What is gender dysphoria?
Gender dysphoria is the description used for a child or young person whose birth gender does not match the way that they feel inside, this this may be a child born natally male who identifies as a girl or vice versa. A growing number of young people are presenting with gender identification that is neither male or female, or a combination of both this is often referred to as non-binary or genderfluid but there are many other definitions that may also be used.
Supporting a trans* child as a teacher
You may encounter children or young people who are struggling with their gender identity, they may or may not have supportive parents. Under the equality act 2010 any young person has a right to be addressed as whichever gender they identify as regardless of any diagnosis or medical intervention and irrespective of age. We have a number of resources that identify the responsibility you have as a school towards these pupils and your duty of care. Mermaids and other partner organisations can assist your school to assist with a child or young person's transition, provide training and lesson plans to make sure the best outcome is achieved for all involved. The most important thing is that the young person is resected and their views listened to.
Supporting a trans* child as a GP
As a GP, you may never have come across a trans* child or young person, however the most important thing to bear in mind is that this young person needs support and referral to a specialist service that can help. Even if the child is very young, this does not mean that the gender issues should not be ignored or dismissed. For people under 16 years of age, a referral to The Tavistock and Portman is appropriate, you may also wish to refer to CAMHS but it is not necessary to go through CAMHS as GPs can refer directly. If 16 or over then a referral to adult services may be more appropriate as many will see young people of 17 or over and waiting lists are in excess of 9 months. Different clinics will have different time frames for their waiting lists, but are always subject to change. If you need any assistance then please contact Mermaids then we can discuss appropriate care and signpost to other organisations that can support the family and/or young person further. NHS guidelines can be found here.
For Scottish nationals, a refferal to The Sandyford Clinic is usually required.
Supporting a trans* child as a social worker
A child's gender expression being supported by a parent is not a matter for child protection. Supporting children and young people to live as their affirmed gender is very important to nurture self esteem and self confidence. In some cases a child's gender expression may change but allowing them freedom of expression is vital to maintaining good mental health. If you would like any information or support when dealing with a family or child with gender issues then please contact Mermaids. We have a number or resources, can give you information and signpost to other agencies.
Mermaids has trained professionals in the NHS, Police Service, Social Services, Schools, CAMHS and the workplace. If you are interested in discussing this further please contact us or visit our training page.