Private gender clinics for older teens and young adults

private gender clinics

After the Cass Review’s final report, there will be greater NHS oversight of gender-related healthcare for the under 18s. But adolescents and young adults who choose to go privately will be vulnerable to ideologically biased treatments with no comparable regulation. Shelley Charlesworth writes about the private gender clinics and the links some have with WPATH and the discredited GIDS clinic.

One of the most significant achievements of the Cass Review’s final report is its focus on the needs of the 17-25 year olds, recommending a follow through service from children to adult for this age group. This both reflects what is known about the brain’s maturation into a person’s mid-20s and follows other areas of healthcare that are moving to a 0-25-yrs service.

But the dilemma for the NHS is that greater scrutiny of adult gender services (a fast-forwarded Cass-style review of clinics and service specifications; increasing the age from 17 to 18 for accessing adult gender clinics; an urgent review of cross-sex hormones) is likely to increase growth in the private sector.

The majority of those on NHS waiting lists for gender services are under 25 and female, so it’s likely that it will be the same demographic seeking private care.

Dr Cass told members of the Scottish Parliament in May 2024 that she has “really deep concerns about private provision” because it will not meet the standards of care she advocates, and will as a consequence put children “at considerable risk.”

GenderGP in court 

Two recent court rulings involving girls who identify as boys have exposed the huge problem that the expansion of private gender clinics pose to children with gender-related distress. The court in the case of J, a 16-year old girl with autism, who’d been hospitalised for severe anorexia, heard that GenderGP had prescribed dangerously high levels of testosterone when she was 15. Her parents were divorced and disagreed about putting her on a medical pathway. In his summing up the judge said:

“There must be very significant concern about the prospect of a young person such as J accessing cross-hormone treatment from any off-shore, online, unregulated private clinic. The evidence relating to Gender GP that is currently available, as analysed by Dr Hewitt, gives rise to additional serious concerns as to the safety of patients accessing cross-hormone treatment from that particular clinic.”

The second case involved another 16-year old girl, Q, whose parents are also divorced and disagree about her care. The girl and her father wanted to consult GenderGP but were prevented from doing so by an earlier court order, sought by her mother. This order came to an end on Q’s 16th birthday. The judge in this case noted the concerns about GenderGP in the case of J but refused to extend the earlier order after accepting reassurances that father and daughter would not consult GenderGP.

What is concerning about both cases, beyond the shocking evidence of over-dosing testosterone to J by GenderGP, is that both girls will now be seen by Gender Plus. The non-affirming parent in each case accepted, albeit reluctantly, that their daughter could be seen by the new private clinic until she reaches 18. The courts may have highlighted the many well-documented concerns about GenderGP’s harmful practices while at the same time giving cover to Gender Plus as a respectable provider of affirmative care for children and adolescents.    

GenderGP is still able to sell cross-sex hormones to UK residents, despite the bad publicity and government moves to stop pharmacies from dispensing the prescriptions. Its easy to access and no questions asked approach, coupled with the lowest prices, will ensure this. They operate no age limits.

An 18-yr old girl recently posted on Reddit that she was fifteen and in the care system when she was prescribed testosterone by GenderGP. This was paid for by the GenderGP fund which helps those under 16 who are unable to pay for hormones. Newspaper reports indicate that the Webberleys who run GenderGP are employing unqualified staff to make online assessments.

Support for GenderGP comes not just from trans activists such as GIRES and Transactual which link to the Webberley’s site but also bodies which should protect vulnerable children like the British Psychological Society and the University of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care. The BPS’s house magazine, The Psychologist, listed GenderGP as a helpful resource in January 2024, despite all that was known about them. This was only removed, after many protests, on April 24th 2024.

The Good Law Project is attempting a legal challenge to the NHS which it accuses of “gathering data on which trans youth are obtaining private treatment from abroad, for the purposes of seeking to cause or compel them to stop treatment.” The GLP cannot be unaware that in the very unlikely event that their legal challenge is successful, GenderGP would be given another free pass to continue harming children and young people.

When welcoming the Cass Review’s final report, the Health Secretary Victoria Atkins said:

“It is morally and medically reprehensible that some online providers not registered in the UK have stated their intention to continue to issue prescriptions to children in this country. I am looking closely at what can be done to curtail any loopholes in prescribing practices, including legislative options.”

The Government has now introduced regulations to restrict the prescribing and supply of puberty blockers to children and young people under 18 in England, Wales and Scotland. An emergency ban will close the loophole that allows under-18s to access the drugs via private clinics. The Times reports that although the initial “emergency” restrictions only cover a three-month period they are likely to be extended beyond September by the next government.

