Britain’s Gender Identity Development Service clinic has come under fire for its approach to treating children with gender identity issues.
The Times of London reported that it had spoken to five staff members of the National Health Service clinic and that all five had resigned over their concerns. The report in The Times was available only to subscribers, but portions were reprinted in The Daily Mail.
The bottom line of the concerns by the former staff, whose names were not used in the report, was that gay children were being wrongly diagnosed as transgender.
Because of that diagnosis, they were given hormone blockers and then, at the age of 16, irreversible cross-sex hormones. The staff members’ concern was that an irreversible course of action was being taken without a thorough understanding of the problems of the youths being treated.
Carl Heneghan, director of the Centre of Evidence-based Medicine at Oxford University, was quoted by The Times as saying, “Given paucity of evidence, the off-label use of drugs (for outcomes not covered by the medicine’s license) in gender dysphoria treatment largely means an unregulated live experiment on children.”
These are not the first questions aimed at the clinic, the only one in Britain solely devoted to gender identity.
“(T)he GIDS service as it now functions (is) not fit for purpose and children’s ends are being met in a woeful, inadequate manner and some will live on with the damaging consequences,” former staff governor David Bell said, according to The Guardian.
The clinic saw 94 patients in 2010, but that rose to 2,519 last year, The Times reported. It also reported that in the past three years, 18 clinical staff have jumped ship.
“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. I was there to protect children from being damaged,” one unnamed clinician told The Times.
“This experimental treatment is being done on not only children, but very vulnerable children,” another said.
Heneghan has said there needs to be a regulator to oversee the clinic, known as the Tavistock Centre, the BBC reported. He has said there is too little data on outcomes.
“They haven’t produced systematic data on the outcomes based on all children,” Heneghan said. “In the absence of evidence, I just do not understand how they can inform children, adolescents and parents and families in a way that helps them make an informed decision.”
“One of the key issues is to be able to say to parents and children in making a decision. … ‘Here’s an informed decision based on the evidence.’ The quality of evidence in this area is terrible,” he said.
“What can you tell from the evidence? You can tell very little apart from they give you the intended effects of suppressing and blocking puberty,” Heneghan said.
Concerns were voiced by Marcus Evans, a psychoanalyst and governor of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust that oversees the clinic, when he resigned.
“In my 40 years of experience in psychiatry, I have learned that dismissing serious concerns about a service or approach is often driven by a defensive wish to prevent painful examination of an ‘overvalued system,’” he wrote when he resigned, according to The Guardian.
“I do not believe we understand what is going on in this complex area and the need to adopt an attitude which examines things from different points of view is essential. This is difficult in the current environment as the debate and discussion required is continually being closed down or effectively described as ‘transphobic’ or in some way prejudicial,” he said.