Meeting the Doctor Who Runs the Only NHS Clinic for Trans Children
It's fair to say Dr Polly Carmichael is one of a broad brush of people you could describe with the accolade "hated by the Daily Mail".
She is the country's leading clinical psychologist in the area of transgender children. Her clinic at the Tavistock and Portman Centre in North London is the only NHS service dealing with gender identity for under-18s. Which means she is, as tabloid scare stories would have you believe, the doctor leading the charge of "playing God" by giving young children hormone inhibitors to block puberty and treat a "fashionable syndrome" that has become a "social tyranny".
In reality, hormone therapy – an intervention that can temporarily pause puberty while children have a chance to think about what they want to do – is just part of the work done by Polly's clinic. The Gender Identity Development Service works with children who are experiencing gender dysphoria – a feeling that they have been born into the wrong gender, or don't fit into the neat boy-girl definitions society dictates. Her caseload has increased massively over the last few years. In 1989, when the clinic opened, it got two referrals over the whole year. In the year 2015/16, it had over 1400 – double the year before. The waiting list for her clinic has risen from up to 18 weeks to nine months.