NHS England To Offer Transgender Treatment To Children As Young As Seven

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Children as young as seven will soon be able to get transgender treatment on the NHS after the health service set that as the minimum age for gender identity clinic referrals.

In details about the new service, which will replace the controversial Tavistock clinic, NHS England set out how it will limit the use of puberty blockers and ban activists and teachers from referring children for treatment. But for the first time, it has set a minimum age of seven for referral to the gender identity clinics. 

The Telegraph reports: These children will be offered psychological support and therapy that will focus on issues that may have led to their feelings about their gender.

However, experts have warned that the age restriction could still put young children with mental health problems on a “pathway to medical transition”.

Campaigners welcomed the “move toward an evidence-based approach”, but said there was still work to be done to ensure children are kept safe.

The NHS announced last year that it would be closing the Tavistock transgender clinic after a review by Dr. Hilary Cass found it was “not safe”. 

It was the only NHS transgender clinic treating children and concerns were raised that young people were being rushed down a medical pathway.

The clinic is being replaced by a set of regional centres that will be led by medical doctors, rather than therapists, and consider the impact of other conditions such as autism and mental health issues.

The move came amid growing concern about the impact of gender ideology on children, including in schools where some were being socially transitioned without their parents’ consent.

NHS England said that a new service was needed because there was “scarce and inconclusive evidence to support clinical decision-making” at the Tavistock clinic

As part of the new approach, medics have been reminded that for “most” young people, the feeling of being in the wrong body is just a “phase” and does not persist into adulthood.

Officials have now set out their plan for how children will be able to access the service, which has been sent to experts for their input. The plans have been seen by the Telegraph.

The plans state: “Children under seven years of age may not be expected to have sufficiently developed their intellectual understanding of, and comprehension of, sex and gender to be able to understand the reasons for, and potential consequences of, a referral to a specialist gender incongruence service.”

By seven, children will “be more established within school, and education professionals and school nurses will be able to contribute to a general observational view as to the appropriateness of a referral”.

Previously, there was no minimum age for referral and children as young as three were treated by the Tavistock. On average, three children aged under seven were being referred every month.

Dr. David Bell, a consultant psychiatrist and former governor at the Tavistock before he became a whistleblower about the clinic’s work, said: “For me, there is a structural problem which needs particular caution: referring a child to a gender service, even if they are seen in the context of a multidisciplinary team, in that the mere fact of referral is consequential. 

“It risks the child’s difficulties being viewed by themselves and their family as primarily to do with gender. Labelling the problem as a gender problem can easily be the first step on a pathway to medical transition.

“My view is that certainly for the younger ages, children should be managed within the context of the ordinary Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. 

“Their difficulties should not be designated as a gender problem, it is much more appropriate that they be seen as individuals who are distressed and this is one way in which that distress is expressed.”

Dr. Bell also described the definition of gender incongruence in childhood included in the specification as “dangerous”. It says it is characterised by “make-believe or fantasy play, toys, games, or activities and playmates that are typical of the experienced gender rather than the assigned sex”.

The definition, which comes from the World Health Organisation, is “completely the wrong way of looking at it”, said Dr. Bell. 

He added: “We are corrupting a child’s capacity to have an imagination and imposing a gender stereotype on them.”

Niamh Harris
About Niamh Harris 15000 Articles
I am an alternative health practitioner interested in helping others reach their maximum potential.