A recent hot topic in the news today concerns “hormone blocking therapy” and its use to delay puberty in children. At least one story has made headlines over this controversial topic. A lesbian couple in California has given their child, a biological 11-year old boy, hormone blockers in order for the child to decide what sex he wants to be (http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/10/17/controversial-therapy-for-young-transgender-patients-raises-questions/). The boy, Tommy, has expressed his desire to be a girl and go by the name “Tammy,” but some say the boy is not old enough to be making these kinds of decisions on his own. Opponents of the decision are worried about the side-effects of such treatment, especially at such a young age. Dr. Paul McHugh, a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, says that this practice is child abuse. This raises several concerns over not only the moral and ethical dilemma but also potential backlash by the gay and lesbian community.

Most transgendered individuals go back and forth for a number of years before making a decision as to what sex they want to associate with. Is allowing an 11-year-old child who cannot speak to decide such a major life choice the right thing to do? One also may wonder what role Tammy’s parents played in his choice to live as a female. “Undue influence on the child simply has to be ruled out” says psychiatrist Keith Ablow. Another point of controversy for the opponents of hormone blocking is the question of whether a young child is psychologically and physically capable of making such a vast decision. Does an 11-year-old really know that they want to live as the opposite sex. This is where the questions about parental influence lie. Since it is such a major life choice, many believe that such drastic decisions that may have a physical effects on the body should wait until a later age.

-Meredith Light