Seven youngsters in Dundee – all under the age of 16 – are taking medicines to delay the onset of puberty while they question their gender.
The figure was revealed to the Tele through a freedom of information request, which showed the majority of patients receiving these drugs were female.
Given there are only eight high schools in the city, that’s almost one child in every Dundee secondary school taking the drugs.
Alex Muir, a transgender man, described puberty suppressors as “buying time” for the patient, to help them decide if they want to go down the road of transition – changing their gender identity with or without medical assistance.
Alex, 23, from Dundee’s West End, said: “These drugs buy a young person who is questioning their gender a bit of time before they have to make any permanent decisions.
“Some people know before they can walk or talk what their gender is, but not everyone does – some have to work it out.”
However, there are risks associated with using these drugs, designed to override natural hormonal changes in puberty.
Research has shown they slow down the growth of sexual organs, can compromise fertility and bone development and can affect brain development.
Across the country, there has been around 800 children who have been prescribed the medication, with around 230 under 14 and the youngest just 10 years old. Scotland’s only centre specialising in gender issues in under-18s is based in Glasgow, with the main UK specialists at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, based in London and Leeds.
Rev David Robertson, of St Peters Free Church, Dundee, who’s been an outspoken critic of such medicines, believes that latest trends on the internet have made children question their gender, when most of them would not necessary have considered it.
He said: “Adults are so scared of being accused of being transphobic that they won’t speak out about it.
“It’s being driven by political correctness rather than the welfare of children, but it crosses the line when children are being given drugs to chemically change their body. It’s deeply harmful to children who are already suffering and it doesn’t relieve their suffering – it will make it worse.”
There are currently 14 children in Tayside and Fife receiving puberty blocking drugs – seven in Dundee, five in Angus, five in Perth and five in Fife.
All of the children are aged between five and 15, and fewer than five of them are male. Last year there were a total of 18 children in Tayside taking these drugs and in 2017 there were 11.
Councillor Gregor Murray, who identifies as non-binary, said: “Puberty blockers support young trans people through a really tough time in their life – by preventing the mental trauma of going through the wrong puberty.
“They delay making any long-term decisions until the child is old enough to make those decisions for themselves.
“We wouldn’t have a public discussion over the pros and cons of a new cancer drug, or a new cream for acne.
“We must let the NHS make the right decisions for all young people in conjunction with the young people and their parents.”
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which holds the country’s only under-18s transgender medical clinic, was asked to comment but failed to respond in time for publication.