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Monday, November 28, 2022

What is behind the rise in girls questioning their gender identity?

Amelia Gentleman
The Guardian
Originally posted 24 Nov 22

Here is an excerpt:

The trend was confirmed by clinicians who spoke to the Guardian.

“In the past few years it has become an explosion. Many of us feel confused by what has happened, and it’s often hard to talk about it to colleagues,” said a London-based psychiatrist working in a child and adolescent mental health unit, who has been a consultant for the past 17 years.

Like all NHS employees interviewed, she asked for anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject.

“I might have seen one child with gender dysphoria once every two years when I started practising. It was very niche and rare.” Now, somewhere between 10% and 20% of her caseload is made up of adolescents registered as female at birth who identify as non-binary or trans, with just an occasional male-registered teenager who identifies as trans.

Another senior child psychiatrist said girls who wanted to transition made up about 5% of her caseload.

“In the last five to 10 years we’ve seen a huge surge in young women who, at the age of around 12 or 13, want to become boys. They’ve changed their name and they are pressing … to have hormones or puberty blockers”

The psychiatrist added: “Often those girls are children who are going through the normal identity and developmental problems of adolescence and finding a solution for themselves in this way.”

Greater awareness of trans issues is likely to be one common-sense explanation for the rise in requests for referrals.

“Left-handedness increased over time after we stopped punishing left-handed children in schools, because some children are naturally left-handed and were now able to express it,” said Cleo Madeleine, a spokesperson for the trans support group Gendered Intelligence.

“In the same way, increased visibility and acceptance of trans people has led to a gradual increase in young people who feel comfortable expressing their trans identity. The most important thing is to recognise that this is not a problem to be solved or a bad outcome to be avoided.”

The mother of a 17-year-old A-level student (who came out as trans at 13, leaving a handwritten letter for his parents on his bed) agreed: “It’s discussed so much more – on Facebook and on social media. It’s no longer a taboo.”

She is confident this was the right decision for her child. “I think I wondered if this was a phase, but I didn’t look to dissuade him. As he began to socially transition he was a different person. It has made him happier,” she said.