They will, however, block tamariki from accessing important medical information on gender blockers
Last week, it came to light that in September 2022, the Ministry of Health washed its hands of important health information on gender dysphoria and puberty blockers. Pressure came for the Ministry to delete the section of their website after more than 50 anti-transgender activists wrote in against it, in spite of the information being medically accurate and up-to-date.
The information stated that puberty blockers, “are a safe and fully reversible medicine.” Why, then, was this truth deleted? It seems that the Ministry of Health got sick of the questions, and deleted the information “in the hopes it creates fewer queries.” What do we say to this? Own up, Labour. Field a few “queries” from a bunch of TERFs if it means protecting a safe and informed corner of the internet for our vulnerable tamariki. Better yet, just ignore them. TERFs need to learn at some point that no one cares about the hatred they spew.
Evidently, this is an immense failure of our government with respect to the transgender community. Information on puberty blockers and their status in Aotearoa is incredibly important, and having this verified on the Ministry of Health’s website was no doubt aiding many young New Zealanders and their families in making important decisions around their health and wellness. It’s important to note that the status of puberty blockers has not changed. Tamariki are still able to visit a GP if they’re experiencing discomfort over their gender identity and have these prescribed.
So, why are puberty blockers so important? By taking puberty blockers, a child can temporarily halt the physical changes of puberty. This gives them the gift of time to explore their gender identity and work out how they feel in themselves. If they do choose to transition, they can move on to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and eventually undergo gender affirmation surgery, if this is something they’d like to do. If they don’t choose to transition, they can simply stop taking puberty blockers upon consultation with their doctor, and will begin to go through puberty in their birth assigned sex.
It’s also crucial to acknowledge that puberty blockers are still absolutely safe to use, when taken under the guidance of a specialist or GP. Their effects also remain reversible. In fact, they have been used for decades, before discussion on gender dysphoria was widespread in medical practice: the medication began to be used in the late 20th century to treat a condition known as precocious puberty, in which a child begins to go through puberty at a young age (before eight for girls, and before nine for boys). In other words, puberty blockers have been effective and safe for several decades, and as medicine and research continues to advance, are only becoming more common.
It seems that the only reason this information was removed from the Ministry of Health’s website is because they’re lazy, and scared of TERFs. It’s interesting that the Ministry can apparently be so concerned about ‘queries’ from TERFs that they authorise a deletion of medical information they know to be accurate, yet thousands of marginalised people can show up to a protest unafraid of a group of rampaging TERFs (cough: Posie Parker and her entourage).
The Ministry of Health was approached for comment, and informed us that, “The Ministry’s website was not changed due to anti-trans pressure or any other external pressures.” They didn’t, however, comment about the contents of the email obtained by Newsroom regarding ‘fewer queries’, which seems to be in direct contradiction to this statement. Our point still stands.
For those who know a young person looking for information on gender dysphoria and puberty blockers, we’d encourage you to direct them instead to Te Whatu Ora’s website (under the subsection Transgender New Zealanders) or to get in touch with their GP. We’ve seen in history that the suppression of the truth is never a good thing: in the absence of the government republishing the information, we will continue to fight to hold them accountable.