16 May 2018
The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust has seen an increase in the number of young people referred to our Gender Identity Development Service in 2017/18, compared to the previous year.
In 2017/18 there were 2,519 referrals received at the clinic. This represents a 25 per cent increase compared to the previous year which had 2,016 referrals. While this is an increase in referrals, the rate of increase has decreased compared to the previous year from 2016/2017, which itself was a reduced rate from the year before.
The Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) is a highly specialised clinic for young people presenting with difficulties with their gender identity development. Some people feel uncomfortable with the gender they were assigned at birth. These feelings may or may not change or in some cases develop over time. We help our clients to explore their feelings and their priorities and choose the path that best fits with their needs and their lives.
In 2017/18, 1,806 of the referrals were for young people assigned female at birth (AFAB), and 713 for those assigned male at birth. Last year those numbers were 1400 and 616. This continues the trend of an increase in AFAB referrals proportionately.
Dr Polly Carmichael, Gender Identity Development Service Director and Consultant Clinical Psychologist, said:
“There is no single explanation for the increase in referral figures, but we do know in recent years that there has been significant progress towards the acceptance and recognition of transgender and gender diverse people in our society. There is also greater public knowledge about specialist gender clinics and the pathways into them, and an increased awareness of the possibilities around physical treatments for younger adolescents.
“Addressing the waiting list is a top priority for us. We appreciate how distressing it can be for young people and their families who are on the waiting list. We are doing all we can to bring down the waiting times, and are continuing to look for innovative new ways to shorten the wait such as group work and online video appointments - which have been welcomed by the young people. We have also created a telephone helpline for queries so that young people on the waiting list can speak with a clinician if necessary.
“Given the large increase in referrals in recent years it will take some time to address the waiting list of those young people waiting to be seen by the service. We also need to find and train the appropriate staff for these highly specialised roles, and that takes time.
“As the majority of our users do not take up physical treatment through our service, any decisions around hormone treatments need time and considered thought. The long term health and psycho-social wellbeing of young people is always our priority. In all our work we aim to be extremely careful to properly support people and allow them to explore their full range of options.
“Young people also have different support needs, depending on the age/stage of puberty they are at when referred, and we try to ensure that individual needs are taken into account as part of the service that we provide.”