Wales is latest UK nation to pause puberty blockers for under-18s

A person with red hair standing infront of a metal wall with paint that says "protect trans kids" on their cheek.

Wales has become the latest UK nation to pause the use of puberty blockers by under-18s.

The physically reversible hormone blockers, which suppress unwanted elements of puberty for young trans teens, will no longer be available to new patients, following a decision by NHS Wales.

The health organisation commissions NHS England to provide gender identity services for under-18s in the devolved nation, meaning that because of England’s own pause on puberty blockers, NHS Wales has followed suit.

The decision comes in the wake of the publication of the Cass Report on 10 April, which looked into the model of care for trans young people in England. Alongside 32 recommendations that aim to provide a “holistic approach” to trans healthcare, the review urged “extreme caution” when it comes to prescribing hormones.

Those already prescribed puberty blockers will not be affected by the change and will continue treatment until they transition to an adult gender clinic.

An activist holds up a sign saying "hormones are a right not a privilege"
Those already prescribed puberty blockers will not see a change in their treatment. (Getty)

The move follows a similar decision by NHS Glasgow and Clyde, earlier this month which affects Scotland’s only youth gender clinic.

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NHS England put a pause on puberty blockers in March before the publication of the Cass report, claiming there is “not enough evidence” of their safety. Fewer than 100 people in England were on them at the time, according to the BBC. Clinical trials to test the safety and effectiveness of the hormone suppressants will be available to applicants in England as part of research into the medication.

The government called the move a “landmark decision” and claimed it was in the “best interests of the child”.

But trans youth charity Mermaids described it as “deeply disappointing,” adding: “There were virtually no first appointments offered in 2023, with ever-growing waiting lists of over five years.

“Those currently prescribed puberty blockers won’t see any changes to their treatment, and this is a pause on prescribing – not a ban.”