Children are ringing an emergency helpline in record numbers to say they are the wrong gender, a charity has said.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), which runs the Childline helpline, says it held an average eight telephone counselling sessions per day in 2015-16 with children who believed they were the wrong gender.
As transgenderism becomes increasingly prominent in the mainstream media and liberal culture, and universities adopt “gender-neutral” speech codes to avoid offending people, an increasing number of children are taking cues to question their gender.
The figures, reported in The Times, show the number of gender-based counselling sessions has more than doubled since Childline first began recording data on the issue in 2012-13, when there were 1,102 sessions.
Since then, children have been increasingly drawn into gender politics by campaigners.
Last year, international toy retailer Toys R Us announced it would stop labelling its products as being aimed at boys or girls on its British website, following a campaign by feminist activists.
Campaign group Let Toys Be Toys, which had accused toy sellers of promoting “archaic gender roles and stifling stereotypes”, welcomed the decision, saying: “This shows a real effort being made to be more inclusive to all children and the results will no doubt make a lot of children and parents happy this Christmas.”
In October, the BBC was criticised for a TV show aimed at children as young as six which told the story of a schoolboy as he transitions to a girl.
Family campaigner Norman Wells said: “It is irresponsible of the BBC to introduce impressionable children as young as six to the idea that they can choose to be something other than their biological sex.”
He added: “The more we promote the idea that a boy can be born into a girl’s body and a girl can be born into a boy’s body, and that drugs and surgery can put things right, the more children will become utterly confused. Respecting and preserving a child’s birth sex should be seen as a child protection issue.”
There is increasing evidence that children may be too young to decide whether they are transgender, and that indulging any such beliefs may psychologically harm them.
Recently, a judge removed a seven-year-old boy from his mother’s care after he was found to be suffering “significant emotional harm” from his mother attempting to raise him as a girl.
The court heard how the boy had reverted to masculine behaviour after being returned to his father.
“I consider that [the mother] has caused significant emotional harm to [her son] in her active determination that he should be a girl,” the judge said.