Five employees of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) have quit a controversial NHS transgender-therapy clinic, citing fears that children are being misdiagnosed as transgender and given harmful and irreversible hormone treatments.
The five former clinicians at the Gender Identity Development Service, which is based in London and Leeds, expressed their concerns to the British daily The Times. Each of them was part of a team charged with deciding whether patients as young as three should be prescribed hormone blockers to prevent the onset of puberty. The number of child referrals to GIDS skyrocketed from 94 in 2010 to 2,519 in 2018.
Later when patients reached age 16, they would be prescribed a regimen of sex hormones in order to develop the physical characteristics of the gender with which they identify.
The clinicians said they were concerned that the root causes of some of the children’s gender dysphoria were not being ascertained carefully enough before diagnosis and that they sometimes felt pressured to prescribe the treatment against their better judgment. They added that they suspected some of the youngsters were actually gay but had been victims of homophobic bullying.
One of the clinicians said the reason some clinic workers stayed in their positions was to protect children from inappropriate therapy.
“I felt for the last two years what kept me in the job was the sense there was a huge number of children in danger,” the staffer told the Times. “I was there to protect children from being damaged.”
Another staffer lamented that, “This experimental treatment is being done on not only children, but very vulnerable children.”
Over the past three years, at least 18 staff are have reportedly quit the clinic over similar fears of haphazard diagnoses of child gender dysphoria.
GIDS, part of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, pushed back on accusations of irresponsible diagnoses, claiming that its staff carefully considers whether to prescribe hormone therapy for individual children.