Media enquiries

Topics related to gender identity - and issues that are relevant to many trans people's lives - have thankfully been receiving greater attention in the UK in recent years. This includes increasing interest in our service and what we do.

We welcome media enquiries about our work. Please contact our Trust’s dedicated press office who will be happy to help.

Our waiting times and our therapeutic approach

With the continued increase in referrals to GIDS in 2017/18, we are aware that our waiting times have recently increased and that it can now take 14 to 18 months between having a referral accepted and being seen for a first assessment. We know that waiting to see someone at our service can be distressing for young people and their families, especially in a situation where the waiting time might increase. We are working hard to see everyone as quickly as possible.

We continue to work on innovative ways to deliver our service, both to reduce the waiting list and to support young people and their families while they are waiting. This includes running group sessions, and having a clinician rota available over the phone to respond to immediate concerns that may arise while on the waiting list.

In addition we are also working on improving the quality of referrals that come into our service to reduce delays before being added to the waiting list. Once a referral is accepted the original referral date is honoured, but it can take a lot of resources to get the information required to process referrals.

We remain true to our founding values and therapeutic aims – we provide a highly specialised service for children and adolescents who are experiencing gender dysphoria or need support to explore their gender identity.

We do this by fostering recognition and non-judgemental acceptance of diversity in gender identities and gender expression; providing support, advice and treatment to assist in reducing emotional, behavioural, and relationship difficulties and their effects; offering options for physical interventions as appropriate, and working with local services to prevent mental health problems such as anxiety, low mood, self-harm and suicidal thoughts. The service thinks about difficulties associated with gender identity development in the context of general developmental processes.

For families and professionals it can be difficult to know how to support young people with gender dysphoria as there are widely-differing strongly-held views – this social context and debate are moving faster than the evidence base. We are working hard to add to the evidence base and contribute to this changing field but understand that living with uncertainty is challenging.

As a service we need to remain thoughtful and work with young people and their families as individuals. Evidence shows that the physical interventions that some young people may choose to undergo can be tremendously beneficial. We also know that many young people who visit our service decide not to go ahead with any physical intervention.

We believe that individualised care is the best way forward – every young person is different and their needs and the best approach for them must be considered on a case-by-case basis. Many young people, given the space to explore their identity, are creating more varied pathways and understandings of gender, and find different things helpful in reducing their gender dysphoria.

New publication – read the practice review ‘Assessment and support of children and adolescents with gender dysphoria’ in the Archives of Disease in Childhood

There has been a large increase in the number of children and adolescents who question conventional gender expectations and seek recognition and acceptance of their gender diversity, wishing to develop a body that is congruent with their gender feelings. Professionals may be unsure how best to provide supportive care, how to access the national Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) for children and adolescents, or how to deal with a transgender young person presenting with another clinical problem unrelated to their gender transition.

Faced with very distressed young people, they may feel under pressure to initiate physical intervention without consultation with psychosocial colleagues. It is important that all professionals are aware of the care pathway for transgender children that may be of relevance in a range of paediatric settings. The purpose of this practice review is to present an up-to-date perspective on the care of transgender children and adolescents to guide management and to enable the provision of a practical, evidence-based approach to their support.

Read ‘Assessment and support of children and adolescents with gender dysphoria’ on the BMJ website.

GIDS referrals increase in 2017/18

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.”

A further breakdown of the figures is available on our 'referral numbers' page.