Monday, February 20, 2023

"Children as young as three, already living as the opposite gender with a changed name, appearance and pronouns, were referred to the service."

Sunday Times Feb 12 [links to, Archive Today]

Former clinicians at the Gender Identity Development Service (Gids), part of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust in London, have detailed how some “incredibly complex” children were placed on medication after one face-to-face assessment, despite many having a variety of mental health or family background problems.

More than a third of young people referred to the service had moderate to severe autistic traits, compared with fewer than 2 per cent of children in the general population. Some identified not just as a different gender, but a different ethnic background, such as Japanese or Korean. One young person had “three different alter egos, two of whom spoke in an Australian accent”.

In the book, former clinicians at the Gids service speak for the first time in detail of their “regret” about the practice of routinely referring under-16s for puberty-blocking and cross-hormone treatment with no concrete data on the long-term effects. They compare it to the Mid Staffs hospital scandal of the 2000s and the doping of East German athletes in the 1960s and 1970s.

The claims come in Time to Think: The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Tavistock’s Gender Service for Children by Hannah Barnes, which will be released this month.

Barnes, a BBC Newsnight journalist, spoke to dozens of clinicians who worked at Gids, governors at the trust and children and their parents who used the service.

She details how:

• Children as young as three, already living as the opposite gender with a changed name, appearance and pronouns, were referred to the service.

• The clinic accounted for almost 30 per cent of the Tavistock NHS Trust’s income by 2021 and staff said it resembled a “tech start-up” with regular trips to international conferences.

• In 2016, Susie Green, former head of the pro-trans charity Mermaids, emailed Dr Polly Carmichael, who was then the head of Gids, asking to cut the time children had to spend on puberty blockers before irreversible cross-sex hormones could be introduced.

• Staff raised concerns when, on behalf of families, Green requested children’s clinicians to be changed to someone believed to be more likely to prescribe hormones.

• In her first interview since winning an employment tribunal case after she raised concerns about the safety of children, the trust’s head of safeguarding, Sonia Appleby, said anyone who spoke out was “demonised”.

• Former therapists involved in prescribing puberty blockers now admit they do not know “how many children [have since] changed their mind” on transitioning....

This video is from 2018. It's now 2023.  Again: children who receive cross-sex hormones before they produce their own will be sterile. The long term-effect of blockers is unknown.

Diane Ehrensaft.

From the link above: Hadley Freeman with Hannah Barnes
Clinicians were seeing increasingly mentally unwell kids, including those who didn’t just identify as a different gender but as a different nationality and race: “Usually east Asian, Japanese, Korean, that sort of thing,” Dr Matt Bristow, a former Gids clinician, tells Barnes. But this was seen by Gids as irrelevant to their gender identity issues. Past histories of sexual abuse were also ignored: “[A natal girl] who’s being abused by a male, I think a question to ask is whether there’s some relationship between identifying as male and feeling safe,” Bristow says. But, clinicians point out, any concerns raised with their superiors always got the same response: that the kids should be put on the blockers unless they specifically said they didn’t want them. And few kids said that. As one clinician told Barnes: “If a young person is distressed and the only thing that’s offered to them is puberty blockers, they’ll take it, because who would go away with nothing?”

Then there was the number of autistic and same-sex-attracted kids attending the clinic, saying that they were transgender. Less than 2 per cent of children in the UK are thought to have an autism spectrum disorder; at Gids, however, more than a third of their referrals had moderate to severe autistic traits. “Some staff feared they could be unnecessarily medicating autistic children,” Barnes writes.

There were similar fears about gay children. Clinicians recall multiple instances of young people who had suffered homophobic bullying at school or at home, and then identified as trans. According to the clinician Anastassis Spiliadis, “so many times” a family would say, “Thank God my child is trans and not gay or lesbian.” Girls said, “When I hear the word ‘lesbian’ I cringe,” and boys talked to doctors about their disgust at being attracted to other boys. When Gids asked adolescents referred to the service in 2012 about their sexuality, more than 90 per cent of females and 80 per cent of males said they were same-sex attracted or bisexual. Bristow came to believe that Gids was performing “conversion therapy for gay kids” and there was a bleak joke on the team that there would be “no gay people left at the rate Gids was going”. When gay clinicians such as Bristow voiced their concerns to those in charge, they say it was implied that they were not objective because they were gay and therefore “too close” to the work. (Gids does not accept this claim.)

What if becoming trans is — for some people — a way of converting out of being gay? If a boy is attracted to other boys but feels shame about it, then a potential way around that is for him to identify as a girl and therefore insist he’s heterosexual. This possibility complicates the government’s plan — which has cross-party support — for including gender alongside sexuality in the bill to ban conversion therapy, if enabling a young person to change gender is, in itself, sometimes a form of conversion therapy.

I ask Barnes what she thinks and she answers with characteristic caution: “It’s a bit surprising that the NHS has commissioned one of the most experienced paediatricians in the country to undertake what appears to be an incredibly thorough review of this whole area of care, and not wait until she makes those final recommendations before legislating,” she says, weighing every word. (Dr Hilary Cass’s final review is due later this year.)...

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