NHS ‘Over-Diagnosing’ Transgender Children, Psychologists Warn

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Six psychologists who resigned from England’s flagship National Health Service (NHS) child transgender clinic have raised concerns over its treatment of children with the mental disorder gender dysphoria, saying that they felt pressured to ignore psychological treatment and begin hormone treatment for minors.

Sky News reports that 35 psychologists have resigned in three years from the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) that deals with gender dysphoria. The service had treated 770 children a decade ago, compared to 2,590 last year. There are another 3,000 on the waiting list.

Most of those treated are girls (74 per cent) who believe they are boys. Some are as young as three-years-old when their parents take them to the Tavistock. In the United Kingdom, cross-hormone therapy — where girls are given testosterone and boys are given oestrogen — is not normally given until 16 and gender reassignment surgery is illegal under the age of 18.

However, children as young as ten have received puberty blockers, with Sky News reporting around half of those seen by the Tavistock Trust are on puberty blockers before they go on to cross-hormone therapy and then gender surgery.

So concerned over the future of their livelihoods, of the six psychologists that would talk on the record to the broadcaster, five would not go on camera. One permitted herself to be filmed on the condition that her voice and appearance were disguised.

She told Sky News that when she joined the clinic she was surprised to find that all child patients at the Tavistock were being treated medically, saying: “At the moment there’s only one pathway through the service, which is a medical pathway, not a psychological one.”

She detailed one instance where she felt a child who thought they were in the wrong body was put onto drugs too quickly, and that other issues in their psychological history had not been explored.

She said: “I once worked with an executive who thought that the gender dysphoria the young person was presented with was really strong, really intense. So she decided to put the young person forward for the hormone-blocking treatment after two appointments.

“Looking back, it was a young person with a history of trauma and direct trauma in terms of abuse. There were other things happening to them, and this was not being explored by the clinician.”

Others backed this view, with one anonymous psychologist saying: “Therapy is not an option in this service.”

The whistleblower who was willing to go on camera remarked on the fact that girls are disproportionately seeking to transition. She said that in a lot of cases, the girls had experienced homophobia and had a history of abuse.

“This [phenomena] is happening all across the Western world.”

The psychologist, who described herself as an “enthusiastic LGBTQ-ally”, continued to tell Sky that she would not be able to have this kind of conversation with parents of a child presenting gender dysphoria. She said: “I felt that if I ever spoke to a family like this, I would immediately be called transphobic.”

She also said that when she voiced her concerns, she was “often shut down by other affirmative clinicians”.

“Our fears are that young people are being over-diagnosed and then over-medicalised,” another anonymous whistleblower told Sky News.

“We are extremely concerned about the consequences for young people… For those of us who previously worked in the service, we fear that we have had front row seats to a medical scandal.”

One 19-year-old woman, Thomasin, who ceased her transition and reverted to seeing herself as a woman, told Sky that she was driven down the path of changing gender because she was struggling to come to terms with being a lesbian. Several former Tavistock clinicians have said that they are now supporting teenagers who have changed their minds and “detransitioned”.

This is not the first time that the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust has come under criticism for its handling of mentally ill children. Former governor of the trust Marcus Evans quit in February after a damning internal report revealed that clinicians were fast-tracking children into sex-change procedures due to pressure from “highly politicised” trans lobbyists.

The report, written by Dr David Bell, who recently spoke at a British detransitioning conference, named pro-trans lobby groups Gendered Intelligence and Mermaids, which he said GIDS had gone “to some lengths to placate”.

Mermaids, which campaigns to lower the age for sex-changes, was exposed for having inflated the suicide risk of children waiting to change gender.

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