PARENTS

Gender-Confused Children To Have Puberty Delaying Jabs

22/01/2012 17:27 | Updated 22 May 2015
Gender-confused children to have puberty delaying jabs before deciding on sex change operationsRex Features

Six children in Britain will be given hormone injections to delay the onset of puberty because they are convinced they were born the wrong sex.

Last September we reported on the Californian couple whose son had been given hormone therapy from the age of eight. But now hormone treatment for children suffering from gender identity disorder is happening in the UK as part of an NHS trial.

The monthly injections will postpone the physical changes of adolescence, giving the children more time to make decisions about their identity. It will also make any sex-change operation easier if they do decide to permanently change gender.

The Daily Mail reports that gender-identity disorder (GID) affects 1 in 4,000 Britons.

The injections will be carried out at a gender identity issues clinic in North London run by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust as part of an NHS trial. It will be the first time children aged between 12 ad 15 have ever been given this treatment in the UK.

Amy, 11, who renamed herself Charlie, is one of the children who has been accepted on the groundbreaking trial.

According to her parents Kathy and Jamie from Torbay, Amy was a tomboy from birth. She insisted on wearing boy's clothes, would cry if placed in a dress, and would only play with toy cards and Spiderman figures.

Her mother was not overly worried but at the age of five, Amy asked her: "When is my willy going to grow?"

Last September, on Charlie's insistence, Kathy allowed her daughter to start secondary school as a boy.

"I feel braver," Charlie told The Sunday Times Magazine. "Boys can be a bit braver than girls."

Now with puberty looming, his mother agreed to pause the process using drugs.

"He cannot relate to his female body at all," Kathy said. "He's in denial."

But many may wonder if 12 is too young to choose her sex.

Until now the jabs have only been prescribed to those over 16. However, supporters point out that nearly a quarter of sufferers aged 11 to 15 harm themselves or attempt suicide.

The injections contain drugs called hypothalamic blockers which suppress their sex hormones delaying the onset of puberty.

In the past 10 years they have been increasingly used in countries such as the US and the Netherlands to give children time to think about their identity.

Dr Polly Carmichael, director of Tavistock's Gender Identity Development Service, told The Sunday Times magazine that social conditioning in childhood may play some part: "'If there weren't pejoratives attached, for example, to boys who prefer more stereotypical girl-type activities and clothes - then it would be so much easier for these children to explore different ways of being without feeling they have to be physically one thing or the other."

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