Thirty-five psychologists have resigned from the children’s gender-identity service in London in the last 3 years due to an exponential increase in referrals for gender dysphoria in the last decade, according to a British television news report. Sky News reached out to 20 of the 35 psychologists who resigned in the last 3 years from the National Health Service’s Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust in London. The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust is a clinic where children as young as three come to receive puberty-blocking drugs and cross-sex hormone treatment, which can have life-long effects on children.
The 6 former NHS psychologists who spoke to Sky News expressed concerns about the over-authorizing of hormone treatment to children with gender dysphoria and felt they couldn’t properly explore underlying psychological factors. Their resignations come at a time when the number of children referred to GIDS for gender dysphoria has increased from 77 in 2009-2010 to 2,590 last year. Over 3,000 kids are on a waiting list for the GIDS. Kids who have been referred to the clinic will have to wait as long as 3 years to receive an appointment. “Our fears are that young people are being over-diagnosed and then over-medicalized,” one psychologist said.
“We are extremely concerned about the consequences for young people. For those of us who have worked in the service, we fear that we have had front row seats to a medical scandal.” The psychologist explained that an NHS executive decided to refer a young person for hormone-blocking treatment after two appointments. The psychologist said that the patient had a history of trauma and had suffered abuse. “This was not really explored by the clinician,” she said. The psychologist said that she didn’t feel able to voice her concerns and that when she did, she was “often shut down by other affirmative clinicians.” Another psychologist told Sky News that “therapy is not an option in this service.”
Sky News also interviewed Thomasin, a 19-year-old who spent many of her teenage years identifying as a male. Although she was diagnosed with gender dysphoria at the age of 17, she never medically transitioned and has since de-transitioned back to living as a female. “What fuelled me was that I didn’t fit in and then I was slowly drip-fed this idea that you could change sex,” Thomasin explained. “I wanted to be a man, have top surgery and go down to beaches topless.” Sky News reports that about half of the children referred to GIDS are put on hormone blockers to block the impact of puberty on prepubescent children before they can begin cross-sex hormone treatment at the age of 16.
But doctors have warned that going through hormone therapy and even puberty suppression can have an irreversible impact on the health of a child. GIDS Senior Clinician Bernadette Wren was also interviewed for the documentary. Wren said that the clinic fully informs children about the consequences in their teenage years. There has been a drastic rise in biological females coming forward to seek therapy. The proportion of patients referred to GIDS who were female at birth has risen from 44% to 77% in the last decade. “The numbers started growing from 2012, when we started seeing more females coming forward,” the unnamed psychologist said. “This has happened across the Western world.”
The psychologist was asked if she felt that she was able to tell a parent that she didn’t believe their child was transgender. “No,” the psychologist said. “This is one of the reasons why I decided to leave the service. I felt if I ever spoke to a family like that, I would immediately be called ‘transphobic.’’’ In July, the 50,000-member Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) warned about the lack of “robust evidence” on the long-term effects of puberty-blocking drugs and cross-sex hormones. The RCGP statement warned that the lack of evidence prevents doctors from “helping patients and their families in making an informed decision.”
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