“Health officials have clarified that the ban will apply to the controversial gender clinic Gender GP, despite it being based in Singapore, as it issues its prescriptions via doctors in Europe.”

However GenderGP will still be able to prescribe cross-sex hormones. The demise of GenderGP has been forecast many times and it’s likely to still find customers while children and young people are taught that the answer to their distress is to chemically alter their bodies.

Gender Plus

Gender Plus, set up by ex GIDS staff, sees all ages. Gender Plus’s founder and owner Aidan Kelly now employs at least six ex GIDS staff, all psychologists or psychotherapists as senior clinicians: Claudia Zitz, Josh Goulding Talbot, Jos Twist, Shon Grant, Matei Dudu, Sarah Favier and Angeline Dharmaindra. Jos Twist’s background as a “genderqueer elf and political pervert who is a new addition to the core Queer Spirit team for 2017” seems no bar to employment by GIDS or Gender Plus.

Twist can be seen coming on stage as one of the organisers of the Queer Spirit Festival here at 24.44. Privately too, Twist sees patients of all ages offering “assessments for a diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria/Incongruence for both young people and adults. For those 17 years and over, I am able to do an onward referral to an endocrinologist.”

Igi Moon is another Gender Plus member whose clinical work is infused with trans activism. Dr Moon is head of the Campaign Against Conversion Therapy (CACT) which is in control of the Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy. CACT is an activist grouping which wants to put ‘gender identity’ into statute. Their unaccountable and secretive methods under Moon’s stewardship are well-known.

Writing in late 2022 Kelly, Zitz, Twist and Goulding Talbot were on record defending the regime at GIDS, arguing for activist language such as ‘assigned at birth’ citing the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care 8 as reliable, and downplaying the numbers of detransitioners. After the Cass Review’s final report was published in April 2024, Kelly told the Guardian there was an “unjustifiable” level of caution from the Cass report that did not match his experience in the service and that poor outcomes had been overemphasised, leaving England “out of step” with the rest of the world.

He said:

“It’s important to remember that people carrying out this expert review have never worked in gender. The people who actually know the work, and have been doing the work for a long period of time, don’t hold that level of caution and fear.””

Kelly appears to have had little caution or fear during his career. During a 2018 presentation to trainee psychologists he admitted that puberty blockers are experimental and there is no evidence about their long-terms effects or regret. He talked about sex being assigned at birth and advised using the Gender Unicorn to help children understand gender. Trauma could be a reason for children expressing a desire for a cross-sex identity, he said, while seeming to downplay its importance.

“..what happens when there’s a traumatic history… I always come back to that in a way and so it’s really important that we know about history and trauma and thinking about that, but at the point at the same time, we kind of need to think well here, we’re here because we’re here, and I’m gonna say it doesn’t matter how we got here, it does, but it’s also not everything as well.”

Some detransitioners would disagree; the trauma was everything.

Kelly, Twist and Zitz of Gender Plus have added their names to an open letter from a new group of therapists who believe in gender identity, Therapists Against Conversion Therapy and Transphobia (TACTT). The letter claims there is a “hyper focus on trans children” which contributes to “public hysteria.” It repeats the same talking points which have now been roundly rebuffed by evidence from the Cass Review:

“We believe that therapy which affirms trans, non-binary and gender-questioning clients has the power to save lives. There is overwhelming evidence that gender-affirming care can improve mental health and general wellbeing, whilst decreasing risk of suicide.”

Gender Plus is a hybrid online/in person service, although most appointments appear to be online. For a ‘gender assessment’ Gender Plus says only one in person appointment is necessary for the under-18s and for those over 18 an assessment could be finished in just 2-3 appointments. It will refer those aged 16 and over to endocrinology services for cross-sex hormones. The service is not substantially different from the discredited GenderGP.

Eden New Life

When Eden New Life was launched in August 2023 they said they treated anyone aged 16 and over. This changed around 9th May 2024 when their website announced, referencing the Cass Review “we are no longer accepting new clients aged under 18. Clients must be aged 18 or over to access our services.” It appears that they may have younger clients on their books, but are now only taking on those over 18. The founders and owners, Dr Sarah Parker and Nick Bell, both worked for GenderGP, Bell as Chief Operations Officer, and the business follows a similar subscription model to that of the discredited Webberleys.

Excluding Parker and Bell there are ten other named staff, although it’s unlikely they all work full time. The clinic is a WPATH member and adheres to WPATH’s standards of care which the Cass Review’s final report rejected as lacking “developmental rigour”. The service is entirely online, and offers gender affirming hormones, dispensed from a UK based online pharmacy. Subscribers can also be referred to one of the two named breast surgeons for “top surgery” suggesting that it’s marketing itself to trans-identifying women.

