Last November, a school in Brighton called Dorothy Stringer made the news when it was revealed that 76 of its pupils are either transgender or gender-non-conforming (TGNC). This isn’t as unusual as you might think. At another school, which also hit the headlines last year, 17 pupils are in the process of changing gender and many schools now have policies in place to support pupils who identify as TGNC, including more than 80 with “gender neutral” uniforms. Referrals to the Tavistock, Britain’s only NHS clinic specialising in children and young people who are TGNC, jumped from 697 in 2014-15 to 2,016 in 2016-17, an increase of 289 per cent.
In some cases, these patients will be prescribed “puberty blockers”, drugs that delay the onset of puberty. If they’re over 16, they may be offered hormone therapy so they develop the secondary sexual characteristics associated with the gender they identify with — breasts for those transitioning to female and facial hair for those transitioning to male. Older patients may even be given the option of gender reassignment surgery, provided their psychotherapist is satisfied they are genuinely suffering from “gender dysphoria” (see below).
Should we be alarmed by this trend? And make no mistake, it is a growing phenomenon. The Sunday Times reported in January that a record number of children are applying to change their gender by deed poll — seven to 10 a week. (To read more, click here.)