Number of children being referred to gender identity clinics has quadrupled in five years – Telegraph.co.uk
“Research suggests that just one per cent of the population experience gender issues. Although the number of transgender children is small, it is growing rapidly,” she told the Telegraph Festival of Education last month.
“Children – encouraged by their experiences at school – are beginning to question their gender identity at ever younger ages.
“In doing more than just supporting transgender children, and instead sowing confusion about gender identity, schools do neither boys nor girls any favours.”
Dr Williams added that the growing number of young children being referred for gender counselling stemmed from new policies being adopted by schools, adding that schools were now “encouraging even the youngest children to question whether they are really a boy or a girl.”
Dr Polly Carmichael, a leading NHS psychologist and director of the GIDS, defended the teaching of transgender issues in schools.
She told The Sunday Telegraph: “It is good that schools are putting it on the agenda. It can never be negative if schools are being thoughtful and offering opportunities to discuss topical issues.”
She added that gender is a complex subject, and children should only be taught about it in schools in an “age appropriate” manner.
Children can only be referred to GIDS by their GP or by the child and adolescent mental health service.
After six months of psycho-social assessment by a clinician, an action plan would be drawn up, which could be continuing with counselling, or it could be a physical intervention.
Children who have started puberty, from around the age of 12, can be referred on to an endocrinology clinic which can prescribe a course of hormone blockers, which postpones puberty.
Children aged 16 and over could be given cross-sex hormones, which would enable them to take on the physical characteristics of the opposite sex.
More than double the number of teenage girls compared to boys are referred to the GIDS, while in the younger age groups it is more common for boys to be referred.
Dr Carmichael said one possible explanation is that young girls who display more male attributes are seen as “tomboys” and so are less likely to be seen as a cause for concern among parents.