England’s only sex change clinic for children is ‘misleading’ young patients and telling them the process is ‘fully reversible,’ claim staff
- Kirsty Entwistle was psychologist at the Gender Identity Development Service
- Suggested some staff misled patients and branded their critics ‘transphobic’
- Also claimed staff told patients that hormone blockers were ‘fully reversible’
A former clinician at England’s only NHS transgender clinic has gone public for the first time to raise fears about how it treats youngsters wanting to change their gender.
Kirsty Entwistle, who worked as a psychologist at the Gender Identity Development Service (Gids) in Leeds, claimed some staff were misleading patients and branding anyone who questioned their approach ‘transphobic’.
She also suggested clinicians were immediately assuming youngsters were transgender without exploring other reasons behind their wish to transition, such as ‘traumatic’ experiences in their childhood.
Kirsty Entwistle worked as a psychologist at the Gender Identity Development Service (Gids) in Leeds. Pictured is Gids’ London headquarters, The Tavistock Centre
Entwistle addressed her letter to Polly Carmichael, director of the Tavistock Clinic, from where Gids operates in London.
Writing on blogging site Medium, she claimed staff were telling patients that hormone blockers – used to stop the progress of puberty – were ‘fully reversible’.
In fact, she explained, ‘The reality is no one knows what the impacts are on children’s brains’, so this claim was not backed up by evidence.
The psychologist suggested there was an ‘unspoken rule’ at the clinic which meant patients coming in for consultations were always assumed to be transgender.
‘There are children who have had very traumatic early experiences and early losses who are being put on the medical pathway without having explored or addressed their early adverse experiences,’ she said.
‘At Gids no one directly tells you that you’re not allowed to suggest that perhaps these early experiences might be connected to a child’s wish to transition but if you make the mistake of suggesting this in a team meeting you run the risk of being called transphobic.’
She raised the case of one youngster who ‘arrived to sessions in a poor state of hygiene and said that there wasn’t money for hygiene products’.
Entwistle wrote: ‘How is it ethical to undertake a gender identity assessment with the view to a medical pathway when there are children and young people do not have their most basic needs met?’
Entwistle addressed her letter to Polly Carmichael, director of the Tavistock Clinic, from where Gids operates in London. She wrote on blogging site Medium
The medic said colleagues wanting to raise such concerns were afraid to do so for fear of being labelled ‘transphobic’, and issue she said was common across the sector.
She wrote that since leaving Gids: ‘I have continued to follow transgender issues online and one of the things that I have felt concerned about is seeing the bullying and intimidation for those people who raise valid concerns about children making a medical transition being called “transphobic”…’
Her concerns echo those made by other Gids clinicians who have spoken anonymously to the Press.
In February, the governor of the NHS trust which runs the Tavistock clinic quit amid claims claims youngsters are being rushed into transitioning without being given enough guidance.
Marcus Evans, who had worked at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust for more than 30 years, said he has serious concerns about ‘what is going on in the gender identity world’.
His decision to quit followed a damning internal report which claimed that the trust’s Gender Identity Development Service, an NHS service, was ‘not fit for purpose’.
ITV show Butterfly staring Anna Friel (pictured). Its writer, Tony Marchant, spoke to two Gids clinicians as part of his research
A letter has been signed by 25 other clinicians at the trust who are upset at how the concerns raised in the report have been handled.
Gids said less than half of its patients were given blockers.
A spokesman said: ‘We do not hold a view on what outcome will be for a child when they come in to the service.
‘There is no pressure to provide medical intervention from the service, though there can often be from the young person or family.’
The clinic added that it ‘operates in a contentious field and appreciates and holds in mind the concerns raised by staff about the complexity and background of many of the referrals we see’.