NHS England has recently unveiled new plans to address transgender treatment for children as young as seven years old, replacing the previous unrestricted age policy at the recently closed Tavistock Center. Here’s the full story.
Replacing the Previous Unrestricted Age Policy
Last year, the Tavistock Center, which previously permitted treatments for children as young as three without any age restrictions for referrals, was shut down amid safety concerns.
Under the new guidelines, regional centers in existing children’s hospitals will now oversee the process, and only specialist mental health professionals or pediatric services will be able to offer referrals.
The decision to shut down the Tavistock clinic came after the release of a critical report led by Dr. Hilary Cass, a senior pediatrician.
The report highlighted major flaws, noting that gender identity issues frequently overshadowed other mental health concerns in referrals made to the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS).
Other Issues Were Overshadowed
As a result, other mental health issues were overshadowed, leading to questions about the appropriateness of early medical interventions.
New Regional Centers
The new regional centers, which doctors instead of therapists will lead, aim to address these concerns by encouraging a more comprehensive assessment of each child’s mental health and exploring other potential factors contributing to their sense of gender dysphoria.
Children Will Be Recognized
This approach ensures that young individuals are not labeled solely based on their gender concerns but rather recognized as unique individuals who may be experiencing distress expressed in various ways.
A significant change in the new plans is introducing a minimum age requirement for referrals, set at seven years old.
This decision aims to strike a balance between providing support and allowing children sufficient time to develop and explore their gender identity further before considering any medical interventions.
The Reason Behind the New Plan
At this age, children are believed to be more established within the school, enabling education professionals and school nurses to contribute to a more informed and observational view regarding the appropriateness of a referral.
Puberty Blockers Will Be Limited
Also, the new guidelines will limit the use of puberty blockers, which have been a topic of significant controversy.
The Drugs May Have a Negative Impact
Critics argue that these drugs may have long-term consequences on physical and mental development and should only be administered after careful consideration of the child’s situation and maturity.
Seven Is Still Too Young!
Several social media users expressed their thoughts on the incident.
One Twitter user wrote, “Utterly wrong, a 7-year-old is not going to know the impacts of how they will be affected years later. This is concerning.”
Another User wrote, “What age is too young to allow your child to talk to a healthcare professional if they are concerned about something?”
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Katya Rekina. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.
Source: Daily Mail