The organization widely considered to be the gold standard on transgender health care has removed its age recommendations for minors to receive hotly debated transgender medical interventions from its guidelines — and it won’t explain why. 

The World Professional Association for Transgender Health published a correction to its Standards of Care 8th Edition this week, removing those sections on “suggested minimal ages for gender-affirming medical and surgical treatment for adolescents.”

Activists, media, and Democrats often use the phrase “gender affirming” to describe more grisly sounding top and bottom surgeries, like removing a biological female’s breasts or removing a biological male’s genitals, sculpting a fake penis on a biological female, facial feminization or facial masculinization, as well as puberty blockers, social affirmations, and hormones.

WPATH had formerly suggested that minors must be 14 years or older for hormone treatment, 15 years or older for chest masculinization, 16 years or older for breast augmentation or facial surgeries, 17 years or older for surgeries like hysterectomies or crafting a faux vagina, and 18 years or older for phalloplasties (crafting a faux penis). 

The organization formerly hedged each of these categories with the note: “unless there are significant, compelling reasons to take an individualized approach when considering the factors unique to the adolescent treatment time frame.”

WPATH also said in its correction that it removed the following: 

Historically, there has been hesitancy in the transgender health care setting to offer gender-affirming treatments with potential irreversible effects to minors. The age criteria set forth in these guidelines are younger than ages stipulated in previous guidelines and are intended to facilitate youth’s access to gender-affirming treatments… Importantly, for each gender-affirming intervention being considered, youth must communicate consent/assent and be able to demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of potential benefits and risks specific to the intervention.

WPATH did not offer any apparent explanation as to why it had removed this and other language from the Standards of Care for the Health of Transgender and Gender Diverse People, Version 8, published in the International Journal of Transgender Health on Sept. 6. The correction was published in the same journal Sept. 15. 

The health association did not respond to repeated requests for comment from The Daily Signal explaining why it had removed the age recommendations. 

Further review of WPATH’s new guidelines indicates that the health association has lowered the bar for some transgender treatments for youngsters. 

A report from The Daily Wire highlights that a confidential draft of the eighth edition was released in December 2021, lowering the recommended minimum age for minors to receive cross-sex hormones from 16 to 14 (these cross-sex hormones can permanently change the developing teenager’s body). 

The draft also changed the ages for irreversible chest, face, and genital surgeries respectively to 15, 16, and 17, The Daily Wire reported, noting that WPATH’s current edition varies little from these recommendations except for removing the aforementioned age recommendations. 

Children as young as 14 may be administered cross-sex hormones, Chapter 6 of the new guidelines says. “More recent guidelines suggest there may be compelling reasons to initiate [gender-affirming hormone therapy] prior to the age of 16, although there are limited studies on youth who have initiated hormones prior to 14 years of age,” the guidelines read.

The guidelines state this while simultaneously acknowledging that “puberty is a time of significant brain and cognitive development” and noting that “the potential neurodevelopmental impact of extended pubertal suppression in gender diverse youth has been specifically identified as an area in need of continued study.” 

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