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Childline sees record number of calls about gender issues

2,796 counselling sessions about gender identity and gender dysphoria were held by Childline last year.

By Stephanie Otty | Published: 13th December 2016 News Updates

Children as young as 11 told counsellors they felt unhappy with their birth gender.

These sessions have more than doubled since 2012/13.

During the sessions, young transgender people frequently said they had:

Suicidal thoughts

Self-harmed

Mental health issues stemming from abuse, bullying and lack of support.

Last year the Government’s Women and Equalities committee was told by support groups that the attempted suicide rate among young trans people is 48%.

Young people who contacted Childline said that transphobic bullying often stopped them from speaking out. When they were honest about their gender identity, many complained they received cruel abuse which left them feeling desperate. Homophobic bullying or transphobic abuse, was mentioned in 450 counselling sessions last year.

Lengthy waiting times, not enough services, and NHS staff lacking understanding all contributed to their mental health problems, including suicidal thoughts. Those who found the courage to talk to others often felt ‘humiliated' or 'criticised’ by them, and adults often dismissed it as ‘a phase’.

If a young trans person’s feelings are not recognised or supported by families and services this can lead to significant emotional distress. An open and supportive culture is key to helping a child come to terms with who they are. Making them feel ashamed or dismissing their concerns could lead to children developing mental and physical problems.