puberty blockers

Sick Kids Toronto Gender Clinic Review

The following account documents the experience of a family who attended a one-hour appointment at SickKids Gender Clinic in Toronto where they were told their daughter was a good candidate for the puberty blocker Lupron and would be able to start receiving the injections at the next appointment.

Sick Kids Gender Clinic Review

Several years ago, our 14 year old daughter advised us that she was transgender and wanted to be a boy.  Over the next several months – although often requested – she did little to elaborate on her feelings or any other information on how or why she felt this way.  Our family doctor counselled her a few times and she saw one psychologist once and a psychotherapist approximately three times before we sought out a referral to the gender clinic at Sick Kids hospital in Toronto.

Approximately one year after our daughter had suddenly begun to identify as a boy, we attended Sick Kids Hospital. We filled out a survey as did our daughter asking questions about our daughter’s childhood. We had an interview session with a physician and a male student observer as a family for about 30 minutes. The context that we gave to the counsellors during our portion of the session was that we felt that at least one of our daughter’s peers had greatly influenced this transgender epiphany.  Further, she had recently been seeing a psychotherapist that was coaching her on what to say to Sick Kids to get hormone treatment right away.  Our daughter had disclosed this to us after the third visit with this therapist.  Lastly, her gender dysphoria had come about suddenly with the onset of puberty at age 14 with no previous indication of gender identity issues.  Our daughter denied all of this during this interview. 

We were asked to leave and our daughter then spoke with them without us for another 15 minutes. After that, we were invited back into the room and advised that they could not disclose what was discussed citing confidentiality but that our daughter did in fact have gender dysphoria.  Further, they considered her to be a good candidate for Lupron but they could not give her a prescription until we had blood work done and the mandatory 3 month waiting period was complete. They handed us a lab requisition form for the blood work further stating that on our next visit they could administer the hormone blockers if the blood work was done.  

We asked to speak to the counsellors in the absence of our child so we could express more detail about our concerns without upsetting, alienating or damaging our relationship with our daughter. They refused, stating that the confidentiality was with her, not with us and whatever we said to them without our daughter present they would just tell her anyway so we might as well say it in front of her.  We questioned the safety and hastiness of the drug administration.  We were advised “the sooner the better” and that Lupron simply puts puberty on hold and is fully reversible, which we knew is not entirely true. They commended us on our knowledge of the hormone blocker Lupron but totally ignored our concerns and minimized the risks. 

We left the hospital shocked at the outcome. Not feeling that a one-hour long interview with a child and ignoring all parental input and concerns was sufficient to start on a course of hormones.  We never returned to Sick Kids hospital. 

Our daughter is now 17 and continues to identify as transgender, but has not expressed any desire to take any sort of medical intervention since our visit to Sick Kids. She continues to function well emotionally, socially and academically.  She has close friends with which she socializes outside of school, works part-time and is on the honour role. 

9 thoughts on “Sick Kids Toronto Gender Clinic Review

  1. Thank you for sharing your story – I thought I was the only one! We had a similar experience about a year ago. Even my daughter was taken aback at how cursory it was and how little the family was consulted. We were also told that Lupron is fully reversible. When I asked about bone density loss, they recommended calcium supplements and said “… we wouldn’t do this if it wasn’t safe.” We were told to come back in a couple of weeks for the monthly Lupron clinic in order to get a prescription. They told my daughter she could have Lupron even without our permission.

    It’s clear to me now that Sick Kids is a medical clinic that exists to support medical transition. And for some kids I’m sure it is a godsend. It’s not a place for figuring out if someone really needs to just wait-and-see or to get therapy. No one should go there unless they’ve already made the call to start medicalization. But that’s not really clear to confused kids and parents out there. We hear about this clinic for trans teens, which sounds great on the surface, and in our case it was easy to get a referral with almost no investigation. Once there, the default stance is 100% affirming, the assumption is that you are ready to get started, and medicalization is the answer. I can see how it’s easy to get swept up by it.

    We also didn’t go back and my daughter desisted a few months later, after therapy helped her resolve other unrelated issues that likely were the real problem. (I emphasize that we only did one initial visit and I do not have experience with what it’s like if someone chooses to move forward.)

    1. Thank you for this comment. It would be great to learn more. We’ve been told the CHEO parent support group is run by pro-transition activists that make it impossible for parents to question or consider alternatives for their kids. Very concerning given that parents will face 5 years in prison if they are viewed as unsupportive of their child’s gender transition once Bill C6 is in place.

  2. Thank you for this story. I have a 15 yr old daughter who is trans identified but not seeking medical treatment. I have extensively reviewed with her the NHS new guidelines on puberty blockers that came out in August – for example they warn about not reaching peak height or peak IQ and in my case she was quite put off by the side effects and we have gone no further.

    1. Your email address indicates that you’re in Canada. It doesn’t seem right that you need to go outside the country to seek evidence-based information about the side-effects of medical interventions for gender dysphoria. We’ll work on making sure our public healthcare system is more transparent about these treatments.

  3. not you misgendering him, that’s real embarrassing.
    you don’t have to transition to be transgender.
    also, when it comes to mental health stuff, even stuff around gender identity, they’re legally required to keep it confidential unless the person says they’re planning to hurt themselves or others. educate yourself before you speak.

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