Sweden cuts ties with leading trans health group over guidelines for child sex changes

Sweden has broken ranks with WPATH, announcing that gender clinics will no longer attempt experimental sex changes on under-18s but will instead offer "psychological support to help youth live with the healthy body they were born with."

Mia Ashton Montreal QC

Swedish health authorities have officially broken ranks with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) with the announcement that gender clinics will no longer be attempting to perform experimental sex changes on under-18s but will instead offer “psychological support to help youth live with the healthy body they were born with.”

According to an article published in the Swedish medical journal Läkartidningen, new guidelines will be published before the end of the year advising against puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgery for under 18s. This is in direct contrast with the WPATH Standards of Care 8 (SOC8) released earlier this year which advises affirmation and medical intervention as the first line of treatment for gender-confused minors.

“As a whole, the new guidelines will be more reasonable than the previous ones and advocate a great deal of caution with irreversible interventions in healthy bodies, as we know that some will regret it,” writes pediatrician Mats Reimer. He explained that puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones will only be available to youth in the strictest of clinical trial settings from now on, given the “extremely weak” evidence for their use.

Reimer said that the previous Swedish guidelines were based upon the WPATH Standards of Care 7 (SOC7) but when the internationally respected professional association released its SOC8, debate broke out amongst Swedish doctors over the removal of all lower age limits and the inclusion of “eunuch” as an innate gender identity even children can possess. Reimer, as well as many other experts, believes this is a sign that WPATH is not a scientific organization but instead an activist group.

"Had this been published anywhere other than in a supposedly scientific article, it would have been thought that it was satire," said Reimer. "The fact that the National Board of Health and Welfare's updated guidelines should no longer be based on such an obviously activist organization as WPATH is of course welcome."

"In Swedish healthcare, child psychiatry will continue to be responsible for treating those under the age of 18 who experience gender incongruence and suffer from it. The care will now primarily consist of psychological support to help the youth live with the healthy body they are born with," Reimer concluded.

Sweden is not the only country changing course on the treatment approach for children who are experiencing gender-related distress. Finland became the first nation to abandon the affirmative model of care in 2020 when an independent review of its pediatric gender service found the evidence for affirmation and puberty blockers to be of extremely poor quality. 

England followed suit earlier this year, also after an independent review of its youth gender service. The controversial Tavistock clinic will be closed next year, and regional centers set up that are better equipped to deal with the complex mental health needs of this vulnerable cohort of young people.

France and New Zealand have taken similar approaches, and several Republican states in the U.S. have passed, or proposed, legislation aimed at bringing an end to what one pediatric neurosurgeon recently called “an extraordinary medical atrocity.” Meanwhile, WPATH and the gender-affirming model of care continue to enjoy the support of President Biden, Assistant Secretary of Health Rachel Levine, and all Democrat states.

There has yet to be an official statement from WPATH regarding Sweden rejecting its guidelines, but last month WPATH released a statement condemning the changes proposed by England’s National Health Service (NHS). Responding to the proposed change that the primary intervention for children and young people would be psychological support, WPATH called it “alarming,” and “outdated gatekeeping.”

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