The NHS’s only gender clinic for children has been accused of using experimental treatments on young gender-confused people.
Dr Michael Biggs, an associate professor at Oxford University’s Department of Sociology, said he welcomed the impending legal challenge against the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust.
In a letter to The Sunday Times in support of the case, he criticised the Trust’s Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) for using unlicensed puberty-blocking drugs to treat children who are confused about their gender.
He said: “The Tavistock’s gender identity clinic uses the drug triptorelin to stop puberty in children as young as 11. Triptorelin is not licensed for treatment of this condition.
“My research has uncovered disturbing data from the Tavistock’s 2011 experiment with this drug.
“After one year, children given the ‘treatment’ had more thoughts of self-harm, and the girls experienced worse dysphoria.”
He added that he hoped the judicial review would force the clinic to release “comprehensive data” on the wellbeing of the 300 or so children “subjected to this drug regime”.
The clinic launched its trial of puberty blockers for young teenagers with gender dysphoria in 2010, and the treatment was approved for wider use at the clinic in 2014 after the GIDS director claimed the preliminary results of the trial had been “positive”.
The Trust has since prescribed puberty blockers to over a thousand teens on the basis of the study – including hundreds under the age of 14.
But the study actually showed that after a year of using the drugs there was “a significant increase” in the number of adolescents who said they “deliberately try to hurt or kill themselves”.
Parents also reported “a significant increase in behavioural and emotional problems” and “a significant decrease in physical wellbeing” in girls.