Some of the most senior gender identity specialists in the UK have accused their professional body of “contributing to an atmosphere of fear” around young people receiving gender-related healthcare.
More than 40 clinical psychologists have signed an open letter to the Association of Clinical Psychologists UK in protest at the organisation’s recent position statement on the provision of services for gender-questioning children and young people. They say they believe there was a failure to properly consult experts in the field or service users, resulting in a “misleading” statement that “perpetuates damaging discourses about the work and gender-diverse identities more broadly”.
About half of those signatories are current or former holders of senior roles – including the current director – at what was the only NHS gender identity service for children in England and Wales, the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) at the Tavistock and Portman NHS foundation trust in London.
NHS England announced in July it would be closing the GIDS and replacing it with regional hubs, after being warned by the interim report of the Cass Review into gender services for young people that having only one provider was “not a safe or viable long-term option”.
In 2021, inspectors rated the service “inadequate” overall and highlighted overwhelming caseloads, deficient record-keeping and poor leadership, suggesting that record waiting lists meant thousands of vulnerable young people were at risk of self-harm as they waited years for their first appointment.
In a position statement published last month, the ACP-UK wrote that “the new, regional services will have to offer a radical alternative [after the closure of GIDS] to meet the needs of all young people with gender dysphoria.”
The letter suggests: “An alternative interpretation is that it is possible to provide support for distress related to gender identity where mental health needs and neurodiversity are also present, and remain cognisant of all factors within formulation-based practice”.
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Source: The Guardian, 2 November 2022