Dr Polly Carmichael
GIDS Director and Consultant Clinical Psychologist
Tell us about your role
I joined the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) in 2001. Alongside this, I have also worked at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children since 1997, where I am part of a well-established multidisciplinary team specialising in differences of sex development (DSD), otherwise referred to as intersex, conditions.
I was appointed Director of the GIDS in 2009. This was also the year that GIDS was nationally designated to provide a service for young people experiencing gender dysphoria across the country. Since then the service has continue to grow and develop at an unprecedented pace.
As a service, we are committed to equity of access for people living in different parts of the UK. For example, for families living in the North of England and in Scotland, our second centre in Leeds - which is now firmly established - has brought our service closer to home and reduced travel times and costs for many families. As part of my job, I also regularly travel Exeter to see a number of families at our South West outreach clinic.
I am especially keen to raise awareness and understanding of the particular issues faced by young people experiencing gender dysphoria. I regularly take part in training events around the country, working particularly closely with a number of third sector organisations.
Do you have any special interests in the work that you do?
One of the things that I enjoy most about my job is working with young people over time supporting them in a developmentally appropriate way to understand more about how they feel and the choices they have.
I am also keen to forward our understanding of gender dysphoria and how to best support the young people who come to see us.
What was it that interested you about working in GIDS?
I visited GIDS nearly 20 years ago to learn more about gender dysphoria and to help my work at Great Ormond Street Hospital. It has always felt a privilege to be able to work with young people and their families managing challenges around their gender. Gender is endlessly fascinating as it cuts across so many aspects of our lives and can be thought about in so many ways: cultural, clinical, biological, political, social, etc.
What is your favourite animal?
My favourite animals are dogs and in particular Italian Spinones.
Do you have a favourite season?
I love autumn. It’s a time of year with really beautiful colours and light.