Study: Puberty blockers may reduce suicide risk among trans teens

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A new study is shedding light on a type of treatment for transgender youth that a proposed bill in the South Dakota legislature aims to curb.

The study, published Thursday in the medical journal Pediatrics, found that transgender youth who have access to a puberty blocker had a lower risk of "suicidal ideation" and mental health problems.

The study was released just one day after the South Dakota House State Affairs Committee advanced a bill that would criminalize using puberty blockers to treat anyone under 16.

Committee members passedHB 1057 in an 8-5 vote Wednesday. If passed by the legislature, it would make it a misdemeanor for medical professionals to treat transgender you with puberty blockers, as well as hormones and gender confirmation surgery.

Rep. Fred Deutsch (R, Florence, the lawmaker who introduced the bill, called it a “pause button” for minors considering gender-transition operations.

Opponents of the bill say it is the government intruding upon the doctor-patient relationship. In addition, several health professionals spoke out against it in Wednesday's meeting, voicing concerns it could also to increased mental health stress for transgender youth. A 2017 CDC study found transgender youths have a greater risk of suicide.

The newly released study was performed by researchers in Massachusetts, and it analyzed data from a 2015 survey that involved over 20,000 transgender people between the ages of 18 and 36.