Originally published at Transgender Trend
Over the past six years there has been a 930% increase in the number of children referred to NHS gender clinics across the UK, including one three-year-old and three four-year-olds since April last year. The BBC report shows that the total number of 94 children referred in 2009-10 has increased to 969 in 2015-16.
The report includes the story of a five-year-old Nottinghamshire boy who has just returned to the classroom ‘as a girl’ with support from the school, which sent out letters to parents and children explaining the change. The reaction of the adults around this case, as reported in the Nottingham Post, provides an insight into the reason why the number of children referred to gender clinics has increased so dramatically over the last six years.
First, Colin Pettigrew, the local council authority’s director for children, families and cultural services, said: “Transgender is a characteristic protected by law and therefore head teachers across England continue to, and are required to, agree a clear plan to support the needs of transgender children and young people.”
‘Transgender’ as a protected category for children means that we have already made up our minds about an identity which over 80% of children will outgrow by adolescence. The most likely outcome for this little boy, if left alone, is that he will grow up to be gay, but there is no protected category of homosexuality for children as this only applies when a child matures and develops a sexual orientation: we can’t predict that a child will be gay or lesbian. We also can’t know if a child will grow up to be transgender, but the likelihood is far far less. Establishing ‘transgender’ as a protected category of childhood presupposes, and reinforces, a fixed opposite-sex heterosexual identity before a gay or lesbian child has had the chance to explore, develop and mature. The only protected characteristic we should insist on for children is ‘childhood.’