Episode 101

101 — Michael Biggs on Puberty Blockers: From Curiosity to Exposé

Published on: 10th February, 2023

On this episode of Gender: A Wider Lens, Stella & Sasha sit down with Dr. Michael Biggs, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of St Cross College. Dr. Biggs has been key in uncovering vital information that led to the independent Cass Review on GIDS at Tavistock. Biggs has since turned his laser-like focus on the Dutch Protocol and in this episode, he discusses many of the issues with this flawed model. His distinguished body of work includes articles on social movements and collective protest published in all the leading disciplinary journals, including the American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, and Social Forces. In this conversation, Dr. Biggs tells the story of his experience as a professor in a graduate sociology program when he encountered pushback from students about discussing gender identity from a sociological perspective as part of a classroom exercise. Dr. Biggs has a longstanding history of advocating on behalf of LGBT issues and found himself puzzled when students questioned his intentions. He decided to dig into the literature to try to understand where and how the topic of gender generated such surprising responses from a few of his students. After diving deep into pediatric gender medicine, he continued pursuing investigations into the unreported outcomes for patients at the largest pediatric gender clinic in the world, the Tavistock’s Gender Identity Development Services (GIDS). After a lack of response when he requested information from the GIDS directly, Dr. Biggs filed a Freedom of Information request to access data about research and treatment protocols being conducted at the clinic. Ultimately, the buried outcomes of using puberty blockers in children and adolescents were far less than positive. Biggs began to wonder: how was the puberty blocker pathway worthy of its reputation as the “gold standard” for pediatric transgender care? Where was the research to back up that claim? What motivated Michael to dedicate so much effort to learning and reporting on medical experimentation in gender-affirming care? Dr. Biggs describes feeling compelled to a sense of duty and responsibility to use his privilege to fight for academic truth. His pursuit of the truth, along with that of several other key “whistleblowers” from within Tavistock itself, ultimately yielded momentum for the systematic “Cass Review.” The review process took over two years, but the interim findings reported in late 2022 ultimately resulted in the closure of the GIDS clinic.


Puberty Blockers and Suicidality in Adolescents Suffering from Gender Dysphoria


The Dutch Protocol for Juvenile Transsexuals: Origins and Evidence


Gender Trender — 4th wave now


The Wrong Body (video series - viewing requests available from the British Film Institute)

Part 1 - https://www2.bfi.org.uk/films-tv-people/4ce2b80c5d9ba  

Part 2 - https://www2.bfi.org.uk/films-tv-people/4ce2b7f121f1b

If you liked this episode, more episodes you might find interesting:

Episode 91 — Uncovering the GIDS Disaster: Dr. Dave Bell


Episode 27 — Behind the Curtain: Psychotherapy for Gender Dysphoria with Sue and Marcus Evans


Episode 78 — Affirming Reality for Kids with Stephanie Davies-Arai


Please visit http://www.widerlenspod.com/ to explore more content, access additional resources, or join our listener community.

For more about our sponsors, visit:

ReIME— https://rethinkime.org/

Genspect — https://genspect.org/

Extended Notes

  • The Dutch were the first to repurpose puberty blockers to facilitate gender transitions.
  • In 2014, during a study of the drug Lupron 17, Dutch kids were given the drug and one child died.
  • The Lupron study results were not published which was cause for concern.
  • It was difficult to publish positive news about the correlation between trans kids and suicide.
  • Autism is associated with a transgender identity.
  • Visual aesthetics were a main driver of early puberty suppression.
  • Studies show male kids with gender dysphoria turn out to be gay men.
  • Puberty is important for not only sexual development but emotional and intellectual development as well.
  • A recent study shows that mice are more anxious when given puberty blockers.
  • When Tavistock first began they had an average of nine kids a year.
  • When puberty is blocked, teenage transition surgeries are riskier than adult transition surgeries.
  • Michael shares his analysis of the credibility of the Dutch study.
  • A documentary, The Wrong Body, highlights some inconsistencies in the Dutch protocol.
  • Michael believes it is important for people to understand all the implications of Vaginoplasty on the body.


