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If a person has never experienced puberty, can they ever be an adult?

(22 Posts)
JellySlice Sun 09-Aug-20 15:10:22

Although in the UK a person is considered an adult at 18, this is different in other countries. And even in the UK there are some things, I believe, that a person must be older than 18 to do them.

It is known that the human brain and body do not completely mature until early 20s.

If 'adult' is purely defined by age, should it be?

OP’s posts: |
OvaHere Sun 09-Aug-20 15:22:36

Difficult question. I lean towards yes because we still recognise learning disabled people as adults even if they have a recognised mental capacity of someone much younger. However those people do still go through puberty.

I think it's quite a quandary.

NearlyGranny Sun 09-Aug-20 15:26:20

I think there are bitter regretful times coming for some. Litigious times.

Adulthood has to be solely by age, I think. How else could we decently measure it?! We all know, or know of, older folk who never stepped up to adult responsibility, and of course some taking puberty blockers may remain trapped in children's bodies forever which would be an unintended tragedy of unimaginable magnitude. That is where I see the future lawsuits and class actions coming from. I hope I'm wrong: I fear I'm going to be proved right.

Kantastic Sun 09-Aug-20 15:31:43

* trapped in children's bodies forever which would be an unintended tragedy of unimaginable magnitude.*

I wish I thought it was unintended.

vivariumvivariumsvivaria Sun 09-Aug-20 15:44:40

Puberty processes affect the brain, obviously. If you don't go through the re-wiring at puberty then you will, presumably, forever be a juvenile.

I think that we should probably have had a thorough understanding of that before prescribing blockers.

Thingybob Sun 09-Aug-20 16:44:11

The trans narrative says that children will still go through puberty but the right one using cross sex hormones rather than the wrong (natural) one.

Gasp0deTheW0nderD0g Mon 10-Aug-20 13:31:00

I know that's what they say, @Thingybob, but I don't have the impression there's clear, strong research evidence that that hormone regime would result in the same brain maturation that natural puberty would achieve.

This is such a huge thing to do to a child, I can hardly believe the medical profession has accepted it as ethical with no real idea of what the end result will be.

I would not have expected NHS psychiatrists to be swayed by the emotional blackmail of telling them that if they don't recommend these children should get blockers and then cross-hormones the children will harm themselves.

There is no solid statistical evidence that self-harm is higher amongst gender dysphoric children than other children with similar medical/psychiatric histories. There's plenty of evidence that many children with GD have pre-existing mental health problems and/or a neurodevelopmental condition which will already put them at higher risk of self-harm, sadly.

The impression I'm left with is if the child or teenager says they identify as trans all that other information is ignored and all that matters is affirming the trans identity, because magically that will make everything else OK. hmm

RadandMad Mon 10-Aug-20 15:05:55

I did hear something about this on a podcast. Could have been one with Ray Blanchard. Anyway, whoever it was did say that puberty blockers would arrest not only physical development, but mental and emotional development too. They talked about the effects, for instance, of not experiencing sexual attraction, and how left behind kids become in relationship to their peers.

Goosefoot Mon 10-Aug-20 15:15:24

The idea of adulthood as a line in the sand is kind of an artificiality, I think. In reality it's something we grow into over many years, as we are asked to take on more responsibilities, have a different social role, we experience more things. Brain development is only part of it.

And brain development isn't separate from experiences - having responsibility, having to make a living say, having more independence, or becoming a parent at a younger age than is usual now, drives brain maturity. This is one of the trade offs with the general trend to extend dependency in children - it actually lengthens the time to maturity, and then people begin to feel that maturity happens later and they reduce responsibilities...

I think there are two potential issues with the blockers. One is that because the individual doesn't develop as a sexual being, they miss that experience and the thinking and maturity it tends to push. Which could be a big deal, OTOH - a person who otherwise was normal but was simply completely asexual we'd still tend to see as having adult capacities.

For me the bigger question is around the abilities around increasing capacities for abstract thought, complex logical reasoning, and so on. Those also explode during adolescence and I really wonder if that type of development is stunted. You could ask the same things about capacities like self-control that develop during that time.

SciFiScream Mon 10-Aug-20 15:49:20

Age is a protected characteristic.

Children have their own rights charter

Therefore I think both the concept of adulthood and childhood are legally definable.

