You might have the impression that accessing Puberty Blockers is prohibitively expensive. You may have heard that they are unfairly withheld from children, and how they should be subsidised by the government.
For this post, I have relied on data published by TransHub, which is an informational website owned and operated by ACON.
TransHub is the place trans people, children and parents go for their data about transitioning.
The Cost of Blocking Puberty
TransHub advise that there are 3 types of puberty blockers, and that these are prohibitively expensive. Goserelin, Leuprorelin and Triptorelin are each medications that are taken periodically 3-5 times per year.
These drugs are subsidised for conditions such as – endometriosis, chemical castration, prostate cnacer – and are limited for short treatment periods only.
Doctors can prescribe “off label” so the consumer can buy them, but will not receive a subsidy. They must pay full price. For these 3 drugs, the cost is between $800 and $1200 per year per child.
To contrast, my daughter attends karate lessons which are $20 per week, or $1040 per year.
This cost is within reach of most working and middle-class households. The kinds of people who would dress a boy in pink and call him a girl.
Size of the market
Royal Children’s Hospital estimates that there are 45000 trans children in Australia.
If 60% of these children are eligible for puberty blockers, this gives us 27000 children.
27000 children paying $1000 per year is $27 Million dollars.
Each child will take puberty blockers for up to 6 years, meaning there is a need to continually convert younger and younger consumers to maintain the pipeline. The younger the child is placed on to the trans pathway, the more they will look forward to the day they can finally receive puberty-blocking drugs. They are less likely to pause and make a critical decision over something that has become a years-long obsession.
Subsidies are about removing consumer roadblocks
GnRH analogues are not listed on the PBS for puberty suppression related to gender affirmation, and as a result the costs can be prohibitively expensive for many young people and their families. Some young people will seek out public clinics but there are very few currently available in NSW.TransHub – https://www.transhub.org.au/puberty-blockers
For many medications, the government will agree to pay part of the price direct to the manufacturer so that the consumer only pays a small amount at the pharmacy counter.
The manufacturer gets paid either way. So why is this important?
Subsidising puberty blockers will take away a barrier to starting the treatment. If the financial commitment is taken away, parents are more likely to give it a go and see what happens. This works alongside the myth that puberty blockers are safe and reversible.
That’s how my daughter got started in karate – 2 free trial lessons before I handed over my money.
Pie for everyone
For each trans child, the general practitioner (what Americans might call the primary-care doctor) also gets a small piece of the pie.
TransHub gives a list of doctors who are on board with dispensing puberty blockers to children. These doctors may charge $200 per visit to review and administer doses. There is a medicare rebate for these visits, meaning the doctor gets paid $200 and the customer receives around $80 back from the government.
There are also psychologists, endocrinologists and providers of “trans” paraphernalia such as chest binders and penis-tucking underwear.
These parties all stand to profit from a child who stays on the trans path. They act together with the parents and the pharmaceutical companies to lock the child into a life-long and life-altering decision.