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8,000 minors on waiting list sex change treatment in UK as referrals continue to surge

"These figures support the concern that social contagion is responsible for large numbers of teenagers who are suddenly identifying as trans and that contagion is now spread very quickly through social media platforms."

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Mia Ashton Montreal QC
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There are now nearly 8,000 children on the waiting list for England's gender identity service, seeking sex change treatments, after the number of referrals leapt 67 percent in under two years, figures which experts say is strong evidence of social contagion.

According to the Daily Mail, the updated figures were quietly released by the National Health Service (NHS) late in 2022 and show that there are currently "7,696 children and young people on the waiting list" for a first appointment, up from 4,600 in 2020. 

This surge in numbers comes as the NHS scrambles to set up regional centers to replace the soon-to-be-closed Tavistock gender clinic that was found earlier this year to be "not a safe or viable option" for children and adolescents suffering from gender-related distress. The regional centers will focus primarily on psychotherapeutic support for this vulnerable group and are expected only to offer medical intervention such as puberty blockers under the strictest of clinical trial settings.

Stephanie Davies-Arai, founder of the group Transgender Trend which has been at the forefront of the campaign for evidence-based care of gender-confused children, told the Daily Mail she believes social contagion plays a role in this explosion in numbers.

"These figures support the concern that social contagion is responsible for large numbers of teenagers who are suddenly identifying as trans and that contagion is now spread very quickly through social media platforms," said Davies-Arai.

The timing of this sudden surge in referrals coincides with Covid lockdowns which isolated children and adolescents and led to many spending an extraordinary amount of time online.

Earlier this year, Dr. Nicholas Christakis of Yale University, who is arguably the world’s leading expert on social contagions, agreed that there is a large element of social contagion when it comes to people identifying as transgender.

The NHS commissioned an independent review of its pediatric gender service in 2020. An interim report was published earlier this year that found serious failings in the handling of children and adolescents with gender dysphoria and led to the announced closure of the controversial Tavistock clinic.

The report highlighted the dramatic increase in referrals, the sex ratio flip from predominantly young boys to mostly adolescent girls, and the fact that approximately one-third of the young people were autistic or neurodiverse. Also of concern was the push to adopt the affirmative model of care which required that clinicians ignore the complex mental health needs of their patients and focus only on gender.
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