Health Secretary Sajid Javid is preparing to launch an investigation into the sexist treatment of under-18s, as he fears the current system is “failing children”.
Mr Javid believes vulnerable children are being wrongly given gender hormone treatment on the NHS and plans to review how the health service deals with those who question their gender identity.
As The Times first reported, the Health Secretary is said to have been alarmed by the tentative findings of a review of NHS gender identity services for children.
The review by Hilary Cass, former president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, found that staff felt compelled to take “an unconditional affirmative approach” to the issue of transition and gender issues, which has ‘overshadows’ other mental health issues – two issues of particular concern to Mr Javid.
“It’s been a growing problem for years and it’s clear we’re not taking it seriously enough,” an ally of the health secretary told the newspaper.
“If you look at Hilary Cass’ interim report, the findings are deeply concerning and it is clear from this report that we are failing children.”
Mr Javid’s ally also said services should take a holistic view of what could be causing problems for the child, such as a mental health issue, bullying or sexual abuse.
“This overly assertive approach where people just accept what a child says, almost automatically, and then start talking about things like puberty blockers – it’s not in the best interests of the child at all,” they added.
The Tavistock and Portman Trust, which runs clinics in London, Leeds and Bristol, reportedly gives hormone treatment to around 200 of the 2,500 children it sees each year.
Referrals have increased 50 times over the past decade, with many more girls showing up – a reversal of what has happened before.
“We need to be more careful” with transgender conversion therapy
He comes after Mr. Javid said “we have to be more careful” when it comes to conversion therapy for transgender people.
He said it was “absolutely right” that conversion therapy be banned “for LGB people”, but said a “more sensitive approach” needed to be taken when it comes to transgender people.
Earlier this month, the government changed his plans to ban conversion therapywhich was first defined in 2018 by then Prime Minister Theresa May.
The government now plans to ban only gay conversion therapy, not trans conversion therapy. He said he would do further work to look into the matter.
“As far as conversion therapy is concerned, it is absolutely right, as the government has said, to ban so-called conversion therapy for LGB people,” Mr Javid told Kay Burley of Sky in an interview earlier this month.
“When it comes to trans. I think we need to be more careful.”
A “more sensitive approach to trans”
Referring to the interim report by Dr Hilary Cass, he continued: “She just released an interim report just a few weeks ago and she explained how children and young people, when they say they have dysphoria gender, it’s only fair that medical experts can question this and determine what might be causing it.
“Is this a real case of gender identity dysphoria or is this person suffering from child sexual abuse, for example, or could it be related to bullying?
“So I think it’s fair to take the approach we have, which is to ban conversion therapy for LGB people, but take a much more sensitive approach when it comes to trans people.”
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