A private clinic has been heavily criticised for prescribing cross-sex hormones to 18-year-old teenagers after a single video call consultation.
Concerned parents have questioned the speed at which psychiatrist Dr Stuart Lorimer prescribes experimental and life-changing drugs to vulnerable young adults at his GenderCare centre in London.
NHS gender identity service guidelines advise hormone therapy should only be prescribed after several assessments have taken place and a formal gender dysphoria diagnosis has been given.
One mother told the Mail on Sunday that her son’s Zoom consultation with Dr Lorimer had “lasted for less than an hour”, after which the psychiatrist had prescribed the female ‘sex-swap’ hormone oestrogen. She described the whole process as “utterly horrifying”.
She added: “My husband and I were extremely worried that what we thought was an exploratory chat has resulted in him taking life-changing, sterilising medication. We feel extremely concerned that he was rushed into this too fast.”
Another mother said of her daughter’s assessment by the centre: “I find it incredible after that one video call – relying totally on an 18-year-old’s presentation of evidence without any attempt to either get doctors’ records or bring a family interview into it – that they have agreed to prescribe life-changing medication.”
Parents of both teenagers claim their children were given the hormones after a single consultation by video call with GenderCare, despite the centre stating on its website that it worked “within national and international guidelines of best practice”.
The newspaper also reported that many young people had spoken “enthusiastically” on social media “of their experiences with GenderCare”.
One young person wrote on Tumblr: “Today I had my first two gender appointments with a private clinic called GenderCare in London and I’ve come away with the green light to start testosterone as soon as I have a repeat set of bloods done.”
Another posted on Twitter: “I just had my appointment with GenderCare. They are supporting the dysphoria diagnosis and hormone referral. I’m so excited I’m practically bouncing off the walls.”
The revelations come in the wake of the recent landmark High Court ruling against the NHS Gender Identity Development Service in December, where three senior judges said it was “highly unlikely” children 13 and under could ever genuinely consent to hormone blockers, and “very doubtful” 14 and 15 year olds could do so.
For children between the ages of 16 and 18, the Court ruled that: “so long as the young person has mental capacity and the clinicians consider the treatment is in his/her best interests, then absent a possible dispute with the parents, the court generally has no role”.
However, considering “the long-term consequences of the clinical interventions”, and that the treatment is as yet “innovative and experimental”, the judges recognised that clinicians may well wish to seek the authorisation of the court before commencing clinical treatment.
While giving evidence on the use of puberty-blocking drugs on the under-18s, clinical psychiatrist Prof Stephen Levine lamented a lack of “critical oversight” amid an ‘exponential’ growth in demand for gender treatment by teenagers.