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Transgender children what you need to know

In light of heightened recent media attention around the subject of transgender children in the
United Kingdom, Trans Media Watch is keen to ensure that vulnerable individuals are not
misrepresented.

Trans Media Watch is concerned that public knowledge of the treatment of transgender children is
not well understood by the public, and that inaccrate or unbalanced coverage of this issue could do
great damage to the physical and mental health of transgender children and their families. This fully
referenced guide makes it easy to check your facts.

Formation of gender identity at a young age

Gender identity usually develops early in life, around the age of three1, 2. This is true for all children,
however in the case of a transgender child, it can cause great distress. Transgender children are at
risk of suicide if this is left untreated, with nearly half reporting thinking about taking their lives 3

Treatment for young children

Treatment for transgender children in the UK involves a referral to a specialist clinic under the care
of family therapists, child and adolescent psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, social workers, and
child and adolescent psychotherapists4. For very young children, it will include talking therapy and, if
appropriate, a change of name or gender expression/presentation.

Treatment for adolescents

For older children, where their gender identity has been persistent and constant, medical
professionals will consider the use of puberty blockers under the care of endocrinology (hormone)
specialists2. Puberty blockers can be used to delay the onset of puberty so that children have the
time and space to grow and learn about themselves without suffering the irreversible effects of
puberty, which are traumatic for transgender people. If the child later identifies with the gender
they were assigned at birth, the puberty blockers can cease to be used and there is no long term
health risk, e.g. to fertility6.

It is useful to note that this is not transgender-specific medication. The same medication has been
used for many years to treat early-onset puberty in cisgender(non-transgender) children, for
example where the early arrival of periods causes distress 7.

No surgery for under 18s

Trans Media Watch is keen to stress that coverage of transgender people should not focus on
surgery, and indeed it is important to note that NO gender related surgery is carried out on people
under the age of 18 in the UK at all 7.

No clear correlation between parenting & gender incongruence

An article this June in the Lancet concluded that to date, research has established no clear
correlations between parenting and gender incongruence 8.Trans Media Watch has seen no
evidence to support the notion that transgender children are pushed into being transgender. In
fact, all children grow up in a gendered society and experience societal pressure to conform with
gender expectations consistent with their assigned gender 9.

1
Pamela J. Kalbfleisch; Michael J. Cody (1995). Gender, power, and communication in human
relationships. Psychology Press. pp. 366 pages. ISBN 0805814043
2
Ann M. Gallagher; James C. Kaufman (2005). Gender differences in mathematics: An integrative
psychological approach. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-82605-5
3
Arnold H. Grossman, Anthony R. DAugelli (2007). Transgender Youth and Life-Threatening
Behaviors-
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Anthony_DAugelli/publication/5879288_Transgender_Youth
_and_Life-Threatening_Behaviors/links/0c960526e62480e3ba000000.pdf
4, 5,7
NHS Standard Contract for Gender Identity Development Service for Children and Adolescents-
https://www.england.nhs.uk/commissioning/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2016/09/gids-service-
specification.pdf
5, 6
British Society for Paediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes document on Precocious [early-onset]
Puberty - https://www.bsped.org.uk/patients/docs/PRECOCIOUS_PUBERTY_TR_VERSION.pdf
8
Transgender people: health at the margins of society (The Lancet, 16 June 2016) -
http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(16)00683-8.pdf
9
Spade, Joan. The Kaleidoscope of Gender. London: SAGE. pp. 177184. ISBN 978-1-4129-7906-1