Who do we see
The Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) is a highly specialised clinic for young people presenting with difficulties with their gender identity. Our service was established in 1989.
We are commissioned by NHS England who set the service specifications for how we work.
Some people feel uncomfortable with the gender they were assigned at birth whilst others are unhappy with the gender role that society requires. We help our clients to explore their feelings and choose the path that best suits their ideals.
We spend a lot of time engaging with clients to understand their thought processes and to help them manage any uncertainties they may have and be understood.
For adults presenting with difficulties with their gender identity, the Tavistock and Portman NHS foundation Trust are the providers of the Gender Identity Clinic (GIC). Visit the GIC website
How long is the wait for a first appointment?
The waiting time for a first appointment at GIDS is currently at least 14 months from the date of referral (correct as of February 2018). This follows an unprecedented increase in the number of referrals to our service.
We know it is frustrating not to have a firmer figure for how long people will wait but the figure can change and we risk misleading people if we try to be too precise.
The variables that can make a difference to waiting times include:
- The amount of contact and extra support that is needed by families once they have been seen for the first time. Many of the young people being referred currently are complex and our consultation/assessment (with the young person, their parents/carers and their network) can be a lengthy process.
- In addition, a number of staff have left the service in recent months and existing staff must pick up the cases on their caseload. Under such circumstances taking on new staff is a priority but it takes several months to train up new staff if they are inexperienced in gender work to enable them to work independently.
- When we refer young people from GIDS to adult gender services, it is not easy to predict when they will be offered appointments and thus when their care can be fully transferred.
- We have also experienced a high number of people not attending appointments or cancelling at short notice and this has had a big impact on the waiting list and the number of appointments we can offer.
Because we cannot predict these factors, the waiting list time we quote when people enquire may increase over time as well as go down.
We have taken a number of steps to try to bring that waiting time down for a first appointment. For instance: screening all referrals with great care to be sure they are appropriate; ensuring that we have as few non-attending families as possible by contacting people on the waiting list prior to their first meeting.
Find out more about what we are doing to meet the increasing demand for our service.
See our advice for parents on how to help your child whilst waiting for input.
Values and ethos
To promote non-judgmental acceptance of the range of gender identity presentations.
To provide help for behavioural, emotional and/or relationship difficulties that young people or their families may be experiencing in relation to their gender identity.
Freedom of expression
To support young people and families to express themselves more freely.
To help people to remain curious and thoughtful about their lives, and to understand what might get in the way of them doing this.
To keep in mind the relationship between the body, thoughts and feelings. We work closely together as a group of professionals from different backgrounds, including paediatric endocrinology.
To allow young people and their families to acknowledge the sense of loss that can result from change.
To enable young people and families make meaningful connections between their life experiences and how they feel.
To support young people develop an appropriate level of autonomy and independence.
To help young people and families tolerate uncertainty of how their gender identity might develop.
To sustain hope.
Support that we offer
After the AssessmentRead more
Ongoing SupportRead more
Physical InterventionsRead more
Family DaysRead more
If we accept a referral we endeavor to see a young person as soon as possible. Initially, we would offer them an assessment. Our psychosocial assessments usually comprises of 3 to 6 appointments, with one or two mental health professionals from the team. Assessment appointments are usually offered around every four to six weeks and each appointment is usually for an hour. We sometimes might offer longer appointments and/or see people less frequently depending on each family's needs.
Assessments can be longer or shorter depending on a number of factors. Our specialist assessment is a wide-ranging one, aiming to explore and understand the child or young person’s past and current gender identification, as well as their development across a number of areas of their life.
After the Assessment
After the assessment is completed, we will consider together what help is needed to ensure that the young person thrives. What happens next will depend on the young person’s age, gender experiences and the support they and the family are already receiving.
You might keep meeting with your GIDS clinicians after the assessment has finished so that you can receive support and guidance from our team for as long as you need it (up to the age of 18).
The support and guidance we provide are tailored to each young person and their family or carers. We see a range of different gender identities and expression and the gender outcomes for the young people we see are varied and individual. We also aim to ease emotional, behavioural and relationship troubles associated with gender identity difficulties. Whilst this support is therapeutic, it is not always sufficient to help with all of the challenges a young person might be facing. For this reason, and as we are a national service, we usually work alongside local services such as CAMHS who can provide additional support for you and your family.
