BBC Newsnight Coverage of Gender Transition, GIDS and Detransition

The Gender Identity Development Service at The Tavistock Centre in London has been caught up in a lot of negative press in recent years. Deb Cohen and Hannah Barnes have worked hard to produce balanced, factual news coverage of some of the issues that have been highlighted concerning the treatment provided to children and young people by GIDS. Below we have provided links to the various Newsnight programmes that have covered these.

Transgender Treatment: Puberty Blockers Study Under Investigation

23 Jul 2019

England’s only NHS youth gender clinic lowered the age at which it offers children puberty blockers, partly based on a study now being investigated. The study’s full findings have not been published – but early data showed some taking the drugs reported an increase in thoughts of suicide and self-harm. The clinic said data was from a “small sample” and so no “meaningful conclusion” could be drawn from it. Children as young as 11 are now being offered these hormone-blocking drugs.

Transgender Treatment: Puberty Blockers Study Under Investigation

Detransitioning: Reversing a gender transition

26 Nov 2019

The number of people openly questioning their gender identity has increased over the last decade. Demand for specialist gender identity services – for both children and adults – is at an all-time high, forcing some to spend years on waiting lists before being seen by an expert. Many people who transition to a gender different from the one they were assigned at birth will be happy with the change they’ve been able to make. But Newsnight has spoken to some who are now detransitioning. They and experts in gender identity are calling for more help for this vulnerable group. Deborah Cohen and Hannah Barnes report and Emily Maitlis is joined in studio by Dr Elizabeth van Horn, consultant psychiatrist in Gender Identity Services at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.

Detransitioning: Reversing a gender transition

Staff concerns ‘shut down’ at child gender clinic

19 Jun 2020

Newsnight has seen transcripts that show staff say they were discouraged from raising welfare concerns at England’s only NHS child gender clinic.​ Leaked documents reveal that staff at England’s only children’s NHS gender clinic say concerns about patient welfare were shut down. Clinicians reported worries that some patients were referred onto a gender transitioning pathway too quickly. BBC Newsnight has seen transcripts of some staff interviews from a review into the Gender Identity Development Service. The Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, which runs the service, defended the review and its practices. The review was published in spring 2019 after the Trust asked its medical director, Dr Dinesh Sinha, to investigate serious concerns about children’s welfare raised by staff in an internal report.

Staff concerns ‘shut down’ at child gender clinic

Child gender clinic: Staff concerns date back more than a decade

2 Oct 2020

Newsnight has obtained a copy of a review into the NHS’s only child gender clinic from 2005, led by the then medical director Dr David Taylor. The review reveals safeguarding concerns had been raised by some staff back then, fifteen years ago. The NHS announced that an independent review is to take place into gender identity services for children and young people, with a focus on how care can be improved. It’s an area of healthcare that Newsnight has covered several times over the last year, and which is rapidly changing. Newsnight has learned that staff concerns about some practices at the NHS’s specialist children’s clinic date back more than a decade. Newsnight’s Health Correspondent Deborah Cohen reports and this film was produced by Hannah Barnes.

Child gender clinic: Staff concerns date back more than a decade

Puberty Blockers: Under 16s unlikely to be able to give informed consent

2 Dec 2020

Children under 16 with gender dysphoria are unlikely to be able to give informed consent to undergo treatment with puberty-blocking drugs, three High Court judges have ruled.​ The case was brought against Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, which said it was “disappointed” but immediately suspended such referrals for under-16s. The NHS said it “welcomed the clarity” the ruling would bring. One of the claimants, Keira Bell, said she was “delighted” by the judgment. Ms Bell, 23, from Cambridge, had been referred to the Tavistock Centre, which runs the UK’s only gender-identity development service (GIDS), as a teenager and was prescribed puberty blockers aged 16. She argued the clinic should have challenged her more over her decision to transition to a male as a teenager. Newsnight’s Health Correspondent Deborah Cohen and her producer, Hannah Barnes, initially brought concerns over the Tavistock’s policies on child consent to the fore in a series of reports for Newsnight – they have this report on the judgment. In the studio, Emily Maitlis is joined by Keira Bell, who was prescribed puberty blockers aged 16, and Susie Green, CEO of Mermaids, a charity which supports transgender children and teenagers and their parents.

Puberty Blockers: Under 16s unlikely to be able to give informed consent