Adult gender clinics

Nov 28, 2021 by

by Shelley Charlesworth, Transgender Trend:

Are the current adult gender clinics serving their patients well? Are their links with trans activist groups influencing treatments? More detransitioners are now coming forward to say they were rushed through gender services without adequate attention paid to the complexity behind their gender dysphoria. A majority of these are young women.

There is an assumption that more gender services are needed to deal with long waiting lists. But if the model of gender care at the existing clinics is faulty, will more clinics simply lead to more bad outcomes? An important new study into a UK gender clinic suggests this could be the case.

The Exeter gender clinic study

The first piece of research into outcomes at one of the 7 adult gender clinics has just been published, throwing much needed light on their results. Its significance is that nothing similar has been undertaken before. Indeed, it’s hard to think of another branch of medicine that has had so little scrutiny as to outcomes.  The authors write:

“There are limited data published by adult UK GICs and to date there has been no requirement for services to collate or report on either access to treatment or outcomes. As such, it is unknown how many UK service users complete their transition as planned or have unmet needs, and the impact this may have on them. It is also unclear how many disengage from services, discontinue treatment or revert to their previous gender role.”

The research looked at the records of 175 patients at West of England gender clinic in Exeter which offers treatment to people over the age of 17. The authors found that the patient profile mirrored the change in presentation to the Tavistock’s service for children which has seen an increase in trans identifying girls. They note that the adult service was designed for older male-to-female and not younger female-to-male transitioners. Because they found high rates of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and those with adverse childhood experiences [ACEs] like physical abuse, sexual abuse, bereavement or domestic violence, the authors call for more attention to be paid to these factors during assessment. The report contains some revealing statistical data; of the natal women under 25 who were treated at the clinic, 89.4% had an adverse childhood experience, 23.4% had a neurodevelopment disorder.

The figures for mental health conditions show higher rates than those of the general population. 3 males committed suicide during the course of their treatment. 72.4% of the clinic’s users were found to have a previously diagnosed mental health condition. The authors had to collate this information themselves from other medical records saying “As the GIC does not itself diagnose concurrent mental or physical health issues, we relied on the documentation of diagnoses made elsewhere, meaning our background characteristics data may be underestimates.”

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