Following an unprecedented surge in 2015, the referral rate of girls to Tavistock GIDS continues on its upward trajectory. The number of boys referred over the past year remains the same as the year before, so girls alone account for this year’s 6% rise in referrals. The total number of referrals for this year is 2,590, up from 2,444 last year.
A 6% rise may seem small compared with the last few years, but each year’s percentage rise is based on a much larger base number each consecutive year. In 2009/10 there were 32 girls and 40 boys referred to Tavistock GIDS. In 2011/12 the sex ratio reversed and the gap between boys and girls has continued to widen year on year ever since. The total number of referrals for 2018/19 in England alone is 624 boys and 1,740 girls. In less than a decade there has been a 1,460% increase in referrals of boys and a staggering 5,337% increase in girls.
To understand this year’s figures we have to look closer at age groups. Andrew Gilligan in the Sunday Times reports:
“The number of 13-year-olds seeking treatment rose by 30% in a year to 331. Referrals of 14-year-olds went up by a quarter, to 511. The number of 11-year-olds is up by 28%. The youngest patients were three.”
The following age breakdown shows that 12 -17 year-olds make up 80% of referrals:
This fits with the observed phenomenon of a rapid onset of gender dysphoria after puberty, among adolescents with no previous signs of dysphoria in childhood. In the first exploratory study of parental reports by Dr Lisa Littman several factors were identified by a significant number of parents, suggesting a social contagion among teenagers, predominantly girls, with pre-existing mental health or neurobiological conditions. More research into this group is desperately needed.
As Gilligan points out in his article, the reason there has been a drop in the number of 17 year-olds may be because they can be referred directly to adult services – and even 16 year-olds may prefer to wait for an appointment at an adult clinic where they know they will have access to hormones without the number of assessments required at the Tavistock. The late teens age group falls through the gap in terms of recording and monitoring and this age group is particularly vulnerable because at adult services hormone treatments may be commenced without full assessment of any underlying mental health issues.
So that 6% rise in referrals of girls does not represent a ‘slowing down’ or ‘leveling out’ of referrals, but the continuation of a still-unexplained and completely unprecedented phenomenon. For girls, puberty and early adolescence remains the vulnerable period, just as girls’ bodies are changing and problems of body hatred and rejection emerge in the wider adolescent female group. An inquiry into the sudden surge in the number of troubled teenage girls who don’t want to be girls should have happened in 2016 when numbers rocketed, or even earlier in 2012 when girls first overtook boys. We were promised an inquiry by Penny Mordaunt last year but we are still waiting.
A full investigation is hampered by a political narrative which casts these girls as brave transgender youth, free at last to be their authentic selves through greater awareness and acceptance of transgender people throughout society. No proper inquiry can take place while the government is in thrall to a powerful transgender lobby which dictates the lens through which we must view these girls and frames anything else as transphobia. The only answers we will get will be by examining the referral rates of girls within a context of adolescent girls’ mental health. We must ask the question ‘why are so many girls unhappy and distressed about being girls?’
Behind these statistics are individual, vulnerable children. If one single case demonstrates the need for an inquiry, it is the tragic suicide of one such girl. The background of the case of Jess/Jayden Lowe is typical of the troubled cohort now coming forward to the Tavistock. Diagnosed with Aspergers and with a history of being “bullied mercilessly for being different” Jess was a lesbian who was clearly gender non-conforming from an early age. A family friend says: ‘We can’t understand how we didn’t see he was a boy a long time ago’.
Jess joined a Pride club run by a transgender teacher at secondary school with ‘a really good support network.’ Any feelings Jess may have had about not being a ‘proper’ girl because of her behaviour, any despair she may have felt about being ‘different’ would have been channeled in one direction only in this environment. Jess would have learned that it is possible to be ‘born in the wrong body’ and that she could literally become a boy. Jess then comes out as ‘transgender’ at age 13. How different might the outcome have been if there had been a lesbian support group at the school, or a strong feminist society influencing Jess in a completely different direction towards accepting herself, her sexual orientation and her body?
