A 12-year-old boy diagnosed with “gender identity disorder” is to become Japan’s youngest ever recipient of hormonal gender therapy.
The Hyogo prefecture boy is in his 6th year of elementary school, and already lives as a girl.
The hospital reports treatment will take the form of hormonal injections of “GnRH agonists” in an effort to obstruct the progress of the boy’s natural puberty. A program of monthly injections costs ¥35,000 as they are not covered by national health insurance.
Rather than attempting to change a child’s physical characteristics to conform to those of a particular sex as with traditional hormone replacement therapy, treatment with GnRH agonists aims to suppress puberty until a later date (generally the age of 16), at which time HRT can be begun with a view to eventual surgical alterations.
However, this program does not completely eliminate the changes associated with puberty, and may otherwise permanently alter a child’s development.
At 12, he will be Japan’s youngest ever recipient of such treatment.
The diagnosis and subsequent “treatment” of pubescent or pre-pubescent children as having a “gender-identity disorder” itself is extremely controversial.
Even amongst supporters of GID as a valid disorder, opinions range from it being a highly desirable measure due to the more complete transformation it allows, to those who criticise it as being ethically dubious or even an outright act of sexism or intolerance against more fluid or non-traditional gender roles.
Particular criticism has focused on the ability of parents and psychiatrists to engineer a diagnosis of a child as having GID even if the child has never expressed any interest in changing gender, potentially grooming them for irreversible social and sexual “gender reassignment” without them ever being in a position to give informed consent.
Japanese children have recently become subject to a surge of GID diagnoses, at ever younger ages – with boys as young as 8 being told they are actually girls, scepticism about the validity of the diagnoses and the ethics of the treatment is inevitable and probably far from misplaced.