Who this service is for
We see children and young people (up to the age of 18) and their families who are experiencing difficulties in the development of their gender identity. This includes children who are unhappy with their biological sex.
Some may be boys who prefer to play the role of a girl and vice versa. Some children may feel comfortable only when playing with peers of the opposite sex, or may frequently cross-dress.
Children with disorders of sex development (DSD) and other endocrine conditions may be referred if there are concerns with gender identity development.
We also offer counselling to children of parents with transsexualism or other gender identity problems.
We take referrals from all over the UK.
Why refer to the service?
This specialist service is unique to the NHS. It is staffed by a multi-disciplinary group with contributions from child and adolescent psychiatry, psychology, social work, psychotherapy and paediatrics. Our staff work closely together to make the most of different team members' skills and expertise.
The central aim of the service is to support the development of gender identity. We do this by exploring the nature and characteristics of the patient’s gender identity.
We consider difficulties of gender identity in the context of the development process. The aims of the service are to understand the nature of the obstacles or adverse factors in the development of gender identity, and to try minimise their negative influence.
We think that relationships are as important as other factors in contributing to the patient's difficulties. Therefore we pay attention in our work to what is happening within the patient's relationship with the family, school and other social agencies.
We understand that young people experiencing difficulties in this area and their families may not feel ready to accept help from us directly. We also understand that it may be impractical to attend. In these situations we make ourselves available to consult with professionals already involved in the case, such as the patient's GP, mental health professionals, teachers or social workers.
Kinds of treatment are offered
Our approach is always tailored to the needs of the individual families. Any decisions made about treatment are made with input from the whole team so that there are contributions from all areas of expertise.
The service understands Gender Identity Disorder (GID) within the context of a psychological, biological, developmental and social framework. The Gender Identity Development Service offers comprehensive and interdisciplinary assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with GID.
The service recognises that GID can be an extremely distressing condition, and we endeavour to help young people and their families cope. Young people referred to our service present with complex issues, which can include associated psychological, family and social difficulties. We co-work with the local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), schools and other groups as required.
We specifically provide specialist input and consultation around GID. As we are a part-time service and cannot respond to psychiatric emergencies, clinical professional responsibility is held locally to respond to these and to provide a clinical input to associated psychological/psychiatric difficulties.
The therapeutic aims of the service are:
- to foster recognition and non-judgemental acceptance of gender identity problems
- to ameliorate associated behavioural, emotional and relationship difficulties
- to encourage exploration of the mind-body relationship by promoting close collaboration among professionals in different specialties, including a paediatric endocrinologist
- to enable the child or adolescent and the family to tolerate uncertainty in gender identity development.
The findings of the assessment may recommend:
- family therapy
- individual psychotherapy and parental support/counselling
- consultation to the network with or without further direct involvement with the young person and their family
- intermittent reviews to monitor gender identity development
- group work for parents
- referral to the Paediatric Liaison Clinic for physical assessment
- a combination of the above.
How to refer
The service accepts referrals from across the UK.
The preferred route for referral is through a local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service. However, we can also discuss possible referrals with other professionals in health, social services and education departments.
Young people and their families themselves are also welcome to contact us directly to discuss a possible referral.
For more information please contact our team administrator on 020 8938 2030.
Referrers should use the GIDS referral form found at the bottom of this page.