17-25-year olds: the new patient profile

There’s another group of private gender clinics, ideologically aligned to activist positions, but who do not treat the under 18s. They are a cause for concern, because as the Cass Review’s final report said about NHS clinics:

“The Review requested data on the demographics of referrals into adult gender clinics…the majority of referrals (around 70%) were birth-registered females under the age of 25. However, the data related to new referrals only and did not include direct referrals of GIDS patients who had reached the age of 17. Therefore, a conservative estimate would be that 17-25 year olds account for around 75% of referrals to adult gender clinics.”

Although private gender clinics do not have to supply information about age and sex, their patient demographic is unlikely to differ from the NHS referrals data.

In short, most referrals to private gender clinics are likely to be female and under 25.

These young women will have been young teenagers when ‘born in the wrong body’ narratives and GIDS referrals were soaring around 2015.

GenderCare

This network of independent clinicians was set up in 2010 by consultant psychiatrist Stuart Lorimer. In 2017 he was blunt about his motives:

“It’s fair to say the decision to set up GenderCare, around seven years ago, wasn’t an altruistic one. Doctors have mortgages too….I was looking for ways to generate more income.”

Endocrinologist Dr Leighton Seal and speech therapist Christella Antoni joined him, taking the current GenderCare members to twelve. Eight of them are WPATH members. Most (Dr Stuart Lorimer, Dr Leighton Seal, Dr Vikinjeet Bhatia, Dr Jonny Coxon, Matthew Mills, Dr Peter Hammond, Dr King Sun Leong, Dr Richard Quinton, Dr Christine Mimnagh, and Dr Victoria Millson-Brown) combine their private work with positions at NHS adult gender clinics.

Services offered are prescriptions for cross-sex hormones, referrals for surgeries, and reports supporting an application for a Gender Recognition Certificate. Prescriptions for hormones can be got after just 2 appointments. The FAQs in the surgery section indicate that the estimates in Cass are replicated in the private sector, with young women wanting double mastectomies, described euphemistically here as ‘people’ wanting ‘chest surgery.’

“I want chest surgery before testosterone. Will you see me?

It depends on the clinician but usually yes, it’s increasingly common for us to see people who want to do things in that order.

I want chest surgery but not testosterone. Will you see me?

It depends on the clinician but usually yes, it’s increasingly common, especially with non-binary, for us to see people who want chest surgery without testosterone.

GenderCare is a virtual clinic. Clients contact a clinician individually, whom they may see in person or not. What unites the twelve is a shared belief in the medicalisation of gender distress, based on the discredited standards of WPATH.

The Northern Gender Network: the private/NHS revolving door

This group of clinicians uses the same business model as GenderCare; individual clinicians see clients privately in addition to their jobs “at senior levels” in the NHS, according to the website. The Northern Gender Network (NGN) comprises six psychologists, two endocrinologists and a speech therapist Dr H Eli Joubert who founded the network and who also works for the NHS as clinical director at the Leeds Gender Identity Service, as does Laura Charlton, former GIDS psychologist, who is its clinical lead and Victoria Millson-Brown, who is the lead endocrinologist. All three are WPATH members and so it’s no surprise that NGN adheres to WPATH standards of care.

Those using NGN will first get a diagnosis of gender dysphoria from one of the psychologists, then usually after one appointment a prescription for cross sex hormones from an endocrinologist. Views on r/transgenderUK indicate a quick response from the endocrinologists, once the initial diagnosis is made:

“Dr Hammond – roughly six months between contacting his office and appointment; HRT prescribed electronically same-day.”

“I had her (Millson-Brown) earlier this week and she was excellent, lovely and funny and prescribed me T during the appointment which arrived 2 days later in the post”

The Trust running the Leeds Gender Identity Service must be asked why three lead clinicians are WPATH  members and if they agree with WPATH’s statement that the Cass Review is “rooted in the false premise that non-medical alternatives to care will result in less adolescent distress for most adolescents” and that it does not “acknowledge the very real fact that medical treatment pathways are an important treatment option for many young people.”

Small private gender clinics and the WPATH connection

The Harley Street Gender Clinic is run by Vickie Pasterski, and Lukas Dressler a counselling psychologist and psychotherapist in Brighton; both WPATH members who make referrals for hormones and surgery. Dressler works with children as does Pasterski whose role in a disturbing court case involving the social transitioning of two pre-pubertal children from the same family was investigated in an earlier Transgender Trend blog. Pasterski’s 2019 TED talk was a perfect distillation of every trans activist belief:

“I might see a six year old person who was born looking like a typical boy but who with the love and support of their parents is now living a happy childhood as a little girl..”

