In 2020 I wrote about Keira Bell suing the Tavistock Trust in the UK over the gender dysphoria benefits she received as a teenager.
He said that making the switch as a teenager was exactly what she wanted, but as an adult, after undergoing a double mastectomy and identifying as a male, she had reason to reconsider and eventually made the switch Believing that her gender assigned at birth reflects who she is.
Keira visited the Tavistock Trust’s Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), a dedicated service for children and young people with gender dysphoria.
She claimed she received neither an adequate evaluation nor enough counseling before beginning hormone treatment to block puberty and then begin a transition process to become a man.
A recent external review of the GIDS by Dr. Hillary Cass has revealed that Tavistock doctors felt pressured to ‘confirm’ sex changes in children and prescribe puberty blockers without proper evaluation. As a result of this verification report, the GIDS will be closed.
This appears to be a UK based issue, apart from the fact that between 2014 and 2020 the Tavistock GIDS ran a satellite clinic at Our Lady Children’s Hospital in Crumlin with the full support of the HSE and treated over 200 Irish children.
This was the only dedicated service in Ireland available to families seeking advice on gender dysphoria for children and young people.
The imminent closure of Tavistock’s GIDS will raise alarms among parents as it calls into question the quality of professional advice on the subject in general. It can undermine confidence in the support parents and their children are seeking in dealing with this complex issue.
Gender dysphoria is the most commonly used term to describe the incongruity a person may feel between their expressed gender and their birth-assigned gender.
Most children with gender dysphoria have strong desires to be or be the opposite sex from a young age.
The entire realm of gender dysphoria, gender mismatch, or transgender status is challenging and complicated for families to navigate.
It can be distressing for the child and is often a very lonely or isolating experience. They may experience anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts as they try to manage their family and social relationships.
Parents can also have trouble knowing what to say or do to support their child. Should they simply confirm their child’s expressed gender or could this result in their child experiencing bullying?
If they question their child’s claims, they may be branded as transphobic, or at least risk being critical and invalidating their child’s feelings, which could affect their child’s emotional well-being.
Research has shown that while some children with childhood gender dysphoria crystallize these feelings in their adolescence, the greater majority (between 60 and 90 percent) find these feelings fading into their teens.
Another group of children hitting puberty and then seeming uncomfortable with their gender identity who never had any childhood traits, such as z or engaging in activities normally associated with the opposite sex.
When gender dysphoria seems to come so “out of the blue,” it’s no wonder parents worry that their child or teen has been influenced by social media or other online sources to believe that gender dysphoria might explain other emotional or psychological distress that may occur challenge them.
For all these reasons, it is so important that children, young people and their parents have access to trusted assessment, advice, guidance and, when necessary, intervention.
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) across the country are not specialized in this area. While expertise exists within some CAMHS teams, waiting lists for assessment are often impractically long.
As often seems to be the case, parents can try to support their child or teen themselves. It can be helpful to think of gender dysphoria as a problem to be understood rather than a problem to be fixed.
As a parent, your most important role is to listen openly, without judgment, so you can validate your child’s experiences rather than trying to force your own perspective on them.
Listening and empathizing are the tools that give your child or teen the space and freedom to explore and process their feelings.
Growing up can be complicated. Growing up feeling like you’re in the wrong body is more complicated again. It takes time and understanding to process this complexity.
https://www.independent.ie/life/family/parenting/dr-david-coleman-on-gender-dysphoria-as-a-parent-your-job-is-to-listen-without-judgement-41901138.html dr David Coleman on gender dysphoria: As a parent, it’s your job to listen without judgement