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50 kids per week referred to sex UK change clinics. Experts point at parents for upward trend.
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50 kids per week referred to sex UK change clinics. Experts point at parents for upward trend.

A United Kingdom news organization, Mirror Online, reported Sunday that 50 children per week in Britain are visiting sex change clinics.

What did the report say?

  • The Mirror published information by some experts who said that the number of referrals to sex change clinics is on the rise due to "the growing acceptance of gender issues."
  • Children as young as 4 years old are now telling their parents that they want to change their gender.
  • The children visiting the clinics are reportedly unhappy with the body they were born with.
  • According to the Mirror, the number of children visiting ­Britain’s sex change specialist clinic — The Gender Identity Development Service — has seen an increase of 24 percent in the past six months.
  • The Mirror reported that in 2017, two children seen at the clinic were 4 years old, four children were 5 years old, and 17 children were 6 years old.
  • In 2009, there were 97 children referred to the clinic.
  • In the 2016-17 school year, 2,016 children were referred to the clinic.
  • For the 2017-18 school year, experts anticipate the figure to climb to 2,600.

Why the increase?

  • Oxford University gender dysphoria expert Ashley Grossman said, "This is a massive increase. We don’t know whether this is a true increase or that these kids in the past just didn’t know this service existed."
  • Dr. Polly Carmichael, director and clinical ­psychologist for the Gender Identity Development Service, said: "There is no single explanation for the increase."
  • "We do know there has been significant progress towards the acceptance and recognition of transgender and gender diverse people in our society, coupled with greater knowledge about specialist gender clinics and support available," Carmichael added.
  • Gender expert Professor ­Miroslav Djordjevic told the Mirror that the rise could be due to parents obliging their children's wishes to explore: "I cannot believe the 50 a week will all be transgender. We’re seeing a lot of parents who come for help because they are not sure if there children are transgender or just being children. To say a girl of 5 is transgender is ­impossible. But it is easier to ask than not do anything and children suffer. At the minute it’s ­something like a fashion."
  • Dr. Miriam Stoppard, advice columnist for the Mirror, seemed to echo Djordjevic's comments: "I’m sure the universal acceptance of LGBTQ pioneers has helped ­legitimize and publicize gender dysphoria and its treatment."

What are the steps in sex change treatment for these children?

  • At The Gender Identity Development Service, certain guidelines are in place for children who want to transition.
  • Children 3 years old and over, along with their families, receive counseling about sex changes until such a time that they are considered mature and informed enough to go through with the process of beginning a sex change.
  • Prior to puberty, children can be treated with puberty-blocking drugs to buy themselves more time in determining whether or not they want to go through with the sex change.
  • By age 16, hormone treatments are given to the young girls and boys, should they decide to continue their transition. If a young boy wants a transition to be a female, he is treated with estrogen. If a young girl wants a transition to be a male, she is treated with testosterone.
  • The estrogen/testosterone treatments are given only to children who have undergone a minimum of 12 months' worth of hormone-blocking drug treatments.
  • Doctors at the clinic require that the child be enrolled in school or working full-time "in their preferred gender role."
  • The final stage is sex organ reassignment surgery.

A different perspective

  • A woman, who spoke to the Mirror anonymously, told the website that she regrets treatment she underwent at one point in her life to transition to male.
  • The woman said that she received hormone treatments, including testosterone, which caused her voice to drop and facial hair to grow.
  • She revealed that she reconsidered as these changes began to occur and stopped the treatment.
  • "I’m very concerned that if I was a teenager now or even younger, I or my parents would be pushed to consider me then as transgender," the woman told the Mirror. "I would have welcomed that at the time."
  • "I wanted to be a boy when I was younger because boys were allowed to be assertive and confident," she revealed.
  • "A young person may now take hormones or have surgery and later regret it," she added. "By giving treatment to children, we may be perpetrating a great harm."
  • She told the site that at 30 years old, she's finally just come to grips with being comfortable as a natural-born woman.

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