After coming out as transgender Jess’s mental health problems worsen, despite a popularity among peers and teachers which she had not enjoyed at primary school. She begins self-harming. The doctor ‘affirms’ her, calling her by her boy’s name and asks ‘what do you want?’ giving her full responsibility for decisions which should be made by adults.
Jess was put on the waiting list for the Tavistock at age 15 but was told that the waiting list was so long she must register with adult services. The claims about waiting times seem exaggerated in this article, but the real scandal is that children who are waiting for appointments at the Tavistock are not being given mental health support in the meantime.
Even if a child is able to access CAMHS services parents tell us that therapists will only ‘affirm’ their child. It seems that once a young person self-identifies as transgender, all access to normal therapeutic support is withdrawn. The influence of the transgender lobby in framing any deeper counselling as ‘conversion therapy’ must be subject to the strongest scrutiny as a matter of urgency. The capture of the NHS by an ideological and political lobby is leaving the most vulnerable young people at risk with no support. The family in this case were desperate for the ongoing psychological support they could see their child desperately needed.
“Jayden’s mum Claire said: “What we would have liked was for him to have been given psychological help when he asked, through the Tavistock, on an ongoing basis and after a substantial period of time, progress to hormones and surgery as need was proven.””
We are also told in this article that the family was sent a ‘pack in the post’ telling them of the negative psychological effects of having to wait for gender treatment, ‘a list of horrible things he was likely to experience, from depression to suicidal thoughts.’ This is the typical narrative of a transgender activist group, which raises questions about who exactly was advising Jess and the family.
Finally Jess/Jayden finds online ‘gender GP’ Helen Webberley. Webberley offers the treatment that has been held out to this child for years as the one thing that will stop all the pain. Get testosterone through the post, no questions asked.
This is a story of a catalogue of failures to protect and support a highly vulnerable child who received no mental health support for a psychological distress which is not uncommon in adolescent girls, especially those who don’t conform to feminine stereotypes and especially lesbians. As with every tragic suicide case we have seen in the news, the child was fully supported and affirmed as a boy at home and at school.
The transgender model of understanding is the first thing which must be challenged, especially the teaching of this ideology in schools. How does it help a troubled teenage girl to be encouraged to reject her female body at such a vulnerable time of puberty?
How does it impact a vulnerable teen with mental health issues to hold out one treatment as the answer to all their problems, providing no mental health support in the meantime? For Jayden, it didn’t work. Perhaps testosterone doesn’t solve the mental torment, maybe the effects of T on a girl’s brain and body can make things worse? Where is the research to show that testosterone is a completely safe treatment for adolescent girls?
We don’t mean to minimise the smaller but still significant rise in the number of referrals of boys to the Tavistock over the past decade, some of whom are as vulnerable to this new ideology as girls. We hear increasingly from parents of boys, who are almost inevitably ASD/OCD or have established emotional difficulties, or are gay.
It is time for a full investigation into how the sexist and homophobic message of ‘innate brain gender’ has been allowed into schools to influence vulnerable young teens who believe it to be true. Holding out the promise of a magic medical cure for all the confusion and distress puberty can bring will tempt more girls than boys for the simple reason that a greater number of girls suffer with the bodily changes of puberty, along with the distress of their perceived inferior status as the female sex. Telling girls who reject cultural norms of femininity that they can literally be boys is a dereliction of duty by adults in a position of authority. As long as we ignore feminist analysis and fail to implement strong support measures, we will continue to see increasing referrals of unhappy teenage girls seeking the magic cure for being female.
Note: We will be accused of ‘misgendering.’ We have used the pronoun which refers to this young person’s sex because to use the pronoun ‘he’ would obscure the understanding of this story as the story of a female adolescent, which is part of the problem if we really want to understand why so many female adolescents are being referred to the Tavistock.