NHS has paid for 'gender-confused' children to have puberty-delaying jabs… so they can have sex changes when they're older
Gender-identity disorder affects one in 4,000 BritonsCritics say puberty-delaying drugs could cause developmental problems
Six children in Britain will be given jabs to delay the puberty on the NHS because they are convinced they were born the wrong sex.
The injections – to be administered monthly – will postpone the physical changes of adolescence giving them more time to make decisions about their identity.
It will also make any sex-change operation far easier should they decide to permanently swap gender.
Gender identity: Children often want to wear clothes and play with toys meant for the opposite sex. Some grow out of it but others become transsexuals as adults (posed)
They suffer from a rare condition called gender-identity disorder (GID) that affects 1 in 4,000 Britons.
Children often want to wear clothes and play with toys meant for the opposite sex.
Although many grow out of it some will become transsexuals and undergo surgery or take hormones to change their gender.
The injections will be carried out at a clinic in North London run by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust as part of an NHS trial.
It will be the first time children of such a young age have ever been given this treatment.
Amy, 11, who renamed herself Charlie, is one of the children who has been accepted on the groundbreaking trial.
According to her parents Kathy and Jamie from Torbay, Amy was a tomboy from birth. She insisted on wearing boy's clothes, would cry if placed in a dress, and would only play with toy cards and Spiderman figures.
Her mother was not overly worried but at the age of five, Amy asked her: 'When is my willy going to grow'
Last September, on Charlie's insistence, Kathy allowed her daughter to start secondary school as a boy.
'I feel braver,' Charlie told The Sunday Times Magazine.
'Boys can be a bit braver than girls.'
Now with puberty looming, his mother agreed to pause the process using drugs.
'He cannot relate to his female body at all,' Kathy said.
'He's in denial.'
Until now the jabs have only been prescribed to those over 16. However, supporters point out that nearly a quarter of sufferers aged 11 to 15 harm themselves or attempt suicide.
The injections contain drugs called hypothalamic blockers which suppress their sex hormones delaying the onset of puberty.
In the past ten years they have been increasingly used in countries such as the US and the Netherlands to give children time to think about their identity.
However, endocrinologists have expressed concerns that blockers could impact on a teenager's cognitive abilities and bone density.
Meanwhie Dr Kenneth Zucker, a psychologist at a specialist children's gender clinic in Toronto, believes social conditioning may be playing a part.
He notes that children can find it hard to think in shades of grey – a boy who likes 'girlie' things can then assume he is a girl.
With enough therapy, Dr Zucker believes children with GID can think more flexibly about gender and become comfortable with their birth sex.
Dr Polly Carmichael, director of Tavistock's Gender Identity Development Service, agrees to some extent.
She told The Sunday Times Magazine: 'If there weren't pejoratives attached, for example, to boys who prefer more stereotypical girl-type activities and clothes – then it would be so much easier for these children to explore different ways of being without feeling they have to be physically one thing or the other.'