Depending on the child’s age and the issues they want to explore, a meeting can be arranged with one of the paediatric endocrinologists in the GIDS team.
These doctors can discuss the child’s feelings around the physical changes of puberty and order a range of physical tests to look at the young person’s pubertal status, and their hormonal and chromosomal characteristics. The first follow-up meeting with the endocrinologist is usually three months later when the results of the physical tests will be available.
For more information, head to the puberty and physical intervention page
The young persons’ groups are open to young people aged 12-17 years who are currently being seen at the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS).
The groups have been running since 2009 and so some people may have already attended while others will be new to the group. The groups aim to provide a place to meet others with similar experiences, to share stories and support each other; to think about how to manage difficult emotions and different kinds of relationships and to prepare for the future, including different transitions.
The parents’ groups often run in parallel to the young persons’ groups and provide an opportunity for parents to meet, share experiences and gain support from one another as well as staff from the service.
Find out more about our groups, including details for upcoming dates, in our events section.
Family Days have been developed across the service with the aim of providing a structured therapeutic space within which the needs of parents, young people and siblings are seen as distinct and important. In addition to four parallel groups for parents, siblings, adolescents and younger children which are facilitated by GIDS clinicians, we provide relevant talks from professionals and local voluntary sector groups.
The days provide opportunities for all family members to safely explore their own feelings, to normalise gender variance, to have access to role-models and to both offer and receive support from other families. Family Days are usually run in Exeter, Leeds and London on an annual basis.
Words can be extremely powerful and incredibly meaningful. They can both reflect and also shape our experiences. Preferred terms develop and change over time. Old terms may come to be seen as increasingly unhelpful or inaccurate and new ones take their place.
As a service, we recognise that importance that words and language can have in people's lives. We try to use language in a way that fits well with the young people and families with whom we work. However, we also acknowledge that language can be controversial and contentious: something that might be hugely appreciated by one person, might be seen entirely negatively by someone else.
We also know that the way we talk about issues around gender is changing all the time. If you see anything on this site that you think is either incorrect or out of date, we'd love to hear from you.
See our overview of common terms about gender for some simple definitions.
Who we are
Our staff have a range of professional backgrounds but we work together as a multi-disciplinary team to deliver the same service. Our team includes:
- Clinical psychologists
- Counselling psychologists
- Systemic and family psychotherapists
- Child and adolescent psychotherapists
- Social workers
- Child and adolescent psychiatrists
- Paediatric endocrinologists (medical doctors for children and young people who are experts in the hormonal and physical changes associated with growing up)
- Clinical nurse specialists (nurses with further training in endocrinology or a related area)
We also have a number of senior trainees in our team. These are people who are usually at the end of their professional training, or completing additional training.
Last, but by no means least, we have an incredibly dedicated team of administrative staff who ensure the smooth running of the service.
Your travel costs
We recognise that many young people and their families travel long distances to attend appointments with us and that this can be at considerable cost.
If you meet the qualifying criteria in terms of income or receipt of certain benefits, we are able to book train tickets for your travel to us. This applies to appointments at:
- the Tavistock Centre in London
- our Leeds base
- our outreach clinics in other locations (e.g. in Exeter, Cardiff).
If your journey is entirely within London, you will need to claim back your travel costs on the day.
We are not able to book train tickets for endocrinology appointments at:
- University College Hospital
- Leeds General Infirmary.
In these cases, you will need to claim back for your fares on the day at the hospital.
Feedback and complaints
We aim to work with young people and families in a collaborative way. Therefore we welcome and encourage feedback – both when things have gone well and also if there have been any problems or concerns.
We realise that talking can sometimes bring up difficult issues. In our experience, it is helpful to be able to address these together to find a solution.
We hope that you feel able to discuss any concerns or raise any questions you may have with your clinician(s). You are welcome to contact us to let us know if you have any concerns or questions so that we can try to resolve any issues speedily.
If you would like to discuss any concerns with someone independent of your clinician(s), please contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) office on 020 8938 2523 or using the contact form on the main Tavistock and Portman website.
You can also leave positive feedback about the treatment you have received from us with the PALS office, as well as directly with us.
Alternatively, if you would like to make a formal complaint you can approach the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust with your concerns directly. For more information on how to make a formal complaint please visit the ‘Support and complaints’ page on the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust website.