Jump in counseling for UK transgender children wins LGBT praise
By Kieran Guilbert
LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A growing number of children in Britain are being referred to the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) for counseling for transgender feelings, a development activists hailed on Wednesday as a sign of greater awareness of transgender issues.
The number of children - under 11 and some as young as three - being treated at the country's only specialist center for children with gender issues has quadrupled in the past six years, rising to 77 this year from 19 in 2009, NHS figures show.
Experts say up to 1 percent of the world's population are transgender - a term used to describe people who feel they have been born with the wrong gender.
The rise in child referrals shows a greater understanding of transgender issues, said Richard Köhler, senior policy officer at human rights organization Transgender Europe (TGEU).
"Transgender people now tend to be much younger when they come out, which is positive because they don't have to go through years of denial, and it means they have a supportive family," Köhler told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.
Yet better awareness did not mean greater acceptance of transgender people, he said. "In that respect, we need to look at suicide rates, homelessness and the number of hate crimes."
An increasing number of countries in Europe are providing care for young transgender people, said Evelyne Paradis, executive director of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organization ILGA-Europe.
Malta last week became the first European country to allow parents or guardians of a person under 18 to apply in court on their behalf to change their legal gender without any medical intervention or diagnosis. Continued...