GoshHashana Mon 10-Aug-20 19:28:18

It's sinister. Consenting adults (by age) with the bodies of prepubescent children.

Cui bono?

Datun Mon 10-Aug-20 19:35:51

Frankly I'm absolutely horrified that we are even in a position to ask that question.

It should never have to be asked.

Keaveny Mon 10-Aug-20 19:36:41

I have some experience and knowledge of this, and I would categorically state that of course you are an adult, even if you haven’t gone through puberty.

Roswellconspiracy Mon 10-Aug-20 20:04:26

I wish I thought it was unintended

Me too

nauticant Mon 10-Aug-20 20:58:08

a person who otherwise was normal but was simply completely asexual

Don't assume that these asexual people, who are unable to derive any sexual pleasure, will not be having sex. Think who their sexual partners will be. (It's not a nice thought.)

KenDodd Mon 10-Aug-20 21:05:17

Castrato singers might give some insight.

en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castrato

SonEtLumiere Mon 10-Aug-20 21:07:58

Or Eunuchs of Byzantine empires (and others).

dillite Mon 10-Aug-20 21:25:37

Sorry to butt in, I tend to stick to just reading this wonderful board.

A few years ago I remember reading a blog post that was posted on here. It was written by a man in his 40's who had never been through puberty due to having no testosterone. What he said was that even though he had a body that had an appearance of an adult, he had a micro penis and testicles of a child and no body/ facial hair. Because he hadn't gone through puberty, he struggled in the adult life and having to deal with adult emotions as his brain, developmentally, was that of a pre-pubescent boy. He had 0 sex drive or ability to hold down a relationship. He was incapable of processing emotions in a way that an adult would.

I remember reading that blog post and thinking that it was unbelievable that there are adults who are doing this to their children. Depriving them of being able to mature, which is why I still remember that blog post. So whilst it is possible to be an adult without having gone through puberty, it is not possible to be a fully developed, matured adult IMO.

Gasp0deTheW0nderD0g Tue 11-Aug-20 08:34:24

Thanks, @dillite, that's extremely interesting and very much what I feared. I've never been able to bring myself to watch I am Jazz which sounds extremely exploitative, but from others' reports I believe Jazz Jennings has said on air things that suggest years on blockers and then cross-hormones has left Jazz not only with no sexual response but no grasp of even what it means to have one or why it matters.

Gasp0deTheW0nderD0g Tue 11-Aug-20 08:53:39

Oh, I also meant to say that surely there are issues around mental capacity here. No child who has yet gone through puberty can grasp what it is to have a sexual response. I don't see how they can be treated as mentally competent to sign that away along with their future fertility.

In cases where a child is suffering from a life-threatening condition, doctors can assume that she/he would accept the loss of fertility etc if treatment will save her/his life, as long as there will be reasonable quality of life. But that isn't what's happening here, unless you accept the dodgy suicide statistics as indicating gender dysphoria is overwhelmingly likely to lead to self-harm if not treated with blockers and cross-hormones. Which is where I came in, above.

torpidcrystals Tue 11-Aug-20 08:58:48

* Oh, I also meant to say that surely there are issues around mental capacity here. No child who has yet gone through puberty can grasp what it is to have a sexual response*

This is so true. Those with experience of sex due to abuse will not be at all in a position to make any appropriate judgements of actions to take as their experience is so far outside the norm as well as socially acceptability. There should be a policy of no messing with sex until the early 20s. In my view the only acceptable action by medics when dealing with puberty is that dealing with medical, biological problems which affect puberty or future fertility.

Roswellconspiracy Tue 11-Aug-20 09:36:47

I remember reading that blog post and thinking that it was unbelievable that there are adults who are doing this to their children. Depriving them of being able to mature, which is why I still remember that blog post. So whilst it is possible to be an adult without having gone through puberty, it is not possible to be a fully developed, matured adult IMO

This is why I'm never sure why jazz etc are jailed as a success story. When Stella o malley did a documentary and interviewed transmen on camera, as lovely as they all seemed they were also very immature for their ages. Same with JJ. Miles behind their peers. Iirc they had to defer college for a year as they still were not up to going mentally. And then instead of harvard they were considering somewhere else and the parents were really worried about it. The capacity to sensibly weigh up the options just didn't seem to be there.

Its hard to describe really but you can really tell that something is not quite right.

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