She calls this “the kaleidoscope of gender as it naturally exists.” However, nature needs a hand to change children’s bodies and so Pasterski’s clinic lists a number of hormone providers including GenderGP.

The clinic sees children who “once they have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, if appropriate, and perhaps they have even started toward social transition, we can prepare for referral to Specialist Providers.”  

Despite the plural name, Gender Doctors is run by a single clinician, Consultant Psychiatrist Kirpal Sahota who makes referrals for hormones and surgery. Dr Sahota is a WPATH member and also works as a gender specialist at the Tavistock adult gender clinic.

Dr Dmitri Popelyuk, a private consultant psychiatrist, runs the The Gender Clinic which is WPATH aligned. It follows the usual pattern of diagnosis followed by referrals for medical transition.  

Speed of access to drugs and surgeries is what this and the other private providers promise:

“Assessments for hormones or surgery can usually be completed within three weeks of booking with us, and you and your chosen clinic will receive your report within 10 working days/two working days of your appointment.”

Three other Gender Clinic clinicians work both privately and for the NHS. All are WPATH members. Sylvia Hejda-Forde and Tamara Anderson both work at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. Marianna Leontis works for an NHS memory clinic.

“We work very closely with the London Transgender Clinic, where most of our patients are referred for endocrine treatments or surgical procedures; however, we also refer our patients to other professionals and clinics across the UK and some abroad.”

The reference to working with the London Transgender Clinic is out of date. The LTC’s premises on Wimpole Street were closed suddenly in November 2023 and the company filed for bankruptcy. However, it is still in business as a discrete clinic as part of the Harley Street Specialist Hospital (HSSH) where Christopher Inglefield, LTC’s director and lead surgeon, carries out surgeries. The LTC website is live but directs calls and inquiries to the HSSH. Angry patients, worried about hormone prescriptions, are told to contact the LTC affiliated London Hormone Clinic.

Mr Inglefield is a WPATH member and the LTC website carries the WPATH logo. Their motto is ‘proud to be a part of your gender journey’, words which echo activists like Gendered Intelligence who also describe irreversible surgeries as a ‘journey.’ The Clinic’s Instagram account is still live, full of activist and graphic content; before and after pictures of double mastectomies, activist talking points such as trans in sport, conversion therapy, and reminders to celebrate all the days of the trans movement’s calendar. Bankruptcy has not diluted Mr Inglefield’s enthusiasm for gender surgeries, including ethically dubious and experimental womb transplants into the bodies of trans identifying males.

Gender, a new market for plastic surgery

Not all private gender clinics have a background in ‘gender healthcare.’ Many are taking advantage of the cultural and societal changes brought by a belief in gender identity. Typical is Transgendercare, which is run by plastic surgeon, Ardeshir Vahidi. As his website explains

“With the NHS overloaded and in a state of disarray, waiting times for transgender patients have become a catalyst for additional stress and the well-being of many. This has opened up a pathway for the private sector to offer assessments and procedures for trans patients.”

This particular pathway opened up for Vahidi only recently in 2022 when, after decades working in conventional plastic surgery, he worked briefly for the now closed London Transgender Clinic with Christopher Inglefield. Vahidi’s speciality is double mastectomies. Video testimonials on the website from young women all speak glowingly of Dr Vahidi. Speed of procedure after consultation is a common theme.

Transgendercare is not an outlier. A quick search of other private plastic surgery providers shows that double mastectomies are becoming as standard as nose jobs and tummy tucks. Usually tucked away on the website, cosmetic surgeons tell their ‘transgender and non-binary’ patients that they:

“offer a range of cosmetic enhancement treatments to help you feel fully empowered and confident in your gender identity. We offer male to female breast augmentation surgery… Our trained clinicians have a reputation for clinical excellence, with direct experience of transgender reconstructive plastic surgeries and treatments. We also offer our full range of non-invasive procedures that are designed to maximise your beauty goals.”

Stripped of much of the genderist language, these clinics are at least more honest about their trade, the promise that cosmetic surgery will deliver happiness.

The private New Victoria hospital performs the most extreme form of body modification for women, phalloplasty. There are no flags, WPATH endorsements, or talks of gender journeys on their website, but they offer a choice of four consultants for this most risky of surgeries. The New Victoria is one of several hospitals commissioned by the NHS to provide these surgeries for young women over the age of 18.

Protecting the 17-25-year olds from making life changing decisions is more urgent than ever.

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