid, it says that puberty blockers are totally reversible, totally safe, exactly as the quote you received when you wrote your piece for The Atlantic. And, in the new ones, which are about to publish in a few weeks time, it’s a totally different story, where they really go into all the different side effects, they quote the NICE report from the U.K., they talk about the potential dangers—at least in the version I’ve seen, which is not yet published….. [In a followup email, Jemsby wrote, “After we published our story, they postponed publishing the new one and it’s now expected in March.”]“
The entire interview is behind a paywall and entirely worth the price of admission, but below you will find a few highlights.
Yeah, in May [Karolinka hospital, one of the best hospitals in the world] announced that they were no longer initiating new hormone treatments for minors, unless it was part of a research project. And they didn’t have any ongoing research projects. Meaning that, in reality, it was a stop. It was an end to all new hormone treatments of minors. And they refer to the lack of scientific bases for the treatments….
Because as they were doing this announcement, as they were speaking about potential side effects, the medical doctors, endocrinologists treating children, treating minors, knew that some of their patients were suffering from quite severe side effects, and they didn’t tell this to the public. Which also made that decision to hold all treatments so incomprehensible for the trans community, for other hospitals and for the public. Because if you just talk about potential side effects, you can get potential side effects from a headache pill, right? And here is a situation where they actually had their own patients—minor patients—who had effects on their skeletons, they had other side effects, which were also quite severe. They weren’t open about this.
Yeah, it’s not supposed to be that way. I mean, that’s what’s gone wrong here. And that’s why they did an adverse report. They didn’t do an adverse report because they regretted the detransition. They did an adverse report because they were doing wrong, and sending them off without a diagnosis. I think that the explanation is—and this is my own theory—I believe that it’s been such an increase of young patients coming in there and being desperate for treatments. And you have medical doctors just being overwhelmed, with too much work, too many patients, to keep up with, that sometimes a nurse, or a psychologist, or someone who doesn’t have the right competence, actually just refer them away to start hormone treatments, without having had the proper assessment, without having the conference with the different medical doctors, psychologists, and other people involved, that are supposed to discuss the patient, and come to a decision together. That somehow I think the understanding has been, if you seek transgender healthcare, you need transgender healthcare. There are other aspects, that this may be a young person that is suffering from some kind of body dysphoria, or some kind of disorder, who needs help, but may not need this help. Or may need it! Either way. But there could be another explanation for someone seeking this healthcare. I think that has been something that hasn’t been on the agenda at all. Meaning, they’ve been running too fast sometimes.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons, TUBS.