The number of children in the UK being referred to the NHS for transgender treatments has increased fourfold over the last five years, new figures indicate.
Britain’s only center specializing in gender issues saw the number of under-11s seeking consultation rise from 19 in 2009/10, to 77 in 2014/15.
The Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust said the referrals included 47 children aged under five and two under three years of age.
Experts suggest the rise could be associated with the current generation’s willingness to explore gender identity issues.
Based in London and Leeds, the clinic treats the condition known as “gender dysphoria.”
The National Health Service (NHS) defines gender dysphoria as when a person experiences distress because their biological sex and gender identity do not match.
It is recognized as a medical condition for which treatment may be appropriate, and is not a mental illness.
A spokesperson for the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust said: “It is probably fair to say that young people are increasingly interested in exploring gender.”
“There is not one straightforward explanation for the increase in referrals, but it's important to note that gender expression is diversifying, which makes it all the more important that young people have the opportunity to explore and develop their own path with the support of specialist services.”
In a recent BBC program, children who identified as transgender were interviewed in their homes.
One child, who was given the pseudonym Jessica, said she felt as though she was in the “wrong body.”
She told The Victoria Derbyshire show: “I really didn’t want to be a boy. It was really frustrating for me. It feels like I’m in the wrong body.”
Jessica said there was a period when she stopped drinking water at school to avoid going to the toilet because boys “thought she was a girl.” The school forbade her from using the girls’ toilets.
The girl’s mother, Ella, said a relative had called the NSPCC to accuse her of “conditioning” her child by “forcing their boy to live as a girl.”
Ella separated from Jessica’s father several years ago and is now in a relationship with a woman.
While Ella admitted considering whether her relationship may have contributed to her son’s gender dysphoria, she dismissed the idea on reflection.
“There is nothing we have done to make this happen,” she said. “You couldn't put a little boy in a dress if he didn't want to wear it.”
Jessica insisted that, even if she were 100 years old, she would never want to be a boy “because I’ve always wanted to be a girl.”
LGBT media outlet Pink News said the television program received a positive reception.
According to the website, one comment on a Facebook page related to the show said: “Amazing parents – congratulations on letting the child make the choice.”
Others voiced opposition, however, with one user posting: “The world has gone mad, is this really what the child wants?”.
Leelah Alcorn, all'anagrafe Joshua Ryan Alcorn, giovane transgender statunitense, si è suicidata/o lasciando un messaggio nel quale lamentava le pressioni di una terapia impostale per farla tornare ragazzo ed eterosessuale.
In memoria della giovane diversi gruppi e persone hanno lanciato una petizione che chiede al presidente Obama di vietare la cosiddetta terapia riparativa (definita anche terapia di conversione o terapia di riorientamento sessuale), offerte alle famiglie di giovani colpiti dal disturbo dell'identità di genere, che manifestano identità sessuali in conflitto con il proprio genere, e che possono venire curate con il cambio di sesso - mediante terapia di sostituzione ormonale e la riassegnazione chirurgica del sesso (RCS).
La questione è molto dibattuta. Diverse critiche riguardano il metodo di indagine, l'età entro cui si stabilisce l'identità di genere, la diagnosi psicologica.
La terapia di conversione, o terapia riparativa propone, all'opposto, un metodo, anch'esso molto dibattuto e criticato, di riorientamento sessuale, dall'omosessualità all'eterosessualità, teso ad eliminare o quantomeno ridurre desideri e comportamenti omosessuali.
Il presidente ha pubblicato un suo messaggio in risposta alla petizione, che conclude dicendo: «Valutando la validità delle terapie di conversione, o altre terapie che cercano di cambiare l’identità di genere o l’orientamento sessuale di un individuo, è imperativo cercare la guida di esperti medici certificati. Le prove scientifiche dimostrano nettamente che la terapia di conversione, specialmente quando praticata sui giovani, non è appropriata ne eticamente, ne dal punto di vista medico e può provocare danni rilevanti. Nel proteggere la gioventù americana, questa amministrazione sostiene gli sforzi per vietare l’impiego delle terapie di conversione sui minori».
Il commento è stato scritto da Valerie Jarrett, consigliere di Obama, la quale ha spiegato che il presidente è rimasto toccato dalla storia di Leelah Acorn, ma che il problema va ben oltre la singola tragedia. Altri ufficiali della Casa Bianca hanno poi chiarito che il presidente non chiederà una legge federale in proposito, ma che appoggerà il bando a livello statale. California, New Jersey e il District of Columbia hanno già vietato le terapie riparative sui minori e altri 18 stati hanno introdotto legislazioni simili.
I fan delle teorie di conversione esistono anche in Italia: come negli Stati Uniti si trovano concentrati soprattutto tra la destra cristiana, ormai votata alla battaglia senza tregua contro il complotto omosessualista che vuole trasformare tutti in gay.
President Obama throws his support behind a cause aimed at honoring a local transgender teen. Leelah Alcorn committed suicide in December, citing her parents' rejection and attempts to convert her sexual orientation.
The President now wants a ban on such therapy for gay or transgender minors. Since her death, nearly 350,000 people signed an online petition to enact a law named for Leelah Alcorn.
Supporters say the president's acknowledgment is an important step down the road to inclusion. In her suicide note, Leelah Alcorn touched on the conversion therapy she received. She said her being transgender attacked her parents' image, that they wanted her to be their perfect Christian boy.
President Obama’s call to ban conversion therapy is welcome news to the lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender community. "I would categorize it as a milestone, another marker on our journey as a community for love and affirmation and inclusion,” said Lindsay Deaton.
Lindsey Deaton founded the transgender community of Greater Cincinnati. She questions the whole practice of conversion therapy through the church. "Jesus was about unconditional love and that’s the whole issue here,” said Deaton. “It’s about loving someone living their truth unconditionally so reparative therapy doesn’t even provide for that".
"Conversion therapy is based upon a wish,” said Dr. Stuart Bassman. “It’s based on magic and I’m a psychologist, not a magician". Dr. Stuart Bassman says attempts to "reprogram" people can be harmful. He cites one example where conversion therapy did more harm than good. "They spoke about how painful it was, how difficult it was, how instead of feeling their self-esteem was increased it was demeaned,” said Dr. Bassman.
Advocates point to the high suicide and homeless rates among transgender teens who felt rejection similar to Leelah Alcorn. "We can't live for other people as humans and to deny a child's humanity isn't parenting,” said Deaton.
Dr. Bassman suggests an alternative therapy for parents to consider. "Instead of changing the kind of person you are change with kindness,” said Dr. Bassman. Larry Davis reached out on Thursday to the minister of the Alcorn family's church for comment about the president's proposal to ban such therapy. His phone call was not returned. The president did not propose any federal legislation. He did encourage states to develop their own bans.