Rise in child transgender referrals

Published: Tuesday 7th April 2015 by The News Editor

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The number of children aged 10 or under who have been referred to the NHS to help deal with transgender feelings has more than quadrupled in the last six years, according to new figures.

The Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, the UK’s only centre specialising in gender issues in under 18s, said the number of under 11s referred to the unit had risen from 19 in 2009-10 to 77 in 2014-15.

Over that period, 47 children were aged five or younger and two of the children were three years old.

The trust, which has clinics in London and Leeds, said gender dysphoria in young people is a “complex and rare condition” which is “frequently associated with distress which may increase at puberty”.

A spokesman said: “It is probably fair to say that young people are increasingly interested in exploring gender.

“There is not one straightforward explanation for the increase in referrals, but it’s important to note that gender expression is diversifying, which makes it all the more important that young people have the opportunity to explore and develop their own path with the support of specialist services.”

Two children, Lily, six, and eight-year-old Jessica – which are not their real names – were born boys but became unhappy with their gender from an early age, according to their parents.

Speaking to the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, Lily said: “If I had to live as a boy I would be really upset. But now I’m sort of living as a girl I feel much better.”

Jessica added: “I really didn’t want to be a boy. It was really frustrating for me. It feels like I’m in the wrong body.”

Jessica’s mother Ella – also not her real name – said a relative accused her of “conditioning” her son and an anonymous call was made to the NSPCC claiming Jessica’s parents were “forcing their boy to live as a girl”.

She told the programme: “There is nothing we have done to make this happen. You couldn’t put a little boy in a dress if he didn’t want to wear it.”

Published: Tuesday 7th April 2015 by The News Editor

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