Fear of transphobic claims result in over-diagnosing children with gender dysphoria, say ‘whistleblowers’

27th Dec 2019
Fear of transphobic claims result in  over-diagnosing  children with gender dysphoria, say ‘whistleblowers’

National Health Service psychologists are over-diagnosing children with gender dysphoria over fears staff will be branded transphobic if they do not. Whistleblowing clinicians said too many children were being put on puberty-blocking drugs when they should not have been given the diagnosis.

Thirty-five psychologists have resigned from London’s Gender Identity Development Service at the Tavistock and Portman National Health Service Foundation Trust since 2016, Sky News research suggests.

The concerns were raised publicly by six psychologists who have resigned from London’s children’s gender-identity service in the past three years. They all claimed they were under such immense pressure they could not properly assess patients, in what they fear may be a medical scandal.

One of them has admitted that looking back, they may not have given hormone-warping drugs to all of the children they diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

Data show the number of children treated at the service has exploded by more than thirty times in just one decade. The Gender Identity Development Service in Camden, north London, is where children with gender dysphoria are treated on the National Health Service.

The service had 2,590 young patients referred to them last year, compared with just 77 patients a decade ago. It sees children under the age of 18 and, in rare cases, some as young as three.

“We fear that young people are being over-diagnosed and then over-medicalised.
We are extremely concerned about the consequences for young people… For those of us who previously worked in the service, we fear that we have had front row seats to a medical scandal,” one psychologist, told Sky News.

People with gender dysphoria experience discomfort or distress because there’s a mismatch between their biological sex and identity. Almost half of the children treated at the Gender Identity Development Service are prescribed hormone-blockers that halt puberty. It is a fully reversible form of treatment because puberty will resume when the patient stops taking the drugs.

This gives children the time to consider whether they truly want to make the transition to the opposite sex.

But the drugs interfere with natural hormone production and can cause mood swings.
A psychologist told Sky News they were in charge of 120 to 130 young people.
They said this was three times the caseload psychologists are used to at other mental health services around the country. They said it gave little time to properly evaluate patients.

A Spokesman for Gender Identity Development Service at the Tavistock and Portman National Health Service Foundation Trust said, “Clinicians at Gender Identity Development Services have regular supervision sessions where they can discuss any concerns, including caseload, and there are numerous other forums in which to raise issues and concerns.”

“Gender Identity Development Service takes a considered and thoughtful approach and supports clinicians to engage openly and supportively with patients and parents. We have conducted exit interviews with all departing staff to understand their motivations and identify any areas of concern. The work is demanding, and the pressures of operating in a busy service facing a high level of unfair criticism are intense, their motivations are as individual as they are.”

Nadine Osman

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