Clinicians and parents are trying to make sense of it

So the Guardian is starting to allow its journalists to talk about it, occasionally, with much caution and hesitation.

Earlier this year, a team of NHS researchers was asked to investigate why there has been such a huge rise in the number of adolescent biological girls seeking referrals to gender clinics.

I have to interrupt for just a second to point out that that’s a bit like asking why there was such a huge rise in the number of people talking about Harry Potter in 1997. One reason there’s been such a huge rise in the number of adolescent girls joining the trans bandwagon is the fact that it’s a bandwagon. It hasn’t always been a bandwagon; now it is; that’s one reason for the rise. Capeesh?

According to a study commissioned by NHS England, 10 years ago there were just under 250 referrals, most of them boys, to the Gender Identity Development Service (Gids), run by the Tavistock and Portman NHS foundation trust in London. Last year, there were more than 5,000, which was twice the number in the previous year. And the largest group, about two-thirds, now consisted of “birth-registered females first presenting in adolescence with gender-related distress”, the report said.

So I’ll interrupt to tell myself that the “why more girls” question isn’t a bandwagon question, although the “why the huge rise in referrals” is.

Meanwhile, clinicians and parents are trying to make sense of it themselves.

Their testimony reflects the lack of consensus within the medical profession about how best to proceed if a child experiences gender dysphoria – and, in turn, how this confusion contributes to the central dilemma faced by concerned parents: how should they support their child during what may be the most challenging period of their lives?

Do they accept them changing their name, gender and pronouns at home and at school and investigating medical options, or should they try to help their child to accept their natal sex?

This is radical stuff. The Guardian is openly saying it’s not just obvious and beyond question that the only guide is how their child identifies. The Guardian is admitting that helping girls accept their sex is an option.

Several parents said they had been relaxed when their daughters initially began identifying as non-binary, but became uneasy when they said they wanted to take puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones and began binding their breasts.

Gee I wonder why. Could it be because the first set is entirely reversable, and not much different from what many daughters have been doing for generations? And the second set is a drastic attack on the body for a very flimsy reason?

The uncertainty parents felt was compounded by the highly polarised debate – within the NHS, politics and the media – about how parents and professionals should respond to children who express distress about their gender.

“We were terrified of being accused of being bigoted,” said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous to protect her child’s privacy.

All the more so given that one consequence of that could easily be a permanently estranged child. This stuff isn’t just social media, it isn’t just chitchat, it’s relationships between parents and children, which if you think about it is pretty significant. Understatement intended.

To be continued.

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