A GP’s views

A GP writes of the difficulties faced by young women who are confused about their gender identity, in particular the problems faced by young lesbians.

Over the past few years I have seen a number of young women from the ages of 11-15, presenting in my GP clinic requesting referral to GIDS to commence puberty blockers. 

They presented with their parent/s, who were usually confused about how the new identification with a transgender identity had emerged, and what the health implications of medicalisation would be for the future of their child.

Many of these young women had had various mental health issues and social pressures, including autism spectrum disorder; school bullying; body dysmorphic issues; past sexual harassment; and social anxiety. 

Most of them had previously identified as gender non- confirming lesbians or bisexuals. 

Attempting to explore their understanding of their position and the request for referral with them, as a GP would in any similar situation, was usually met with resistance to engagement. 

After discussion with the young women and their parent/s , giving them as much information as was available at the time regarding, the uncertainties of the long term effects of puberty blockers ,and encouraging them to celebrate their gender non-conformity rather than medicalising it , all were referred to the GIDS services. 

It is already difficult for GPs to explore these issues with our patients, and it would be much harder if these usual exploratory approaches were in effect criminalised by the proposed conversion bill. 

My concern as a GP and as a member of the LGB community, is that there is no space for a therapeutic conversation with a young person, especially those who have previously identified as lesbian or gay. 

This has the potential for becoming a form of condoning gay and lesbian conversion therapy by an unchallenged ideology, removing a space to explore internalised homophobia.
It also allows other aspects of bullying faced by gender non-confirming children, and the multitude of other pressures on young girls regarding their bodies, to remain unchallenged. 

The conversion therapy bill enforcing a non-questioning approach for children identifying as transgender, will close down any space for a therapeutic conversation with young people, many of whom may formerly have identified as lesbian and gay, and in this way potentially act as condoning a form of gay conversion therapy.