  • “The suicide rate is higher for trans kids.” — Michael [22:23]
  • “A key thing that keeps people from speaking out is they’ll lose popularity, they’ll lose esteem, and they’ll lose a lot of respect among their peers.” — Stella [26:52]
  • “Transgender medicine has always been a scandal waiting to happen.” — Michael [31:34]
  • “One of the things about gender medicine I don't like is the obscure language.” — Michael [1:06:35]
Next Episode All Episodes Previous Episode
Show artwork for Gender: A Wider Lens Podcast

About the Podcast

Gender: A Wider Lens Podcast
Two therapists explore the expanding concept of "gender" from a psychological depth perspective.
Gender dysphoria has become a minefield for public discussion, with many afraid to express their views or question the narrative. Our mission is to examine this important and complex topic from a range of perspectives, but always through a psychological lens. By openly considering and examining gender identity, transition, and the transgender umbrella, we hope to give all interested parties permission to engage these fascinating topics with less fear and more honesty. Interviews and discussions will involve clinicians, medical professionals, academics, transgender people, parents, detransitioners and other interesting individuals whose lives have been touched by the concept of gender.

Conversations between two practicing therapists give listeners an opportunity to contemplate gender from a depth perspective not currently taken up in most of today’s accessible debates. As a result of their work with gender dysphoric therapy clients as well as their personal divergent experiences with gender, Stella and Sasha hold a refreshing and informed perspective.

Is gender identity a facilitation of development and expression of creativity, or can it be a defense against painful existential realities of living in a human body? What can we discover about masculinity, femininity, identity, gender performance, and sexuality when we peer beneath the surface and dive into a deeper psychological exploration? What is the relationship between body, mind, identity, culture, and psyche?

This podcast engages listeners in an intimate and fascinating behind-the-scenes inquiry about a topic as taboo as it is salient today.

Thank you to our sponsors:
Genspect - an international organization which offers an alternative to WPATH. Providing a range of education, resources and supports to anyone impacted by gender distress, Genspect unites many different organizations globally, and gives voice to 1,000s of previously untold stories. For more info, visit genspect.org.

GETA - an association of therapists who believe that individuals experiencing gender related concerns ought to be treated using a whole person approach. GETA connects like minded clinicians, provides educational resources and trainings, and helps people with gender dysphoria find support. For more info, visit genderexploratory.com.
Support This Show

About your hosts

Stella O'Malley

Profile picture for Stella O'Malley
Stella O’Malley is a psychotherapist and author who works in private practice in Ireland. Her work focuses on parenting, family dynamics and working with teenagers.

Much of Stella’s counselling and writing focuses on mental health and the importance of well-being and she is a regular contributor to the media. She is also the resident psychotherapist for the current TV series, Raised by the Village, a family programme that helps troubled teenagers reconnect with themselves and their families.

Stella's first book, Cotton Wool Kids, was released in 2015 while Bully-Proof Kids: Practical tools to help kids grow up confident, resilient and strong was released in 2017. Stella’s latest book Fragile, was released in 2019 and focuses on overcoming anxiety and stress.

Stella was the presenter of the documentary Trans - Kids: It’s Time To Talk broadcast on Channel 4 in November 2018 and she contributed a chapter to the 2019 book, Inventing Transgender Children and Young People.

The Jungian analyst, Lisa Marchiano, and Stella launched Secrets of the Motherworld in September 2019, offering thoughtful exploration of the most intimate aspects of motherhood in a bid to help mothers feel less alone.

Stella is a Clinical Advisor for the Society for Evidence-based Gender Medicine and a founding member of the International Association of Therapists for Desisters and Detransitioners. She is also the lead facilitator for the Gender Dysphoria Support Network.

Stella holds a B.A. in Counselling and Psychotherapy and a M.A. in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

Sasha Ayad

Profile picture for Sasha Ayad
Sasha Ayad is a Licensed Professional Counselor who works in private practice, and has treated adolescents for over 10 years. Her work focuses on teens and young adults struggling with issues of gender dysphoria and gender identity.

She became interested in the sharp rise in teenagers who declare a trans identity for the first time during adolescence. She discovered, through working with hundreds of families, that many teens were developing gender dysphoria only after adopting a transgender identity. She questions the practice of medical transition for children and teenagers, and her clinical work focuses on developmentally appropriate, least-invasive-first talk therapy.

Sasha is also a founding member and Clinical Advisor in the Society for Evidence-based Gender Medicine and a founding member of the International Association of Therapists for Desisters and Detransitioners.

Sasha’s previous work experience includes:
- School counselor for middle and high school students at a charter school for underserved communities

- Behavioral therapy with children on the autism spectrum

- Individual and group counseling for women and children impacted by domestic abuse and sexual violence

- Developed and ran the first counseling program at a large state supported living facility for adults with intellectual disability

Sasha holds a B.S. in Psychology and an M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology.