Five former clinicians who worked at the National Health Service's transgender therapy clinics in England have quit their jobs over ethical concerns and harms caused by controversial treatments prescribed to children as young as 3 years old.
The former staffers told the Times that they believed the Gender Identity Development Service had haphazardly diagnosed children with gender dysphoria and that they felt pressured into prescribing harmful hormone therapy to block the onset of puberty.
"This experimental treatment is being done on not only children, but very vulnerable children," one former GIDS staffer told the newspaper.
Each of the unidentified former employees said they were members of a team of clinicians who would determine whether or not to prescribe irreversible and harmful treatments for children.
They also alleged that many of the children diagnosed with gender dysphoria at the clinic were more likely gay kids who were victims of homophobic bullying.
What happens when the children get older?
At 16, the clinic prescribed a mix of sex hormones to help them develop the physical characteristics that match their preferred gender identity, the former employees told the Times.
Why didn't the clinicians quit sooner?
Some reportedly stayed at the clinic because they believed they could somehow protect children from harmful treatments.
"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," another former staffer told the Times. "I was there to protect children from being damaged."
What did the GIDS say?
A GIDS official told newspaper that its staff considers carefully whether or not hormone therapy would be an appropriate treatment for each individual child.
Referrals to the GIDS clinics in London and Leeds has surged over the last 10 years. Last year, the clinic saw 2,519 child referrals. In 2010, there were only 94.
At least 18 staff members have reportedly left the clinic citing similar circumstances involving irresponsible diagnosis and treatments.