The only NHS transgender clinic in the UK for children is risking a “live experiment” by sending hundreds of kids for life-changing medical interventions without sufficient evidence of its long-term effects, experts have warned.
The Times in London has spoken to five clinicians who resigned from the service because of concerns over the treatment of vulnerable children who come to the clinic presenting as transgender.
They believe that some gay children are being wrongly diagnosed as “transgender” by the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) clinic.
All five former staff were responsible for deciding which trans-identifying youngsters should be given hormone blockers to halt their sexual development from as early as eleven years of age. The vast majority of those who begin blockers go on to irreversible cross-sex hormones once they reach 16.
The NHS specialists warned that vulnerable children and teenagers had been sent down the path towards transition before experts had time to assess the causes of their gender confusion.
An Oxford professor has also raised concerns about the safety of drug therapies used by the clinic, saying the treatments were “supported by low-quality evidence, or in many cases no evidence at all”.
The number of young people referred to the clinic in north London has soared. In 2010 there were 94 referrals. By last year there were 2,519. The youngest was aged three. The five clinicians are among at least 18 clinical staff who have resigned over the past three years.